In his review of Gordon S. Wood’s Revolutionary Characters (“Founders, Keepers,” January), James O. Tate avers that “we need to recover a vital connection to the spirit of the Founding Fathers . . . ” He notes that Wood identifies that spirit, but nowhere in the review does he describe it. That spirit was anti-Catholic—a marriage of rationalism, naturalism, and secularism, the bitter fruits of Protestant and Enlightenment ideas, because of their redefinition of human nature and freedom.
Why should I, a Catholic born in America, want to reconnect with Thomas Jefferson, who, in a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823, wrote, “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding”?
Going back to Washington, Franklin (both Freemasons), and the rest of their ilk will not resuscitate America. We must divorce ourselves from adoration of those revolutionaries and return to Him Who declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” It is only in this way that we can become His temporal instruments for the restoration of the good, the beautiful, and the true in our land.
Imlay City, MI
Professor Tate Replies:
I agree with the burden of Mr. Meng’s letter: There is a truth there about the anti-Catholic spirit, in a negative sense, and the Christian spirit, in a positive one, though he may be a bit confused about restoring what we never had. But then, I never said—nor did Gordon Wood—that the Founding Fathers were great theologians. Rather, he and I see them as gentlemen who had keen political insight. Although we need to reconnect with that disinterested political insight because we don’t have any, Wood implied that we could not do so, and I explicitly agreed with him. Was it a politician who said, “My Kingdom is not of this world”?