What Abraham Lincoln Thought About Fourth of July, Declaration of Independence

From Fox News.

lincoln19In the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric was suffused with a profound sense of loss. He considered it shameful national backsliding that a new affirmative defense of slavery had arisen in the South. At the time of the Founding our nation had merely tolerated slavery; now, it was an institution actively celebrated in part of the country.

In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery, Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that “the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day–/for burning fire-crackers/!!!”

At around this time, Lincoln fastened on the Declaration of Independence as “his political chart and inspiration,” in the words of his White House secretary John G. Nicolay.

He made it the guidepost by which the country could return to its lost ideals. His example shows the enduring vitality and the endless potential for renewal that is inherent in the Declaration.

Some good stuff here. See what you think.

Robert Tracy McKenzie: America’s Founding May Not Have Been Christian, but It Sure Wasn’t Anti-Christian

See what happens to shoddy thinking when it is confronted by clear thinking. It ain’t pretty (if you’re the shoddy thinker).

51YU-l46UbL._SX140Apart from the hyperbole, what precisely is new about Stewart’s reading of the founding? It’s not his assertion that the religious views of the most prominent Founders were unorthodox. With apologies to David Barton, there is little evidence that the leading Founders were devout Christians who based their political philosophy primarily on Scripture. Whether we label them “deists” or “theistic rationalists” or “Enlightenment Christians,” no historically sound argument can transform them into card-carrying evangelicals. Nor is Stewart being innovative in claiming that the Founders drew extensively from Enlightenment sources in thinking about the proper structure and function of government. Scholars of the Revolution almost unanimously agree with this, and that includes Christian historians who take religion’s role with great seriousness.

But the predominant view within the academy would complicate each of these conclusions. Scholars typically argue that the leading Founders were unorthodox, but not irreligious. Yes, they found much of value in Enlightenment philosophy, but they gravitated toward the Enlightenment’s more moderate expressions, especially Scottish “Common Sense” writings that could be reconciled with Christianity. And to the degree that they embraced deism or something close to it, they adopted a worldview confined largely to elite intellectuals. They were thus hardly representative of the rank and file of Americans, many of whom had been swept up in the religious enthusiasm of the Great Awakening. In sum, the intellectual influences on the Revolutionary generation were numerous and diverse. Orthodox Christian belief was hardly determinative, but neither was it insignificant.

What distinguishes Nature’s God is that it rejects all such nuance. The essence of the American founding was an ardent secularism, period. Whatever the Founders said for public consumption about freedom of religion, what they really wanted was freedom from religion. In this they were joined by a considerable cross-section of independent-minded patriots. Stewart insists that atheism was widespread in Revolutionary America, and the only reason we don’t remember it is that religious zealots in later years would cover up a historical fact they found embarrassing.

Read the entire book review (click the reader mode for best results).

Faith and History: Jefferson’s Faith

A good read. See what you think.

jefferson-peale-1791Were our Founding Fathers devout Christians determined to create a Christian commonwealth grounded on biblical principles?  Or were they secular sons of the Enlightenment who hoped to banish orthodox Christianity from the public square?  This Fourth of July, combatants on both sides of the culture wars will gravitate to one or the other of these extremes as they remember our nation’s birth.  It’s a horrible dichotomy that demands that we choose between two equally untenable positions.

A more defensible position rejects both of these all-or-nothing claims.  As Matthew L. Harris and Thomas S. Kidd observe in their anthology The Founding Fathers and the Debate Over Religion in America, “None of the Founders were atheists . . . but none of the most famous Founders were ‘evangelical’ Christians of the sort produced by the Great Awakening, either.”  Many of the Founders were significantly influenced by the Enlightenment, most notably in their frequent willingness to let reason trump revelation when they seemed to be in conflict.  On the other hand, as Harris and Kidd note, “hardly anyone during the revolutionary era doubted that religion, and especially moral virtue, was important to the life of the new American republic.”   Citing such complexity, they conclude that any broad generalization of the Founders as either “secular” or “Christian” is problematic at best.

Read it all.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, declaration_of_independence_630Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Read and reflect on it all. A country without God as its basis and foundation cannot be free.

Pete Wehner: An Extraordinary letter

Right now I just want to post this and just want you to read it all. I will comment later, though.

