I'm taking a break from all things writing this week, so there will be no post tomorrow. My freedom series will resume Friday of next week. My mother-in-law lost her battle with cancer two days ago, and I'd like to take a moment to make a tribute.
In honor of:
DEBORAH SUE PENCE
February 15, 1962 - May 29, 2012
Remembered most for the love she had for her family. The picture below is of my husband and his mom, and it was taken on her 50th birthday.
Today's post is in honor of all the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country. The freedoms we have came at a great cost. The number of lives lost throughout the history of our country is staggering and worth reflecting upon. And we can't forget about all those who made it home; many of them returned with physical and mental scars that cannot be erased.
The sacrifice our soldiers make, along with their familes, is extreme. And though there are many reasons why people choose to serve in the military, the fact remains that they are fighting on behalf of the rest of us who choose not to serve. There was a time when I considered joining the Air Force or the Navy. Admittedly, I was too scared. I was very insecure and lacked self-confidence, and the thought of going away to a place where I would know nobody and would have no idea what to expect terrified me. I don't offer that as an excuse; it's just the truth.
But I come from a family with a strong military history. I have cousins, distant cousins, grandparents, great uncles, etc. that were brave enough to serve. My step-dad served, also. And I have friends and people I went to school with who served or are currently serving. My husband's family has service men and women, also.
Don't we all know somebody in the military? Please honor them today.
The people’s belief in God was evident in their principles of education. A law in Connecticut ordered parents to teach their children to read English so that the children would be able to read the Bible. Additionally, a requirement for studying at Harvard included that students were to study their Bibles and seek God through prayer. In 1790, it was added that students were to attend worship services also. Yale, too, required students to read their Bibles and pray. And Princeton, Dartmouth, and Columbia each had similar requirements. You can see here for evidence. Those rules indicate the importance of religion in early American education. Check this site for more interesting facts regarding religion in early America. Religion was not something the people were indifferent to.
As previously mentioned, the people wanted assurance that their religious rights could not be infringed. Therefore, of the first thirteen states, all had state Constitutions that declared the people had a right to the free exercise of religion. Delaware and Pennsylvania even required a religious oath be taken by government officials. Also, Delaware, New Jersey, and North Carolina’s constitutions stated no religious sect could be established in preference to any other. South Carolina went even further by declaring that there is one God and that the Christian religion is the true religion. And Rhode Island's preamble states, “We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government.” This state also recognized the people's right to freely worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. Links to each individual state constitution can be found at the end of this post.
When people debate the idea of separation of church and state, an argument is typically made that America was never a Christian nation. That argument has been enough to convince others that religious practices should be prohibited in public settings. However, that argument is misleading. Perhaps the government was not designed to be a “Christian government,” but the people were initially a Christian people who wanted protection to practice their religion without interference.Founding Father John Jay wrote a letter to John Murray reflecting on the morality of war.In the letter(see page 376), John Jay referred to our nation as a “Christian nation.”
Additionally, some people have used the Treaty of Tripoli to indicate our nation was not intended to be Christian. So let's review. President George Washington sent delegates to negotiate a treaty of peace with the Muslim Barbary Powers. At the time, American merchant ships were being destroyed and American seamen were being captured because the Barbary Powers were warring against what they believed to be a Christian government. The Powers were all too familiar with the Christian government of England, which had a hatred of Muslims. The Powers viewed America as being the same of England. However, America was nothing like England. The people were a Christian people, but the government was not a “Christian government.” Going back to the First Amendment, we have to remember the whole purpose of the Establishment Clause was to prevent a government mandated religion. There should be no surprise, then, that the Treaty of Tripoli stated, “…the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…” (Italics mine). Religious rights were intentionally left to the individual states. Therefore, the Treaty could not allege that the federal government was a Christian government.
Advocates of the separation of church and state further argue that John Adams believed the world to be a better place without religion. Where does this thought come from? A letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson contains the following: “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!” However, this phrase has been taken out of context. By reading the entire letter, one would find the following paragraph: “Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it! But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.” In the letter, Adams was venting his frustration about the religious bickering that went on between Lemuel Bryant (a parish Priest) and Joseph Cleverly (a Latin schoolmaster). The last line clearly states John Adams’s belief that religion is important to society. See here for the full correspondence between Jefferson and Adams.
I have seen nothing to indicate the Founding Fathers intended to keep religion out of the public, so how has the Supreme Court so often come to the conclusion that religion should be removed from public settings? It comes down to the idea of the separation of church and state.Before I turn to the Supreme Court and the decisions they have made against religious practices, I will offer evidence to the Founding Fathers’s religious views next week.
And don’t forget, you can click on the following links to review the first thirteen state constitutions.
