One Minute Book: Teeth of Wood, Cross of Gold

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Today's review copy: Washington's God: Religion, liberty, and the father of our country by Michael Novak and Jana Novak.

Page 1

If my Conduct throughout the War has merited the confidence of my fellow Citizens, and has been instrumental in obtaining for my Country the blessings of Peace and Freedom, I owe it to the Supreme being who guides the hearts of all…

Page 4

In his favorite blue coat, white waistcoat, and buff trousers, the tall horseman among them, or the suave, usually silent, mild conversationalist, George Washington knew he was a man to be reckoned with.

Page 9

That hand became almost physically visible in his life when, at the age of twenty-two, he escaped from a very hot battle near what is today Pittsburgh, with four bullet holes in his coat, two horses shot out from under him, and men falling to his right and his left; yet he emerged intact, without a scratch.

Page 16

Abigail, much to her own surprise, was blown away.

Page 25

He was again roundly praised by his fellow men and the legislature; his reputation, both nationally and internationally, certainly well known.

Page 36

How he dreaded that.

Page 49

The location he chose not only ended up being in the exact spot where the French eventually located their fort, but also where Pittsburgh stands today.

Page 64

He was, officially now, a rebel and a traitor to his king.

Page 81

These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.

Page 100

The whole experience was intended to be highly personal.

Page 121

In this way, the Second Great Awakening directly affected Washington's later religious reputation, by imposing on an earlier generation a new generation's standards for defining a Christian.

Page 144

But to imagine that God has a will independent of laws that reason has uncovered would seem to a deist more like superstition than like religion, and quite unworthy of a fully reasonable human being.

Page 169

The Virgin Mary was hung just inside the front door, almost the very first object on which an incoming visitor's eyes would fall, and St. John hangs in a balancing position further along the same wall.

Page 196

As it was for Hamilton's journey of faith, it is quite normal for Christians to undergo a journey or arduous voyage or time of trial as they grow in faith.

Page 225

It is worth pointing out that Washington differed from Jefferson in turning toward the Hebrew idea of God, instead of the eighteenth-century idea of the watchmaker.

Page 256

For even if fate were from the stars, the Maker of the stars could not be subject to their destiny.

NEXT: Watch Your Head

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  1. That hand became almost physically visible in his life when, at the age of twenty-two, he escaped from a very hot battle near what is today Pittsburgh, with four bullet holes in his coat, two horses shot out from under him, and men falling to his right and his left; yet he emerged intact, without a scratch.

    Did he “walk the Earth” after that? 🙂

  2. Reminds me, I wanted to pick up a copy of the Jeffersonian Bible

  3. Clean Hands,

    They sell The Jeffersonian Bible at my church. I have picked it up and skimmed it. I haven’t bought it because reading through it, I thought “I could read the gospels and take out all the obvious malarkey, too.” It’s nice to know he thought the same way about Christianity, but the book isn’t all that exciting.

  4. Tim,

    Do you get these books for free or something?

  5. One of the better reviews of this can be found here: http://www.nysun.com/article/28641

  6. Clean Hands,

    And for a great examination of Jesus’ life that filters away all the craziness his followers came up with, Honest to Jesus is a great place to start. The Jesus Seminar has put out some really great stuff that follows in Jefferson’s tradition of cutting out the crap.
    (Yeah, that’s right, you CAN respect the man and learn a lot from him without being a Christian and worshiping him, the poor misunderstood soul.)

  7. GW set the precedent for relatively tall, relatively thin, relatively pompous assholes.
    The system regurgitated, in fairly short order, pudgy John Adams, and his son, and the favorite fatso from Ohio, William Howard Taft.

  8. If anything, that book soft-pedals Washington’s accomplishments.
    He threw a knife into heaven.
    He could kill with a stare.
    He once held an opponent’s wife’s hand in a jar of acid…at a party.

    More here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc9y5ayeeb4

  9. So the Hamiltonians weren’t just the progenitors of American statism and an authoritarian federal government, but they also brought us the Christian Right.

    L. Neil Smith’s sci-fi novels were right, they were evil.

  10. “For even if fate were from the stars, the Maker of the stars could not be subject to their destiny.”

    What the fuck? Over.

  11. I’m sorry, Tim, but the headline is confusing. “Teeth of Wood,” fine, we’re talking about George Washington. But “Cross of Gold” had me straining to see a William Jennings Bryan connection.

  12. I’m with joe. I’m all like “Well, Bryan tried a bunch of times to get in office .. no … Er, hmm. Did Washington destroy a populist movement by diverting their attention with something asinine like gold vs. silver? No? Hmm …”

  13. Hamilton’s response to the success of the Jeffersonian Republicans was to form a “Christian Constitutionalist Society.” One thing the Yahvists have got right, there isn’t anything new under the sun. Of course, things aren’t actually under Old Sol, they are around it. Things like exoplanets aren’t even around our sun.

