Two broad sets of ideas largely determined worldview in 18th century America prior to the American Revolution. While it is true that the Enlightenment more thoroughly influenced the Colonial elite, and the Great Awakening was most influential amongst common people, both found their nexus in America. Both influenced the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Early Republican period. The phenomenon was not inevitable, since the two sets of ideas were often antagonistic in Europe—particularly during the French Revolution. In America, piety and political philosophy mixed, Reason and Revelation married.
The Enlightenment was centered in Europe but came to the Colonies in books and from the travel of wealthy and influential citizens. It began in the 1690s but had its heyday between 1720 and 1780. Locke, Newton and Blackstone figured prominently in England; Hume and Adam Smith in Scotland; Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Descartes in France; and Kant in Germany. Clearly all these folks in the same room would not produce agreement on much. Nevertheless, the Enlightenment held to a central tenet: the power of human reason to understand laws of nature, society, government, etc., and to direct progress in those areas. New assumptions dawned upon man’s consciousness: that man had the ability to control his environment; that man possessed immense rational faculty or cognitive ability; that objective Truth existed and that man could approach, if not actually know it completely. The Enlightenment naturally propelled men towards invention and the scientific method. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were leading proponents of Enlightenment ideas and lifestyle in the Colonies and after Independence.
The Great Awakening was centered in America. Indeed, except for the involvement by British evangels in the Colonies, the Great Awakening was an American phenomenon—arguably the first to provide some common experience amongst all Colonies. It began in the 1720s and peaked between 1740 and 1775. The Great Awakening affected most church denominations and helped knit the Eastern seaboard together socially. It witnessed the resurgence of old school Calvinism, so it had doctrinal affinity to earlier Puritanism. But what distinguished the Great Awakening were its new technique of revivalism, and its emphasis on itinerant preaching to backcountry areas and slave communities. This is what brought Christianity to the slaves and to backwoods pioneers. This is what challenged the staid Anglicanism of Virginia and gave rise to the Baptists. Indeed, the challenge posed to established churches by new preachers had the positive effect of reinvigorating faith in old churches too.
When preachers like George Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards came to town or to the countryside, a 20-mile radius might be cleared completely of people. By word of mouth, the news spread and farmers dropped their implements and packed their families into wagons to go hear the Gospel! Thousands heard the Word for the first time; or else, they let it penetrate their hearts fully. America steeled its character, a character of righteousness for the Revolution to come. Although Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale had been founded by Congregationalists before the Great Awakening, Old and “New Lights” of New England, as well as Old and “New Sides” of the Middle Colonies, proceeded to found Princeton (1746), Columbia (1754), Brown (1764), Rutgers (1766), and Dartmouth (1769). They did it to produce clergy, as well as learned men of faith and faithful men of learning.
The Enlightenment and Great Awakening reinforced each other in America. The cooperation between them produced some of America’s greatest institutions of higher learning. That’s why it is so unfortunate that many universities today incline towards a studied hostility to religion and to the religious impulse. In our Founders’ day, we were likely to conclude that man’s ability to control his environment (and to properly steward it) depended on his ability to discover and to understand God’s laws—His laws of physics and math and history, as much as His law of Love. Truth and the Laws of Nature and God’s Law all came together. Men might well reason, and reason well. But God sets the standards we seek and defines Reason “out of the amplitude of His pure affection.”
Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he serves as State Director of the Republican Freedom Coalition (RFC). This article is from his newly released book, Horse Sense for the New Millennium available on-line at and from fine bookstores everywhere. Email: .
