Sunday, March 06, 2011

Future Blogging Ideas:

I'm pretty busy at work (the way I like it). I don't view blogging as work; it's fun. I have no kids and I have to find something to do with my idle time. Plus writing -- getting yourself focused on the moment -- is a good way to get your mind involved in a project that helps pass the time.

But I am busy with work so I don't know how quickly my output will occur. A good blog has a new post every day. I think American Creation COULD have this if the other posters participated more; but I understand we all have busy lives.

So let me give some ideas on themes I'm going to explore in the near future and PERHAPS other co-bloggers and readers can help me RESEARCH the material beforehand.

1. I'm looking for a sermon. I know it exists in the library at Princeton (perhaps it exists at the David Library in Washington's Crossing as well). But I'd like to get it online. It is entitled "The Distinct Claims of Government and Religion, Considered in a Sermon Preached Before the Honourable House of Burgesses, at Williamsburg, in Virginia." It is by one Rev. Samuel Henley, an Anglican. It may have influenced Jefferson and Madison's "Virginia view" on religion & government. Rev. Henley was friends with Bishop James Madison who was a like-minded Whig with his namesake cousin and Jefferson. Rev. Henley was also tried for heresy and may have been a theological unitarian.

2. I want to explore more Timothy Dwight's "The Triumph of Infidelity." Dwight was President of Yale during the Founding Era and was more of an evangelical-fundamentalist kind of orthodox Christian. He was obviously an enemy of Thomas Paine, the French Revolution and that kind of "hard infidelity" that was strict deism. He was also an enemy of the unitarians, the softer infidelity that oft-presented itself under the auspices of "Christianity." Such "soft infidelity" thought of itself as "rational Christianity" and was very often unitarian and universalist in its theology. It's my contention that if the "key Founders" (the first 4 or 5 Presidents, Ben Franklin and some others) were "infidels," it was of this kind. Dwight explicitly takes on Rev. Charles Chauncy as one of these "soft infidels" masquerading as a "Christian." Again, the key Founders, as I see it, were more men of Chauncy's religion, not Dwight's.

3. I want to continue to explore the theological unitarianism and universalism of the philosophers and divines who influenced America's Founders. Men like Isaac Newton, Samuel Clarke, John Milton. I've given little attention to John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon and would like to do more with them.


Jim51 said...

I was visiting Yardley again and stopped at the David Library. I checked for the sermon "The Distinct Claims..." by Rev Henley.
The librarian seemed to take it as a personal challenge to find it, but after 25+ minutes of bibliographies, indexes and searches concluded that they do not have this sermon in their collection.
I thought you would want to know.

Jonathan Rowe said...


Many thanks for this. It's in Princeton and as the weather gets nicer I may stop by and see what I can do to access it. Apparently, I have to make an appointment with a librarian to access it.