Astroturf Blues: or, the Time Bandit Grassroots Simulacrum

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

–Jeremiah 17:9

On June 28th, 1787, after a month and a half of deliberation and debate, the framers of the Constitution, tired, annoyed, overwhelmed by the Philadelphia heat, intellectually and creatively drained, were essentially at each other’s throats over the issue of representation, particularly whether or not to establish a Senate, as it was hindering any semblance of progress with regards to what would become the Constitution of the United States. On this day a rather notable event took place: Benjamin Franklin, the famous deist (the only deist present at the convention, and to sign the constitution, for Jefferson was still in France), came to Independence Hall and proposed an ameliorative approach to clear a pathway to completion. He gave a speech urging his fellow statesmen to engage a (rather contrary to the modern perception of the man) collective practice—he insisted on a recess for prayer:

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.

The recommendation fell like song onto the ears of his colleagues, in both the best and worst of ways. A song in the best sense: edifying; a looking upward to remind the statesmen of the ideal in which they strived. A song in the worst sense: a Pollyanna; an impracticality. The orthodox methods of the day for the organization of congressional prayer required a member of the clergy, whose services were procured through compensation – and the convention was broke. All their funds tied up in costs germane to the convention’s more quotidian realities. In fact, most of the financial aspects of the convention came straight from the statesmen’s own pockets. James Madison (father of the Virginia Plan, Constitution, and Bill of Rights) wrote about his fiscal concerns on a few occasions, worried about not only spending what little money he had but also the fact that he wouldn’t be receiving any financial compensation while at the convention itself. However, Franklin’s recommendation struck a chord with those present and a few days later, on July 4th, 1787, an arrangement for morning prayer was made. Led by James Campbell, prayer for that day and the rest of the days were conducted until the convention came to a close on September 17. A couple years later, on April 9, 1789, two chaplains from different denominations were appointed to carry out daily prayer in the House and Senate. This practice continues to this day.

When speaking of the framers in our modern age it is often understood that the founders and framers of this nation were secularists creating a secular nation that bordered anti-religious. When discussing the religiosity of our founders and framers it has become an almost ideological, or common sense, held notion that they were all, or predominantly, secularist with no interest in religion, religious teachings, or religious affiliations having a presence in the public and political goings on. But the exact opposite reality is the case; the framers were predominantly devoutly religious, predominantly influenced by the Christian belief system, the rich moral philosophies of the Old and New Testament, particularly those of Jesus Christ, and were champions of religious expression in the public sphere as well as in education and government proceedings. Increasingly these days, people refer to the likes of Franklin and Jefferson as anti-religious materialists, completely opposed to notions of belief and faith and its presence among the populace and government institutions. You ask the individuals espousing these notions of history who else were among Franklin and Jefferson as deists, anti-religious, non-God-fearing men and tend to find themselves impoverished of names, or they guess wrong with the few other names they are capable of mustering, often times uttering anachronistic figures – historical illiteracy is one of the many plagues of 21st Century. Worse still, these notions are reaffirmed in a culture that seems increasingly determined to rid itself of religion. Christianity seems the target of this new-atheism/secularist agenda. I suppose the corruptions of the Catholic Church have much to do with this sentiment, but it certainly isn’t the source of this modern distain the Christian faith has been subject to, and it seems to come from a blatant misapprehension, if not flat-out unlearned understanding of the Bible. The America Bible Society in 2019 gauged this:

Bible Centered (5% of the population) More often than not, Bible Centered adults are married females. They largely come from the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations, are 46 years old on average, reside in the South, and attend church weekly. Seven in 10 (71%) use the Bible every day, while the remainder read it several times a week (26%). Just 4% read it weekly or monthly.
Bible Engaged (19% of the population) Adults in this category are predominately from the Gen X or Baby Boomer generation, averaging 49 years old. Slightly more female than male, the majority are married. Like Bible Centered adults, they generally reside in the South. When it comes to Bible use, 42% report using the Bible daily, 36% use it several times a week, 10% once a week, and 12% use it once a month or less. The majority of Bible Engaged adults can be found at church in a given Sunday (68%).
Bible Friendly (19% of the population) These adults are equally divided between the Millennial, Gen X and Boomer generations, and average 43 years of age. Just over one half (53%) are currently married. They are just as likely to be female as they are male. About half (51%) attended church in the past week, another 29% attended in the past six months. One in 10 reports daily Bible engagement, compared to 26% who use the Bible several times a week, 22% who use it weekly, and 42% who use it less often.
Bible Neutral (9% of the population) Bible Neutrals are more commonly from the Millennial generation (39%), and are an average of 43 years old. A plurality lives in the suburbs (38%). More than half (54%) are single. While one in four have attended church in the last week, 41% are considered unchurched. Most Bible Neutrals read the Bible on their own once or twice a year (36%) or three or four times a year (28%).
Bible Disengaged (48% of the population): Slightly more men than women are Disengaged, and are roughly 45 years old. Half (52%) are single. More than the national average, the Disengaged adult is white, whereas fewer African American adults are disengaged with the Bible. Just over one-half (52%) of Bible Disengaged do not consider themselves to be Christian. Three-quarters (74%) are unchurched, and an equal number (73%) say they never use the Bible on their own.

The Bible-Centered/Engaged/Friendly are predominantly female and married (the Friendly are on more equal in number between the sexes) whereas (and I don’t think this will come as a surprise) the Neutral/Disengaged are mostly single and the males outnumber the females in the Disengaged category, though not by much. The largest representation is the disengaged category—and I believe there is a great deal of context this provides regarding the current state of American culture. This nation was built on and around the precepts of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. What this country was established on is a collection of virtues and principles revealed and rendered explicit over millennia. The matrimony of Athens and Jerusalem consummated in England birthed the Enlightenment in which the parturient was an epiphany: America. History is replete with education through experimentation composed by a context of transcendent participatory duty. America was cognized with these same religious, philosophical, and practical precepts only one thing was truly different: the public opinion was sovereign because the individual was sovereign: property, speech, and action were the effect of individual souls idiosyncratically embodied. Western Culture, particularly in America, we are losing touch with this notion of individuality begets responsibility for oneself and to one’s neighbor. The balkanization that is occurring on a cultural level is a direct result of having sundered from those Truths realized in antiquity. A lack of respect for the past provokes a disdain for the present, thus breeding cynicism for the future. Being religious is not the same as being respectful of religion. This is not a conversion piece, it’s a caveat. To be unknowledgeable of the past is to subject oneself to what people tell you of it. There’s a difference between a meme and a source. One would be wise to use the meme as provocation to look to the source. If you cease relying on what people say about the source information and, instead, take up the responsibility of confronting the source information itself, you will discover the reality beneath the simulacrum.

The vastness of human history is a daunting task to begin familiarizing. So, where to start? Well, start with what your culture was founded upon. That should open up not only what is, but what it is about what is that is interesting to you.

To start: there were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and only two of which were deists, Franklin and Jefferson. The rest were predominantly Episcopalian, then Congregationalists, followed by Presbyterians, a couple of Quakers and a Catholic. Out of the 59 statesmen who showed up for the convention 39 were signers: mostly Episcopalians and Presbyterians, followed by some Congregationalists, a few Quakers, and a couple Catholics—and one deist: Benjamin Franklin (Jefferson was in France).

Most of those who have come to the belief that these documents were framed by secularists and uninfluenced by the Bible came to this persuasion through Facebook memes and some rather unfortunate blurbs in public high school history textbooks. The memes are another issue of their own. Those textbooks contrive this reality from a letter Franklin wrote when he was 26 claiming he was a deist, but they never address how he evolved into a man of considerable faith in his later years. The arrival of George Whitefield in America played some role. Franklin recalls in his autobiography with relish:

In 1739 arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield, who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher. He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refus'd him their pulpits, and he was oblig'd to preach in the fields. The multitudes of all sects and denominations that attended his sermons were enormous, and it was matter of speculation to me, who was one of the number, to observe the extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers, and bow much they admir'd and respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of them, by assuring them that they were naturally half beasts and half devils. It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem'd as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.

He came upon him after having read an article in the newspaper boasting of his oratory and how far-spread his sermons could range audibly in the open air:

He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous, observ'd the most exact silence. He preach'd one evening from the top of the Court-house steps, which are in the middle of Market-street, and on the west side of Second-street, which crosses it at right angles. Both streets were fill'd with his hearers to a considerable distance. Being among the hindmost in Market-street, I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the street towards the river; and I found his voice distinct till I came near Front-street, when some noise in that street obscur'd it. Imagining then a semi-circle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that it were fill'd with auditors, to each of whom I allow'd two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand. This reconcil'd me to the newspaper accounts of his having preach'd to twenty-five thousand people in the fields, and to the antient histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.

