About Corazon

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXII

Mango and Raisin
Rice Pudding


What's my favorite dessert you ask? Rice pudding...glorious rice pudding. There's so many fun things you can do with it. Here's one I did tonight:



This was a wonderful surprise! The mango really works well with the sweetness of the rice pudding. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked white rice
3 cups milk (any kind)
1/2 cup sugar
small pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 mango (pureed)
coconut flakes (for garnish)

Directions:
1.) Combine rice, milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan.
2.) Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the vanilla and raisins.
3.) Cook until just about all of the milk is absorbed (25-30 minutes). Stir in cinnamon.
4.) SCARF!

Buen Provecho!

Religion Left to the States?

Or Were the State Constitutions
Hated by the Founding Fathers?


One of the common practices of the "Christian Nation" crowd is to try and argue that America's "Christian founding" is to be found in the verbiage of the various state constitutions (examples can be found here). Of course, they do this because the federal charters (i.e. Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) have ZERO references to Christianity of any kind. In fact, they were kept religiously neutral on purpose. On occasion they will try to say that the language of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc. is somehow, in a roundabout way, related to some obscure biblical or Christian teaching. This argument, however, holds little water and most "Christian Nation" advocates worth their salt don't really bother with them, which leaves them with the state constitutions as the only cannon fodder for their argument.

But it's mostly smoke and mirrors.

And though there are some good arguments to be had with these state constitutions (here's one I particularly like) I maintain that they still don't prove anything of substance. It's not that the state constitutions are irrelevant. Quite the contrary. They are incredibly important to America's founding. However, they do not have any basis in establishing America as a Christian nation.

Now, it is not my intention to dispute the Christian Nationalists in this particular post. Instead, I want to simply site what I see to be a strong counter-argument to the "religion was the domain of the states" thesis. In his book, Unruly Americans, historian Woody Holton's central thesis is that the federal constitution was created primarily out of a disdain for the state constitutions -- which were seen as being "too democratic" and "too misrepresenting" for a legitimate republic to function. Holton writes:
The textbooks and the popular histories give surprisingly short shrift to the Framers' motivations. What almost all of them do say is that harsh experience had exposed the previous government, under the Articles of Confederation, as too weak. What makes this emphasis strange is that the Framers' own statements reveal another, more pressing motive. Early in the Constitutional Convention, James Madison urged his colleagues to tackle "the evils...which prevail within the States individually as well as those which accrued to our national character and interest from the inadequacy of the Confederation."

Madison, preoccupation with what he later called "the internal administration of the States" was by no means unique. On the eve of the convention, expressions of concern about the weakness of Congress, numerous as they were, was vastly outnumbered by the complaints against the state governments. "What led to the appointment of this Convention?" Maryland Governor John Francis Mercer asked his colleagues. Was is not "the corruption & mutability of the Legislative Councils of the States?"

Once the Constitution had been sent out to the thirteen states for ratification, its supporters affirmed that some of the most lethal diseases it was designed to cure were to be found within those same states. William Plumer of New Hampshire embraced the new national government out of a conviction that "our rights & property are now the sport of ignorant and unprincipled legislatures." In the last of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton praised the Constitution for placing salutary "restraints" on the "ambition of powerful individuals in single states."

What was wrong with the state assemblies? Given the modern perception that the Founding Fathers had devoted their lives to the principle of government by the people, it is jarring to read their specific grievances. An essay appearing in a Connecticut newspaper in September 1786 complained that the state's representatives paid "too great an attention to popular notions." At least one of those Connecticut assemblymen thoroughly agreed. In May 1787, just as the federal convention assembled, he observed that even the southern states, which under British rule had been aristocratic bastions, had "run into the extremes of democracy" since declaring independence.
Simply put, if Holston's thesis is correct (and I believe he is) it means that state Constitutions became of little consequence, since they were esteemed to be a threat to effective republican government. Having a Christian text or invocation of God would be nothing more than just that...text. Now, I still remain unconvinced that the Founding Fathers' sole purpose for establishing a new Constitution was to eradicate the evils of state power. In addition, the Founders did compromise some power in the federal constitution to the states (not originally but later in the Bill of Rights). So clearly not everyone had such a powerful disdain for state power. But it is clear that the Constitution was created because the delegates felt that the states were too powerful...too free. A strong federal system (which did not sanction Christianity above all else) was seen as essential to preserving the new nation.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Playing in the Water

