Consider Character, not Religion

Yesterday’s e-mail brought its share of supposedly urgent political fund-raising notices. All but one went straight to the virtual dustbin.

The message which caught my eye was from Utah right-wing activist Cherilyn Eagar and her American Leadership Fund. It went out again this morning: “Deadline TODAY!”

Judge Not, Unless You’re Fund-Raising

Both messages said, in their subject lines and titles, “Why Harry Reid is an embarrassment to his Mormon faith.” A third message this afternoon added: “Here’s the blunt truth. Senator Harry Reid is an embarrassment to his Mormon faith. I know. I’m a Mormon.”

Essential Books on the US Constitution (Founding)

(Last updated 25 September 2104.)

Many of these books are slow going, but they can be very rewarding. And they’re pretty much essential, if you want to be solidly grounded in a free nation’s founding principles and essential institutions.

The Federalist (or The Federalist Papers) by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay

This collection of newspaper columns is the book most other books on the US Constitution quote. I suggest that, if you’re disinclined to read the whole book at once, you simply skip the ones that don’t sound interesting.

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 by James Madison

Instead of sitting with the Virginia delegation, James Madison sat near the front of the hall, so he could hear everything and take these notes. You could read this cover to cover, but I use it for reference, to look up discussion on issues and constitutional provisions I’m studying.

Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville

Writing in the mid-1830s, Tocqueville explores not just government, but American society, as well. He explains how Americans were able to become and stay free, and foretells major threats to our freedom with uncanny prescience.

How to Pray for a Tyrant

To those who are inclined to pray about earthly matters such as government, it seems perfectly natural to pray for the people of a nation with democratic institutions, such as the United States — that they will desire freedom, for example, and that God will grant them wisdom, will, and power to preserve it. Likewise, it’s easy to pray for political leaders we like, such as a president we think is doing well. But what about leaders we don’t like?

Here’s an example. I don’t mean it to be off-putting for some readers who feel otherwise, but describing how strong an example it is serves my point.

I think President Obama is a tyrant, a lawless thug. I have made no secret of this view. He routinely dishonors and jeopardizes the nation. He misinforms and poisons our public debate. He whittles away our freedoms with ten thousand petty regulations, thumbing his nose all the while at Congress, the people, and the Constitution which created his office. He frustrates and insults our friends and allies. He arms and emboldens our enemies. He confuses and endangers the world.

I have friends and neighbors who share this view. Most of them are less technical about it. Many of them are more emphatic.

I have other friends and neighbors who would wholeheartedly agree with all this, if I changed the words “Obama is” to “Bush was.” Several years ago, they would have asked essentially the same question their counterparts ask now, when I assert that we should pray for the President of the United States and other leaders we don’t like. (At least I can say that right now without people who know me thinking I’m being partisan.)