Not only did Franklin regard as genuine and effective Whitefield’s vocation and beliefs, he aided Whitefield in his efforts to spread the word of the Gospel. They developed a close friendship that stretched Whitefield’s remaining years. Though tried he did, Whitefield was never able to convert Franklin to Christianity, as it were, yet their respect for each other was marrow deep. They communed in the true, dare I say, spirit of friendship, conveyed in oscillation between beaming endearment and caustic jest:

I who was intimately acquainted with him (being employed in printing his Sermons and Journals, etc.), never had the least suspicion of his integrity, but am to this day decidedly of opinion that he was in all his conduct a perfectly honest man, and methinks my testimony in his favour ought to have the more weight, as we had no religious connection. He us'd, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere civil friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death.
The following instance will show something of the terms on which we stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at Boston, he wrote to me that he should come soon to Philadelphia, but knew not where he could lodge when there, as he understood his old friend and host, Mr. Benezet, was removed to Germantown. My answer was, "You know my house; if you can make shift with its scanty accommodations, you will be most heartily welcome." He reply'd, that if I made that kind offer for Christ's sake, I should not miss of a reward. And I returned, "Don't let me be mistaken; it was not for Christ's sake, but for your sake." One of our common acquaintance jocosely remark'd, that, knowing it to be the custom of the saints, when they received any favour, to shift the burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders, and place it in heaven, I had contriv'd to fix it on earth.

The beliefs Franklin held were made explicit in a letter to Ezra Stiles in 1790:

You desire to know something of my Religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it: But I do not take your Curiosity amiss, and shall endeavour in a few Words to gratify it. Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho' it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure. I shall only add respecting myself, that having experienced the Goodness of that Being, in conducting me prosperously thro' a long Life, I have no doubt of its Continuance in the next, tho' without the smallest Conceit of meriting such Goodness.

The sentiments of Thomas Jefferson were indeed the same. He made explicit as such in a letter to Benjamin Rush written on April 21, 1803:

In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798. which served as an Anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then labouring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic: and I then promised you that, one day or other, I would give you my views of it. they are the result of a life of enquiry & reflection, and very different from that Anti-Christian system, imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. to the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, & believing he never claimed any other. at the short intervals, since these conversations, when I could justifiably abstract my mind from public affairs, this subject has been under my contemplation. but the more I considered it, the more it expanded beyond the measure of either my time or information. in the moment of my late departure from Monticello, I recieved from Doctr. Priestly his little treatise of ‘Socrates & Jesus compared.’ this being a section of the general view I had taken of the field, it became a subject of reflection, while on the road, and unoccupied otherwise. the result was, to arrange in my mind a Syllabus, or Outline, of such an Estimate of the comparative merits of Christianity, as I wished to see executed, by some one of more leisure and information for the task than myself. this I now send you, as the only discharge of my promise I can probably ever execute. and, in confiding it to you, I know it will not be exposed to the malignant perversions of those who make every word from me a text for new misrepresentations & calumnies. I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that Inquisition over the rights of  conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed. it behoves every man, who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. it behoves him too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independant opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between god & himself. Accept my affectionate salutations.

Also, later in life, and in greater length, Jefferson elucidated on his concerns, conveyed with that caustic jocose countenanced between close friends, on the corruptions of certain sects and their doctrinal translations, while claiming his firm beliefs in the teaching of the Christian faith in a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1829:

The wishes expressed, in your last favor, that I may continue in life and health until I become a Calvinist, at least in his exclamation of `mon Dieu! jusque à quand'! would make me immortal. I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did. The being described in his 5. points is not the God whom you and I acknolege and adore, the Creator and benevolent governor of the world; but a daemon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no god at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin. Indeed I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a god. Now one sixth of mankind only are supposed to be Christians: the other five sixths then, who do not believe in the Jewish and Christian revelation, are without a knolege of the existence of a god!
This gives compleatly a gain de cause to the disciples of Ocellus, Timaeus, Spinosa, Diderot and D'Holbach. The argument which they rest on as triumphant and unanswerable is that, in every hypothesis of Cosmogony you must admit an eternal pre-existence of something; and according to the rule of sound philosophy, you are never to employ two principles to solve a difficulty when one will suffice. They say then that it is more simple to believe at once in the eternal pre-existence of the world, as it is now going on, and may for ever go on by the principle of reproduction which we see and witness, than to believe in the eternal pre-existence of an ulterior cause, or Creator of the world, a being whom we see not, and know not, of whose form substance and mode or place of existence, or of action no sense informs us, no power of the mind enables us to delineate or comprehend. On the contrary I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in it's parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to percieve and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of it's composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with it's distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms. We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in it's course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view, comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and, were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos. So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed thro' all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of the few in the other hypothesis. Some early Christians indeed have believed in the coeternal pre-existance of both the Creator and the world, without changing their relation of cause and effect.
But the reformation of these blasphemous attributes, and substitution of those more worthy, pure and sublime, seems to have been the chief object of Jesus in his discources to the Jews: and his doctrine of the Cosmogony of the world is very clearly laid down in the 3 first verses of the 1st. chapter of John, in these words, `{en arche en o logos, kai o logos en pros ton Theon kai Theos en o logos. `otos en en arche pros ton Theon. Panta de ayto egeneto, kai choris ayto egeneto ode en, o gegonen}. Which truly translated means `in the beginning God existed, and reason (or mind) was with God, and that mind was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were created by it, and without it was made not one thing which was made'. Yet this text, so plainly declaring the doctrine of Jesus that the world was created by the supreme, intelligent being, has been perverted by modern Christians to build up a second person of their tritheism by a mistranslation of the word {logos}. One of its legitimate meanings indeed is `a word.' But, in that sense, it makes an unmeaning jargon: while the other meaning `reason', equally legitimate, explains rationally the eternal preexistence of God, and his creation of the world. Knowing how incomprehensible it was that `a word,' the mere action or articulation of the voice and organs of speech could create a world, they undertake to make of this articulation a second preexisting being, and ascribe to him, and not to God, the creation of the universe. The Atheist here plumes himself on the uselessness of such a God, and the simpler hypothesis of a self-existent universe.
The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors.

These men took seriously the teachings of Christianity, saw Jesus as a historical figure of the most import when contemplating the virtues and morality; they registered and extolled the revelations of the world imbedded in the text—and they implemented these moral philosophies into the system we have come to understand today. There is an increasing notion that the founders and framers of the Constitution were not only un-religious, but in fact anti-religious. This is not only historically ignorant but, indeed, anti-historical. The faith of our founders and framers played an integral part in their conceptualization of government and citizenship. Their reverence for the virtues and moral teachings of the Christian faith is replete throughout their writings; the teachings of Jesus were the sinews that bound the gristle to the skeletal framework of our nation’s doctrines; the soul of the nation was liberty, spirited by Christian morality.

Another piece of evidence wielded in the argument of an anti-religious, anti-Christian founding and predominating secularist population of founding statesmen is the Jefferson Bible. (note: I have sifted through accounts of as many scholars as I could and also worked through some of the more padded and colorful — wishful, one may say — versions the likes of David Barton espouse—this is what I have arrived at given the source material. An interesting river of reality beneath the simulacrum):

Jefferson efforted on two compilations; one in 1804 and one in 1820. In the 1804 version, it is uncertain what the contents were precisely because no copies remain, but the source Bibles used, the ones Jefferson cut the words of Jesus from, have survived along with a list of verses and title page which states the following: The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted From the Account of His Life and Doctrines as Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke & John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians Unembarrassed with Matters of Fact or Faith Beyond the Level of Their Comprehensions. The words “for the Use of Indians” has given many scholars pause due to such an explicit function in the title but elsewhere in Jefferson’s writings, including personal letters to friends elucidating on this endeavor, he never once mentions the native population as a motive, nor has there been any clear evidence that Jefferson actually gave copies, or sent out copies to be given, to natives.

The story goes: Jefferson took two bibles, cut sections out, pasted and bound them all together and he did this because he was informed that natives should be informed about the teachings of Christianity from friends in the ministry. Jefferson and some ministers allegedly agreed it would be a more digestible read if he cut out all the genealogy and history, and instead simply give them the teachings of Jesus. This edition would also be far more financially feasible to reprint in large numbers. So, again, allegedly, Jefferson, seeing this as great advice, compiled what are known as the “red letters” of the bible; the “synoptic bible” as its formally known for the purpose of edifying the native population. There is a letter to John Adams written on October 12, 1813 alluding to his motivations, mentioning that he had fashioned an “octavo volume” of “pure and unsophisticated doctrines, such as were professed and acted on by the unlettered apostles, the Apostolic fathers, and the Christians of the 1st. century.” In this letter Jefferson states, he “performed this operation” to assemble “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”

It seems, gaging from his letters, and given his style of writing, many scholars agree with this inference, that Jefferson was, essentially, being cheeky, using the term as a not-so-subtle jab at those Federalist and clerical antagonists and adversaries of his.