This week, Elizabeth's parents came by to visit for a few days. And yesterday Grandma, Grandpa and I took Jaxson and Zakary to the movies to play in the water. You heard me right, we took the kids to the movie theater to play in the water:

And here's a video of the Cinemark water fountains:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Christian Nation" Doctrine that Actually Trumps Democracy

Another Christian Zealot Seeks
to Create an American Theocracy
by Brad Hart


While perusing the Internet, I stumbled upon a website that I am sure some of you are already familiar with. I think it deserves special mention here on this blog because it is a great illustration of how distorted and dangerous the Christian Nationalist agenda can become. The website, entitled, Is America a Christian Nation, is dedicated to the mainstream Christian founding myth -- i.e. America was established by devout orthodox Christians, over the years we have lost our way and forgotten our heritage, but we can and will bring back our Christian roots.

Like most pro-Christian nation websites, this page claims to present concrete evidence that gives 100% proof of America's Christian founding. Right from the start, the website points to the 1892 Supreme Court case, Holy Trinity Church v. The United States, which this website's author believes is ample proof of America's Christian heritage. However, the author neglects to mention the fact that this case had absolutely NOTHING to do with establishing America as a Christian nation. In fact, the case actually dealt with the issue of, "the importation and migration of foreigners and aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor in the United States, its Territories, and the District of Columbia." In the course of the Supreme Court's decision, Justice Brewer used the case to promote HIS belief that the United States was established as a Christian nation. As Justice Brewer stated:
"These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation."
Legal historians, however, point to the fact that Justice Brewer's "Christian nation" comments occurred in dicta, a legal term meaning writing that reflects a judge's personal opinion, not an official court pronouncement that sets legally binding precedent.

Unfortunately, the author of Is America a Christian Nation does not understand the concept of legal dicta, nor does he/she understand how to put historical data into context. As the author ignorantly points out:
The Court did not merely say that most people in America were Christian, or that there were no Muslims or Hindus in America. According to the author of the Court's unanimous opinion, the Court's claim that America "is a Christian nation" is in "the domain of official action and recognition," not mere "individual acceptance." The Court demonstrates that our entire system of government was created with a duty to acknowledge the authority of the God of the Christian Bible, and to obey His commandments, by Christians who acknowledged the authority of God and were committed to obey His commandments [and] intended the government they created to acknowledge and obey God.
It is also important to point out that Holy Trinity v. United States was actually overruled in 1931 by U.S. v. Macintosh, which stated:
Whereas in Holy Trinity v. U.S., the Court held that because this was a Christian nation, all laws were qualified by a higher law, and no law could be interpreted in such a way as to exclude a Christian minister from entering the United States, the Macintosh Court, fully cognizant of the rule in Holy Trinity, completely reverses the rule, refuses to place the nation "under God," and instead declares that the State-as-god is owed "unqualified allegiance."
For obvious reasons, the author of Is America A Christian Nation neglected to mention much about this little tidbit of history!

Another bizarre source that Is America A Christian Nation sites has to do with the 17th century settlement of America by the Pilgrims. On the web page, the author states:
From its earliest founding in the 1600's, each American colony was a Christian Theocracy. "Theocracy" means "ruled by God," not "ruled by priests." A nation "under God" is a "Theocracy" by definition. There was universal agreement that the formation of civil government was a religious/Christian/Biblical obligation. All governments were Theocratic. Governments were formed because it was believed God in the Bible commanded human beings to form them. The founding of a government was a religious act. Under the new federal government which began under the U.S. Constitution on March 4, 1789, the United States were Christian Theocracies. The U.S. Constitution would never have been ratified if it gave power to the newly-created federal government to prevent the United States from being "under God" and officially and legally acknowledging themselves to be under His jurisdiction.
Not only is this bold proclamation utterly wrong, but it is also a potentially dangerous mode of thinking, as evidenced by the author's following statement:
American liberals HATE the word "theocracy." All you have to do to discredit an idea is accuse it of being connected in some way with "theocracy."