In last week's post, I stated that the early settler's believed in God. So let's take a moment to go back a bit further in time in order to review evidence for that statement. In Christian Life and Character of Civil Institutions of the United States, Benjamin Franklin Morris declared, "We have a noble nation, full of the evidences of the moulding presence of Christian truth, and of the power and goodness of Divine wisdom is rearing up a Christian republic for all time." (See preface). In that same book, Morris offers the following:
~In New Jersey, the people were determined to carry on Godly government. (pg. 90)
~In Delaware, the Christian colonization began in 1638 after a royal member of a Sweden family decided to "aid in the Christian settlement of the New World." (pg. 91, 92)
~Virginia began in 1607 after King James granted territories and acknowledged that the work performed there would be aided by the propagation of the Christian religion. (pg. 92)
~Maryland was settled in 1632 by Lord Baltimore who hoped to further the Catholic religion. Lord Baltimore was granted a charter because of his "...laudable zeal for extending the Christian religion...." Additionally, when Lord Baltimore's brother, Leonard Calvert, arrived in Maryland, he erected a cross and took possession for "our Lord Jesus Christ...." (pg. 94, 95)
~South Carolina's beginnings were due to the Christian religion. (pg. 96)
~In North Carolina, the settlers were of various Christian sects who were seeking refuge from Virginia's strict Catholic laws. (pg. 98)
~Georgia received its beginning in 1732 when James Ogelthorpe landed with several emigrants to further his Christian motives. (pg. 101)
Morris goes on to say that in Massachusetts and Connecticut, all free people and civil rulers had to be in communion with the church so they could promote the Christian church. (pg. 106)
Several state charters confirmed the settler's desire to uphold the Christian religion. For example, the Virginia charter stated that the people came to America to bring the “Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”
Connecticut's charter states, "...whereby Our said People Inhabitants there, may be so religiously, peaceably and civilly governed, as their good Life and orderly Conversation may win and invite the Natives of the Country to the Knowledge and Obedience of the only true GOD, and He Saviour of Mankind, and the Christian Faith, which in Our Royal Intentions, and the adventurers free Possession, is the only and principal End of this Plantation;"
Delaware's charter states, "BECAUSE no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship: And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare..."
Georgia's charter states, "...we do by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, grant, establish and ordain, that forever hereafter, there shall be a liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of God, to all persons inhabiting, or which shall inhabit or be resident within our said provinces..."
Maryland's charter states, "Whereas our well beloved and right trusty Subject Caecilius Calvert...being animated with a laudable, and pious Zeal for extending the Christian Religion..."
Copies of the original thirteen charters can be found here at the Yale Law School website.
Interestingly enough, the majority of charters that mention religion declare that Christian people will not be prejudiced against. This suggests that the people were concerned that the government would treat them in a negative manner based on their religion. By the time America later declared independence from Great Britain, religious views hadn't changed. The Declaration of Independence was signed by fifty-six men on July 4th, 1776. When those men placed their signatures on this document, they agreed “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Although Patrick Henry was not one of the signers of the Declaration, he is considered a Founding Father. He announced, “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations…” See here for that quote along with several others he made regarding religion. Also, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, queried, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost the only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?”
Considering all this information, is it any surprise that the citizens of the new nation wanted assurance that the government would not interfere with their religious beliefs and that their rights would not be violated? This is the reason the Founding Fathers included religion in the First Amendment. The Establishment Clause and the Exercise Clause were only meant to prohibit any laws from being made that would violate the religious rights of the people. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has used the First Amendment to do the opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended.
My writing philosophy is this: anyone can write. However, not everyone can write well and tell a good story while doing it. Writing takes a lot of work. And one of the things a writer must be is objective. Let's be honest. We love our stories and our characters. However, we can't let our feelings overpower our objectivity. This is especially true when it comes to critiques.
I recently blogged about the novel I am working on titled REKINDLE. As I began writing, I felt the need to get the story set up properly. Thinking I was off to a great start, I continued with the story. But something felt off. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was not connecting with Kallie at all. Joey's scenes were going great, though. So each time I sat down to write, I would edit and add some more. I'd do the same thing the next night. And the next night. With just over 8,000 words (four chapters), I stopped. I couldn't go on. I am not one of those writers who can "get the story down and edit later." Yes, I edit when I've got my first draft done, but I can't keep writing when I know something is so terribly wrong.
So what did I do? I posted my first chapter at Absolute Write. After receiving some awesome advice, I deleted the first couple pages. I didn't even try to edit; I just took them out completely. I did revise the new opening scene, and guess what? The story reads better. It's not burdened by an unnecessary opening. I can connect with Kallie much better. And now I can continue. With a few minor revisions to the remaining pages, I'll be on my way.
I could have reacted differently. I could have insisted that the opening was necessary (I loved the first paragraph!) and tried to edit. I could have pleaded my case and tried to figure out something else. But I didn't. Instead, I looked at the story objectively and acted accordingly. And that is necessary for all writers to do.