By 1805 he had already begun plans for a new version, having purchased French and English New Testaments, two copies each, and wrote a letter to Francis Adrien Van der Kemp on April 25, 1816, detailing his motives:

Your favor of March 24 was handed to me just as I was setting out on a journey of time and distance, which will explain the date of this both as to time and place. The Syllabus, which is the subject of your letter, was addressed to a friend to whom I had promised a more detailed view. But finding I should never have time for that, I sent him what I thought should be the Outlines of such a work. The same subject entering sometimes into the correspondence between mr Adams and myself, I sent him a copy of it. The friend to whom it had been first addressed dying soon after, I asked from his family the return of the original, as a confidential communication, which they kindly sent me. So that no copy of it, but that in possession of mr Adams, now exists out of my own hands. I have used this caution, lest it should get out in connection with my name; and I was unwilling to draw on myself a swarm of insects, whose buz is more disquieting than their bite. As an abstract thing, and without any intimation from what quarter derived, I can have no objection to its being committed to the consideration of the world. I believe it may even do good by producing discussion, and finally a true view of the merits of this great reformer. Pursuing the same ideas after writing the Syllabus, I made, for my own satisfaction, an Extract from the Evangelists of the texts of his morals, selecting those only whose style and spirit proved them genuine, and his own: and they are as distinguishable from the matter in which they are imbedded as diamonds in dunghills. A more precious morsel of ethics was never seen. It was too hastily done however, being the work of one or two evenings only, while I lived at Washington, overwhelmed with other business: and it is my intention to go over it again at more leisure. This shall be the work of the ensuing winter. I gave it the title of ‘the Philosophy of Jesus extracted from the text of the Evangelists.’ To this Syllabus and Extract, if a history of his life can be added, written with the same view of the subject, the world will see, after the fogs shall be dispelled, in which for 14. Centuries he has been inveloped by Jugglers to make money of him, when the genuine character shall be exhibited, which they have dressed up in the rags of an Impostor, the world, I say, will at length see the immortal merit of this first of human Sages. I rejoice that you think of undertaking this work. It is one I have long wished to see 1 written on the scale of a Laertius or a Nepos. Nor can it be a work of labor, or of volume. For his journeyings from Judaea to Samaria, and Samaria to Galilee, do not cover much country; and the incidents of his life require little research. They are all at hand, and need only to be put into human dress; noticing such only as are within the physical laws of nature, and offending none by a denial, or even a mention, of what is not. If the Syllabus and Extract (which is short) either in substance, or at large, are worth a place under the same cover with your biography, they are at your service. I ask one only condition, that no possibility shall be admitted of my name being even intimated with the publication. If done in England, as you seem to contemplate, there will be the less likelihood of my being thought of. I shall be much gratified to learn that you pursue your intention of writing the life of Jesus, and pray to accept the assurances of my great respect and esteem.

He began the process of compiling this version in 1819. It consisted of verses from two 1794 editions of New Testaments in Greek and Latin which he obtained in 1804, along with the two 1802 edition New Testaments in French and two 1804 edition New Testaments in English, which came into his possession in 1805. He read them every day:

“I never go to bed without an hour, or half hour’s previous reading of something moral, whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep.”

Jefferson was also a lifetime member of the Virginia Bible Society. The first gift he gave to every one of his kids and grandkids when they learned to read was a Bible. It appears the Unitarians in 1903 were the source of this interpretation of Jefferson as anti-religious/Bible/Christian/Jesus. He was an enemy of some of the Bible’s doctrines, but never of Jesus and the scriptures.

The matter of Church and State has been a heated, and dreadfully misunderstood principle for decades. The founders and framers emphasized not separating religious principles derived from the Bible and government proceedings. The teachings of the Bible are the most oft quoted and alluded to in the writings of our founding fathers next to Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws and the likes of Locke, Blackstone, and Machiavelli. The phrase “separation of church and state” was not a Jeffersonian coinage. This notion stems back as far as 1500’s. A pastor by the name of John Greenwood in Great Britain is credited with originating the phrase, he was subsequently hung for it in 1593. This concept had been written about for hundreds of years before Jefferson picked it up. The lines “separation of church and state” do not appear in the Constitution, they come from a letter written by Jefferson on January 1, 1802 in response to a letter composed by the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut on October 7, 1801:

Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your inauguration , to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the Unite States. And though the mode of expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe, that none is more sincere.
Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter, together with the laws made coincident therewith, were adapted as the basis of our government at the time of our revolution. And such has been our laws and usages, and such still are, [so] that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. And these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore, if those who seek after power and gain, under the pretense of government and Religion, should reproach their fellow men, [or] should reproach their Chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dares not, assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.
Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States–and all the world–until hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and goodwill shining forth in a course of more than thirty years, we have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you–to sustain and support you and your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.
And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.

The expression in Jefferson’s response letter that the courts, and practically every American, quotes today is three paragraphs, topping out at 233 words:

“The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.”

The governmental overreach present today is dreadful. And its’s only getting worse. This is primarily due to a severe misapprehension of, or blatant ignorance to, the intentions of the Constitution and Jefferson’s elucidation in epistolary form. The Constitution is not an enumeration of rights of the people—that makes no sense. The Constitution is an enumeration of powers for a limited government.

Since 1947 no court has quoted more than these words: “A wall of separation between church and state.” Before 1947 every court quoted the letter in its entirety (re: Reynolds v. United States in 1878) ruling based on what Jefferson said in full, which was that no one can restrict a public religious activity or religious expression even in the halls of congress. It was the founder’s preemptive means to protecting the church from the state, not the state from the church; the state didn’t need that protection since there was no national church or religion established. America always kept religion in public life using Jefferson’s letter until Everson v. Board of Education in 1947, and they used only the phrase “a wall between separation of church and state” because they knew using the whole letter would make it obvious that the opposite interpretation within the full context of the letter was the correct meaning of it.

A few keener contrarians will levy a sentiment articulated in the Treaty of Tripoli (1797) that stated in its preamble that America was not a Christian country, but even the most devout secularist scholars recognize when conciliatory language is employed, in this instance as a mechanism of establishing some common ground terms to meet with Barbary demands. In 1785, Jefferson and Adams traveled to meet with Tripoli’s ambassador to London to address the epidemic of corsairs off the Barbary Coast pirating, enslaving (you read that correctly, over 1.5 million white Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic Northern Africa between 1530 and 1780), and killing our tradesmen sailors. One can only imagine the shock Jefferson and Adams received when the ambassador responded:

“It was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Adams proposed and delivered on Tributes (protection payments) that worked for a little while, though he had by this time already built a US navy (inspired after The American Revolution) and the Marines. On July 31, 1786 Adams famously wrote in a letter to Jefferson:

“We ought not to fight them at all, unless We determine to fight them forever.”

A foresight and prescience unseen in our modern impulse-oriented politics.

However, it was pretty clear Jefferson would strike up war with them once he took office, because the moral framework established within the Islamic doctrine and Muslim government, a theocracy centered around the philosophies of a warlord prophet, was wholly incompatible with ours—which was extracted and framed from the Bible. It is not a stretch to say this war is what opened American eyes to the tyranny of slavery, rendering neon the glaring contradiction in their extended republic, this may have been the first cognitive cultural step to abolition. The navy and Marines (this is where the lyrics in their anthem “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” come from) were dispatched under Jefferson, however congress wasn’t so aware of this decision when it was made — Jefferson had a penchant for circumnavigating congress when he saw an opportunity (re: the Louisiana Purchase) — only to be informed once there was no real chance of turning our forces around. In 1805 some temporary peace was reached and Francis Scott Key wrote a rather cringe-worthy song in celebration that would later be revised—in 1812. What we now know as “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

John Adams is another figure who’s been meme’d into the secular simulacrum. And, well, after Franklin and Jefferson it just becomes too easy to debunk the claims that the framers were secular and anti-religious. John Adams wrote famously in a letter to the First Brigade of Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts on October 11, 1798 that…

“While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
An Address so unanimous and firm from the officers commanding two thousand Eight hundred Men, consisting of such substantial Citizens as are able and willing at their own Expence, compleatly to arm, And cloath themselves in handsome Uniforms does honor to that Division of the Militia which has done so much honor to their Country. Oaths, in this Country, are as yet universally considered as Sacred Obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly repeated on that venerable Spot is an ample Pledge of your sincerity, and devotion to your Country and its Government.

The religious principles found in the Constitution are invisible to the untrained eye but aspects like the separation of powers, as Adams himself put it, comes directly from Isaiah 33:22 and Jeremiah 17:9:

“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” –Isaiah 33:22

The logic being: “judge” (Judicial), “lawgiver” (Legislative), “king” (Executive).

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” –Jeremiah 17:9

The logic here being, the balancing of powers, not equal branches, but branches that play off one another. This trinity balancing the hearts (read: passions/interests) of men in government. Our hearts fester if they are not compelled towards a transcendent good. The ambitions of men often succumb to the vagaries of the heart. If one branch goes bad, two others are there to counter the off balance. Further preempting the chances of every element of government falling victim to the unbridled longings of our hearts. Congress being the most powerful, if it can compose itself into consensus (which the executive plays a role in brokering). If congress can’t get in order, the powers fall to the executive. If congress and the executive fall victim to a blackening heart, the judiciary uphold the law as they are stated—they check the imbalance until the ebullition of passions cool to a simmer.