"Theocracy" literally means "ruled by God." It has nothing to do with priests. America was supposed to be a nation "under God." If America is under God, then God is over America. That's the literal meaning of "theocracy."

The mainstream media use "theocracy" as a scare word. They want you to think of Osama bin Laden instead of Jesus Christ. They want you to think of "tyranny under god" rather than Liberty Under God. Many writers who deny America's Christian history attempt to confuse you with caricatures of intolerant right-wing religious tyrants.
So what is so unsettling about the author's claims? Think about it. He/she is actually insinuating that the United States is NOT a democracy, but is instead a Christian Theocracy. Of course the author neglects to mention which Christian God we are under. Is it the God of the Catholics? Protestants? Mormons?

What is most unsettling about this argument is the fact that free speech/will is utterly denied. Under the Theocratic government suggested by this author, God has the final say in all issues. There is no room for individual debate. The Bible becomes the final judge and governing document, not the Constitution.

As a devout Christian myself, I understand the desire that exists for God to be a fundamental part of society. However, as we have learned through thousands of years of world history, a large number of Theocratic governments end up being the most intolerant, brutal, undemocratic and destructive regimes. Or as Thomas Jefferson put it in his Notes on the State of Virginia:
Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.
For a Christian Nationalist to suggest that America is not a Democracy but instead a Theocracy should immediately cause us to raise our red warning flags and sound the alarm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Miniature Golfing

This past week, our family decided to go miniature golfing! This was the first time our boys had ever gone so we brought along the camera. Take a look:

We had an absolute BLAST! Miniature golfing is great with kids! Here's a short video of the last couple of holes. As you will see, it's mostly organized chaos:

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXI

Spicy Orange Shrimp
with Rice


Hello again and welcome to yet another installment in my ongoing quest to achieve culinary excellence. Today's episode: spicy orange shrimp. Take a look:



In all honesty, this meal was AMAZING! I can't take full credit, since I "borrowed" the recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 tablespoon garlic (grated)
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
1 orange (juice and zest)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili sauce (or to taste)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
a little "shake" of chipotle seasoning.

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the shrimp and saute until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side and set aside.
3. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the orange juice, orange zest, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, chipotle and chili sauce. Deglaze the pan and simmer to reduce to a sauce like consistency.
5. Remove from heat and mix in the shrimp and cilantro.
6. SCARF!!!

Yeah, it was awesome. But I didn't cook it alone. I had the help of a little chef as well:

Step aside, Bobby Flay and Morimoto!

Did Betsy Ross Create the First American Flag?

The contributions of women during the American Revolution (and in virtually every other era of history) have often been overlooked or obscured thanks in part to the chauvinistic trends of early historiography. Despite such trends, the occasional feminine hero has emerged from this hazy background to claim their rightful place alongside other fellow revolutionaries. Women like Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison and "Molly Pitcher" are remembered in countless paintings, monuments, and history books for their contributions to the "cause of liberty."

Arguably one of the most popular female figures of the American Revolution is Betsy Ross. In fact, the Betsy Ross House and Memorial in Philadelphia is one of the most visited tourist attractions in all of Philadelphia. We of course remember Ross as the original designer of the first American flag in 1776. In fact, the first American flag is rarely referred to as the "Flag of '76" but as the "Betsy Ross Flag."

But is the story true? Did Betsy Ross really create the first American flag?

