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American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2007

    Almost Perfect

    Jon Meacham's American Gospel is one volume every American household should have on the bookshelf. He rises to protect the center--the strength--of American polity rather than support (or bash) one side or the other in the continuing debate over whether The United States is a Christian country founded on Christian principles -- or not. And that's where he takes a stand: in the center ableit, not a safe place to be. There are no Golden Cows in the text. Meacham's analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the historical record, from John Winthrop to Ronald Reagan, is almost perfect, but not quite: There could have been more attention given to Hugo Black's 'Everson' decision which, in effect, resurrected the 'Wall', a Jeffersonian idea which to this day remains a most nebulous and confusing concept. Many Americans don't understand the context of Black's opion relevant to Jefferson's involvement, i.e., his letter to the Danbury Baptist Assn. Black points to Jefferson, in his 1947 Everson opinion, as being the absolute authority on the First Amendment yet Jefferson was no where near the Constitutional Convention, much less near the process of coming up with a Bill of Rights, of which, '...Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .' became 'The Clause' celeb, so to speak. Although Jefferson wrote many letters stating his opinion on the process of the Convention to his friend and protege James Madison on a regular basis, Jefferson was more occupied with the process of pursuing one Maria Cosway somewhere between Paris and Versailles during his mission in France. It may seem trivial, but it's no small matter: the 'Wall' still sparks mindless arguements that solve nothing -- the very theme that embodies Meacham's message. And it's a good mesaage! Other than that, the book is well structured, fluid, eminently informative, and readable. I enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down! I learned a thing or two.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 2, 2009

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    Posted May 18, 2009

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    Posted July 8, 2014

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