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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thoughts of a Random History Teacher

The blog Patheos has run a post raising the tocsin that the barbarians have entered the gates and made Moses an American Founding Father.  After all, some history textbook in Texas supposedly says so

First of all, I am neither a Texan nor a Baptist nor a Pentecostalist. I have also laughed at Texan jokes.

Sorry, folks, but the Texas books in question DO NOT say that Moses was an 18th century American hobnobbing with the likes of James Madison, George Read, John Jay, etc. They merely note that Moses cast a very long shadow over how Western people have thought about the relationship between people, state, and law--including our own American ideas.

For almost two centuries prior to the writing of the US Constitution, Western political theory was shaped by an argument between proponents of royal absolutism and a school called monarchomach, who argued that the ruler is subject to law and established by political compact rather than immediate divine right (an important distinction). The latter school informed the Puritan and Calvinist view of politics; and what Moses wrote about king and Torah in Deuteronomy 17:14ff. was powerful grist for the monarchomach mill. The 18th century American colonists, who knew their Bibles and were shaped by Calvinist educations, knew that.
If this upsets the triumphalism of those who worship nature, the state, or cosmos, or they're afraid their kiddies will learn that they have derived political benefits from people who believed in the Christian God, WELL, AIN'T THAT TOO DAMN BAD. It's historical fact, whether we like it or not.

Christian conservatives (Eek! Help! Fire!) and ANYONE who wants accurate historical knowledge win. "Progressive Secular Humanists", who have for so long loudly boasted that they can handle any historical or material fact, yet whine, whine, whine when someone mentions the Abrahamic God in a history textbook, make themselves look petty and obscurantist. Worse yet, it shows them bearing false witness against their neighbors (nod to Moshe Rabeinu).

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