As the legend states, Betsy Ross, who had recently lost her first husband in the war, received a visit from none other than General George Washington and two other members of the Continental Congress, who admonished Ross to create a flag of "thirteen stripes and thirteen stars." The stars were to be in a circular pattern, to symbolize the fact that, "no colony would be viewed above another." The legend goes on to state that as soon as George Washington's boots stepped out her front door, Betsy Ross set about making the first American flag.

So how true is this story?

Unfortunately there are little or no primary sources to prove the Betsy Ross story. In fact, the only evidence we have to defend the Betsy Ross story comes from Ross' grandson, William Canby. Ross supposedly related her story to Canby (who was eleven at the time) while on her deathbed. Canby then waited another 30 years before publicly announcing the story in a paper to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (click here to read a copy of Canby's paper). By then, roughly 100 years had passed since the alleged visit between General Washington and Betsy Ross.

Though the story cannot be 100% confirmed, it is important to remember that it also cannot be completely rejected. To be certain, Betsy Ross and her first husband had established a semi-successful upholstery business in Philadelphia. If George Washington had commissioned Ross to make the flag, perhaps he learned of her business while attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Skeptics, however, argue that there is little likelihood that Washington would have visited Ross in 1776, due to the fact that he was extraordinarily busy and quickly departed the city to take command of the Continental Army. But again, none of this conclusively refutes William Canby's story (though it does cast some serious doubt on it). Historiann's review of Marla Miller's Betsy Ross and the Making of America best describes this virtual "tug-o-war" over Betsy Ross' ultimate legacy:
Betsy’s collaboration with the Revolutionary government as a flag maker can’t be dismisssed merely as wartime profiteering or political exigency. Miller offers two full chapters on the question of Betsy’s contribution to creating the U.S. national flag in the late spring of 1777, and concludes that there’s both verifiable merit and dubious myths in the family tales her daughter and grandson told in the nineteenth century. As we have learned about “The” Declaration of Independence, there were many flags for many different purposes and many different flagmakers working in Philadelphia at the time. Miller concludes that Betsy was certainly one of them, and that her work for the war effort as the very young widow Ross probably reflected her real political sympathies. On the other hand, while there’s no evidence one way or the other as to what kind of work she did during the British occupation of Philadelphia in 1777-78, Miller concludes that "it’s hard to imagine her finding among the suffering community of rebellious Philadelphians enough sources of income that she could refuse on principle to fabricate tassels, mattresses, chair covers, or camp equipage for enemy quarters during the entire course of the occupation," (Hat tip: John Fea)
In reality, the question of whether or not Betsy Ross made the first American flag actually misses the point. During the American Revolution, literally dozens of different flags were used to commemorate a large assortment of events. Such is the case with our American flag as well. As historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Laurel Thacher Ulrich points out:
There is really no point in arguing over who made the first flag because there wasn't one. The stars and stripes that we know today had multiple parents and dozens of siblings. True, on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a cryptic resolution specifying that "the flag of the thirteen united States be 13 stripes alternate red and white, that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation," but nobody specified the shape of the flag, the arrangement of the stars, or the ratio of the canton to the field. In October 1778, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams actually told the Neapolitan ambassador that "the flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen stripes, alternately red, white and blue." Flag sheets from the 1780s and 1790s do in fact show flags with three-colored stripes. As for Betsy's nifty five-pointed star, a Smithsonian study showed that four-, six-, and eight-pointed stars were far more common. Although Charles Wilson Peale's 1779 painting of George Washington at Princeton shows stars in a circular arrangement on the general's flag, the stars themselves have six points.
Despite the controversy, Betsy Ross (and the flag she allegedly created) are likely to remain shrouded in mystery for generations to come. Perhaps the mystery is what makes the "Betsy Ross Flag" so intriguing. After all, the thought of a lonely and patriotic widow, bravely sewing together America's first colors is as American as the treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

But that's a story for another day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

James Otis: Forgotten Founder

On the Laws of Nature and
Rebellion to Authority


When we think about the great Founding Fathers of the American Revolution, the obvious names that pop up on everyone's radar include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, etc., etc., etc. Rarely does the name James Otis ever show up. In fact, most Americans are probably unfamiliar with this very important and influential man and the brief role he played during the American Revolution.

