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Sanitized History

November 22, 2010

Honestly, I don’t know how history is taught these days. And I’m less concerned about revisionist history in this post, but rather the character and depth of history as taught to children.

When I was in school, our founding fathers and other inspirational figures were covered in simple, broad strokes. Franklin’s genius, Jefferson’s prose, Washington’s integrity, and Hancock’s eyesight…

There are several possible reasons for their mythic representation: it was an introduction, there’s little time for in-depth examination, and these are kids, after all.

Yet these men are portrayed as towering figures. Men apart from other men.

And in many ways they are. But as much as I loved learning about these guys, it never occurred to me that I could be one of them. That modern people could be such men of purity and accomplishment.

Now, as an adult, it’s these men’s unrelenting humanity that captures me. The lecherous Franklin, the hypocritical Jefferson, the greed of Washington…

No, I’m not advocating sin, it’s just that these were real guys capable of much good and much evil. So many of their great, enduring acts were actually motivated by self-interest.

The more I read about them, the more I realize that it was an act of God that they achieved anything. Too often, our sin consumes us, disqualifies us, beats us down. The sheer miraculous foundation of our enduring country in the hands of these guys shows the power of the Spirit AND says no matter how bad I’ve messed up, God can use us common guys and gals to great things.

Further, if it was renaissance men who built this country, then unprincipled men could tear it down. But if it was God who built this country, then no man can tear it down.

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