Thursday, April 27, 2006

American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation

Jon Meacham

Book Cover

FROM THE PUBLISHER In American Gospel (literally meaning the "good news about America"), New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham sets the record straight on the history of religion in American public life. As Meacham shows, faith --meaning a belief in a higher power, and the sense that we are God's chosen people-- has always been at the heart of our national experience, from Jamestown to the Constitutional Convention to the Civil Rights Movement to September 11th. And yet, first and foremost, America is a nation founded upon the principles of liberty and freedom. Every American is free to exercise his own faith or no faith at all. And so a balance is struck, between public religion and private religion; and religious belief is distinct from morality. As Meacham explains, the well-known "wall" between church and state has always separated private religion from the business of the state, yet religious belief is part of the basic foundation of government. Brilliantly articulating an argument that links the Founding Fathers to an insightful contemporary point of view, American Gospel renews our understanding of history, and what public religion has meant in America, so that we can move beyond today's religious and political extremism toward a truer understanding of the place of faith in American society.
I picked this up from Audible - really good. I'm sure I'll re-listen (it's pretty short) just to pick up what I missed on the first time through. It makes a good counterpoint with "Washington's God" - which isn't as much a whitewash of Washingon as I feared; he's definitely NOT made out to be an early-day Evangelical.

Along with 1776, and John Adams, this book helps fill out an understanding of how formidable our founders were. IF only their descendants could live up to their legacy!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Ben Bova

Book Cover

In Mercury, one of the destinations on Ben Bova's epic Grand Tour saga (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, et al.), a disgraced engineer weaves an intricate plot to take down the people who ruined his life. The stage for his vengeance is the barren, heat-scorched planet of Mercury.

Bova is finding interesting stories to tell in his Grand Tour series - this was a bit of "And Then There Were None" with a Columbo-esque twist. That is, you know ahead of time who is plotting against all the visitors to Mercury. Interesting ideas, and fun to see him using them across the broad canvas of the solar system.