From the onset of the rising conflict between Britain and its colonies, Otis was an important and passionate participant. And though Thomas Paine would eventually emerge as the Revolution's premiere writer thanks to Common Sense, James Otis was one of the original masters of the pen. His blockbuster piece of the time, The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, served to help further the growing belief that the rights of the people were derived not from man but from God and the laws of nature. Otis writes:
Is not government founded on grace? No. Nor on force? No. Nor on compact? Nor property? Not altogether on either. Has it any solid foundation, any chief cornerstone but what accident, chance, or confusion may lay one moment and destroy the next? I think it has an everlasing foundation in the unchangeable will of GOD, the author of nature, whose laws never vary. The same omniscient, omnipotent, infinitely good and gracious Creator of the universe who has been pleased to make it necessary that what we call matter should gravitate for the celestial bodies to roll round their axes, dance their orbits, and perform their various revolutions in that beautiful order and concern which we all admire has made it equally necessary that from Adam and Eve to these degenerate days the different sexes should sweetly attract each other, form societies of single families, of which larger bodies and communities are as naturally, mechanically, and necessarily combined as the dew of heaven and the soft distilling rain is collected by the all-enlivening heat of the sun. Government is therefore most evidently founded on the necessities of our nature. It is by no means an arbitrary thing depending merely on compact or human will for its existence.

[...]

The form of government is by nature and by right so far left to the individuals of each society that they may alter it from a simple democracy or government of all over all to any other form they please. Such alteration may and ought to be made by express compact. But how seldom this right has been asserted, history will abundantly show. For once that it has been fairly settled by compact, fraud, force, or accident have determined it an hundred times. As the people have gained upon tyrants, these have been obliged to relax only till a fairer opportunity has put it in their power to encroach again.

But if every prince since Nimrod had been a tyrant, it would not prove a right to tyrannize. There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the law of nature and the grant of GOD Almight, who has given to all men a natural right to be free, and they have it ordinarily in their power to make themselves so if they please.
And though Otis clearly appeals to the laws of nature justifying resistance to tyrants, taxation, etc., he also acknowledges the sovereignty of the British king and the superiority of the "mother country's" laws:
The sum of my argument is: that civil government is of God; that the administrators of it were originally the whole people; that they might have devolved it on whom they pleased; that this devolution is fiduciary, for the good of the whole; that by the British constitution this devolution is on the King, Lords and Commons, the supreme, sacred and uncontrollable legislative power not only in the realm but through the dominions; that by the abdication, the original compact was broken to pieces; that by the Revolution it was renewed and more firmly established, and the rights and liberties of the subject in all parts of the dominions more fully explained and confirmed; that in consequence of this establishment and the acts of succession and union, His Majesty GEORGE III is rightful King and sovereign, and, with his Parliament, the supreme legislative of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging; that this constitution is the most free one and by far the best now existing on earth; that by this constitution every man in the dominions is a free man; that no parts of His Majesty's dominions can be taxed without their consent; that every part has a right to be represented in the supreme or some subordinate legislature; that the refusal of this would seem to be a contradiction in practice to the theory of the constritution; that the colonies are subordinate dominions and are now in such a state as to make it best for the good of the whole that they should not only be continued in the enjoyment of subordinate legislation but be also represented in some proportion to their number and estates in the grand legislature of the nation; that this would firmly unite all parts of the British empire in the greater peace and prosperity, and render it invulnerable and perpetual.
Now, perhaps Otis was simply closing out his pamphlet by offering a brief, brown-nosing compliment to Britain and the King. Perhaps Otis didn't want to cause too many ripples in the pool. Or perhaps Otis is laying some of the early groundwork that would later be used to justify rebellion against kings. In Otis' mind, the British king is the sovereign and rightful executive of government so long as he/she accepts the fact (established by the laws of nature themselves) that all men are inherently free. The king's authority is the result of the people's willingness to concede power into his/her hands and not the result of a heavenly mandate. Otis justifies this belief by appealing to Hobbes' Social Contract theory in which the governors and the governed seek to find an agreeable equilibrium. As a result, Otis' ideas were based more on natural law than on any belief in Divine Right Kingship. In consequence, Otis was able to avoid many of the Romans 13/submit to authority in the name of God arguments, which served to make his argument even more appealing.