John Adams’ writings are bursting with religious reverence:

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged, in conscience, to temperance and frugality and industry; to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence towards Almighty God. In this commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness, or lust; no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards or any other trifling and mean amusement; no man would steal, or lie, or in any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all men; no man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship; but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all hearts. What a Utopia; what a Paradise would this region be. –John Adams’ Diary, Feb. 22, 1756
The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.” – John Adams’ Diary, July 26, 1796
Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell. So far from believing in the total and universal depravity on human Nature; I believe there is no Individual totally depraved. The most abandoned Scoundrel that ever existed, never yet Wholly extinguished his Conscience, and while Conscience remains there is Some Religion. –letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1817

George Washington has fallen victim to the same distortions. Yet:

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life and above all—the religion of Jesus Christ. –Address to the Delaware Nation, May 12, 1779
While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion—To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian—The signal Instances of providential Goodness which we have experienced and which have now almost crowned our labours with complete Success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of Gratitude & Piety to the Supreme Author of all Good. –General Orders, May 2, 1778
I now make it my earnest prayer that God would… most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion. –Circular to the States, June 8, 1783
The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country. –General Orders, July 9, 1776

Simply go through any of the founders and framers writings, the evidence is crystal. These men took religion and the Bible very seriously, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to realize this fact. But the potency of the simulacrum preys on our thirst for expediency. The whole world has knowledge stored at our fingertips. And what do we do?


Life isn’t leisure. And good information doesn’t come easy. It used to be considered not just a duty to seek out information instead of adopting the most convenient and impulsively satisfying confirmation biases that scroll across your screens, it used to be a great deal of fun. It was enlightening, edifying, fulfilling. Conversations amongst America’s populace weren’t a succession of idioms and talking points—they were life changing. That’s what a real conversation is, it enhances your view of the world, thus enhancing you. How often do you not recall what was discussed a few hours ago with an old friend or acquaintance? If you can’t recall details of the conversation stimulating you and challenging you to press forward you didn’t have a real conversation, you’ve merely talked. Without understanding of, and reflection on, the past in order to inform our present to conceive of the future there is no real conversation to be had—all devolves into talking heads coughing out throw-away memes, that may provoke a laugh or a breath of ease but are in no way lasting. Without reverence for the past a narcissism possesses the mind and heart. It’s no coincidence how often these days people speak in memes—how often these days people speak in MeMe-s. If the past is stupid and the future is anxious and dim, the only thing that is important to people is the me in the now.

We now have candidates for president who espouse memes over history. Joe Biden back in March championing how he is going to cure “the white man’s system”, citing the long-debunked notion that it was legal under common law to beat your wife as long as the stick was no bigger than your thumb.

Welcome to the simulation—reaffirmed by the simulacrum.

The “rule of thumb means cool to beat your wife” myth stems from a political cartoon drawn by James Gillray in 1783, based on a ruling by Judge Sir Fancis Buller in which he employed the common expression “rule of thumb” as a euphemism for “approximation”. The cartoon itself is actually quite funny. It depicts a red-robed Buller carrying two bundles of stick, one bundle over is left shoulder and another clasped in his right hand. In the background a man can be seen with a stick (presumably one he procured from Buller) chasing a woman who we are to assume, based on the caption, is his wife. The caption reads: “Judge Thumb: or __ Patent Sticks for Family Correction ; Warranted Lawful!”

The problem isn’t the system. The problem is the perception of systems. No system is perfect, but the system we have works, and it works well. It’s not broken, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use adjustments. We need to focus on what works and refine what works as our thinking about what works evolves. And the most effective way to do that is through thorough education of our youth and, hell, even average journalism. As of now, real writing exists somewhere between the mind-vomit of blogging and the mind-control of journalism. Right now, journalism is chock-full of catty narcissists tincturing their opponents with ill-intent.

“This is a resource that can never fail…because there is no act, however virtuous, for which ingenuity may not find some bad motive.” -Thomas Jefferson

But that’s the agenda in the press right now—a bias towards ascribing bad motives on political opposites. Actually, it’s worse than that: the bias is the agenda.

The three main occupations of founding era were ministers, lawyers, and yeomen subsistence farmers…all devoutly Christian: God, law, and land. They were highly literate. America had the highest literacy rate in the Western Hemisphere. Now, we get soundbites and memes. Grade school students can barely get through Schmoop and Sparknotes, let alone Shakespeare’s actual plays. Everything’s out of context and jaundiced with cynicism. People hooked on click bait that satisfies their every negative whim regarding the world; increasingly the West is being overrun by the worst aspects of what is known as the availability heuristic (or availability bias) which is a default function of the brain that gauges how prevalent something is by scrolling the most accessible recall of anecdotes, narratives, or instances we’ve come in contact with recently. If you come across a news clip or article on Facebook or your phone about a terrorist attack, or racism, that morning then you immediately assume terrorism/racism must be on the rise. And this is precisely what the news gives us: an endless archive of instances, narratives, and anecdotes.

In an interview on his latest book Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker comments on this phenomenon, focusing on specialists:

“A surprising number of historians, political scientists will weave narratives out of case studies without asking the question of how representative they are, how prevalent they are, whether there’s been a historical trajectory in one direction or the other. There’s a lot of resistance to the use of data by historians, even though you can’t use the words “better” or “worse” or “less” without at least implicitly alluding to data. Those are inherently quantitative claims. And if you just make them based on examples then you are a victim of this cognitive fallacy. So, part of the opposition [of me] just comes from incredulity driven by a distorted view of the world from journalism.
A more quantitatively sophisticated form of journalism would be where the news adopts a leaf from the page of the sports section and the business section, for that matter, the weather, which reports the indicators which every way they go: up, down, or no change; systematically, every day. The news only reports spectacular things that go wrong, which is like only having the news reported when your team gets trounced.”

This impulse-driven news cycle only fuels an addiction to political violence; fanning the flames of war rhetoric. And politicians love war rhetoric. That’s the language that rallies votes. Our government officials jumped feet first right into the “Culture War”. And when your government is immersed in something like a culture war, where every policy is a battle against (insert grievance here) then your tax dollars become a form of conscription. And the next stage becomes populist authoritarianism. It’s not far off if this type of phalanx-like mentality continues.

The Culture War, or Identity Politics, is rife with bad arguments. Ill-conceived, Ill-framed, Ill-executed—it’s a sick dilution of language that is more destructive than insightful. Bunch of rich uneducated white college students attacking the specter of some vanilla virility. Communication is becoming more and more about not just attitude but perception of attitude. Not what is being said but how it’s said and how any given recipient interprets the how and not the what. The substance or intent no longer matters. I am concerned that these types of arguments are so heavy-handedly emotional that they fall into a miserable cycle of self-defeat. These positions engender lines of argumentation which bear no limiting principle; meaning not only is there no end to them, but there’s no end to what comes of them, particularly if they are legislated into law. Identity Politics is a rhetorical uroboros. Self-consuming antics at the expense of cultural tranquility. The promiscuity of the most egregious ad hominem exchanges is the result. Damage has been done, but it doesn’t have to be a zero sum, “burn it all down” scenario, it can merely be a moment in time for our nation. It can be a set-back. Of course, there isn’t much worse of a time we could be having such a set-back, with China grinning as it looks out over the west destroying itself by endlessly deploying its semantic salvos; raining on itself the missiles of pedantry. Alas, set-backs don’t consult calendars. Fascinatingly enough, it is these types of devolutions that are depicted in the Bible among other great works of Western Literature. True reservoirs of wisdom.

Everyone in Western Civilization should read the Bible. Americans need to know the Bible not solely for worship, but for context. Worship comes from the West Saxon meaning the “condidion of being worthy, dignity, glory, honor, distinction, renown”. Literally weorð “worthy” and scipe “ship”; that which has worth-ship. The Bible is certainly deserving of the title, “worthy”. It is single-handedly the most influential of all books in the Western Canon and has shaped American culture in ways so fundamental they are imbedded in common sense notions of what a human being is. We embody it in the ways we don’t think of—it’s in us because it is undergirding structure of our culture. It is so elemental to the functionality of our nation that it is practically invisible due to its ubiquity. If we dismiss the immensely intricate, deeply rooted principles in the as mere superstition or antiquated reasoning by primitive simpletons we do so at our own peril—for it leaves a us vulnerable to anything that satisfies at that moment. Harold Bloom articulated this in the 90’s:

When the cognitive modes (philosophy, science, religion, history) fail a society then, willy-nilly, whether it wants to or not, it becomes a literary culture...and I’m not sure that this is good for literature or good for society, but I think this is what has happened. Even now, in the digital age, though we call it by different names and we adulterate the phenomenon, we live in a literary culture. Meaning: young people in general, and to some extent all of us, we live without belief, where are we to turn to be moved?’s a question of what is going to form your minds when, intellectually speaking, religion, philosophy, science, history, these are now stuffed birds on the shelf, they are not love birds that you can hold in your hand. If you’re going to be warmed into life, if your mind is to catch fire, it can only be through great, imaginative literature…

Human history is awash in blood because societies devolve into illiterate mobs. We are human beings and we have a nature—an uneducated populace pumping themselves up on fiery narratives is disastrous. Peter Thiel, a fascinating human being, in a conversation with Eric Weinstein stated, rather matter-of-factly, that…

One of the challenges in resetting science and technology in the 21st century is: how do we tell a story that motivates sacrifice, incredibly hard work, deferred gratification for the future that’s not intrinsically violent?

