Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

  1. A Tale of Two Americas
  2. The Author’s Corner with Andrew Diemer
  3. The Faith of Hillary Cllinton
  4. The Author’s Corner with Barry Hankins
  5. Did Hillary Just Quote John Wesley
  6. Tim LaHaye RIP
  7. Congratulations Hillary Clinton
  8. Eric Metaxas and David Barton Team-Up Against “Angry” Historians
  9. Sunday Night Odds and Ends–July 24, 2016
  10. Time “Traveling” Again

Colonial History in DNC-Infested Philadelphia

Yesterday I spent the day in Philadelphia with thirty-six history teachers from around the country.  These teachers were chosen by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History to join me and Nate McAlister, the 2010 National History Teacher of the Year, to participate in a six day summer seminar at Princeton University.  This is the third year we have conducted this seminar.  We call it The Princeton Seminar.  You can see what we are up to by following us @princetonsemnr

This year our day-trip to Philadelphia coincided with the Democratic National Convention. We took a lot of pictures.  Here are some of them:

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While waiting for our bus I read the teachers some interesting material on George Whitefield from an article by historian Jessica Parr

 

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We sat in DNC-related traffic on Route 95 and got into the city late.  As you can tell, I was not happy about it.

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We made it to Philadelphia. Our tour guide John Ingram was ready to go!

Dean

This pic was taken about two minutes after I tried, unsuccessfully, to chase down former Vermont Governor Howard Dean to thank him for his very funny ending to his DNC speech on Tuesday night

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I met a very enthusiastic DNC delegate from Texas  Could not resist the pic

Indy

Our teachers loved touring Independence Hall

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Not everyone was happy that the DNC was in Philadelphia.  This flag flew in Elfreth’s Alley

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Standing on Market Street.  Notice what is behind me

 

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Standing on Market Street.  Independence Hall was behind me (see pic above).  THIS is what was in front of me. (I will let you draw conclusions)

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End of the day: Some very tired history teachers

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Our fearless leader, Nate McAlister, makes sure all the teachers made it back to our rendezvous point

The Author’s Corner with Barry Hankins

WoodrowBarry Hankins is Professor of History at Baylor University. This interview is based on his new book, Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President (Oxford University Press, 2016).

JF: What led you to write Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President?

BH: In 2012 I was writing Baptists in America: A History (New York: Oxford, 2015) with my colleague Thomas Kidd. In May, Tim Larsen at Wheaton contacted me to say he was pitching a series called Spiritual Lives to Oxford University Press. The criteria of the series is that the subjects NOT be principally religious figures, but nevertheless have religious or spiritual lives of significance. Tim asked if I might be interested in writing a book on Woodrow Wilson for the series. He caught me at a good time as I had begun to think about what my next project might be but had not committed to anything. The prospect of writing on Wilson intrigued me.

I’ve always presented Wilson in American history courses as probably America’s most Christian president prior to Jimmy Carter. Carter’s candidacy in 1976, then the rise of the Christian Right during Reagan’s run for office in 1980, touched off what I would call the evangelical era in American politics. But before Carter, Wilson stood out in his effort to apply Christian principles to the office of the presidency. It was also appealing to write about someone who was a historian before he was president. Wilson remains the only president in history to have a Ph.D.

I immediately thought of several questions I’ve always had about him. Did he retain as president any of the evangelicalism and Reformed theology of his youth in the southern Presbyterian Church? Or, did he turn more toward the progressive theological liberalism of his era? How did he appropriate Christian principles in leading the war effort in WWI? And, what was his civil religion like? So, I accepted Tim’s kind offer to write the book and over the next couple of weeks drafted a proposal that accompanied Tim’s series proposal that he submitted to OUP.

BTW, writing a book suggested by someone else is not unusual for me. This is the third book I’ve written that began as an idea in someone else’s mind. Darryl Hart, for example, is the one who suggested I write a biography of Francis Schaeffer.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President

BH: The argument is in the title—“Spiritual President.” In what I call a soft thesis running through the book, I argue that having been reared in the theologically rich world of southern Presbyterianism, Wilson spiritualized away all the doctrines of his youth. What remained was the progressive, liberal theology of his era. For public purposes, “Christianity” for Wilson came to mean the forward march of democratic justice, while privately Christianity meant spiritual devotion of a warm and romantic sort.

JF: Why do we need to read Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President?