And though Otis' views on natural religion and rebellion to authority are hardly unique (their origins go WAAAAAAY back) it is important that we recognize the fact that his works were among the earliest sparks that helped to ignite a virtual lightning storm in the American colonies (appropriate analogy, since it was a lightning strike that killed Otis in 1783). Otis' contributions may have been relatively small when juxtaposed with those of the "key founders" but they are, nonetheless, extremely noteworthy.


***Up next: James Otis on the abolition of slavery***

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thomas Jefferson on the Bible in Public School

We’ve all heard it said that our Founding Fathers would be appalled at the fact that religion – particularly the Bible and other Christian teachings -- has been removed from the public school system’s curriculum. As a result, a number of Christian enthusiasts have fought tirelessly over the years for the inclusion of prayers in school, classes on the Bible, etc. To lend support for these causes, a number of "Christian Nation" apologists have appealed to the legacy of our Founding Fathers and their alleged loyalty to the Holy Scriptures. The ultra conservative Christian group, Wallbuilders is a perfect example of this phenomenon. On their website, they point to the establishment of the American Bible Society as evidence that our nation’s founding was based on biblical doctrine. In addition, Wallbuilders makes the claim that, “the signers of the Declaration of Independence firmly believed in the Bible as the primary text in America’s schools.” [1]

While there were a number of signers to the Declaration of Independence that believed in making the Bible the premiere text for American schools, a larger number were against such an idea. After all, the teaching of the Bible in a school setting brought up a number of church/state issues that have continued to our present day.

The foremost advocate against the use of the Bible – as many of you can easily imagine – was none other than the Declaration’s author, Thomas Jefferson. As we all know, Jefferson was a passionate proponent for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In addition, Jefferson was also a devout supporter of education reform. Jefferson believed that a secularized education, free from the shackles of religious piety would create a superior learning environment. It was largely due to this conviction that Jefferson established Mr. Jefferson’s University, or the University of Virginia as it is known today.

For Jefferson, the instruction of biblical or Christian doctrine took a back seat to the more important lessons of ancient history and philosophy. As Jefferson stated:
“Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children, at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history.” [2]
A number of Christian apologists – David Barton in particular – have insisted that Jefferson not only supported the study of the Bible in public schools, but in fact participated in its teaching. This myth is not only the result of over enthusiasm, but also the result of poor historical research and knowledge. As Jim Allison states:

"On page 130 in his The Myth of Separation, David Barton makes the following claim:

'Thomas Jefferson, while President of the United States, became the first president of the Washington D. C. public school board, which used the Bible and Watt's Hymnal as reading texts in the classroom. Notice why Jefferson felt the Bible to be essential in any successful plan of education: I have always said, always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens.'

Barton's reference for Jefferson's service on the Washington D. C. school board is J. O. Wilson, "Eighty Years of Public Schools of Washington," in the Records of the Columbia Historical Society, vol. 1, 1897, pp. 122-127. Barton's quotation from Jefferson is taken from Herbert Lockyear, The Last Words of Saints and Sinners, 1969.