Those who espouse the doctrinal narratives of Intersectionality or Marxism aren’t making serious arguments, though they’re seriously arguing them, these—potent narrative arguments. But the arguments themselves are specious, they near parody for they don’t even seem to regard an attempt at verisimilitude. Take the first round of the 2019 debates for presidential candidacy: each candidate champions distention of governmental powers across the board. This should be a red flag to any eye, trained or untrained. It proves one thing: these candidates are all pandering to small donors for the most donors. Not even the most dollars, not yet anyhow. Just the most donors. That gets them through the primaries. So, when asked for a show of hands which of them supports health care for all non-citizens who cross over and/or reside within our borders unlawfully—every hand goes up. Why? Because the donors are watching, and the donor base is a good gauge at what will make it to the general election. With a looming debt crisis at $22 trillion and $180 trillion in unfunded liabilities the policies these candidates are building their campaigns around are fundamentally increased government spending and lampooning the current president—because they still have a donor base. And that’s to who the candidates pivot. They think they can win on the base and the popular vote because Donald Trump is such a polarizing figure. This a faulty strategy.

If Trump’s opponents want to beat him in 2020, they need stop caricaturizing him. Cartooning him into a villain. Writing him off as an idiot and the 2016 election as, at best, a fluke, and at worst, a fraud. This is exactly what he wants. This is a man who flourishes when underestimated. Trump is not stupid, and it would be wise for his opposition to acknowledge as much. If celebrities, professional athletes, and lottery winners have taught us anything, it’s that stupid people can’t keep money. Donald Trump not only maintained the wealth he inherited from his father, but he compounded it over decades, turning millions into a few billion—in the most difficult markets on the face of the earth: prime downtown Manhattan Real Estate and the entertainment industry. He’s done far too many complex things to be even considered average intelligence. But again, and more importantly, he is a formidable opponent. He is such because he is a visionary. He’s not an intellectual, he’s an artist (I can hear you now, “yeah, he’s an artist alright, a conartist”; all artists are conartists. Artists create illusions, but they do so to reveal capital “T” Truths). His art is spectacle. His conjured illusion: being a goof. It’s never having a dull moment. He realizes that television doesn’t like real people. Television gets bored with real people real quick. So, Trump crafted a persona fit for television. "Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you're here?!" Trump is the guy who walks into the theater and says “you guys know this is fake right?” and everyone shushes him, condemning his spectacle for breaking the suspension of disbelief. And then he says, “alright, while you’re all wrapped-up in this social justice drama, I’ll be running for president.”, “sure thing, Donnie,” the crowd mutters.

Trump intuits. He feels things out (rather literally, in some cases, unfortunately, according to the portrait of the artist the artist has painted of himself). Read his books. These are not reservoirs of syntactical slivers of wisdom assembled from the mind of an intellectual; they’re not books you’ll be quoting like Shakespeare, but they are revealing; there is an overarching theme to them: this man relishes in being the underdog. This is a man who has crafted a persona that renders him, to the untrained eye, an unintimidating figure — a persona he picked up from the World Wrestling Federation industry — and it has catapulted him to the most coveted positions on earth. Hence his approval of Boris Johnson, another man who has spent a lifetime representing himself as a buffoon in order to get people’s guard down. Where Donald and Boris differ is, Boris is an intellectual, Donald is an artist. Trump wants you to write him off, mainly so you aren’t prepared to take him on. But even if you do prepare, he’s going to be a few steps ahead because he doesn’t get bogged down by all the heady stuff of academics and intellectuals—and politics is full of academics trying intellectually pin Trump down. That’s exactly what he wants. You keep writing him off and trying to intellectualize his motives. He’s moved on. As he once put it, “I trust what my gut tells me over what anyone else’s brain tells me.” The man is no poet. He doesn’t have a rich and deep inner life. He’s not going to sit around a fire expounding on Hayekian economic theory. He just understands how the economy works. He doesn’t spend his time debating into the wee hours of morning the philosophies of human nature. He just understands human nature; hence his appeal to the middle and working blue-collar class. He doesn’t contemplate to himself, he talks to people. He projects. He’s a pure extrovert. Everything about him is broadcast. This explains his relish for greatness. He’s spent a lifetime projecting his notion of greatness, hence the buildings, the lifestyle, the vastness of his scope. This is a man of large, one may even say “great”, appetites. Again, he relishes. This puts him above the average person. Average people don’t relish. They enjoy, partake, engage, but they don’t relish. Trump relishes everything. The hallmark of one who relishes everything is rotundity. Think Orson Welles, Hemingway, Churchill, Falstaff—these large figures who all had an element of buffoonery to them. Now, I must establish that simply because one possesses a largeness doesn’t mean that one relishes. There’s a difference between one who relishes everything, and a glutton. Gluttony implies and element of sloth and laziness. Trump is many things, but slow and lazy aren’t one of them. He has faults, but great men are rarely ever good men. Trump is a man constantly on the move. He’s up 20 hours a day. Sometimes he only sleeps 90 minutes according to his doctors. Whitaker Chambers once said, "to live is to maneuver." Trump is an expert maneuverer. This is how those top-tier, CEO of billion-dollar industries are, they can’t help but be active—it’s their default setting. They don’t think about it, they are it. These candidates running against him now have yet to demonstrate a working knowledge of just how formidable Trump is, and how they will lose if they don’t start taking him seriously.

Trump was one of the first to see right through the likes of Ocasio-Cortez and her illusory Green New Deal, and he knew McConnell did as well. When a proposed bill is packaged as the means to revolutionize energy generation and is marketed as an essential piece of legislation that must be drafted into law immediately because the apocalypse is nigh—people like Trump know to put it to the test. Have McConnell green-light it for a floor vote, call it out. Not only did this reveal the insincerity of the bill. It also it revealed how little support there actually was for it, in congress and in the US.

This is known as Astroturfing. When an effort is made to disguise something as a movement with mass support where none or very little exists.

Not only did they see through her charade, they knew it wasn’t even hers. Once we finally went to the source and spoke to Saikat Chakrabarti, the orchestrator of the GND, himself? Well:

“Do you guys think it’s a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a change-the-entire-economy thing.”

Welcome to the simulation—reaffirmed by the simulacrum.

Historian Niall Ferguson was in Australia a few months back, expressing his concerns about the Green New Deal. He called it the “Green Leap Forward due its Maoist implications.”

If you are worried about the climate (which is a worthy concern), if you want to contribute to the climate positively? One way to do that is to cease mass migration. Why? Because mass migration is the relocation of a large number of people in low environmental consumption geographies to high environmental consumption geographies. Thus, CO2 emissions increase. The whole perspective on climate is backwards. What needs to be remedied, if indeed we are to take this seriously, is not changing the climate. What we should focus on is adapting to the changing climate and making those little personal commitments to ourselves to thoughtful choice-making. Save and improve what we can, of course. But we are the ones who will suffer if we do not prepare and adjust our decisions individually. The earth is going to be fine. Some people are choosing not to have children because of the doomsday prophesies, which makes no sense. If you wish to be able to ameliorate anthropogenic climate change you want more people, because more humans make for more human ingenuity. Human innovation is the way into the future. Personal accountability is the way to sustain that future.

The same people making the wrong climate arguments are the ones making the same kind of wrong arguments on things like gender pay-gaps. The latest iteration being the Women’s National Soccer League. Their argument is simple: “pay us more than the men because we win more games.” Sounds logical. Who would argue against that? No one, given that rhetorical framework. However, simply watch the two compete, and the levels of competition therein. Then look at the revenue streams. There’s no comparison. They practically aren’t even playing the same sport. Similar rules, similar gear, similar concept—completely different ball game. The fact is, men’s sports draw in a vastly larger crowd. Why? The ontological verity is that the male body is capable of achieving greater heights of athleticism than the female body; the chronological contingency is that, due to this fact, men compete at a higher, more demanding level of gamesmanship, thus increasing viewership, thus bringing in a higher revenue, thus returning larger profits. It is not only economically nonsensical to pay women more though they bring in less, it is ethically nonsensical for doing so. If the competition is more severe in men’s leagues because of the incredible athletic potential of the male body then the demand is going to be higher for viewing male athletics than female athletics, no matter the ratio of wins to losses. The economic value of female athletics will not equate to the male economic value – not because of oppression but because of the feats achieved in male sports compared to female sports.

You are seeing this currently in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) where transgender males (individuals who were born female and through surgical/hormonal enhancement are now identifying as males) are arguing to compete with men. Of course, given a long enough timeline a biological female will defeat a male opponent, but will not only lose more often but indeed endure greater damage to her anatomical frame and internal organs. Put another way, a well-trained, well-disciplined, truly tough biological female can eventually beat a male opponent. A well-trained, well-disciplined, truly tough biological male will beat every female opponent.

