Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution

Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution

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In Part One, the uses of divine revelation in the Western world are reviewed by recalling authors that include Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Plato, Maimonides, Cervantes, Hobbes, and Milton. The challenges posed by such monstrosities as Aztec human sacrifices and the Second World War Holocaust are recalled. In Part Two, the challenges of religion for and by Americans are examined. Documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of 1787, and Presidential Farewell Addresses are recalled. The lives and thought of eminent Americans are also recalled (including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln). Recalled as well are such movements as that of the Mormons and that of the "I Am" sect. The implications both for religious developments and for religious orthodox of modern science are investigated. The Appendices reinforce these inquiries by providing reminders of how distinguished commentators and others have tried to deal with critical questions noticed in the Essays of this book.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 354 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 25.4mm | 680.39g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739173561
  • 9780739173565

Review quote

This work is the fifth in a proposed ten-volume set of essays that Anastaplo seeks to author. The previous volumes are Reflections on Constitutional Law (2007), Reflections on Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment (2007), Reflections on Life and Death and the Constitution (2009), and Reflections on Slavery and the Constitution (2012). The first half of the current work consists of 13 essays that run the gamut from Euripedes to Socrates and El Greco to Hobbes, with a concluding chapter on the human sacrifices by the Aztecs and Mayans. The second half examines unorthodox religious movements in the US such as the Mormons and the 'I Am' movement. Thirteen appendixes include the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and a number of lesser-known essays and reflections by Anastaplo and others. Although the breadth of coverage in this work is expansive, the author ties all the topics together with religion and the divine by asking, as did Hamlet, 'Who's there?' Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and research faculty. CHOICE Anastaplo's genius lies in his capacities for discovering interconnections linking the most disparate inquiries-in a single afternoon he may ask of a gathering of physicists why masses attract and of a survivor of Nazi imprisonment what had been the happiest day of his confinement. His "Reflections" upon replies elicited from decades of such inquiry provide guidance to thinking through the dependence of political principles upon religious belief as well as to understanding how changes in religious beliefs result from political experience. -- John Alvis, professor and director, American Studies Program, University of Dallas No one but George Anastaplo could range so wide-from the Greek classics to contemporary unorthodox religious movements in the United States, from Aztec human sacrifices to the human problems posed by modern physical sciences-without for a moment dulling the edge of his unmistakable voice, a voice full of passion, indignation, skepticism, reason, and an unreasonable hope that the human race will not go on forever making the same stupid mistakes. Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution, the fifth in a projected series of ten volumes of essays, is rich in insights, opinions, and disturbingly persuasive arguments. -- Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago Divinity School George Anastaplo challenges us to question what we believe that we know and to recognize what our way of life depends upon. In his Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution, he employs unexpected and unorthodox manifestations of our religious passions to make us aware of the relationship between our understanding of the divine ordering of the universe and the constitutional order under which we live. The inquiries provided through the "constitutional sonnets" of this volume offer us the opportunity to cast off the chance objects that our circumstances have provided for our religious passions and to replace them with what is truly enduring. -- Laurence D. Nee, St. John's Collegeshow more

About George Anastaplo

George Anastaplo is currently Lecturer in the Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago, Professor of Law at Loyola University of Chicago, and Professor Emeritus of Political Science and of Philosophy at Dominican University.show more

Table of contents

Preface Part One 1. Euripides on the Use and Abuse of Revelation in the Service of the Political Order 2. The Divine, an Unsettling Duality, and the Conduct of One's Life: Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos Revisited 3. On Aristophanes' Clouds 4. Socrates' Dangerous Piety 5. Plato on the Divine in Human Affairs 6. Maimonides and Others on Faith, Philosophy, and Governing Principles 7. Conscience and Citizenship 8. El Greco and His Successors 9. Miguel de Cervantes on Death, the Divine, and the Proper Ordering of Human Affairs 10. Thomas Hobbes on Church and State 11. John Milton's Paradise Epics and the Divinely-Ordained Redemption of the Human Race 12. Challenges Posed by the Aztecs 13. The Holocaust and the Divine Ordering of Human Affairs ii. Part Two 1. Nature and the Divine in the Declaration of Independence 2. Benedict Arnold, Providence, and the Fates of Citizens and of Nations 3. Benjamin Franklin and the Workings of the Divine - At Least in America 4. "In the Year of [What] Lord?" 5. Political Symbols and the Sacred in the United States 6. Thomas Jefferson and Religious Liberty 7. Abraham Lincoln and the Almighty 8. Presidential Invocations of the Divine 9. Presidential Farewell Addresses 10. Revelation, Human Understanding, and the Ordering of the Good Life: The "Mormon" Movement 11. Revelation and the Use of the United States Postal System: The "I Am" Movement 12. An Earth Elsewhere? 13. Yearnings for the Divine and the Natural Animation of Matter Appendices A. The Declaration of Independence (1776) "Appendices A, B, and C should be taken from Reflections on Slavery and the Constitution" B. The United States Constitution (1787) C. The Amendments to the United States Constitution (1791-1992) D. On the "Destiny" of the Jews in Eastern Europe (1939-1945) D (1) God, Please Choose Somebody Else (2000) D (2) In Eastern Europe, Anti-Semitism Is a Kind of Religion (2000) E. Martin E. Marty, George Anastaplo on the Christian Heritage (2010) F. George Anastaplo, On the Human Soul and Eternity (2010) G. Christopher A. Colmo, George Anastaplo's Appeal to Nature (2012) H. George Anastaplo, Reflections upon Any Trial for Impiety Not Only of Socrates But Also of Us (2013) I. George Anastaplo, Life and Death in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (2013) J. Harry V. Jaffa, Foreword for George Anastaplo's Further Thoughts on Abraham Lincoln: Discourse on Chance and Public Life (2013) K. Roger H. Hildebrand, On the Use by Physicists of Life-like Words (2013) L. John Van Doren, Silence at Delphi (2013) M. Roster of Cases Drawn On About the Authorshow more