Apparently, Barton wants us to conclude that, since Jefferson was president of the board for a school system that used the Bible for reading instruction, he must have approved of using the Bible in this manner. In fact, some readers of this web site have claimed in their e-mail correspondence with us that Jefferson requested the Bible to be used for reading instruction. But nothing in Barton's source supports either of these claims. In fact, Barton's source suggests that someone other than Jefferson was responsible for introducing the Bible into the schools, and that this policy was adopted after Jefferson had left Washington for retirement in Virginia. Here are the facts:

On September 19, 1805, toward the end of Jefferson's first term as President of the United States, the board of trustees of the Washington D. C. public schools adopted its first plan for public education for the city. Given its resemblance to a similar plan proposed several years earlier by Jefferson for the state of Virginia, Wilson (Barton's source) suggests that it is likely that "he [Jefferson] himself was the chief author of the...plan." The plan called for the establishment of two public schools in
which:

...poor children shall be taught reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, and such branches of the mathematics as may qualify them for the professions they are intended to follow, and they shall receive such other instruction as is given to pay pupils, as the board my from time to time direct, and pay pupils shall, besides be instructed in geography and in the Latin language.

As you can see, there is nothing in this plan that mentions religious education or the use of the Bible in reading instruction. Nor, we might add, was the Bible mentioned in any of Jefferson's plans for public education in the state of Virginia, either before or after his presidency (check out an extract from Leonard Levy's book
Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side for documentation on this point). There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in Barton's source that connects Jefferson to the practice of Bible reading. So how did the Bible come to be used in the Washington public schools? Remarkably, Barton's own source provides an answer to that question." [3]

Just another David Barton blunder I suppose. And yes, this is the same man that Glenn Beck hails as "the finest American historian."

Ugh!


Notes:
[1] Wallbuilders. “The Aitken Bible.” http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=46, accessed July 23, 2008.
[2]
dministration of Laws and the Description of Laws?
[3]
http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/arg6.htm

Monday, July 19, 2010

The United States in the Bible

Another Christian Nationalist
Distorts History


Here is an interesting video I found while playing around on Godtube -- a priceless database for Christian over-zealotry. This particular video is one in a series entitled, The Prophesy Code, which expounds upon a number of alleged biblical prophesies regarding the last days. In this edition, Pastor Doug Batchelor, an evangelist of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, uses the Bible to explain what he believes is a providential (and eternal) destiny for the United States.

Most of the biblical references that Batchelor cites come out of the Book of Revelation, which is not all that surprising since Revelation has been cited by most apocalyptic prophesy seekers. What is so surprising about Batchelor's understanding of biblical prophesy -- though he is certainly not alone in this respect -- is how much conjecture and innuendo he invokes when explaining the "prophesies" of the Bible and how they relate to the United States. In short, it's simply more of the same Christian Nationalism that seeks to revise (or twist) history and scripture to fit a particular agenda.

One particular "prophesy" that I found interesting was that of the Catholic Church, which Batchelor proclaims to be "a great whore on many waters." To prove this belief, Batchelor points to Revelation 17 and how its verses allegedly declare the Catholic Church to be an abomination. Again, an example of innuendo being used to hint at a very obscure passage of scripture.

Batchelor's bizarre proclamation that the demise of the Catholic Church -- which he claims was the result of Napoleon Bonaparte -- would coincide with the rise of the United States is of particular interest. His interpretation of America's founding is full of typical Christian Nationalism, which he twists to support his biblical "prophesy." I especially enjoyed his assertion that the American colonists found a continent of "barren land" waiting for them to cultivate it. Obviously Batchelor is unaware of the millions of Native Americans who called this land home and were the unfortunate victims of disease, warfare, etc.

And then there is Batchelor's strange comparison of how the United States -- at least in our day -- will become a second Rome or Vatican of sorts. Batchelor preaches that the United States will somehow prevent open worship and will therefore, "speak as a dragon." Obviously Batchelor is appealing to the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine that the Lord's Sabbath is Saturday, and that the United States will at some future date prevent worship on that day.

Anyway, here is the video. It is a real "gem" so enjoy!