A couple of weeks ago, Cecilia, my daughter, in a somber voice asked me, “Dad, can you pick up Landon (my grandson) at school? Chris (her husband) just had a bad car accident on his way to pick him up.” As I drove to Nolan Catholic High, I saw a parade of cars on the road where Chris had his accident. Avoiding the congested road, I opt to go another route to Nolan. After I picked up Landon I informed him of his dad’s accident and that we were going to the accident site to check on his dad. When we arrived at the accident scene Landon and I were shocked. Chris’ car was totaled, as was the car that hit him. It had rained and the roads being slick the driver who was speeding lost control of his car causing the bad accident. As I assessed the accident I was surprised that Chris was not seriously hurt, thanks to his air bag, which according to police saved his life or serious body injuries. As the police questioned Chris and the other driver I noticed that he didn’t speak a word of English nor his 3 passengers. Folks, not only was the driver and his passengers illegal aliens, the driver didn’t have a driver’s license or car insurance. Had the illegal alien who had no business driving killed my son in law, I think my daughter and my grandchildren would have faced a difficult time in their future lives without their dad who is a great father and provider for his family.
When I learned that the illegal alien who hit my son in law’s car had no license and insurance I became incensed, not only at the police who didn’t arrest all of them for being here illegally and causing a near fatal accident, but at the damn uncaring car dealers who advertise in their car lots “no licencia, no seguranza, no problema!” (No license, no insurance, no problem!) My fellow Americans, when are we going to send a strong message with our votes to all the worthless politicians in Washington, in our state and our cities, that we are fed up with all the illegal immigration mess! Having lived in North Fort Worth, a predominately Hispanic community for almost 48 years I saw with my own eyes the untold number of atrocities committed by illegals and how they would return to their homeland without every being prosecuted for the misdeeds. No matter how gruesome the crimes these illegals commit, the Mexican government will not extradite them if they are to face the death penalty. What Mexico really means is, “feed them, give them their medical needs, incarcerate them for life, but just don’t kill them!” Folks, we shelter thousands of Mexican criminals with our tax dollars.
Last week, as I watched a crime TV series I was appalled at a crime a young illegal alien male committed no more than 30 miles from my house in Denton, Texas. The illegal abducted a young teen girl, tortured and raped her, and then he torched her car and took off to Mexico to live with his grandparents. Later, when he was extradited to face a jury they sentenced him to life. After the trial ended the mother of the illegal young man went to the mother of the teen girl and asked for forgiveness. At that moment I remembered when Gov. Perry in his TV debate stated (here I’m paraphrasing), “We help the children of illegal aliens get tuition help in their education because through no fault of their own their parents brought them here.” When will politicians like Gov. Perry realize that not all children of illegals are here to get an education! Many commit crimes as this young man did in Denton. With this tuition help to the children of illegal aliens, Gov. Perry along with other politicians exacerbate the illegal alien catastrophic situation in our country.
For years I’ve donated money and voted for Gov. Perry. But after he made those statements in his presidential debate about tuition help to Mexican students, I’m having second thoughts about him. Having said that, all presidential candidates including President Obama pander to Hispanics thinking all Hispanics like me are enamored with illegal immigration. Sadly, they are gravely mistaken. I might add here that the blood of that young beautiful girl who was killed in Denton is on the hands of the politicians and employers who hire and allow these nonsense and senseless crimes by illegals to continue.
Just today I saw on the news that Alabama is coming down hard on illegal aliens in their state. Alabama’s tough new immigration law, most of which was upheld by a federal judge last week is having its intended effect: illegal aliens are leaving the state, and their children are disappearing from schools. Two news reports show that illegal aliens, who cost Alabama taxpayers some $300 million annually, have read the handwriting on the wall. No more hiding, the free ride is over! Now my friends, who do you think is trying to overturn the immigration law in Alabama? You guess it, our own useless Federal bureaucrats in Washington. My gosh folks, who’s side are these guys side on? The American citizens of this country or illegal immigrants who have broken our laws! The answer is obvious!
In a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety “Unlicensed to Kill”, it noted that a high percentage of illegal aliens involved in the 278,078 fatal crashes during the examined 5-year period. It found that if illegal aliens caused just 5% of the 42,049 deaths that is over 2,000 American citizens killed during a five-year period, which is an average of 400 citizens per year. Many however feel that the number is much higher than just 5% and sadly point out that Americans should needlessly die to save a few cents on every head of lettuce!
