Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chuck Norris on Thomas Jefferson

Martial arts legend and action movie star Chuck Norris weighs in on the third President of the United States in his latest political opinion column. According to Norris, we Americans have bought into some serious myths concerning Thomas Jefferson, and he hopes to set the record straight. You can check it out at the link below...

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Smithsonian to Honor Star-Spangled Banner Bicentennial

This coming Flag Day (June 14), the Smithsonian's Museum of American History will display the Star-Spangled Banner and the actual manuscript in which Francis Scott Key penned the words that would become our national anthem. This is the first time these two items have been displayed side-by-side. Read more about it at the article below...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Did George Washington Not Call a Priest or Pastor to His Deathbed?

On this day (December 14) in 1799, the father of the United States of America breathed his last breath. George Washington was the greatest statesman North America ever produced and, quite possibly, one of the greatest in all of human history.

Given his immense stature in world history, it's understandable that many debate the specific nature of his faith. Washington was formally associated with the Anglican Church (which, of course, in America, became the Episcopal Church). He was also a Freemason. Yet, when it came to his faith, he played his cards close to his vest and many argue that these affiliations were more social than spiritual. They allege that Washington was never really a genuine, orthodox Christian and one of their best (at least in their mind) pieces of evidence is that neither Washington nor his family called a priest or pastor to his bedside at the time of his passing. Is the absence of clergy at Washington's passing indicative of his true spiritual or intellectual leanings?

In my short book Was George Washington a Christian?, I examine much of the debate surrounding the specifics of Washington's faith. I talk about the fact that he rarely, if ever, took Communion. And I address how little he publicly spoke of Christ. And I talk about the absence of clergy at his deathbed, which is what we will focus on in this article.

In His Excellency: George Washington, historian Joseph J. Ellis argues that Washington died a "Roman stoic" and not a Christian, and he points to the lack of clergy as Exhibit #1 in drawing that conclusion. This is a huge overreach on Ellis' part. Let me give you four reasons why:
  1. While Stoicism was distinct from Christianity in the ancient world, there are many Christians today (and many in Washington's day) who displayed Stoic tendencies or who held some Stoic convictions alongside their biblical beliefs. There's no reason to make this an "either-or" scenario. Yes, Washington was, in many ways, a "Roman Stoic." He was also, in many ways, a Christian. One such way was his official membership in the Episcopal Church.
  2. Calling clergy to one's bedside was not as convenient or as simple in Washington's day as it would be in later years. As a pastor, I've been called to the bedside of dying members...literally. Clergy in Washington's day had no phone. Getting a priest or pastor to Washington's bedside required a little more effort.
  3. According to the Bible, it's not necessary for clergy to be at someone's bedside when one passes into eternity. Catholics believe that "last rites" are a crucial part of someone's passing, since they involve a set of sacraments meant to prepare the soul for death. Anglicans, at least traditionally, put more emphasis on faith than on works or sacraments when it comes to a person's relationship with God or eternal destiny. If a member of the clergy had been at Washington's bedside, it would've been to provide spiritual comfort and encouragement to the Washingtons, not to help usher Washington into eternity. 
  4. Clergy were a part of Washington's funeral.
When it comes to those who question whether Washington was a true Christian, the best argument they have is that Washington rarely spoke of Christ publicly. That he didn't have clergy at his deathbed is frankly irrelevant to the authenticity or specific nature of his faith. And, honestly, the whole Communion issue is likewise a bit of a red herring. There are several reasons why someone, including a professed Christian, might decline to take Communion. We should not conclude that such a refusal equates with a denial of the faith.

George Washington died with dignity and confidence. He did not fear death, having faced the prospect of death many times before. He knew his time had come, and he was ready for the "Hand of Providence" to usher him from this life into the next.

For more on Washington's faith, I encourage you to read Was George Washington a Christian? 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

New York - 3 October 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Remembering Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

On this 150th anniversary of the most famous speech in American presidential history, my blogging colleague Brad Hart pays tribute to Abraham Lincoln's masterpiece, the Gettysburg Address. Check it out at...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Should We Sue Native Americans?

Viewers of this past Sunday night's (unfortunate, at least in my opinion) trouncing of the Washington Redskins by the Dallas Cowboys were subjected to a condescending lecture by Bob Costas on how the Washington Redskins should change their "offensive" team name. That Costas' personal commentary fuels the growing controversy over Washington's NFL team name on Columbus Day Weekend is ironic (and perhaps no accident at all), since Columbus Day itself is an annual touch point of controversies surrounding the legacy of the ill treatment of Native Americans at the hands of European whites.

My friend Brad Hart, who blogs regularly on American history, has injected quite an interesting thought into this debate. Perhaps it's whites who should be offended at Native Americans? Maybe it's whites who should be suing American Indians? Check out the tongue-in-cheek argument at...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King Calls America to its Conscience

In his famous "March on Washington" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not rant, speak out of hatred or bitterness, or bash America's heritage. On the contrary, he called Americans to conscience. He spoke approvingly of the Founding Fathers, but did so in a way that reminded Americans it was their duty to fulfill the inspiring vision laid out by the Founders...

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men -- yes, black men as well as white men -- would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

March 28, 1963 was a great day for America - a day perfectly in keeping with the finest traditions and values of America's founding.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Happy 237th Birthday, America!

As we say goodbye to another Fourth of July, I am very grateful to be a citizen of the United States of America. For all our problems and difficulties, we remain very blessed to live in a free, prosperous, and stable country. For that, we should give thanks of course to God. And then, humanly speaking, we must thank all the men and women who have served in our armed forces over the years and, yes, for the men and women of our founding generation who sacrificed so much to establish our nation in the first place.

Happy Birthday, America! May we have many more.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Battle of Monmouth

Today (June 28, 2013) is the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth, one of the largest battles of the American Revolution. It was a battle that gave birth to the legend of Molly Pitcher and ended the military career of General Charles Lee. To read more about the battle, head over to...