Cartoon Propaganda/Racism: Volume XVIII

Here is yet another installment in my on again/off again series of old cartoons that are full of either racism and/or propaganda. In this installment, entitled Der Fuehrer's Face from 1942, Donald Duck dreams that he has become a Nazi. In the process, he loses his sense of individualism as he is indoctrinated into the Nazi war machine. Fortunately, it's only a dream and Donald Duck awakes to find himself in the good ol' U.S.A. Enjoy:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Doc Holliday's Grave ("I'm your Huckleberry")

"You're no daisy...you're no daisy at all"

This weekend, my family took a brief trip to my home town (Grand Junction, Co) to see friends and family. During that trip, we decided to stop off in Glenwood Springs to pay a visit to a legend.

In the late 1800s, renowned gunman/gambler/dentist/scholar/drinker John "Doc" Holliday traveled to Glenwood Springs, Co. in the hopes that the air and hot springs would help to alleviate his severe case of tuberculosis. Sadly, Mr. Holliday did not find the relief he was looking for. He died and was buried on November 8, 1887.

Doc Holliday, who was originally born and raised in Georgia, was a southern gentleman who benefited greatly from both a generous family and a keen intellect. As a young boy, Holliday was given a strong classical education that centered on math, philosophy, rhetoric, grammar, Latin, French and literature. In addition, Holliday studied dentistry in Philadelphia, after which he returned to Georgia to begin a short but successful practice. With his education and family name behind him, Holliday was, by all accounts, the quintessential post-Civil War southern gentleman of his era. In fact, his cousin, Margaret Mitchell, allegedly used Doc Holliday as the inspiration for the character Ashley Wilkes in her little, tiny book she called Gone With the Wind.

Sadly (or perhaps thankfully depending upon your persuasion), fate would have a different path for the "good doctor." After contracting tuberculosis, Holliday found it hard to continue his dental practice. After all, who wants a sick doctor coughing into their mouth! In addition, Holliday discovered that he had both a gift and a love for a completely different art form: GAMBLING!

Of course Holliday is better known for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his alleged prowess with a firearm. Legend (and I emphasize the word LEGEND) has it that Holliday was as fast, if not faster, than Wild Bill Hickok with a gun. And then of course there's the story of the OK Corral, where Holliday shot and killed Tom McLaury (one of his small handful of confirmed kills...and no, Holliday did NOT kill Johnny Ringo).

Anyway, years after his escapades with his buddy Wyatt Earp (though they were not as good of friends as many make them out to be) Holliday succumbed to his tuberculosis and died at the age of 36. Here are a few pics of our trip to his grave:

As you can see from this stone, this site is a MEMORIAL and not Holliday's actual grave. This will be discussed in more detail a little bit later.
Here you see that some guests have placed a few deck of cards (a royal flush no less) on Holliday's grave...an obvious tribute to his love of gambling.
As I mentioned before, the publicized memorial is NOT the actual resting place of Doc Holliday. In fact, there has been some speculation over the years as to the exact place where Holliday was buried. Some state that the ground was too frozen in November of 1887 to bury him at all and that he was placed in either a temporary grave and later moved, or that he wasn't buried at all, but later transported to Georgia where he was buried by family. Both theories hold very little water, as it has been proven that several burials took place around the same time as Doc's death. In addition, no record (or story) exists to support the allegation that Holliday was taken home to Georgia and buried there. In fact, most evidence suggests that Holliday was buried at the location of the following picture (located just a few feet from the memorial):
It is believed that this stone, which bears the marks "XXX" is the actual grave of Doc Holliday. Not only does the stone sit close to the location of his memorial but it also at one time carried an attached stone (that fit into the hole at the top) with an inscription that read "Died in his bed" and the exact dates of Holliday's birth and death. The "XXX" stone was meant to be a temporary marker, which was obviously never replaced. In addition, local spectators at the burial have long claimed that Holliday was buried at this location.


Here is a short video of our trip to Holliday's grave:


And finally, for your viewing pleasure, one of my favorite Doc Holliday clips from the movie Tombstone:



And yes, Doc Holliday really did use the expression "I'm your Huckleberry", which in his day meant, "I'll be your dance partner", but obviously was used by Holliday to signify that he'd be more than willing to fight.