BH: It’s a good read (at least I think so) about an important person in religious history whose life tells us quite a bit about the era in which he was a major figure. Because Wilson was president of Princeton, the book touches on the history of higher education and the irony of how a personally religious person secularized that university. Of course, with WWI, the Peace of Versailles, and the League of Nations the book deals with some of the 20th century’s most important events and the tragedy, irony, and unintended consequences that accompanied them. It also has a chapter on how a national moral leader engaged in and justified a long-running emotional marital affair he eventually became ashamed of. Finally, the book addresses the question of whether there is a place for explicitly Christian doctrine in public affairs.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

BH: I became a historian because I wasn’t tall enough to play in the NBA. Seriously, while in college I was not a great student, largely because basketball came first. Thankfully, I had a really good church history professor named Bill Pitts who I’ve now been colleagues with for over 20 years (although not in the same department). I was fascinated by church history, majored in religion, and thought I was studying for the ministry. After college I began to think I really wanted to be a college professor, in part because I’d get to do more preaching (i.e. lecturing) and less administration than as a pastor. After a year at Fuller Seminary, I went back to Baylor and got an M.A. in church-state studies, then to Kansas State where I studied with Bob Linder, who is still teaching full-time and doing his scholarship. I arrived at KSU wanting a Ph.D. almost exclusively so I could teach at a Christian college. I left with an awareness that I’d never be satisfied if I didn’t write history as well as teach it. I thank Bob for instilling in me that sort of scholar’s ethic.

JF: What is your next project?

BH: I’ve sketched out a book proposal called Religion and the Reagan Revolution (1964-2008). We’ve had some really good scholarship the past 15 years or so on religion and culture since the 1950s, particularly evangelicalism—Turner, Dochuk, Bowler, Coffman, Kruse, Eskridge, and the like. I’d like to synthesize some of that scholarship, supplement it with some of my own original research, and show how central religion was to the rise of Ronald Reagan, the development of Republican conservatism, and the advent of what we might call “evangelical America,” or the “evangelical moment in American history” (1980-2008). This seems particularly pertinent given that we could be past that era and moving into one where evangelicals will again be like they were before 1980—i.e. flying below the radar as a subculture on the margins—which actually might be a good thing for evangelicalism.

Having said all that, I do want to get back to the earlier 20th century at some point. I really enjoyed writing Jesus and Gin about religion and the Roaring Twenties and then the Wilson book. I’m at the point in my life (I turn 60 this year) where I don’t feel I have to rush into anything. I’m primarily interested in writing stuff people will find interesting and that will help them think about American religious history in constructive ways.

JF: Thanks, Barry!

Tim LaHaye: RIP

Evangelical leader Tim LaHaye has passed away.

Whatever you thought about his life’s work, one cannot deny that he was an important figure in postwar evangelicalism.  Whether he was giving sex advice, defending the idea that America was founded as a Christian nation, or writing “end times” novels, he has earned his spot in the history of the modern evangelical movement.

Here are some links related to LaHaye’s passing:

Christianity Today

Interview with Left Behind co-author Jerry Jenkins

CNN

New York Times (desceibes LaHaye as author of “grisly” novels).

NPR

Religion News Network

The Faith of Hillary Clinton

clinton-methodistChristians in the Republican Party can’t stand her.  Did she lie about the e-mails? Yes. Is she a flawed candidate? Absolutely.

But as Calvin College history professor Kristen Kobes Du Mez shows us in her recent piece at Religion and Politics, Hillary Clinton has never abandoned her childhood Methodist faith.

Here is a taste of her piece:

Although considered a liberal Christian by many conservatives (to say nothing of those who refuse to concede that she is in fact a Christian), Clinton has forged closer ties with conservative evangelicalism than is often assumed. When Clinton arrived in Washington, she joined a women’s Bible study and prayer group that was part of the Fellowship, an exclusive group populated by Christian power-brokers who believed they enjoyed a special calling to do God’s will.

As first lady, she read Christianity Today and writings by evangelical pastors Tony Campolo and Gordon MacDonald, as well as by Catholic priest Henri Nouwen. She voiced concern that the United Methodist Church might have become “too involved in the social gospel,” at the cost of paying “enough attention to questions of personal salvation and individual faith.” And she expressed sympathy for evangelicals and fundamentalists who were unfairly stereotyped by the media, affirming their theological striving to make sense of their lives and the world around them.

The influence of Clinton’s faith on her politics is also more nuanced than is often appreciated. As senator, she became part of the Senate Prayer Breakfast, which led to unlikely alliances with conservative Republicans on issues ranging from human trafficking to religious freedom. And on a range of other issues, from her support for the Defense of Marriage Act to her vote on the Iraq War, her politics parted ways with the more progressive voices both in her party and in her church.