What an "awarding" weekend it was. I received my first ever blogger award, and then I received another. And then I received a second nomination for one of the awards. So I'm feeling pretty good, but don't worry; I won't let it go to my head. To give credit where credit is due: randi lee, Katharina Brendel, and Julz Perri ~ You girls rock!
The way the award works is this: you copy the above award picture into a post and link back to the person who gave you the award. You then must either answer ten random questions or give seven random facts about yourself. Then spread the award along to ten other bloggers by tagging them!
So I am going to answer ten random questions.
1. Pantser or Plotter? More of a pantser, I guess. But that doesn't mean I don't plan or plot anything ahead.
2. Do you listen to music while writing? Absolutely. Mostly country music because it matches my moods and the moods of my characters the best.
3. What genre do you write in? Romance mainly. 4. Books on writing you recommend? Haven't read any. *blushing in shame* 5. Which are your favorite authors? Louis L'Amour and C. S. Lewis today. 6. How long have you been writing? Off and on for 17 years (since Junior High). 7. What is your favorite part of the writing process? Since I'm more of a pantser, my favorite part is watching the story develop as I write. 8. How do you capture ideas when you are on the go? I keep a notebook with me at all times. I jot down anything that comes to me.
9. How do you handle bad reviews? With a grain of salt. And chocolate. Chocolate fixes everything right? 10. Worst writing mistake you make: Comma usage. I often second guess myself and take out more of them than I should.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
It seems the common belief today is that the First Amendment requires the separation of church and state.This is inaccurate.As the United States was being formed, the people believed in God, and they believed people had the right to worship God however they saw fit.They certainly did not want any entity, whether king or a national government, demanding they practice a particular religion.By the time the Constitution was written, several Christian sects had already sprung up throughout the states.That being the case, it would make sense that the people wanted assurance that the newly formed government could not enforce a national religion. Thus, what today is referred to as the Establishment Clause was introduced into the First Amendment.“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”Our government was set up so that only Congress could make laws.And the wording of the Establishment Clause was meant to assure the people that Congress could not establish a national religion.In other words, Congress cannot make a law requiring the people of the United States to participate in a particular religion.Furthermore, the Exercise Clause which states “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” was meant to assure that Congress could not forbid United States citizens from practicing their religion.Yet the Supreme Court has on numerous occasions declared certain religious practices as being unconstitutional.On what grounds? The absurd idea of separation of church and state, which the Court believes is implied by the First Amendment.
Where did that idea come from?
When the Constitution was written, Thomas Jefferson was in France. And when the Bill of Rights was introduced, he had not yet returned to the United States. Later, in 1802, he wrote a letter to members of the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut as a response to a letter he had received from them.In their letter, they had expressed concern that the wording in the First Amendment was not enough to keep Congress from making a law adverse to their religious doctrine.Jefferson’s response was meant to assure the association that their fears were unfounded.“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”A copy of the letter can be foundhere. Because of this letter, the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment to mean that the State, whether that be a state or its government buildings or its court or its funded schools, cannot and should not allow any religious practices within its structure.So according to the Supreme Court, even though Jefferson was not part of the Constitutional Convention and did not take part in the Bill of Rights, his letter defined the First Amendment.Interestingly, Jefferson believed that the national government had no power to make laws regarding religion.However, he did believe that the states had the authority to do so. In a letter written by Jefferson to Rev. Samuel Miller, Jefferson stated, "Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority."
The First Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights only to prevent the government from forming a national religion. Go here to review the statements made during the Congressional debates. Elbridge Gerry said the First Amendment would read better if it was stated as, “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.” James Madison suggested the First Amendment should be worded to read, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.” Indeed, after the First Amendment was written, Madison interpreted it to mean that Congress could not establish a national religion. George Mason also believed that no sect of Christianity should be established in preference (pg. 244) of any other.Furthermore, while speaking at the ratifying convention in North Carolina, Samuel Johnston expressed his belief that the Constitution would not allow the establishment of any one religion, and that there was no reason to fear such an event.** However,Peter Sylvester was afraid the First Amendment could be used to do away with religion altogether. Considering the many decisions by the Supreme Court, it seems Sylvester’s fears were not unmerited.
**Can be verified by accessing ELLIOT'S DEBATES from the Library of Congress, Volume 4, pg. 198, 199. (Link won't work by copying and pasting)
New month, new theme! During the month of May, Absolute Write's Bloggers are taking on the Zombie Apocalypse. Check out my post below, and let me know what you think. Then take a look at the other creative slayings. Thanks!
He peered out the window one more time before returning to his choices. There weren't many. The serrated knife with the curved blade could slice any human but wouldn't stop even the least vicious corpse. Unless he had the time to cut away the decaying flesh piece by piece. But that would take too long; there would be no time for that. Same for the machete. He needed something else, something...well, what would be deadly against a zombie? Zombies were already dead.
