Recently while going through my mother’s things I found a treasure. At first glance I mistook it for an old leather bound copy of the New Testament and planned to sell it. While trying to decide how to price it I looked at it more closely and saw that the actual name of the book was An American Bible, published in 1911 by Alice Hubbard.
The book is a compendium of writings from 8 men of American antiquity: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Robert Ingersoll, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Elbert Hubbard. I am currently reading in the Thomas Paine section, having completed Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Each section of the book is titled, “The Gospel According to…” These men were incredibly astute, and compared with the statesmen of our day, they appear absolutely brilliant. My how far we have strayed from the ideas and ideals put forth by these founding fathers!
Consider the following:
Ben Franklin says of the various religions, “I respected them all, though with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mixed with other articles, which, without any tendency to inspire, divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another.”
“The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.” Thomas Jefferson
Is America meant to be a Christian nation? Thomas Jefferson again, “Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting the words ‘Jesus Christ,’ …the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan (sic), the Hindoo (sic) and Infidel of every denomination.”
I leave you with Thomas Paine, “When it shall be said in any country in the world, My poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness;--when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and its government.”
I’m looking forward to The Gospel According to Walt Whitman.