Founding Fathers Blog

Were the Founding Fathers Christian?

April 5th, 2010

Thinking about Easter today, I was contemplating on some of the pictures people have today about the Founding Fathers. Some people hold to the teachings they now receive in school that the Founding Fathers were not Christians. That they were either unbelievers, athiests, or Deists. Such people should read some of their own words. Words of the Founders of this Nation. Here are just a select few.

George Washington was a Christian, attending services as often as he could. He was a vestryman and a Church warden, and supported the Church with generous financial offerings. He often acknowledged the protection by hand of Providence in his life. He was often seen in prayer, especially at Valley Forge. He said: “I was in hopes (that the present age) would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination (to add to) the peace of society.”

And he forcefully stated in his Farewell Address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports.”

“I too have made a wee little book . . . which I call ‘The Philosophy of Jesus.’ . . . It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians . . . .”   and

“The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored; such as it was preached and practised by Himself.” and

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights     . . .”   –Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson’s friend, and erstwhile antagonist, John Adams, wrote a letter on his 2nd night in the White House, which included these words now engraved on a mantle in the house: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

“I wish I could leave you my most cherished possession, my faith in Jesus Christ. For with Him you have everything and without Him you have nothing.” and

“It cannot be emphasized to strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by  Christians, not on religion but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” –Patrick Henry.

Benjamin Franklin created what he called his Plan for Arriving at Moral Perfection. His plan listed 13 character traits he planned to work on throughout his life, until he reached perfection. His thirteenth character trait was called “Humility: Imitate Jesus. . .” He also wrote for himself an interesting epitaph showing his belief in the Resurrection and the real meaning of Easter:  “The body of B. Franklin, printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of lettering and gilding), lies here food for worms. But the work shall not be lost; for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.”

Benjamin Franklin recommends “Air Baths” to Avoid the Flu

March 16th, 2010

Benjamin Franklin had a habit of engaging in a daily “air bath.” He regarded this as a novel method to avoid cold, flu, and even smallpox. He wrote in 1768: “I have found it . . . agreeable to my constitution to bathe in another element. I mean cold air.”

Ben would arise every morning, and sit in his chamber without any clothes on whatever. He would throw open the room’s windows, even in cold weather, and enjoy the fresh air for a half hour or even an hour, depending on the season. During this time he would either read or write.

“This practice,” he said, “is not in the lease painful, but on the contrary, agreeable.” He considered it one reason he seldom suffered from colds or influenza.

Ben frequently recommended this practice to other people, but his advice seemed to fall on deaf ears. It was one of the reasons, though, that others, such as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson would seldom travel with or share a room with Doctor Franklin.

Benjamin Franklin: What Have You Done With Our Time?

March 14th, 2010

As I considered all the clocks that need to be set to the correct time with the advent of Daylight Savings Time, I wondered if it was time for us to reconsider this magical invention. I think the owner of that watch store in New York City that has his employees employed 10 hours a day, over 2 days, to reset his 60,000 or so watches might agree.

Benjamin Franklin originally suggested this concoction. He was surprised at how late the British would start their days, and how late into the night they would remain active. The inhabitants of London chose to live much of their life by candlelight. Then they would complain of the high duty (tax) on tallow, the main ingredient used in making candles. 

Ben’s father was a candlemaker. Franklin calculated the expense of burning candles and came up with the suggestion of saving daylight by changing the clocks to require less use of candles. You know, Fall back, Spring forward. Daylight Savings Time became an economy measure in World War I.

So it’s interesting that Ben also dared the lightning and learned how to harness electricity. His volume on Electricty was the most widely read book in the world during his time. 

Now electricity powers much of our homes, lights, lamps, and clocks. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the use of Daylight Savings Time. It would certainly make it easier on clock shops. Why not just use the same time all year round. I mean, the sun doesn’t really change its course to accomodate our time. 

In Arizona we have learned to keep the same time all year round. But then, we believe we already have too much sunshine in the summers!

Ben Franklin asks: “Do You Pay Too Much For Your Whistle?”

March 5th, 2010

When he was about 7 years old, Benjamin Franklin had an experience that taught him something new. It was so significant to him as a child, it stayed with him all his life. It even took on added meaning the more experience he had with life and mankind.

Ben was the fifteenth child and the tenth son born to Joshah Franklin’s family. So he had some older siblings. When Ben was about 7, some visitors to their home gave Ben 10 pennies. An immense sum for a boy of his age and standing.

A few hours later,  Ben happened upon a neighbor boy who was blowing on a whistle. Charmed with the sound, Ben asked to buy it from this neighbor. Ben gave all his 10 pennies for the whistle.

When his older brothers and sisters heard him blowing on his whistle, they asked him where he got it. He told them about his purchase. They laughed at him and told him that he could buy the same whistle for two pennies.

Instantly the whistle lost all its charm. When Ben thought of what he could have bought with the rest of the pennies, and when he heard his family laugh, he cried with vexation.

He never forgot the experience. As he grew older, whenever he was tempted to buy something, he would stop and remind himself not to “give too much for the whistle.”

Gradually, the memory generalized to an even broader principle. When Ben saw a man too fond of political popularity, neglecting his own principles, and ruining himself, he would say: “He pays too much for his whistle.”

When he met a man of pleasure who ignored all opportunities to improve his mind or his fortune, abandoning himself to sensuality, he would say, “You pay too much for your whistle.”

“In short, I conceived that the great part of the miseries of mankind,” Franklin said, “were brought upon them by the false estimates they had made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for the whistle.”

So, in satisfying our own appetites, ambitions, and desires, in all things, from food to furniture, from pleasures to politics, and in the use of our time, we would be well served if we would stop and ask ourselves the one question: “Do I pay too much for the whistle.”

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