To raise the wages of females in areas like sports, or in business for that matter, where the few differences between males and females create vastly different outcomes, simply because there is a difference in pay that is conspicuous at first glance, is an error in ethical and economical judgement. In a corporate/business setting, males on average demonstrate less risk aversity, a willingness to relocate, and proneness to taking on increased workloads by tacking on working more hours for extended periods of time — these are only a few traits males demonstrate in the workplace that contribute to men often making more. Longitudinal study after longitudinal study have borne the same results that this is the case. For instance, taking on an increased workload, and working more hours for extended periods of time is something males do when they start up a family. Most males in the workplace are married with kids, men who get married and have kids, men with kids though maybe not in a relationship, or men with aspirations of starting a family—these are the individuals who will produce more in the workplace because they have taken on more responsibility outside the workplace thus resulting in a desire and need to work harder, longer, and more efficiently within the workplace. Then there are the highly competitive single males who are simply career-driven. The advantage for females falls on the single, career-driven ones. They make bank. Yet still, women overwhelmingly seek work/life balance and hour flexibility. Women understand, or intuit, far better than men that good health is key and a key to good health is a life outside of work that is just as fulfilling. Men will literally work themselves to death. A fact which tinctures Picasso's dictum with a hue of tragedy lacquered with perverse humor, "inspiration exists, but it must find you working."

To artificially increase the wages of a group simply because there is a difference in wages, without any regard to why there is a difference, is an unjust means to settle what is considered an injustice. It is an expedient means toward justice. And an expedient means toward justice is an injustice in of itself.

Is it fair, with regard to sports, that men have different bone density and muscle twitch timing as a result of an XY chromosomal molecular structure that results in testosterone which causes such differences? Well, now we’ve delved into the semantics of fairness and what that means biologically, and thus, societally. Is it fair, is it just, that biology, that nature, has manifest this way? I don’t know. Maybe there is a certain justice, or justness, in the way nature has manifest, that is known in only a supernatural sense, in the most fundamental sense of the term supernatural: that which is beyond nature. And that gets into theological conversations of God. In the material world justice and fairness are not synonymous.

I would note, however, the WNSL utilizes a collective-bargaining system for compensation: through arbitration and a collective negotiation process. They traded their higher bonuses for a salary based on their truly remarkable record and what their budget is (the men have a completely different pay structure and receive no guaranteed salary but higher bonuses) to which they all voluntarily agreed. If they don’t like the agreement now, they can request, demand even, a renegotiation. The men’s soccer league in the 2018 World Cup alone brought in $6 billion (the players took home about 7% or $400 million of that). The women’s soccer league is projected in their World Cup to bring in $131 million (along with some $17 million for ads) in revenue for the next full 4-year cycle (2019-2022). The previous women’s World Cup brought in $73 million and the players got about 13% or 9.5 million of that, so percentage wise, they’re getting paid more, but from a smaller revenue pool. Do you know how many millions are in a billion? One thousand. There are one thousand millions in one billion. So, comparatively, the men’s soccer industry brings in six thousand millions relative to the women’s one hundred and thirty-one millions. To speak of pay gaps is only to speak nominally, not contextually. It’s a political charade. Playing into political power-grabs from age-old debunked arguments that are potent on an emotional level but do not withstand scrutiny. Aptitudes and interests, particularly interests, rendered neon at the extremes, are where men and women bifurcate regarding the averages of (insert grievance claim here). For instance: sports have a predominantly male viewership (i.e. men are more interested in sports). This interest can be found across several levels of stratification. I don’t hear anyone complaining about the overrepresentation of male viewership for, say, YouTube (the amount of money funneled through that enterprise is staggering) or videogaming (which, I suppose it could be argued as a form of sport; it is certainly a realm of competitive participation, but so is business of all types). This is not to say that there isn’t discrimination against females, or persons of color, or individuals with slight cognitive disabilities, in the workplace. This is not to say that men have been, all across the board, supportive and non-intrusive, or forged a high fidelity to all manners chivalric and noble. We need to highlight when these circumstances of indecency, dishonor, or flat-out malevolence, occur and deal with them case by case. That’s the pathway to justice.

There’s something off about arguing gaps. It just seems like another case of making the wrong argument or looking for solutions in the wrong places. An impressive undergraduate of philosophy who's gained some prominence lately, Coleman Hughes touched on this notion in a conversation with Brown University professor and economist Glenn Loury:

“It’s not obvious that talking about gaps is a really useful framework for improving outcomes for people than talking about making things better for those on the bottom in a race blind way; but if we are going to talk about outcomes, if we’re going to talk about racial [or gender] disparities, then lets talk about racial [and gender] disparities in inputs as well in order to be intellectually honest… Why can’t we be looking at increasing wealth in general?”

Why can’t we just be looking to improve things for everybody? Why single groups out? How is that helpful?

The women’s soccer team apparently play on Astroturf, and the men roll out grass. Again, the men’s league can afford it due to a bigger budget. The remedy here is not artificiality (read: deliberately) raising pay even though the revenue has not increased, but instead, appeal to a larger audience without politics. Create a genuine larger demand for the sport. For a long time, sports were where we went to gather and forget partisan appeal, and instead engage in some aggressive spectatorship—a place to get the war out without the war. It’s well-known Astroturf is better for the environment (one of the many reasons the women’s soccer league chose it) because there are no gas powered machines like lawnmowers emitting fumes, no pesticides, no sprinkler system using up water; however, it’s fiercely expensive. They want a bigger pay, maybe they should start by looking at how they spend what little budget they already have. Nonetheless, there’s something specious about the US women’s league’s entire argument, there’s a Chakrabartian, Green New Deal, “You guys think this is about equal pay?”, feel to it.

Welcome to the simulation—reaffirmed by the simulacrum.

These Culture War squabbles are really just petty politicking quibbles that have high potency and low productivity. It’s not just an unproductive semantic experiment with aims to conjure reality into existence. It’s a counterproductive byproduct of what is known as the Russel Conjugation (see: Bertrand Russel’s original theory and Frank Luntz’s modern, more data-driven approach –note: Luntz was unaware of Russel’s original formulation) which revealed how emotive language with little to no substance has incredible potency; our brain thinking relatively rather than rationally: what social consequence will stem from me accepting the facts as they exist? This is the tool of propaganda: a weaponization of empathy. The truth is, women aren’t the future. Neither are men or persons of color. Society’s future lay within its children. And society doesn’t give a shit about its children. We do not live in a society structured to protect children. Society doesn’t sympathize with its children it simply pretends to empathize with them. It sympathizes with abusers and blames the abused when it comes to children. If society cared about children, there is no conceivable way there would be a national debt. These children played no role in the debt our government so effortlessly piles on their futures. If society cared about its children, there’s no way public education would be the dismal institution of propagandistic overtures and cynical sermons where empathy is wielded as a tool of indoctrination: learn what I, the teacher, have to tell you. And the whole modern method of education is dreck. It began under Woodrow Wilson with the likes of John Dewey. The early philosophy of education was three-fold: 1) Focus on religion, morality, and knowledge; 2) thinking skills; and 3) instill high expectations. Children by the time they were 13 could debate and approach a question and set of facts with fierce scrutiny while remaining objective and dispassionate. They studied forensics (comes from the Latin forensis “of a forum, place of assembly”; “pertaining to or suitable for courts of law”; i.e. a place to craft the art of public argumentation.) and utilized the catechized method of learning (how to think by arguing both sides of a question/series of questions). They learned to answer questions by instilling, to an instinct, the method of approaching a question’s three-dimensionality. They realized a question has facets: who, what, when, where, why, and how. But all of that changed with Wilson’s ideas of education reform.

(note: terms like “political science” didn’t appear until the early 1900’s. In 1903 the American Political Science Association was founded, an institution Woodrow Wilson presided as president over in 1909. From the 18th-20th centuries science was the intellectual and experimental field that was indeed the way of the future. It was a highly prestigious, and still is as far as I am concerned, practice and community. Politics is many things, but it is certainly not a science, and neither is the study of it. There has been a great deal of counterproductivity in the decades that have followed this conflation of science and, well, practically everything else. We traded the Bunsen Burner of science for the stove top of social sciences. Though appetizing, it hasn’t been fulfilling.)

The Department of Education (first organized and titled Office of Education) was founded in 1867. By 1874 you had the Board of Education in Massachusetts stating, “The child should be taught to consider his instructor, in many respects, superior to the parent in point of authority.” By 1918 you had the American Federation of Teachers. 1919, the Progressive Education Association with its systemic changes in pedagogy. They abandoned the philosophy of public debate and thinking-centered exercises and shifted the focus to “learning”. Thus, the emphasis was taken off the student and put on the teacher. This is when the methods of “fill in the blank”, “true or false”, and “multiple choice” were introduced. Children were now forced to “learn” what the teacher said; thinking about questions and ideas were shelved. School: where you get information. School: where you get in formation. God forbid children learn how to think. They may start asking questions. By 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was put in place — you know, just for the poor kids — but it wasn’t long before it was the essential means of education in these United States. It’s a trillion-dollar industry today, and our children are intellectually impoverished.

“How about we improve schools so that they’re not dangerous hell holes of weapons of mass distraction and lack of concentration camps where children have to go through metal detectors and hope they survive?” -Stefan Molyneux

To society, children are a bargaining chip. Children are leverage. No one cared about kids in detention centers at the border when President Obama was in office, but President Trump comes in and enforces zero tolerance for those who cross over the border between ports of entry—now it’s racist and xenophobic.

