Saturday, June 13, 2009

American Gospel, 44/81, 2nd Round

American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of the Nation, by John Mecham, non-fiction category

I went to a discussion group last year where we talked about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and religion. I wish I had read this book before going, because I would have been more able to defend my case. This book examines the true religious principles that guided the writing of the Constitution.

The basic idea of the book is that religious freedom has always been important in the history of America. The Founding Fathers did not want to eliminate God, or Providence as they often referred to him, completely from public life, but that they felt it best to leave the matter as open as possible, so that each person could define that Providence however they wished. They also designed the Constitution and the Republic to make it more difficult for minorities to control the whole, but also so that they would also be protected.

Meacham does a great job in this book. I found it extremely readable, and certainly relevant. The book is not very long, but it has over 100 pages of appendix, including source notes, bibliography, and selected documents that he quotes in the book. The only thing it lacked was an index, which I would have appreciated.

Still, such a great book. Here is my favorite quote:

"Democracy is easy; republicanism is hard. Democracy is fueled by passion; republicanism is founded on moderation. Democracy is loud, raucous, disorderly; republicanism is quiet, cool, judicious--and that we still live in its light is the Founders' most wondrous deed."

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