Today Gordon spoke to us about Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). Jefferson’s early writings focus on social experimentation. What are the rights of man in relation to the rights of the King? Do governments rule by the consent of the people or by consent of God? Do Kings have the right to dictate that the people must worship in a specific religion? (Hint: Read the Declaration of Independence. Governments stand by consent of the people.)
When Jefferson attempted to start a national university, he wanted reason informed by experience to be its guiding principle.
Jefferson considered himself a Christian but he had read Priestly’s History of the Corruption of Christianity by Joseph Priestly. Many of Priestley’s was a supporter of the concept of deism and comparative religion. The book shocked and appalled many readers, primarily because it challenged basic Christian orthodoxies, such as the divinity of Christ and the Virgin Birth. Priestley wanted to return Christianity to its “pure” form by eliminating the “corruptions” which had accumulated over the centuries.
We had a spirited discussion of Jefferson afterward. It being May day, the subject of the rights of Labor were introduced. International labor issues were compared with the slavery of Jefferson’s day. Elizabeth pointed out that the benefits we get from manufactured goods where the workers are treated so poorly is much like supporting slavery. We benefit from a labor market that pushes people into such poor circumstances that they live under.
Inevitably, the subject of Jefferson’s hipocracy came up. Jefferson was a dreamer who’s life did not quite achieve the lofty dreams that he wrote on paper. But, at least we have the benefit of Jefferson’s lofty dreaming. No one else at the time was suggesting that all men were created equal. We can appreciate the dreamer, and look past the part where he fell short of accomplishing his own dream.
Announcements: Next week is the observance of Standing Women. See standingwomen.org for an explanation. We will stand silently in the parking lot. Bring a bell. June is election month for the congregation. Nominate your neighbor, otherwise I think they are going to draft me. Horay for all the people who helped saw up the big tree that fell over in the back of the house.