Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Kentucky Wedding...

Custom Kokeshi Peg Doll Portrait Cake Toppers

The Jefferson Lies... by David Barton

This book is almost two books in one. One book is a "how to study history" book and should be required reading for every young student. When you are reading a history, or any book... How do you know if what it says is true? I had actually learned these things from my dad whose education is in history and then revisited these ideas again as I studied literary criticism in college. What am I talking about? I am talking about what David Barton called the "five modern tools of historical malpractice."

1. Deconstructionism
2. Poststructuralism
3. Modernism
4. Minimalism
5. Academic Collectivism

These may sound like intimidating concepts, but they are not. As Barton explains them, you will recognize every single one and you will be able to identify them across disciplines. Ever heard of the term, "scientific consensus"? That term would be far better described as "Academic Collectivism".

When my dad writes a book or a paper, half of it is the story or the argument and the other half is the proof or the notes that point to original source documents so that you can be certain in your own mind. Barton is almost as careful as my dad :) He has provided more that sixty pages of notes so if you don't believe him.. you can look it up.
A couple of years ago, I read a book called Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. In it, she made wild suppositions about Benjamin Franklin and his thoughts and motives without providing a single source document to prove her point. I discounted everything she said. Some of it was an interesting story, but at best her book was historical fiction.
I told you this book was two books in one. The second book, if you will, is the biography of Jefferson, a man who has been maligned by historical malpractice.
Historians have had such a field day with Jefferson that you may not even recognize the great man you will find in these pages; his life, his accomplishments and his character have been run through the mud. But, he was an exceptional man and a great man. He was a man of tremendous faith who loved humanity. He had a great mind and was an incredible student of the best books in all subjects for his entire life. He was an early abolitionist revered by generations who tried to follow his example... people like John Quincy Adams and Fredrick Douglas.
He was a man who suffered great loss and heartbreak in his life and a man who cherished his family. I could go on and on, but I just want to end with a couple of my favorite telling quotes from the book. This beautiful tribute written by his granddaughter Ellen was so personal and tender:
From him seemed to flow all the pleasures of my life. To him I owed all the small blessings and joyful surprises of my childish and girlish years... When about fifteen years old, I began to think of a watch, but knew the state of my father’s finances promised no such indulgence... One afternoon the letter-bag was brought in. Among the letters was a small packet addressed to my grandfather. It had the Philadelphia mark upon it. I looked at it with indifferent, incurious eye. Three hours after, an elegant lady’s watch with chain and seals was in my hand, which trembled for very joy. My Bible came from him, my Shakespeare, my first writing-table, my first handsome writingdesk, my first Leghorn hat, my first silk dress. What, in short, of all my small treasures did not come from him ?… Our grandfather seemed to read our hearts, to see our invisible wishes, to be our good genie to wave the fairy wand to brighten our young lives by his goodness and his gifts.
and finally...

"The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored such as it was preached and practiced by Himself.... I hope that the day of restoration is to come."  Thomas Jefferson, "Thomas Jefferson Papers, to Francis A. Van Der Kemp on July 9, 1820" Library of Congress.

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens has long been a favorite author. This year is the bicentenary of his birth so in honor of that, I will be reading as many of his books as I can.
It is hard to believe it has taken me this long to pick up Little Dorrit, which has become a new treasure. How could I resist it when Dickens sings to the choir as he speaks to my heart about the abuses, waste and inefficiencies of government that obviously haven't changed too much in 200 years.

Chapter 10 is titled, "Containing the Whole Science of Government." Indeed, it does. In fact in just these few paragraphs you can see Dickens genius at picking apart the entire problem.
The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government.  No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office.  Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart.  It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office.  If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.
This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen.  It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings.  Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving--HOW NOT TO DO IT.
In addition to explaining the whole of government waste and hubris... there is some fantastic parenting advice, a beautiful love story, examples of true friendship and how to marry disastrously. My brilliant sister recently summed it up like this, "don't fall in love with someone who is too worried about being groovy. They will never be happy and neither will you."

Mixed in with all this good stuff is Dickens' great heart, his love of God, virtue, beauty, faith, friendship and kindness....
At last, in the dead of the night, when the street was very still indeed, Little Dorrit laid the heavy head upon her bosom, and soothed her to sleep. And thus she sat at the gate, as it were alone; looking up at the stars, and seeing the clouds pass over them in their wild flight--which was the dance at Little Dorrit's party.
This book is one of the greats.