The other day my wife Cindy came across a hand-written letter from her uncle, Frank Keaton, that was written to his parents on February 8, 1944. Mr. Keaton landed on Omaha Beach before D-Day, one of a preliminary group to secure an area for the medics. He held the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, Two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart. Shot while crossing the Rhine, he refused to go back behind the lines because he did not want to leave his company (he was part of the “Old Hickory” Division). He survived the war. His letter follows: 

What better thing can a man ask for than a chance to fight for what he believes in, fight to give the new generation and the generations not yet born a chance to live a life like my own has been, a chance to play, to go to school and learn about the world, not just one race and one creed; a chance to love and be loved, a chance to see the greatness of the world that God has given us, and a chance to add a name to the long line of great men and women who have made names for themselves in every line of endeavor.

When I think of this my heart swells up and chokes me. Here, early in life, I’m given the opportunity to serve, to make the living of my life not in vain. Some men live a full lifetime and do not achieve this one distinction. This world conflict has given me an easy chance and a big opportunity.

This, then is the way I want you to look at it. You both have given me everything that it was in your power to give me. Give all the kids a big hug and kiss for me and say good-bye to all my friends. My last request of you is “Do not pray only that I shall return, but that I will have the power to do my duty.”

IBN Live: 100 Years of World War I: June 28, 1914 – The Day that Changed the World

Hard to believe it’s been a century since the Great War started. Are there really any coincidences?

Arrest of Gavrilo Princip, assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, 1914.General Oskar Potiorek, military governor of Bosnia, assured the archduke the situation was under control, but if Franz Ferdinand thought his troubles were over, he was wrong.

After the ceremony at city hall, the 50-year-old decided to visit the hospital where people injured in the bomb attack were being treated.

But driving back along the Miljacka river, the convoy took a wrong turn up a small street on the right – named after the emperor Franz Joseph – and had to stop and turn round.

“That was a fatal error,” writer and Sarajevo chronicler Valerijan Zujo told AFP.

Read it all.

And On a Personal Note…

On this date in 2010 at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, OH we debuted the anthem commissioned in my mother’s memory, Longing to Draw Near by Craig Courtney. My grandparents Maney were married on this date in 1917, my dad participated in D-Day on this date in 1944, I graduated from high school on this date in 1971, and my daughter Bridget graduated from high school on this date in 2008. June 6 has been a big day for the Maney family!

General Eisenhower’s D-Day Speech

From here:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thank You, Young Soldiers

Today, June 6th, marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, the greatest amphibious assault the world has ever known (and hopefully will ever know). Sadly, most of those valiant soldiers are now dead, and our country is the poorer because of it.

The Normandy invasion was a terrible and costly effort on the part of the Allies and must have been horrendous to those who had to face the deadly onslaught of the Nazi defenders. I would commend Stephen Ambrose’s book, D-Day, to anyone who is interested in this monumental battle. Ambrose was a wonderful storyteller, which all good historians are, and meticulous in his research. He weaves an absolutely riveting and terrifying tale of what the first troops landing in Normandy that day faced, and anyone with a semblance of imagination who can put himself in those soldiers’ shoes is sure to wonder if he could have faced that deadly fire with the courage and resoluteness that those soldiers did. I am simply awe-struck by it all.

John F. Maney at Normandy waiting to land.

John F. Maney at Normandy waiting to disembark.

I am also proud that my own father, John F. Maney, was part of that great and historic event. Fortunately, he did not have to hit the beaches until D+2 because it wasn’t until June 8th that our forces were able to establish a beachhead substantial enough to land a significant artillery presence, of which he was part. Like many of his generation, my dad is now dead, but one of my fondest memories is when we went back to Uffculme, England in 1984 to visit where he was stationed. We went into a pub to get some supper and find a place to sleep that night, and ultimately were led to a man who had been a “honey-dipper” while dad was stationed there, prior to D-Day. When Roy entered the pub that evening, he shook my dad’s hand and said to him, “Hello, young soldier.” He then welcomed dad back and thanked him for his service. It was as poignant a moment as I have ever experienced because my dad was no longer young and was no longer a solder; but he had been there, and he had been part of that monumental effort. I will always treasure it.

Thank you, young soldiers, for your bravery and determination in defeating an unspeakable evil that was Nazism. You paid a terrible price so that the rest of us can enjoy our freedom. I hope and pray we do not forget you or your generation, or the price freedom sometimes requires to persevere. Likewise, I pray we will not forget what it means to live responsibly in this democracy of ours so that we will not abuse the freedoms for which so many of you fought and died.

Who are your heroes from that generation? Tell us their stories so that we might not forget.

Columbus Dispatch: Holocaust Memorial at Statehouse Speaks for Victims, Survivors, Liberators

memorial2-jpg“When people stand silent before evil and forget that we are all made in the image of God, that’s when things like the Holocaust happen,” Kasich said in an interview last week. “I get very emotional about this. This is a message that people need to think about.”

Exactly, governor, and good for you. Read it all and check out the related stories here and here.