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Monticello Aug. 22.13.
Dear Sir (addressing John Adams):
. . . .
Your approbation of my outline to Dr. Priestly is a great gratification to me; and I very much suspect that if thinking men would have the courage to think for themselves, and to speak what they think, it would be found they do not differ in religious opinions, as much as is supposed. I remember to have heard Dr. Priestly say that if all England would candidly examine themselves, and confess, they would find that Unitarianism was the religion of all: And I observe a bill is now depending in parliament for the relief of Anti-Trinitarians. It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet the one is not three, and the three are not one: to divide mankind by a single letter into ("consubstantialists and like-substantialists"). But this constitutes the craft, power and profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of factitious religion, and they would catch no more flies. We should all then, like the quakers, live without an order of priests, moralise for ourselves, follow the oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor therefore believe; for I suppose belief to be the assent of the mind to an intelligible proposition."
. . . .
You are right in supposing, in one of yours, that I had not read much of Priestley's Predestination, his No-soul system, or his controversy with Horsley. But I have read his Corruptions of Christianity, and Early Opinions of Jesus, over and over again; and I rest on them, and on Middleton's writings, especially his letters from Rome, and to Waterland, as the basis of my own faith. These writings have never been answered, nor can be answered, by quoting historical proofs, as they have none. For these facts therefore I cling to their learning, so much superior to my own.
The Adams-Jefferson Letters, The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams edited by Lester J. Cappon, 1959, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, page 368-69.
As for Rev. Conyers Middleton
Middleton (1683-1750) was a Fellow of Trinity, Cambridge, and a Church of England clergyman described by Leslie Stephen as a "covert" enemy of Christianity and "one of the few divines who can fairly be accused of conscious insincerity". Despite this interesting judgment, Middleton's is not a well-known name. Indeed, he has been largely forgotten. This should now be corrected. In an essay, published for the first time in the collection History and the Enlightenment (Yale, £30), Hugh Trevor-Roper establishes his importance in the history of intellectual doubt, and demonstrates his influence on Gibbon and — two generations later — on Macaulay. A man who mattered so much to our two greatest historians deserves to be rescued from oblivion. His career was admittedly unsatisfying. Despite the patronage of Sir Robert Walpole, he never secured the preferment in the Church that he repeatedly sought. His opinions were regarded as subversive, even heretical.
Middleton's hero was Cicero, whose attitude to religion, expressed in the work De Natura Deorum, was founded in reason. That was Middleton's own position. Meanwhile, he discovered that, as Trevor-Roper puts it, "those ceremonies and forms of Catholic devotion which Protestants regarded as idolatrous were identical with, and copied from, and continuous with, those of pagan Rome." This conclusion might be regarded as a stout defence of Protestantism and the position of the Church of England.
Middleton, however, was not content to stop there. He proceeded over the last 30 years of his life to assail the Christian citadel and undermine its defences. There were three stout bastions: the Word of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament; the miracles wrought by Christ and the Fathers of the early Church, which proved that the Christian Church embodied the fulfilment of the Divine Plan for mankind; and the prophecies which prepared the way for the coming of Christ.
. . . .
Jefferson may have been a member of the Anglican church, but his beliefs, his thinking were not at all Christian. He was a deist, a free-thinker and although not formally a member of the Unitarian religion, very much a Unitarian in his thought. The Jefferson Bible, if you are not familiar with it, omits the miracles and a lot of other material that Jefferson did not believe.
Posted by JDPriestly | Sat Jan 14, 2012, 03:44 AM (0 replies)
1. I returned to the US from Europe in 1985. While babysitting an children in the Fall of that year, I watched C-Span. That kind of programming was a new experience for me so I remember it very well.
One day, I watched an exchange between two members of Congress about free trade. The discussion was heated and unforgettable. The Democrat told the Republican that if we adopted the Reagan administration's ideas about free trade, we would turn into a country in which we just handed each other hamburgers. Prophetic.
I am paraphrasing the words of the Congressmembers, and I unfortunately do not remember the names of those involved in the exchange. I am, however certain that at that time the earliest legislation that prepared the way for our current catastrophic trade and employment crisis was discussed. I believe it was also passed -- and that it was the Republicans who pushed very hard against Democratic resistance to pass it and therewith establish the groundwork needed for the final onslaught in the 1990s.
The Republicans in the Reagan administration were very busy building the foundation upon which was erected the free trade edifice that is damaging not just our economy but that of the Western world at this time.
2. If the Reagan administration did not know that the Soviet Union was disintegrating, imploding long before 1988, it is because they were not paying attention. Austria was the central perch from which the action in Eastern Europe and thus in Russia could be observed.
Ronald Reagan did not seem to appreciate the historical and cultural role that Austria played in Europe. He named his secretary, yes, his personal secretary as the ambassadress to Austria. I'm sure she was a sweet and very competent secretary, a very nice lady. She assuredly spoke German since she was born in Austria. And of course, the Embassy probably had more highly qualified people to assess the political situation in the country.
But . . . . . didn't the Reagan administration notice the increasingly frequent stories of successful defections from Eastern Europe to the West? Stories appeared in local newspapers of heroes from the East, especially Czechoslovakia flying planes across the border from Czechoslovakia to Austria. Poland was exploding. There were so many indications of the breakdown of the Soviet control over the Soviet satellites that I cannot believe that it was not the topic of daily discussion in the Reagan administration.
When we returned to the US, we told our friends what we had seen and predicted that things would change drastically in the then USSR and Eastern Europe. People just stared at us. The press reported otherwise. Of course the official lies served to make the Reagan administration look positively heroic when the Berlin Wall fell.
In fact, the Carter administration and perhaps administrations earlier than that -- and maybe no administration deserved what credit should be given for the changes in Europe of the time. The Reagan administration was actually quite a Johnny-come-lately with regard to changes in Eastern Europe. If the press stories are to be believed, it was apparently not even really watching what was going on.
Good Heavens! Travel between Austria and Eastern Europe was already quite commonplace by 1981-1981. Elderly Viennese ladies were traveling to Budapest by train just to eat a spicy Hungarian mal They left in the morning and returned to Vienna in the evening. A lovely day's outing. No problem.
That such a highly placed member of the Reagan administration was not aware of what was happening is further proof of the incompetence of that administration.
Posted by JDPriestly | Sun Jan 8, 2012, 02:12 AM (1 replies)
I hope every DUer reads this.
Posted by JDPriestly | Thu Jan 5, 2012, 08:07 PM (0 replies)
You are honest and ethical. You deserve the best.
The American Bar Association:
A lawyer's conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer's business and personal affairs. A lawyer should use the law's procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others. A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer's duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer's duty to uphold legal process.
(In my opinion, Jesselyn was upholding legal process when she blew the whistle on her supervisors who refused fully to cooperate in the court's discovery process.)
. . .
Rule 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal
(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
(1) make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer;
(2) fail to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel; or
(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer's client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal. A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, other than the testimony of a defendant in a criminal matter, that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.
(b) A lawyer who represents a client in an adjudicative proceeding and who knows that a person intends to engage, is engaging or has engaged in criminal or fraudulent conduct related to the proceeding shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal.
(c) The duties stated in paragraphs (a) and (b) continue to the conclusion of the proceeding, and apply even if compliance requires disclosure of information otherwise protected by Rule 1.6.
(d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.
Posted by JDPriestly | Wed Jan 4, 2012, 06:25 PM (0 replies)
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