Read the entire piece here.

If you want to read more from Kristen Kobes Du Mez check out our recent Author’s Corner on her book  A New Gospel for Women: Katherine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism.

Time “Traveling” Again

Time TRavelSome of you may remember my post about the fatigue that historians can suffer moving intellectually between two eras.   I wrote it in February during my stint as a visiting scholar at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.   Historians immerse themselves in the past, but they are always thinking about the past in the context of their lives in the present.  This kind of “time travel” (if you can call it that) often takes a lot of mental work.

This week I am in Princeton, New Jersey leading a seminar on colonial America for about 35 history teachers who have come here from various places around the country.  I spend most of the day talking about 17th and 18th century North America with this talented group of educators.  At night I have turned to twitter (@johnfea1) in an effort to provide some historical context for the Democratic National Convention.

Yesterday it was the colonial Chesapeake. Last night it was political speeches by people like Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.  Tomorrow we will be in colonial New England.  (As if the move from the tobacco-servant-slave Chesapeake to Puritan Massachusetts Bay is not hard enough).

I think I need a nap.

The Author’s Corner With Andrew Diemer

Politics of Black CitizenshipAndrew Diemer is Assistant Professor of History at Towson University. This interview is based on his new book, The Politics of Black Citizenship: Free African-Americans in the Mid-Atlantic Borderland, 1817-1863 (University of Georgia Press, 2016).

JF: What led you to write The Politics of Black Citizenship?

AD: Historians have made a fairly persuasive case for the centrality of African Americans, free and enslaved, to the emergence of radical abolition. What is less clear is the role that free blacks played in the political turn that antislavery took in the decades before the Civil War. Certainly many African Americans applauded the growth of broad-based parties committed to stopping the expansion of slavery, even if some of the leaders of those parties sought to distance themselves from the radical, interracial abolition movement, but what role did free blacks play in antebellum politics? I set out to write a book about black politics across the North, but at an early stage realized that the nature of nineteenth-century politics makes this difficult. As much as antislavery dealt with national issues, for free black people in the North, many of the most pressing political issues were state and local matters. Philadelphia, home to the largest free black population in the North (depending on how and when one measures this) was a logical choice. At the same time, it struck me that while we often think of Philadelphia in connection with other major Northern cities, it also had significant connections with Baltimore, and Baltimore had an even larger free black population than Philadelphia. Of course, between these two cities lay a legal boundary between slavery and freedom. I became increasingly interested in these connections, in the movement of African Americans within the region and across that boundary.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of The Politics of Black Citizenship?

ADThe existence of such large numbers of free African Americans and their movement (or fears of their movement) across the legal boundary between slavery and freedom made black citizenship rights particularly contentious in this region. Free blacks though largely disfranchised on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, shaped the legal and political system which determined their citizenship rights, in particular demanding the right to the equal protection of state and local laws.

JF: Why do we need to read The Politics of Black Citizenship?

AD: The study of slavery and abolition, along with so much of the historical profession, has taken a strongly international turn in recent years. As important as this turn is, and there is certainly an international dimension to my book, I think that it is essential that we balance this international perspective with close attention to the intensely local dimensions of American politics. Free African Americans were acutely aware of the overlapping geographies of their identities and rights. My book helps to show how the tensions between these local, state, national, and international connections generated a politics of black citizenship. Beyond this, and despite the profoundly different historical contexts, we are living in a time when it is particularly important to think about the history of black struggles for citizenship rights. This is a book about how free African Americans challenged a white dominated political system that often denied them fundamental citizenship rights and which therefore left them vulnerable to violence, kidnapping, and enslavement. This is a story which resonates with our own times.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

AD: I had some great high school history teachers, so I think that was a big part of my interest in American History. My older brother was a big World War II buff and I was always sort of competitive with him, so I think I wanted to one up him by going back to earlier American History. I also remember watching Ken Burns’s Civil War as a really important influence on my historical imagination. When I went to college I thought at first that I wanted to study classics, but a few semesters of conjugating ancient Greek verbs helped me find my way back to American History!

JF: What is your next project?