Ladies and gentlemen, all of us have to have a license to drive and auto insurance when we buy our plates, or stopped by a police officer. If we harm someone with our auto, we can’t take off to Mexico or wherever like the illegals can. When are we going to join forces to stop all this lawlessness?
Early in my career – right after some of the moisture dried behind my ears – I left a fairly large, well-known firm for a smaller one. I liked the higher pay with fewer meetings. The trade-off was, at the smaller firm, no one was getting paid to motivate me. It was a pay-on-performance kind of place, and after many ups and downs, that has turned out for the best overall.
That is the kind of decision you can make in a free society.
At the smaller firm, I met an older gentleman, all 6 foot 5 of him, who was both a World War II and Korean War vet. He was of that Scotch-Irish stock that is so common in Texas. Enlisting in the old Army Air Corps during WW2, he was too late to see combat. Sometime after V-J Day he was discharged. He went back to his small hometown and worked in a local bank. A few years later, as Communist-backed North Korea invaded South Korea, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines.
Sgt. Mack, as we called him around the office, was a little older and wiser than the average new Marine. He quickly earned his corporal’s stripe as we chased the Communist-dogma-inspired North Koreans deep into their own territory. Not much later, he advanced to sergeant. It was, after all, a war.
Unknown to our forces at the time, Chinese Communist forces infiltrated North Korea during the fall of 1950. Fortunately, Sgt. Mack and many other Marines, as well as elements of the U.S. Army, British Royal Marines and South Korean units, stopped the Communist 9th Army’s attempt to overrun us at a place called Chosin Reservoir in 35-below-zero weather.
Korea was the first large scale direct clash between U.S. troops and Communist forces. For years, we thought only Chinese and Korean Communist forces were involved. Since the fall of Communism in Russia, we now know that the Communist North Korean pilots were in reality, in many if not most cases, Russian Communist fighter pilots. In Korea, we were in direct battlefield contact with all the major Communist powers including the Russians.
Sgt. Mack cherished his freedom and earned his patriotism fighting Communists. He paid for it with his Purple Heart and the pain of his old frostbite that would return from time to time. He died in the 1990s.
Communism in its purist form not only demands that the state owns and controls all property, but also ultimately demands that it owns the individual citizen. What you do for a living, where you live, even what you say in public is all controlled by the state. For the most part, atheism is encouraged by those in power. Faith in a higher power is frowned upon. In effect, the government is to be the only authority.
Sometimes I fear that we are letting Communist thinking encroach too much into our system. Would we know it if it did, and how many would object?
In Communist countries, the media is controlled; its job is not to inform folks but to support the government. Journalists who do not comply may be punished or even killed.
Before settling into academia, a former journalism professor of mine worked for a U.S.-based media company and was sent into Communist-dominated Eastern Europe and Russia during what were called the Cold War years. I remember the day (sometime in 1981) that he lectured us on the fact that those who wrote for the media in those countries were not journalists in the American or Western European sense of the word but merely propagandists.
He reported that even saving newspaper clippings was not allowed, as the facts in news stories were often changed on a day-by-day basis to serve the interests of those in power. He knew of instances where old ladies had been sent to the Soviet/Communist version of a concentration camp, in Siberia, for wrapping their family dishes in old newspapers for storage purposes.
In Communist countries, the government owns you, right down to your old newspapers.
These facts should be taught in Civics and History classes in junior high if not in grade school, but evidently they are not.
Recently in Italy, Texas, parents were asked to buy shirts for their students in sympathy with a band program. The program had to do with Russian composers. Red shirts were ordered (the international color of Communism) with the words "RED" in capital letters stenciled in white over the red T-shirt. In the "D" of the T-shirt was the hammer and sickle, a symbol of Communism.
I have been told by an Italy school board member that the shirts were ordered from a UIL-approved catalog. How very sad on so many fronts. If that is true, this is far more than a local issue. Even Russia is no longer Communist. The Russian flag is now three-colored and no longer includes the hammer and sickle, the most hated symbol since the swastika of Nazi Germany.
