Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers

Overview


Revolutionary Spirits confronts many of the later myths about the religious views of America’s Founders, and brings to life their complex creeds and personalities. It offers clear and candid portraits of Franklin, Washington, Paine, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison as both religious reformers and political rebels, and reclaims their spiritual inheritance for today.
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Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers

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Overview


Revolutionary Spirits confronts many of the later myths about the religious views of America’s Founders, and brings to life their complex creeds and personalities. It offers clear and candid portraits of Franklin, Washington, Paine, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison as both religious reformers and political rebels, and reclaims their spiritual inheritance for today.
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Editorial Reviews

Phyllis Tickle
It should be read for the sheer joy of the read, certainly; but more to the point, it should be required reading for every voting American. (Phyllis Tickle, author, The Shaping of a Life)
Publishers Weekly

What did the founding fathers believe about God and the Bible? Unitarian Universalist minister Kowalski (The Souls of Animals) joins the chorus of answers with this elegantly written book, which clearly situates the founders in an Enlightenment tradition that privileged reason. Charting a middle ground between those who claim the founders either as orthodox Christians or total skeptics, Kowalski argues that they were "religious liberals" who believed in a Creator and in moral law. Benjamin Franklin was more interested in solving scientific riddles than in "otherworldly mysteries"; nonetheless, he became friendly with revivalist George Whitefield. For George Washington, who harbored some doubts about Christian doctrine, Christianity was more about right behavior than belief. Thomas Jefferson believed in Providence and remained an Episcopalian all his life, but was more at home with classical learning than faith. James Madison, Thomas Paine and John Adams receive similarly nuanced treatments. Kowalski illustrates his arguments with just the right quotations from the founders themselves, and his economy of prose is to be commended: he never belabors his points. This slim volume will sit nicely on the shelf with similar offerings by Forrest Church, Jon Meacham and David Holmes. (Feb.)

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From the Publisher

"An interesting and valuable contribution to the growing literature of the Founders and their precious legacy of freedom of religion."  —Willard Sterne Randall, author, Thomas Jefferson: A Life

“Imaginatively conceived and very well-written.”  —Jon Roberts, author, Darwinism and the Divine in America

"A masterful synthesis of the founding fathers' spiritual inclinations."  —James E. McWilliams, author, A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America

"To the ongoing debate over the place of religion in the early Republic, Gary Kowalski has made a vigorous, thoughtful, and eminently readable contribution."  —Forrest Church, author, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State

"Should be read for the sheer joy of the read, certainly; but more to the point, it should be required reading for every voting American."  —Phyllis Tickle, author, The Shaping of a Life

"A well written look at the beliefs held by America's founding fathers, this readable book will appeal to anyone interested in learning what drove the authors of the Constitution."  —MonstersandCritics.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933346304
  • Publisher: BlueBridge
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 818,947
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


Gary Kowalski is the senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont. He is the author of "Goodbye, Friend"; "Science and the Search for God"; and "The Souls of Animals." He lives in Burlington, Vermont.
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Table of Contents

Revolutionary Spirits: Introduction     1
Nature's Nation and Nature's God: Liberals and Deists     11
Beyond Black Arts and Witchcraft: The Progress of Enlightenment     27
A Reasonable Creature: The Faith of Benjamin Franklin     45
To Bigotry No Sanction: The Faith of George Washington     65
My Own Mind Is My Own Church: The Faith of Thomas Paine     87
Delight, Joy, Triumph, Exaltation: The Faith of John Adams     109
Question with Boldness: The Faith of Thomas Jefferson     129
The Dictates of Conscience: The Faith of James Madison     157
Reclaiming the Spirit of the Founders: Conclusion     185
Endnotes     197
Bibliography     205
Index     211
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