AD: I am in the early stages of a new book project, a biography of the black abolitionist, William Still. While hardly unknown, he is someone who I think has been somewhat overshadowed by some of his peers, especially Frederick Douglass but others as well. Still is best known for his work in the Vigilance Committee in Philadelphia where he was one of the key participants in the Underground Railroad during the 1850s. In that work he was part of some of the most exiting stories of that decade: Christiana, Henry “Box” Brown, Jane Johnson, John Brown, to name only a few. He also went on to become a businessman, activist, philanthropist, and author.

JF: Thanks Andrew!

Sunday Night Odds and Ends

“The most basic gut impulse of any historically minded person: if you think something is unprecedented, it’s probably not.”

Trump and the practice of doing history

The Falwell brothers

Biographers letting go

The Holy Land Experience–Orlando, Florida

Paul Ryan’s subsidiarity

Megan Kate Nelson reviews Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln

Ted Cruz and rotting Reaganism.

What is neoliberalism?

Rick Perlstein on the Nixon-Trump comparison

Is 2016 the worst year in history?

Tim Kaine and faith

America’s Public Bible

Was Richard Stockton a hero?

Should pastors be preaching politics?

Was Ted Cruz acting virtuously at the GOP convention?

The Charleston syllabus

Sportianity

Tim Kaine at the George Washington Library

Here is Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s new running mate, talking about politics and character at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.  I love the setting of this interview.  Kaine is seated in the magnificent reading room with the print edition of the Papers of George Washington behind him.  I assume that Doug Bradburn, the Founding Director of the library, is conducting the interview.

Eric Metaxas and David Barton Team Up Against “Angry” Historians

MetaxasToday David Barton, the GOP activist who uses the American past to promote his political agenda, appeared on the Eric Metaxas Show.  Thanks again to Warren Throckmorton for providing an audio clip of the part of their conversation related to Metaxas’s book If You Can Keep It.

As some of you know, I have been critical of Metaxas’s book.  I have also been critical of the work of David Barton.

This is what Metaxas and Barton had to say today:

Metaxas: David, one thing I have to say that I have in common with you other than writing about American history and God’s role in it, and the role of Christians and faith and virtue, is that I have been outrageously attacked…I was thinking of you because, man, you took it on the chin.  There are some people that are just…  My thesis is that they are annoyed by our conclusions so they kind of nitpick and they find one little thing.  If there’s something that’s in my book that’s wrong I want to change it, I don’t want it to be there.  But they kind of jump on that and they write a whole essay on the thing that is wrong.

Barton: Or they take it out of context too.  Not only will they nitpick, but they never tell the reader to go read the book and look at the context.  That’s what these guys notoriously do. We’ll have a thirty minute broadcast and they will take a seven-second clip out of it and say “look what you said.”  Well, listen for thirty minutes [and] it’s a whole different thing.

Metaxas: It is extraordinary I have to say. And I feel like because you’ve been through it I take it as a point of pride, you know.  Because I thought to myself “I know what I’m writing is true.”  You know, a number of people were criticizing me for interpreting John Winthrop on the Arbella when he preached this sermon about that we’re a city on a hill, and that whole thing.   It’s real clear to me, it underscores my larger thesis, that America has always been a nation for others–that we want to be a shining beacon of liberty and truth and the gospel.  That’s been who we are and a number of folks have said that I totally take that out of context, it meant something else.  And I thought to myself, that is simply wrong.  You can “quibble”–that would be the verb–you can quibble with what I’m saying, but really you cannot say that what I am saying is wrong, and I am sure it’s not wrong. 

Barton: Well, in my case, we actually have the original documents. Give me a break. But they say “yeah, but we got all these Ph.Ds who say you’re wrong.  Well, that’s alright–I’ve got the original documents. But they don’t go there. The same with your.  They’re going to criticize your through academic channels because they don’t like your conclusions.

Metaxas: It’s so funny.  It’s so funny.  It’s a lot of angry quibbling.  I take it as a point of pride because I’m called by God to do what I am doing.  It doesn’t mean that God is always on my side, but it does mean that I care about my country, I love my country. It goes way beyond this country.  If you care about the world  you need to care about America. God has a point to this country as a beacon to the whole world, a share our liberties.  So it really is something I consider important.  Your work has been foundational.  I want to thank you for the tremendous work you have done.

Listen to the exchange here.