Communist Gulags (concentration camps) and firing squads were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent people from Eastern Europe to Russia and China. Ironically in this case, teachers – as well as poets, political activists, the religious, and even old women who wrapped their dishes in newspapers – died at Communist hands or were beaten and starved, just short of death, in the lands of the hammer and sickle.
According to local reports, the offending Commie and possibly UIL-approved T-shirts are now gone, but how about the underlying problem? Italy, Texas, is a nice small town full of hard-working people. I’m almost sure we have no Communist teachers, so if this lack of historical literacy has taken root here, it probably has in other places, too. This is about more than T-shirts; it is about a dangerous philosophy and American apathy and ignorance.
If we do not even recognize the symbols, would we recognize the ideas?
Paul D. Perry This article was originally published, in a slightly different version, in the Waxahachie Daily Light
Lucky is from mixed cow-dog stock. She appears to be mostly Australian shepherd. Her coat is a mixture of dark gun-metal grey over a lighter grey. Then there are a few white streaks that mark her years. Lucky is about 13; she came to us as a puppy. A married couple who manage ranches for a living gave her to my eldest daughter when she was 10.
That eldest daughter and her husband have recently made me a grandfather. Lucky has quite a history with us.
Our older kids are starting to leave the nest. They leave their dogs behind, and that’s not a problem. An older dog that was not raised in an apartment or a starter home with a small yard may not adjust well to change. We have a few acres, and the dogs know where their home is; I think they have a good life here. I suspect the canines might agree. They also have each other.
We were an eight-child, four-dog household before our kids started to leave the nest. That is an excessive number of pooches, but to hold the child to dog ratio at 2:1 isn’t too bad. Right now, the child to exotic lizard category is only 8:1. If you don’t have children, you might not understand the math.
Lucky is probably deaf, and I suspect her eyesight is slipping. She’s not totally blind yet, because she reads lips and understands some hand signals. She has some arthritis in her hip and back. She appreciates a back rub now and then. Don’t we all.
When Lucky was about 2 years old, I noticed a few pieces of pizza missing from a pie that was laying on the kitchen counter. After polling the household, it was determined that Lucky was the culprit. I scolded and disciplined her. A few weeks later, I noticed that a slice of pizza was hanging partially off the same counter. This time, only the toppings were missing. I temporarily called her Misdemeanor for a while after that.
When Lucky was about 3, we lived in the Red Oak area, in a relatively new home. After we converted the garage into a bedroom for my two oldest daughters, I had a propane heater installed in order to supplement our central heating unit.
I bought that heater from a local firm that had reconditioned it, and I had it installed by a licensed plumber. We never ran the heater all night, and we only used it on exceptionally cold nights before the girls went to bed. We also had gas sensors and smoke detectors for added safety.
One cold night, I started that heater before the girls went to bed. We were in the living room. I don’t remember if we were watching TV or playing board games, but I heard barking and growling. Lucky typically didn’t bark without a reason.
I walked back to the girls’ room, and the entire heater almost to the wall cut-off valve was engulfed in flames. There was furniture near. The flames were too hot to get to the cut-off valve. I grabbed an oven mitt from the kitchen, reached briefly through the flames and shut the gas off.
Everything was OK.
I remember Lucky sitting on my daughter’s top bunk bed barking and growling encouragement. No doubt she prevented a disaster. A few minutes more and the ceiling and/or the attic might have been involved in the fire. Lucky has earned every meal since.
Her best friend is Ranger, an aging half-Ridgeback, half-Catahoula, but still 90 pounds of brute. He was my oldest son’s dog at one time. Ranger is about Lucky’s age but enjoys pretty good health.
I office at home most of the time. One morning this past week, I coaxed Lucky outside. As she crept through the door to the great outdoors, Ranger touched her muzzle to muzzle and gently pushed her up against my Buick. I watched as Ranger checked both to his left and right and then gazed out into the pasture. Then he let Lucky proceed into our yard. All the while, Ranger stood guard.