    Kevin

  14. This is a really creative look at this book. Very nice, Tim.

  15. “For even if fate were from the stars, the Maker of the stars could not be subject to their destiny.”

    But he WOULD be subject to product liability.

  16. “That hand became almost physically visible in his life when, at the age of twenty-two, he escaped from a very hot battle near what is today Pittsburgh, with four bullet holes in his coat, two horses shot out from under him, and men falling to his right and his left; yet he emerged intact, without a scratch.”

    Scene: Battlefield, Pennsylvania, 18th century. Late afternoon. Corpses scattered about. Background: smoking ruins of farmhouses.
    Enter young George Washington and sidekick, inspecting bullet holes in tunic.

    George: This was Divine Intervention! You know what “divine intervention” is?

    Sidekick: Yeah, I think so. That means God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.

    George: Yeah, man, that’s what is means. That’s exactly what it means! God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.

    Sidekick: I think we should be going now.

    George: Don’t do that! Don’t you fucking do that! Don’t blow this shit off! What just happened was a fucking miracle!

    Sidekick: Chill the fuck out, George, this shit happens.

    George: Wrong! Wrong, this shit doesn’t just happen.

    Sidekick: Do you wanna continue this theological discussion in the back in Virginia, or in a stockade?

    George: We should be fuckin’ dead now, my friend! We just witnessed a miracle, and I want you to fucking acknowledge it!

    Sidekick: Okay man, it was a miracle, can we leave now?

  17. This review is totally squares-ville man.

  18. Sounds like another entry in that emerging
    Conservative genre: Great-Rock-Stars-and-Others-Who-
    Are-Really-One-of-Us.

  19. Rock and Awe…

  20. The excerpts read like a Hardy Boys book…

  21. That Kim Novak had some big breasts.

  22. Kim Novak couldn’t even top a B-cup from what I can find or is that sarcasm?

  23. Background: smoking ruins of farmhouses.
    No farmhouses in this battle. Nothing but trees. Not even a battle really, more an ambush.

  24. But “Cross of Gold” had me straining to see a William Jennings Bryan connection.

    I’m with joe. I’m all like “Well, Bryan tried a bunch of times to get in office .. no

    You guys are too smart for me. I was thinking of that Billy Joel song about Catholic girls.

  25. Don’t forget Frank Zappa’s “Catholic Girls”!!!

    Kinda young, kinda wow!

    Vd vowdy vootie.

  26. “That hand became almost physically visible in his life when, at the age of twenty-two, he escaped from a very hot battle near what is today Pittsburgh, with four bullet holes in his coat, two horses shot out from under him, and men falling to his right and his left; yet he emerged intact, without a scratch.”

    While modern day theocrats like Novak are quite pleased to spin mythological tales around events like this, the fact that they did not take hold in the public mind during the Revolutionary and Early Republic periods demonstrates that their constant assertions about the Founders working to set up a Christian Republic are nonsense.

    During the War of 1812, after Washington, DC was burned, the British Army started marching towards Baltimore, but a hurricaine hit, killing many, scattering the army, and forcing them to return to their ships in the aftermath, leading them to try to land again at Ft. McHenry, the shelling of which was the inspiration for the Star Spangled Banner.

    Think about the effect on Japanese culture when a storm saved their country from invasion. A religious myth was born that lasted a millennium. Children were taught in school that the God saved Japan, an doctrine that was used to demonstrate the religious underpinnings of the Imperial government.

    In the USA, nobody even knows the storm happened anymore. If this had been a theocratic country led by theocrats, as the Novaks like to claim, the people of the day would have made the Jesus Storm one of the crowning, foundational myths of American culture. But instead, our foundational myths are about how the PEOPLE who fought in the Revolution and built the early Republic were good, smart, virtuous, and committed to democratic governance.

  27. In the USA, nobody even knows the storm happened anymore.

    In the USA, nobody even knows the War of 1812 happened anymore.

  28. ouch. touche, mr. cavanaugh.

  29. “In the USA, nobody even knows the War of 1812 happened anymore.”

    That’s because the War of 1812 hates America.

  30. The War of 1812 is like Rocky V. It is too terrible to contemplate that future Canuks burned our nation’s capital. It never happened.

  31. Joe writes, “If this had been a theocratic country led by theocrats, as the Novaks like to claim,… ”

    The Novaks claim no such thing.

  32. “In the USA, nobody even knows the War of 1812 happened anymore.”

    In the USA, every school child knows about wooden teeth, a cherry tree, and Paul Revere. Most everybody knows the Star Spangled Banner.

    Nobody knows about the Jesus Storm.

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