Just a few quick points:

  1.  Metaxas’s view of Winthrop’s use of the phrase “city on a hill” IS taken out of context.  I encourage you to take David Barton’s advice and read the original source– “A Modell on Christian Charity.”  You should also read Hillsdale College professor David Gamble’s  In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth. And don’t forget the post by Tracy McKenzie, chair of the history department at evangelical Wheaton College.
  2.  I am sure I have addressed this before, but it needs to be said again.  For years Barton has been telling the ordinary evangelicals who follow him that he is right about American history because he owns a lot of documents.  He claims that he reads the original documents and suggests that professional historians do not.  This is a completely absurd claim.  ALL professional historians read and interpret primary sources.  This is what we do.  Doing history–especially the history of political ideas– has very little to do with whether or not someone one can hold an original document in their hands.  For example, if Barton had a copy of the Declaration of Independence would he be in a better position to interpret the ideas in the document than someone who was merely reading the Declaration of Independence online or in a textbook?  I have never been to Wallbuilders or seen David Barton’s collection of documents, but I am pretty certain that most of the documents he possesses are easily accessible for historians in online and print collections.  Unless one is writing a history about these books, letter, and manuscrpts as physical objects or pieces of material culture (which is not how Barton uses the documents–he peddles in ideas), the fact that Barton owns these documents and can actually them does not make his interpretations of history any more right or wrong.
  3. I will admit that many websites do take Barton’s words, especially when he is on the radio, out of context.  But the best and most thorough critiques of his work do not.
  4. Metaxas claims that he is called by God to write such flawed history. He thus sees the criticism of his work as a “point of pride.”  As an evangelical Christian who also believes he has a calling, I find this sort of “blessed are the persecuted” mentality to be offensive.

Tweets from 2016 RNC

I posted some tweets from day 1 here.

Below I have embedded some  tweets from days 2-4

Follow @johnfea1

“Law and Order”: Some Historical Perspective

Tricky Dicky

Earlier today I posted a video of Richard Nixon’s acceptance speech at the 1968 GOP convention.

I also tweeted this last night during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 GOP convention:

Over at Politico, historian Josh Zeitz offers some context on just what Nixon meant by “Law and Order.”

Here is a taste:

Safe from what? By almost any measure, the United States is safer than it has been in decades. Notwithstanding localized spikes in urban homicides, for the past decade the crime and violent crime rates have hovered at near-50 year lows. And despite the recent tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the same is true of the number ofpolice officers killed in the line of duty.

If the country is calm by comparison, why would Trump sound a cry for “law and order” once again? The answer may lie with the first successful soothsayer of the “Silent Majority,” Richard Nixon, who in 1968 created the very playbook that Trump seems to be recycling. Nixon came to power in an era of profound discord, marked by urban riots, anti-war protests (some, violent), and an unraveling of longstanding social and cultural mores. Then as now, crime was a powerful proxy for other concerns. But even with all that to worry about, Nixon’s appeal wasn’t just about crime. His political insight was that crime was a powerful proxy for other anxieties.

Running for president in 1968, Richard Nixon sought to exploit very legitimate popular anxiety over crime and disorder. Needing to distance himself from far-right third-party opponent George Wallace, whose own law-and-order venom was a transparent cover for racial incitement, Nixon walked a thin line between statesmanship and demagoguery, promising to speak for the “forgotten Americans … non-shouters, the non-demonstrators, that are not racists or sick, that are not guilty of crime that plagues the land. This I say to you tonight is the real voice of America in 1968.”

By focusing incessantly on racially coded issues like crime and urban unrest, Nixon signaled to white voters that he offered a respectable alternative to Wallace. Campaigning throughout the upper South, he endorsed the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which banned segregation in public schools, but also assured white voters that he felt it was wrong for the federal government to “force a local community to carry out what a federal administrator or bureaucrat may think is best for that local community.” Even the conservative Wall Street Journal criticized Nixon’s “harsh and strident efforts to capitalize on deep-seated discontent and frustration. This is the Richard Nixon who tells a whistle-stop rally in Deshler, Ohio that in the 45 minutes since his train left Lima, one murder, two rapes and 45 major crimes of violence had occurred in this country—and that ‘Hubert Humphrey defends the policies under which we have seen crime rise to this point.’” The former vice president was peddling a brand of “extremism [that] seems not only unnecessary but self-defeating. … In a society already deeply divided by fear and mistrust, Mr. Nixon’s hard line seems sure to deepen the divisions.”

