From McGuffey to Scalia

gettyimages-72815109_wide-17ba1bcd0f4b1bf198c998306097f36a161abf37-s900-c85Justice Scalia died Saturday, and he will be mourned by many. I had a great appreciation for the judge, and the manner in which he interpreted the Constitution.

Tony Perkins paid tribute to Justice Scalia when he said Scalia “believed the Constitution had an objective meaning that could be understood and applied, and that as a nation we need to abide by it carefully for the sake of liberty, order, and justice.”

Scalia was consistent in his argument that the United States is fundamentally religious at its core, and he recognized the relationship between the Ten Commandments and our legal system: “The principle of laws being ordained by God is the foundation of the laws of this state and the foundation of our legal system.”

While the opinions of Justice Scalia seemed dated to some, they were timely statements that harmonized with some of our historic figures:

  • President James Madison:  We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments of God.
  • Patrick Henry: It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice: Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
  • John Adams: The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.

There was a point in our Nation’s history when it was influenced by William Holmes McGuffey, and his McGuffey’s Reader that was first published in 1836. The foreword of McGuffey’s Reader contained these comments by the author:

The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus are not only basic but plenary. The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.

In lesson 37 of McGuffey’s First Reader the author said:

At the close of the day, before you go to sleep, you should not fail to pray to God to keep you from sin and from harm . . . You should ask him for life, and health, and strength, and you should pray to him to keep your feet from the ways of sin and shame. You should thank him for all his good gifts; and learn while young, to put your trust in him; and the kind care of God will be with you, both in your youth and in your old age.

Sadly, McGuffey’s reader lost a little of its Christian emphasis each time it was revised.  The same is happening with the interpretation of the Constitution, the revisionists keep watering it down—much to the dismay of purists like Scalia.

I’ll close with the words of the Great Lawgiver who influenced both McGuffey and Scalia:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  ~Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-6

Judge Scalia and Jiggery-Pokery

scalia2According to Justice Antonin Scalia, the decision of the Supreme Court to allow health care subsidies nationwide is nothing less than “jiggery-pokery.”

After a little research, I’ve learned that jiggery-pokery is associated with the dishonest manipulation of the truth.  This is what Justice Scalia felt the majority of his fellow judges had done when they twisted the truth and skillfully sidestepped it by misinterpreting the words of the law.

Paul gave a jiggery-pokery warning to Christians in several different churches.  He alerted them to the danger of being deceived by “persuasive words, fine sounding arguments, and those who change the truth into a lie.”

Recognizing the truth in a world filled with deceit can be difficult.  This is why we need to heed the words of Paul:  “Do everything you can to present yourself to God as a man who is fully genuine, a worker unashamed of your mission, a guide capable of leading others along the correct path defined by the word of truth.”

Take Time To Read The Fine Print

read-booksFrom the time I first learned to read, I’ve had a love for books, and an article I read in WSJ Online, reminded me of the importance and great benefit of reading.

The author, Jeanne Whalen, believes that reading just 30 minutes a day will:
• Improve your ability to concentrate
• Reduces your stress levels
• Deepen your ability to think, listen and empathize

Whalen isn’t alone in touting the benefits of reading:
• The Journal of Neurology cited a study of 300 elderly people that suggested regular engagement in mentally challenging activities, including reading, can slow the onset of memory loss.
• Developmental Psychology (1997) showed a correlation between a student’s first-grade reading ability and his 11th grade academic achievement

As I read this article, I thought of the promise and encouraging words that God spoke to Joshua (1:5-8): “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Mark Twain once said: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” It is to your advantage to take time to read. I have often been blessed by reading a good book, and every time I read The Good Book, I am doubly blessed.

I conclude with a statement made by David Josiah Brewer (1837 –1910) who was an associate justice of the Supreme Court for 20 years: “No nation is better than its sacred book. In that book are expressed its highest ideals of life, and no nation rises above those ideals. No nation has a sacred book to be compared with ours. This American nation from its first settlement at Jamestown to the present hour is based upon and permeated by the principles of the Bible. The more this Bible enters into our national life the grander and purer and better will that life become”

Anosognosia

On December 31, 1974, I was living in Colorado Springs.  Even though that was several years ago, there were a couple of pieces of headline news on the last Tuesday of 1974 that caught my attention.

Since it was the middle of the football bowl season I was glued to my TV set, and I saw Nebraska beat Florida in the 41st Sugar Bowl.  As a baseball fan I paid attention to the news that free agent pitcher Catfish Hunter had signed a record $3.75 million contract to pitch for the NY Yankees for the next 5 years.

There was something else in the news that day, and it was anosognosia.  The best way to define anosognosia is to tell the story of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

While vacationing in the Bahamas, Douglas was hospitalized with a debilitating stroke that left him confined him to a wheelchair. Even though he was paralyzed, Douglas asserted he was fine and demanded to be checked out of the hospital. He went so far as to declare that reports of his paralysis were “a myth.”

To prove his point, Douglas invited news reporters to join him for a hike.  He even told the reporters that he had been kicking field goals with his paralyzed leg.  As a result of this strange behavior, Douglas was dismissed from his seat on the Supreme Court.

Anosognosia is a cognitive impairment that denies reality. People, like Justice Douglas, believe they are fine, but in reality they are sick or suffering from some sort of paralysis.

Many people suffer from anosognosia in the sense that they refuse to admit the truth about their spiritual condition.  Why is this?  It could be attributed to the cognitive dissonance that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent.

When it comes to spiritual anosognosia, the inconsistent cognitions are: I am a good person, and I am a sinner.  How can a good person be a sinner and how can a sinner be a good person?

Mankind has struggled with this dilemma since the time of Adam and Eve.   The solution to this situation is Jesus Christ.  This faulty cognition is resolved with a simple admission:  I am not, nor have I ever been perfect.

Because none of us have ever measured up to God’s standard of perfection, we are in need of the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ.  The confession of our transgression allows us to embrace a new relationship:  Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence (2 Corinthians 5:17).

A new of way of living:  I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.