(It’s the hallmark trait of demagogues to utilize the language of fear to condemn the enemy as being fearful of something, thus the absurd new wave of illogical epithets like xenophobia. A phobia is a persistent fear — of an object, activity, or situation — so irrational that it is considered a mental disorder. “Phobia” is a medical term. Adulterating and generalizing such terms is detrimental to the structure of language, which is detrimental to the structure of culture, which is detrimental to the structure of society, which is detrimental to structure itself: if we lose our ability to communicate with one another there is nothing left but war. We lose our ability to communicate with one another if language becomes so charged that any word of true empathic and substantive value, particularly terms that should incite outrage, no longer do. The term “racist” has now, most unfortunately, drowned in this deluge of lexical tumescence. In other words: the cultural conversation has been overrun by demagoguery, increasingly all our conversations are being tinctured with such stygian and turgid rhetoric. Interestingly enough, the reasoning behind opting for abortions is most often a fear that having children will ruin the mother’s body and life. I wait patiently for someone to write a thesis on how abortion is essentially xenophobia in its most extreme form.)

The relationship society has with children is quintessentially abusive. It’s one big propaganda campaign: convince children society cares for them and then you can demand obedience; don’t challenge them to think, force them to learn.

Where is the outrage regarding Jeffery Epstein? We caught Harvey and everyone lost their minds. A whole movement came of it. We catch Jeff – eh, get him on prostitution charges and make him a sex offender, give him a few months but don’t require him to… oh, wait, that was the first time he got caught—a decade ago. And how much did we get of this in the press? Zilch. The case was sealed, and the story was buried. Mike Cernovich found out the entire case file was closed off from the public and therefore sued because it’s illegal to seal off an entire case file unless the accused is a minor. What happened to him? He was lambasted and ostracized. His name to this day still has a black stain over it. Yet he trucks on. Crowdsourcing for funds to sue the kinds of people that cover these evils up. Our press is just as culpable, Democracy Dies in Darkness—where were has the media been? What’s the cultural response now? “Eh, ‘bout time they caught him”, society suspires. The man was sexually abusing little children and pimping them out to his friends, even blackmailing said friends into subsidizing his perversions, thus making an industry of it that brought in millions of dollars. You know those rumors of large pedophilia rings in the US and Europe that everyone dismisses as conspiracy theories? This is that. Child sex-trafficking is a billion-dollar industry, the US being the largest consumer. Corey Feldman’s eccentricities may be off-putting but those are probably due to years of trauma he suffered either directly from this industry or from years of everyone calling him crazy for calling it out. Where are your marches now? Where are your hats and signs and policy demands? Where is your embattled spirit for the most vulnerable and most worthy? This is where evil comes from—it isn’t engendered from trauma. It’s birthed from hypocrisy. When these kids grow to discover they were played like cards because they couldn’t vote and couldn’t pay taxes, they get mad. Society stokes the coals misanthropy with the fire iron of hypocrisy, fueled by the logs of cynicism. And we wonder why kids shoot-up schools. The public grasps their face in disbelief, clueless as to why kids are overdosing and committing suicide in numbers that have literally brought down the national life-expectancy average. Ten more years of this cynicism is worse than any debt crisis or change in climate. It will end us far sooner, and far more barbarically. This is why we need hierarchies: climate change is terrifying and we have a debt crisis the is less than two decades away. But we have a growing cynicism that is not only killing our youth but killing the public’s desire to procreate; in 2017 child birth rates hit the lowest they’ve ever been. This is mainly because people increasingly view the world as worse than it actually is—and when people increasingly view the world as worse than it actually is, the world becomes a worse place. That’s known as a paradox.

Society claims to care for its children yet 40-60% of black females report having been sexually abused before the age of 18 by black males – you ever hear about that? No. Because it is deemed discriminatory language. And discrimination has become a bugaboo term. Another victim of the Culture War. People become drunk with that term’s potency. Discrimination is just another rhetorical weapon wielded to shut down conversations; society has phobia of truths. Or maybe not, maybe it’s perfectly rational to fear the truth. Nonetheless, offense is the new blasphemy. The conversation isn’t, “hmm let’s investigate further the reality of this data and its implications”, it’s “that data doesn’t jive with my reality, it must be hateful.” Often discrimination is deemed a cancer; a more apt analogy would be white blood cells. White blood cells fight foreign organisms that enter the body – they discriminate everything from bacterial and parasitic infections to allergic responses. An overproduction of white blood cells, however, can lead to leukemia. Too much discrimination is harmful, or, indeed, cancerous. I have a sneaking suspicion that things like IQ — which I personally believe is a rather thin index regarding such a rich and complex phenomenon as intelligence — in places that disregard them, or bury what the studies show, are fearful of the implications. For instance, I think University administrations and Silicon Valley believe, deep down, that IQ may actually be more real than they let off; that they believe studies of intelligence indicate disparities between, say, races and sexes, are fundamentally true, thus, rendering a deep-rooted racism and misogyny among that mosaic of ecumenical elites. Even Orwell didn’t foresee that private enterprises and institutions were going to be far more important than the exercise of government power, and how language use would be arbitrated by the HR departments of tech industry and whittled down in the rainbow administrative conference rooms of the Universities.

Welcome to the simulation—reaffirmed by the simulacrum.

When the tumescence of language becomes too much for the culture to bear, they begin relinquishing their liberties to legislative authorities. Happens every time. The populace starts putting all their hopes and honors and exaltations on rulers and official positions. The presidency wasn’t designed to be occupied by a tribune of the people - it was designed for a person who commands the army/navy and enforce the laws on the books and in between that the president acts as a broker for congress, while having command of the army and enforcing the laws on the books. In all honesty the office of the Presidency was specifically designed for George Washington, first and foremost. In absence of him, it was designed with a man of expert negotiating abilities in mind. This is why Republicans ears perked up when Trump kept hammering home his aptitude for deal making. The framers had these two in mind because the office was going to be where you have a head of state; but the framers had a complete misunderstanding of factions. They believed factions were pernicious, ephemeral, and to be avoided; they didn’t realize factions were not only natural, not necessarily bad, but indeed ineluctable. The design of the office was to balance interests in order to suppress factions. Hamilton actually had the most reasonable though slightly monarchical design for the office: the people vote for electors, those electors vote for other electors, and they vote for the president who would have life tenure. The thinking behind it was simple enough: you take public opinion, refine it by two degrees and whoever prevails through the refinement process is the president. But the framers went with an individual who was head of state, but they didn’t realize they were also electing one who would be the figurehead of factions. After some rather big hiccups and tinkering by adding a 12th amendment the process of selecting a renowned broker was complete. But now, the presidency, in the eyes of an increasing ill/mis-informed many, has risen to be ‘the tribune of the people’ and that title is enchanting to the worst types of personalities. That title is attractive to those who view the White House as the goal. It transmogrifies the Oval Office into the solace of the demagogue.

To combat this the populace must become literate again. MARA! Make America Read Again! And I don’t mean Harry Potter, I mean the truly challenging stuff: Melville and Faulkner; Shakespeare and Austin; Heart Crane and Wallace Stevens; Sophocles and Sapho; Dante and Horace; the Enlightenment thinkers, the Romantics, the classics from Homer to Whitman. Learn to write and write clearly and responsibly. You are a force to be reckoned with if you’re literate and can articulate your ideas. If you can take an inquiry sincerely, delve into the recesses of your mind (which are practically infinite), conjure the energy to render explicit the abstractions therein and negotiate, reason, and defend yourself—there is nothing that can get in your way. Not even fear. One of the dopiest words on earth is “fearless”. There is no courage without fear. And if you’re not going to be courageous in your thinking and writing and speech, you shouldn’t do any of those things. That’s the whole point. There’s no such thing as a fearless writer, there are courageous ones and bad ones. If one writes fearlessly then they’re a terrible writer because nothing is done seriously without fear. Cowards do things that way, ready to write-off their actions, goals, ambitions as not serious when they backfire because it’s embarrassing to fail when a genuine effort is put in. Fear is a sophisticated evolutionary device only humans possess, it put us at the top of the food chain—not because it made us avoid what could be harmful, but because it made us prudent; we assess circumstances through cost and benefit analysis, and when the odds are stacked against us we get keen and go. Cowards pretend fear isn’t there with cynical claims like “it’s not worth it.” But at the root of it, cowards know that fear itself is the reason the highest aim isn’t worth their time. It’s clear when you read the words of a coward. It’s fear that makes what mankind does so special and great. Not fear broadcast and sold, that’s demagoguery. No, the fear behind each of our foreheads that must be overcome: fear of retaliation, fear of ostracization, fear of rejection, fear of being wrong, fear of failure. It is in spite of this fear that human beings have achieved so much; from art to astronomy; from troglodytes to astronauts; from the caves to the stars we overcame our fears and have etched our existence into eternity. And the universe is greater for it. It is when we confront our fallibility and own it that we do our best work. We see it for what it is and press on. Human beings are fascinating. Lovely creatures, despite all their wretchedness. In relation to the scale of it all, cosmically speaking, we are pathetic things. Every bit as ineffective in light of nature and all its sublimity. But we have the ability to transcend. We curl up in corners one moment and explore the oceans the next—and time holds no sway when fear is put at bay, but not forgotten. I fear that my words are inadequate. I fear that they won’t help anybody and that all my time, the most precious resource I have, will have been spent for naught. But I do it anyway, because I believe in what I’m doing and I have faith in it. And more important, I believe and have faith it can inspire people to do greater things that I can fathom or articulate. And that is worth every bit of this most precious thing—my time.

