Archives For Jefferson Quotes

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.

–Thomas Jefferson’s Letter, 10 Aug. 1787

I am going to combine my usual Sunday post on things inspiring/spiritual with my usual Thursday quotes. Thomas Jefferson, like most of the founding fathers was a Deist. That is he believed in a God who was in control of the universe but not so much into our daily lives. His quote above is very contrary to many religious communities today.

Questioning the existence of God is a no-no to many.  They say you must believe everything in their religious documents and question nothing. If you do dare to question you may quickly be deemed a heretic. I know because I have some personal experience in this matter.

But I very much believe in the quote above. If there is a God, and I certainly do believe that there is, then he must approve of the homage of reason. He does not fear our questions or certainly doesn’t condemn us to utter agony if we dare to ask them. I simply don’t believe that God wants us to be in a blind-folded fear of him. He told us to love him and that is just not possible if we think that he holds a hammer over our head just waiting for us to say the wrong words, believe the wrong things, or ask the wrong questions…

I thoroughly denounce the idea that God expects us to check our “God-given” intelligence at the door on Sunday mornings and to believe things that go against any level of reason….

Banking Establishments…

September 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-09-13_09-50-19I sincerely believe . . . that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter 12 June 1815

Anyone that has studied Jefferson to any degree knows that he was an agrarian. That is he believed in power to the people, particularly the farmers who were the majority of the population in his day. He seemed to have a standing feud with Hamilton about this topic.

I, like Jefferson, believe that almost all the power in a society should reside with the citizens but unfortunately in today’s world our financial institutions and the 1% of the population that control them seem to have kidnapped a large share of power. Another famous quote from Jefferson was that a democracy depends on an informed electorate. If only people were to realize that with their votes they have the capability to radically transform this condition. If, as the polls indicate, the vast majority of us believe that our present government is totally dysfunctional we could sweep out 85% of them within the next two months. Wouldn’t that send a message to those gridlocked groups who say they represent us. If only our actions backed up our words things would change and change quickly.

Never Take An Active Part…

September 18, 2014 — 6 Comments

2014-09-13_09-50-19I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war.

–A Thomas Jefferson Letter, 11 June 1823, to President James Monroe

Thomas Jefferson just didn’t trust government very much. He was always skeptical that they would get us involved in things we had no business being involved in. The constant wars in Europe were one of those things to be avoided at almost all costs. In the intervening two-hundred years much has changed with the world. It has definitely gotten smaller such that anything happening anywhere can affect others in at least some way. But, I kind of think that Jefferson’s words above still apply today especially in the Middle East.

The Middle Eastern countries including all those we have spent trillions of dollars trying to reform are fundamentally different from the U.S. As Jefferson said their mutual jealousies, their balance of power and their forms of government and particularly religious beliefs are very foreign to what we practice in this country.  We can spend trillions of trillions of dollars and thousands of our kids lives trying to make it otherwise but that just won’t happen. If only we would recognize that fact we would save ourselves much agony.

There have been many “doctrines” in this country. The Monroe Doctrine, The Marshal Plan, The Bush Doctrine (I don’t think Obama has a doctrine except maybe “send in the drones”) but I believe the only successful plan for our times is :

We will leave you alone if you leave us alone

But of course our dependence on their oil reserves negates that possibility. Maybe we need another wall? The Wall of China was meant to keep out foreign invaders. The Iron Curtain was meant to separate two very different doctrines. Maybe it is time for a Islamic Wall to separate us from all those constantly feuding religious doctrines of the Middle East? Maybe if we get out of their business they will get out of ours.  It worth a try….

 

Protecting The State…

February 6, 2014

JeffersonBe it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,place of ministry whatsoever….

Thomas Jefferson — An Act For Establishing Religious Freedom — 1786

From my study of Jefferson I think his separation of Church and State was more to keep the Church out of the State’s business than the other way around….

Less Power….

September 28, 2013

JeffersonI wish President Bush and many of those presidents before him had taken the words of Jefferson to heart before they did many of the things they did.  I know it is against basic human nature to not utilize the power you control. Just look at all those yahoos in congress to see an example of abused power.

I have read quite extensively on Jefferson so I know the words above were at the heart of his nature.

OOPS –  I guess I was in too much a hurry to get this weekend quote out and forgot to add the quote!!!   Sorry about that.  Can’t find it now. But isn’t that a nice life size bronze of Jefferson at the visitors center outside Monticello. :)

A Little Rebellion….