Was it respect, concern or fondness? Too often we attribute human-type thinking to animals. Maybe it’s just that Ranger picks up on the fact that I think Lucky made her place with us on a winter night years ago.
This article was first published in the Waxahachie Daily Light
Devastating wildfires across Texas in recent weeks have been the most visible evidence of a yearlong drought that Texas officials have declared to be the worst on record. Behind the highly visible carnage caused by the fires, the drought also has inflicted a toll on the Texas economy that will have long-term ramifications across the state.
The dry, hot conditions have placed severe strains on the ranching and farming industry, as well as threatening our recreational hunting and fishing sector.
Experts with the Texas AgriLife Extension at Texas A&M University estimate that the drought has cost Texas $5.2 billion in crops and livestock. In fact, many Texas ranchers may be forced to go out of business as a result of the devastating weather conditions.
The drought has killed much of the grass used for grazing, and ranchers are faced with a choice: They sell off their starving cattle before they've fully matured, pay unusually high prices for hay to keep their herd alive or move their herd out of state where conditions are better.
Almost all the hay for Texas ranchers is coming from out of state, and officials with the Texas Farm Bureau say that the cost to transport a bale of hay is now more expensive than the bale itself. Meanwhile, some out-of-state hay producers are using the shortage to charge exorbitant prices.
Understandably, many Texas ranchers have opted to sell their cattle under these circumstances. One survey by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association found that ranchers have sold off 40 percent of their cattle this year compared to an annual average of 5 percent to 10 percent.
Officials with the Texas Farm Bureau believe that percentage has gone up even higher in the last month. The Farm Bureau also reports that they are hearing from many ranchers who plan to leave the business for good after they sell off their herd. TSCRA's survey confirms that one in 10 ranchers have left the industry this year.
Farmers also have suffered. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples reports that cotton farmers have lost $1.8 billion because of the lack of rain; lost revenue from hay is $750 million; and corn losses are $327 million.
Officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority recently announced that they may be requesting permission to cut off water to farmers downstream of Austin because water reserves are so depleted. If that happens, rice farmers in Matagorda, Wharton and Colorado counties could see losses of $75 million and the elimination of 1,000 farm labor jobs, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.
Even hunting and fishing, one of Texas' most beloved pastimes, could take a hit. Wild turkeys and deer are struggling to find water to drink and moist foliage to eat, according to Kirby Brown of the Texas Wildlife Association, who reports that fawn production will likely be down. Before discounting this as just an inconvenience, consider that hunting and fishing is a nearly $9 billion industry in Texas according to a 2006 study.
The economically harmful effects of the drought are compounded by the fact that it is taking place as we face the most serious recession since the Great Depression. The stagnant national economy is driving up unemployment across the country, including Texas.
Making matters even worse is that some of the regions of Texas with the highest unemployment — the South Texas counties near the Rio Grande — are regions where farming and ranching play a large role in the local economy.
The economic damage done by this drought will be long-lasting even if rain comes soon. Ranchers forced to sell off cattle before reaching their peak value can never recover that loss and replenishing their lost inventory will take major capital investments. The farmers and hunting-related businesses who lose income can't make it back when the rain returns.
The $5.2 billion of losses in crops and livestock that the drought is said to have cost is a conservative estimate. It doesn't include fruits, vegetables or peanuts. Nor does it include the indirect impact of the drought that has been especially pronounced in regions where agriculture is the largest sector of the economy. Businesses that sell feed, fertilizer, seed, heavy machinery and other agricultural supplies are adversely affected by these negative conditions.
Texas has fared better than any other state during the current economic challenges and has led the way in private sector job creation over the past decade. That is due in part to our strong agriculture sector, which has always played a vital role in our state. One out of every seven jobs in Texas is tied to that sector.
But this devastating drought has imparted serious and real damage. Texans must be prepared to deal with the long-term economic and human costs of this drought for years to come.
Tom Pauken is Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission and author of Bringing America Home.