“What is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis, whose phrase of
Conjures the wandering stars, and makes
them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers?” –Hamlet

It is time that the simulacrum robs from you.

My heart yearns for anarchy. But men are not angels. We are more like ghosts emerging as fleshy metaphors for something far more real and absolute. Yet we have a nature. I have a nature. And therefore, I see all the wrongs of the world in myself. Every bit of it in me. Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto.

Somehow, we each need to embrace a Solzhenitsyn-like self-awareness that reveals a terrible truth: I am culpable.

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” –Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Each individual, a nature contained:

“For though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet I have something in me dangerous,
Which let thy wisdom fear.” –Hamlet

The realm of nature itself is some separate thing from a moral universe. Our duty is to transcend this muck and touch that which knows no place and time. This natural world is in its own realm of cause and effect where a sense of morality, a sense of working order, if adhered to, can bring about the most advancing and tenably resourceful of outcomes. I do not believe the natural world is a moral one. Whatever absolute reality that birthed, or orchestrated, or designed this natural universe exists outside of this natural one; indeed, a super-natural one. A transcendent realm beyond perception and measure – dis-linked from flesh, fauna and flora, and all this matter. There is majesty in the double helix, maybe even a miracle, but no morality. The transcendent, supernatural are only observed when embodied in the actions of individuals who are conscious enough to compose themselves to a perceivable working order amid the ineluctable chaos of this here and now place we call the cosmos. To behave in a manner that brings about such order reveals the greater reality as such is to transcend the material, transcend the conflict of the natural universe, where suffering and confusion abound, and touch the wild beyond—matrixing with the supernatural. That’s what Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam is—touching the transcendent, ever-creating and ever-being created: an individual aligned with that which aims towards composure integrates herself in a manner that attracts the materia into an orderly orbit. For these people things seem to fall into place, like some adherence to some unwritten law; whether that be God’s law, I don’t know if God intended there to be laws, but there are laws of nature, they came from somewhere, and we’d be wise to heed them. Or at least know what they are, what they mean, how they apply—and then, with a little humble curiosity and respect, break them at our leisure through experimentation in a setting where it can do the least amount of damage. Maybe God realized over time His creation operated in certain ways. He found out we were inclined to break the rules. In the Old Testament God negotiates with and even seems to learn the working ways of man. God demonstrated His own curiosity regarding his creatures. He came to understand us better over time. In fact, I believe that is the essence of the Christian faith with its keystone of forgiveness: God became man. There is a rabbinical question, ancient in its formulation: what does an unlimited being lack? I believe the answer is limitation. Thus, when God became man, he learned what it was to be limited. He saw his creation through limited eyes. He finally understood what it was to be human. How humiliating it is at every moment to run up against one’s limitations and just what it means to us to achieve a moment of transcendence, a moment when one exceeds one’s limitations. How truly difficult it is to keep faith. God himself, incarnated as Jesus loses faith even in himself, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? At moments, ever so human and painful, when confronted with one’s limitations all literally is lost and to be found again is nothing short of a miracle seized with a little courage. We human beings do this every day, nearly all day, from that first moment we register that we have awaken to that last blink before slumber. God had his revelation that what he had created was truly precious precisely because of its limitations—and so He forgave. So, we are forgiven.

King David, after his and Bathsheba’s child was taken as a punitive measure by God, bathed, worshiped and then ate bread after having fasted and not bathed during his child’s illness. His house would never again know peace, and his name was shunned in public. The death of his child doesn’t feel right to readers, much like the law doesn’t always feel right, even when everything goes accordingly. We forgive and behave forgivingly, for none of us are more than the other. We judge, but we do it instinctively, and therefore we would be wise to forgive ourselves for the judgements. Dispense what is not worthy of you. Maybe that’s what Hell is. A place not occupied by souls in their entirety but simply littered with parts of the soul that are unworthy. Satan’s scraps, if you will. Let the law take all the weight of dispensing punishment and public judgment. If Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg could be friends — which they were — then all Americans can be friendly with one another. Judgement is intrinsic, friendliness takes a little work. Takes an incredible force of will to treat ourselves well, let alone other people. This is why we must teach our children to think, otherwise they just wander amidst the chaos of their thoughts—infinite judgements swarming them like locusts.

In the words of the bard, Dylan, not Shakespeare:

“See that’s what thought has to do with it. Thought will fuck you up.”

Now, with regards to all these stories in the Bible, I’m not speaking historically. I don’t know if that’s true. But if I am to speak historically, then what I am saying is that these people who assembled the Bible over thousands of years were not simple. In fact, they were not only rich and complex but may have indeed understood far more about the nature of man and the world than we do today. There is great wisdom to be derived from that book. Our founders knew this. So did the common folk simply surviving day to day. Everyone knew the Bible. In those days to not know the Bible practically by heart was strange, shameful even. The teachings therein were ensconced in the culture—they still are, most just don’t know it because they don’t think about it, and increasingly these days they’re taught not to.

The term “supernatural” has gained a somewhat comical connotation over the years but it simply means beyond nature; that which defies nature merely by its existence. The term “God” then merely refers to that which is not within nature but beyond it. Nature itself is separate from God but not hidden from it. Adam and Eve never had a mother, but all of us do—technically Adam served as a type of mother, for Eve came from Adam’s body. Adam was conjured from the red clay, from the earth. Mother earth, but no mother figure. We are removed from this father through the mother, but not hidden. I can wrap my head around that: in order to connect with that which is beyond one must strive actively with the composure of prudence to bring about a justness; and if done so, regardless of our proneness to err, nature’s God reaches out and touches our efforts with a grace observable in the consequence. Sometimes the justness of the outcome is not quite self-evident, or at least, doesn’t seem just. Sometimes justice just doesn’t feel just. The great contextualizing force, which here I employ the term “God”, intervenes in this amoral realm of cause and effect if one aspires to it. This is a duty we all intrinsically understand but must be made aware of in a knowing, conscious sense during adolescence; it must be made explicit, this duty. One of the more influential figures regarding our nation’s framework, Edmund Burke, gave this sentiment a splendid rendering:

Dark and inscrutable are the ways by which we come into the world. The instincts which give rise to this mysterious process of nature are not of our making. But out of physical causes, unknown to us, perhaps unknowable, arise moral duties, which, as we are able perfectly to comprehend, we are bound indispensably to perform. -Edmund Burke

Churchill, with his gift for concision, put this notion rather succinctly:

“There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.” –Winston Churchill

It is this God, the one beyond, that I fear most. My relationship with it is fiercely complex; that is, I do not fully comprehend the relationship, thus I fail to fully comprehend God. I suppose, to the best of my ability in rendering explicit what that means to me, my best efforts to verbalize this phenomenon, this is my understanding: God is that which contextualizes one’s inner life; society contextualizes everything else, a person needs a people. God is both the conflict and the resolution – that fecund friction which engenders aspiration, thus adaptability. I’m wrestling with something colossal, something I can’t get my hands on though, but I’m wrestling it. And my hip hurts.

“As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves.” –Michael Oakeshott

This is what the Bible provokes: an incredibly complex conversation with oneself while simultaneously rendering explicit some fundamental realities. It facilitates the maturation process better than any book, if read seriously. It need not be read as a religious text, but simply. John Quincy Adams instilled this notion in his children. He wished that all children would read it as a practical text.

It will prepare you better than any other text for what is inevitable in this life. Everyone you know will one day suffer the defeat of living. That is the curse of the individual experience; it is also the course. You will one day watch someone you love suffer the ultimate defeat. As life takes them out. And then one day it will happen to you. This is why family is so important. Then community. Then culture. Things worth preserving.

Shakespeare was the first to urge me to get friendly with death. Though that may be easy at 31, it may not be so feasible at 81, if I make it there. But Shakespeare is nearly incomprehensible without some basic understanding of the Bible; this is true for all of Western literature. I said earlier my heart yearns for anarchy. This too is true. I believe all human hearts do. That will one day be satisfied, I’m sure—when I too suffer the defeat of all my days.

There’s something about a rowdy tune played at a funeral that just seems to fit. If you’re going to play a piano at my funeral, remember to hit the keys hard. And don’t forget the crash symbols. Play me a lawless tune to send my soul off into the anarchy of the afterlife. That wild supernatural beyond.

These types of thoroughly felt and deeply considered concepts regarding life can’t be found in memes. The rising pixilated simulacrum. Life can be perceived through it, but there is no life in it. Read a book by the ocean, and then go play in it. That yearning for lawlessness is a yearning for timelessness. A great book is an ocean. The clock stops whenever we dip our toes into these liquid portals of play and discovery. Time ceases when bathing in the words of yesterday’s sages.

On September 17, 1787, the final day of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin, frail with old age, had James Wilson read his admonition. Franklin died three years later.

“I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right — Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.
On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”

Time well spent.

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