Home PageJump to Jonal EntryHumorInspirationUse this address for help with your membership.Home PageJump to Jonal EntryHumorInspirationUse this address for help with your membership.

Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Wednesday, January 26 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Common sense then and now

We've established in this series thus far that evangelicalism, which is in our time "America's religion,*" traces its roots to the time of the founding of the United States and that evangelicalism got many of its central ideas from that revolutionary period. The democratization of the English colonies that became the United States at the turn of the eighteenth into the nineteenth century was accompanied by a parallel democratization of the church and the outward appearance of the faith communities. On one fringe the new more evangelistic or "enthusiastic" Protestantism was anarchic (even dispensing with church meetings in favor of radical individualistic faith) and on the other extreme it wanted to retreat back into the safety and security of the old-country hierarchical monarchy and its established church. But in its center it was steady and bold, open to change but not radical. Possibly the main component of that evangelical spirit was its internalized adoption of common sense realism, a formal but relatively uncomplicated philosophy imported from Scotland.

The fact that the philosophy was "common sense" was its main appeal to the common people of the still-young land, and the whole idea of democracy that Paine and Jefferson, Washington and Franklin and all the founding fathers laid their lives on the line for was to make the common people "the" people who would thrive under liberty and establish a new order for the ages, as one of the inscriptions on our money still summarizes their ideal. Common sense was right down the common folks' alley.

Yet for a higher class, even for Jefferson himself and the world travelers like Franklin and the Harvard/Yale-educated elite, it wasn't enough. A new philosophical breeze was moving through the branches, and it was calling the specially chosen beyond godtalk and certitude, evangelical fervor and conversion, toward a more universalist view of religion and salvation. The new breeze was deism, which was more formally expressed in Transcendentalism as philosophy and Unitarianism as religion. This early elite was astute enough to recognize that it would never work for the common people, so they didn't even make it easy to join their club, much less try to convert any from the mass culture through persuasion. But their ideas were apart and—in their minds—above, the mass "folk Christianity" which they no doubt considered the new Wesleyan and Baptist mass movements and their quickly spreading subsidiaries to be.

It's ironic to speculate that the merging of revivalist evangelical religion with common sense philosophy may have alienated some. A more scholarly apologetic brand of evangelicalism might have been an antidote to the universalism that captivated the elitist minorities...but already there had been two centuries of "scholarly" Protestantism in the Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican churches, and they had seemed somehow unfitted to the revolutionary mood of 1776 and beyond. Lutherans and Presbyterians were able to ride the coattails of the Great Awakening—even the Catholic Church championed the republican cause exciting everyone from Boston to Richmond and was attuned to the Colonial mind—but the more staid, more studied and theoretical approach wasn't what the hard working masses cutting back the frontier of the new nation were looking for.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

*I don't, of course, mean that evangelicalism is the religion of the nation in any official or even unofficial sense, but it is the homegrown religion (in a sense comparable to calling jazz and the blues "America's music") and is is by far the most influential religion in current public life, for better or for worse.

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Classic Hollywood Squares, 5

If you remember The Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this will bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when "Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous! Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?

A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.

Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?

A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Thought for today

A ship in the harbor is safe. But that isn't what ships are built for.


Top daily news stories linked from our sister webpage
Xnmp, news that signifies
The Nanty Glo Home Page and all its departments are for and by the whole Blacklick Valley community. Your feedback and written or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are welcomed. Click here to reply.

When subscribing or unsubscribing to the list, use the email address to which you receive mail.
No message text or subject are needed on the email.


Search nantyglo.com
Search WWW
Find a word

in Merriam-Webster's
online dictionary


Nanty Glo Home | Blacklick Township Page | Vintondale Page | Jackson Township Page