Nixon was not the first Republican candidate to fuse rhetoric about law and order to a racial message. As early as 1964 conservatives began trying to exploit grassroots concerns about integration by using code words like “welfare,” “morality” and “crime” to tap into white—and suburban—racial resentments. That year, conservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign sponsored a 30-minute televised infomercial entitled Choice, which juxtaposed imagery of nude dancers and pornographic literature with film footage of black urban rioters. The subtext was unmistakable: the same liberal forces that were unraveling the moral fabric of American society were driving racial minorities to lash out violently against public authority and private property. Though Goldwater claimed to be personally opposed to segregation, he played fast and loose with racial incitement. The New York Times observed that as the fall campaign wore on, Goldwater “began to link directly his ‘law and order’ issue—in which he deplores crime and violence—with the civil rights movement, mentioning the two in juxtaposition.” During a speech in Minneapolis, he “mentioned ‘gang rape’ and civil rights disturbances in the same paragraph.”

Read the rest here.

“I Alone Can Fix It”: Some Historical Perspective

Trump can fix it

Some of you may remember our interview with Yoni Appelbaum on episode 3 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  Appelbaum is the Washington Bureau Chief for The Atlantic.  He also has a Ph.D in American history from Brandeis University.

Today at The Atlantic, Appelbaum applies some good historical thinking and context to Donald Trump’s claim that he “alone” can “fix” this country.

Here is a taste:

Has any American political leader claimed so directly to embody the nation, to speak for it, to be its sole hope for redemption?

In 1968, Richard Nixon spoke of a nation torn apart by crime at home, and by wars abroad. But, he promised, better days were ahead. “Without God’s help and your help, we will surely fail; but with God’s help and your help, we shall surely succeed.”

In 1980, Ronald Reagan painted a similarly dark picture of a troubled nation, and offered a similar message of redemption. But his acceptance speech called on Americans to work together to solve their problems. “I ask you not simply to ‘Trust me,’” Reagan said, “but to trust your values—our values—and to hold me responsible for living up to them.”

In 2000, George W. Bush called a troubled nation to renewal, and ended with a note of humility. “I know the presidency is an office that turns pride into prayer,” he said, “But I am eager to start on the work ahead.”

In 2016, Donald J. Trump mounted the stage, and told America that the nation is in crisis. That attacks on police and terrorism threaten the American way of life. That the United States suffers from domestic disaster, and international humiliation. That it is full of shuttered factories and crushed communities. That it is beset by “poverty and violence at home” and “war and destruction abroad.”

And he offered them a solution.

I am your voice, said Trump. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order. He did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.

He broke with two centuries of American political tradition, in which candidates for office—and above all, for the nation’s highest office—acknowledge their fallibility and limitations, asking for the help of their fellow Americans, and of God, to accomplish what they cannot do on their own.

Read the rest here.

Most Popular Posts of the Last Week

Here are the most popular posts of the last week at The Way of Improvement Leads Home:

  1. Metaxas: “Some Guy Won a Six-Part Series.”
  2. Why I Signed “Historians Against Trump”
  3. Is Governor Mike Pence An Evangelical Christian?
  4. Why Robert Jeffress Should Not Be Talking About American History
  5. The Prayer of Pastor Mark Burns
  6. Are Missouri Synod Lutherans Evangelical?
  7. Historians Must Counter the Jedi Mind Tricks
  8. Plagiarism Happened Last Night
  9. The GOP Platform on Bibles in Public Schools: Some Historical Context
  10. Evangelical Options in November

It’s Official: James Dobson Endorses Trump

Dobson and Trump

Apparently James Dobson wants to be part of the big Trump celebration tonight.  Time is reporting that he just officially endorsed Donald Trump for POTUS.

Here is a taste:

James Dobson endorsed Donald Trump for president hours before the newly minted GOP nominee is slated to take the stage the final night of the Republican National Convention.

“I have decided to endorse Donald J. Trump for President of the United States, not only because of my great concern about Hillary Clinton,” Dobson said in a statement. “I am supporting Mr. Trump primarily because I believe he is the most capable candidate to lead the United States of America in this complicated hour.”

The Focus on the Family founder’s decision to endorse Trump was prompted by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s address to the RNC on Wednesday night, a Dobson spokesperson told TIME. Cruz congratulated Trump for winning the nomination but did not endorse him, and was booed as he spoke and left the stage.

Dobson was one of the evangelical leaders to endorse Cruz early, in attempt to rally evangelical voters around one candidate. “Ted Cruz’s record on religious liberty, life, and marriage is second to none in this Republican field,” Dobson said in December. “Shirley [Dobson’s wife] and I have been praying for a leader such as this, and we are confident that Ted Cruz has the moral and spiritual foundations to lead our nation with excellence.”

Read the rest here.

I am not going to analyze this here.  Instead I will just direct you to this post.