July 17, 2013

I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. . . . It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. –

Thomas Jefferson  –Letter, 30 Jan. 1787, to statesman James Madison, speaking of Shays’ Rebellion

They say that Shay’s Rebellion was one of the primary drivers for moving away from the weak Articles of Confederation to the U.S. Constitution a couple of years later.  Obviously Jefferson had some sympathies toward that rebellion. I don’t know much about that but I do agree with Jefferson that a little rebellion now and then is still a good thing even 200+ years later.

I think it is time for a third-party to come on the scene to shake up the current establishment inside the beltway of Washington. Our current two parties are just too entrenched in their separate ways to ever get along with each other anymore. It is time for a change. As Jefferson says a little medicine is necessary for sound health.

Centrist PartyI am pinning my hopes on the Centrist Movement to eventually break the deadlocks that constantly occur between the current two groups of old men in our capital. Where I naively supported Mr. Obama with my time and money in 2008 hoping he would be that medicine but it seems we need a stronger dose that he has been able to provide. Let’s get rid of all the wing-nuts at the extremes of our political system so that eventually saner minds might be able to come on the scene.

Banner -Inspiration

I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign toys. They are nations of eternal war.   — Thomas Jefferson  –Letter, 11 June 1823 to President James Monroe

Even though the words of above were penned over two hundred years ago I believe they are just as valid today as they were then. The only difference is maybe I would now add the Middle and Far East to the list.  One of the major things that has gotten us into so much trouble and cost us so many or our children’s lives is our getting into the quarrels of other nations. We just can’t seem to mind our own business.  We have replaced the nations of Europe with our mutual jealousies, our balance of power, our complicated alliances such that our original reason for founding this country have been lost to us. We seem to now be a nation of eternal war…..

Quote of the Day

This is a continuation about Jefferson and religion. As stated before, there are many especially in evangelical circles that say that Jefferson meant for our country to be founded on Christian principles. My posts on the blog are to show that although Jefferson was a follower of Jesus Christ at one level he was by no means saying the U.S. should be a Christian nation. In fact much of his writing said exactly the opposite.  Here are some of his words about Christian clergy:

JeffersonThey [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.   -Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.  -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.  -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.  -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith, August, 6, 1816

It seems quite obvious from all these quotes that Jefferson did not trust the motives of the church of his times and from my studies I don’t think much has changed since those times.  The man-made nature of the church often is polluted by the power structures of the times. This started in the fourth century when the Roman emperor Constantine hi-jacked the Christian church and made it a mandated religion.  The structure of the church has been damaged since even that time.

While I don’t hold as adamant a view of the clergy that Jefferson did I can understand the logic he uses in his correspondence. I think this will conclude my discussions about Jefferson and religion. Next time I address the topic of Thomas Jefferson it will be on a different topic.   I don’t believe that there is a person who has read my posts or other information about Jefferson and the church can continue to espouse that Jefferson, or any of the other founders for that matter, intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation.  As Jefferson said the morality of Jesus was sound but the practice of religion is not.

Gridlock Because…..

March 5, 2013
Quote of the Day
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 . . . opinions as much as is supposed.  —  Jefferson, Thomas

We all recognize that gridlock has frozen our government processes.  If only the people who represent each of us were to take to heart the words of Jefferson above we might just melt the sorry state that presently binds us.  The trouble with congress right now is that the people representing us are allowing a few who are called “leaders” to think for them. I am convinced that if they would just make the effort to think for themselves they would realize that they have much more in common than their battle scarred leaders could ever imagine.

Thomas Jefferson if nothing else was a critical thinker. He questioned almost anything he was exposed to. But, like all of us he was the product of his experiences so that questioning never went very deep when it came to slavery.  That was his major flaw and we all have at least one major flaw. I pride myself in being like Jefferson as I never take anything without asking at least a few questions. I can’t imagine spending a $million and hours and hours of campaigning to win an election and then finally get to Washington only to then turn around and let someone else think for me!

But then again it takes too many promises to too many different groups to even get elected now so maybe the people who do survive the process are beaten before they ever get there. We desperately need critical thinkers is our nation’s capital; how we get them without an infinite number of strings attached is the main problem.

Banner -Inspiration

JeffersonA DECALOGUE of canons for observation in practical life:

1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.

2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

3. Never spend your money before you have it

4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap: it will be dear to you.

5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.

6. We never repent of having eaten too little.

7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.

9. Take things always by their smooth handle.

10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.

Jefferson, Thomas 

When we think of lists and country founders Ben Franklin most often comes to mind. So when I came across this list from Thomas Jefferson it got my attention.