Something pounded on the door, drawing his attention. It wouldn't be long now. Soon the door would give way to the insatiable creatures waiting outside. He longed for a better weapon. But he wasn't locked inside his arsenal at home and only had the few items he'd been able to carry when he fled the house. He should have grabbed his shotgun at least, but she'd been too close. She. The girl he loved and had hoped to settle down with. Get your act together! he told himself as the pounding intensified. No use thinking about her when he was facing his own death. Or undeath.
The door finally broke, allowing the infected brain eaters entry to the room. He'd be cornered soon. What kind of idiot locks himself in a room with only one door anyway? There was no time to point a finger at himself. He reached for the baseball bat and locked his eyes on the zombie leading the charge. The bat wouldn't help him win the battle, he knew. Resigned to die fighting, he swung the bat, making contact with the first creature's head.
Hope you enjoyed it! Now please check out the following:
Instead of writing more for REKINDLE, I spent the weekend helping my husband mow. Sitting on a mower in ninety degree weather with the sun beating down is not how I originally planned to spend the two days. But I was able to help him get caught up, and in the process, I had plenty of time to daydream. This morning I scribbled in my notebook as fast as I could, afraid I'd forget about a scene or idea I had thought of over the weekend. So now I have tons of notes.
I had a few days last week to work on the story, and the word count is just over 5,000, which isn't a bad start. It's not as far along as I'd like to be, but hey...at least I have a WIP again. And it's like I'm in exploration mode. I'm learning a lot about the characters, which is pretty cool. Plus the web is being weaved (i.e. the conflict is being interwoven), and that's awesome to see, also.
Anyway...short post today. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.
Planning this series has been quite a task, but a necessary one. The idea of "the separation of church and state" has been a hot button issue for me for a long time. And the more I learn, the more irritated I become. So irritated, in fact, that I feel the need to speak out.
As you follow along with me, please know this is not an attempt to shove religion down anybody's throat. I still maintain that each person has a right to his/her beliefs. Nobody should be forced into any religious practice. However, I also believe nobody should be denied his right to his religion. And that's where the problem is.
The supposed demand for the "separation of church and state" is to blame. That phrase is listed nowhere in the United States Constitution, and it is certainly not implied by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, that phrase is tossed around as if it is absolute truth.
When I consider the reasoning used by the Supreme Court in their decisions of cases involving religious matters, I wonder what our Founding Fathers would say.However, more than two hundred years have passed since they wrote the Constitution, and the men responsible for this document that Americans consider to be the law of the land cannot defend their positions or their decisions.Thankfully there are many documents we can look to, and we should look to them.
This is the beginning of my First Amendment series. Specifically, I will be discussing the the first portion of the amendment, which deals with religion.My purpose in writing this is mainly to share the knowledge I have gained regarding the intent of our Founding Fathers when they framed the United States Constitution.
Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing what I have learned about our nation’s history. This series is meant to be educational, and I hope you will find it to be so. Whenever possible, I will include links so you can verify the information I give. If none are available, I will let you know where I obtained the information. Two books that inspired me to take this stand are America's Providential History and Original Intent. Needless to say, you will see references to both those books.
A new essay will be posted each Friday of the week.I hope you'll follow along.
Last night I finally had the opportunity to sit down and start my next novel. I only got 859 words down, but it's a start. And I'm so excited about it! This story has been an idea for more than eight years. To finally see words on paper (okay, words on the computer screen) makes me giddy. When this story idea first came to me, I never imagined so many years would go by before I had the chance to start it. But other projects and ideas fought for my attention, and it was just a small idea. One simple scene actually. And it went like this:
"Joe. It's just Joe now."
"Yeah, nobody calls me Kallie anymore either."
Eight years ago, that was all I had. Yet it says so much about the two characters. Anyway, I left that idea on the back burner (i.e. I jotted it down with my other story ideas) and let it sit. Knowing I would get to it some day, I never thought much about it. But now the time is right. This is the story that's ready to be written. And from that one little scene, a story is growing. I've been jotting down notes for a few weeks as details and scenes have come to me. I have a good idea of the ending, but I don't know the how or why. And I think for me, one of the most exciting parts of writing is watching everything develop as I write. I love it! It's a lot like reading. When I'm reading a good book and have to put it down, I can't wait to get back to it to see what happens next. It's the same with writing. I can't write 24/7, so when I have to take a break, I can't wait to get back to it to see what happens next.
For the first time, I've chosen a title beforehand. Usually I wait, but I wanted to be able to refer to it easily. And what title did I come up with? REKINDLE. It's really just a working title. It sort of fits, and I'm sure I'll change it by the end.
Okay, that's enough for now. Time to slip into Kallie and Joey's world... :)