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One Nation Under . . .A Q & A With Michael Novak

Kathryn Jean Lopez

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Michael Novak: The American Republic took flight on two wings: faith and common sense. The faith that God so made the world that liberty might prevail, and the lowly, empirical type of reasoning so beloved in English common law, and in certain Whig philosophers of liberty such as Algernon Sidney and John Locke.

Many of the preachers of the Founding Era observed that on matters of liberty arguments from reason and arguments from Jewish and Christian tradition led to the same conclusion. Either set of reasons might have been sufficient. The consonance of both made an especially powerful case.

By "reason" I mean the habit of mind addressed by Federalists, the ability to look beyond one's own interests to see the long range good of one's descendants, the capacity to reflect on the future good of the whole union, not only one's own state, and the wisdom to take into account the dangers of turning down a good constitution in the name of wishing for a perfect one. By "faith" I mean seeing reality through the eyes of the Creator, as it is revealed in the tradition of reflection on the Bible. In the period 1774-1799 all the leading Americans were skillful in drawing upon both common sense and humble faith.

For the complete article go to the National Review Online website.



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