Long Lost Letter Raises Questions About Lincoln’s Faith

This is a very interesting piece about Abraham Lincoln’s religious views.

A long-lost letter written by one of of Abraham Lincoln‘s close friends is raising questions about one of the country’s greatest presidents and his faith. Mainly, what did the lanky Land-of-Lincolnite believe?

According to a letter written by Springfield, IL lawyer and Lincoln confidant William Herndon in 1866, the answer is confusing. In the letter, Herndon claims Lincoln was more of a theist that didn’t believe in the supernatural.

“Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary — supernatural inspiration or revelation,” Herndon writes in the letter obtained by the Raab Collection of Philadelphia.

“At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God.”

I had always thought that Lincoln was an agnostic or even an atheist since he had never formally joined a church. He did not appear to be particularly religious before he became president. Still, it seems his faith grew while he was in office

But as Discovery News reports, Herndon‘s knowledge of Lincoln’s faith is relegated to the years before he became president — the years before a national crises may have awakened his faith. And there is evidence that such a thing did happen:

But the challenges of a presidency, the angst of the Civil War and the 1862 death of his 11-year-old son would push Lincoln to consider God in ways he never had before, said White, who added that religion is something most Lincoln biographers have skimmed over.

Lincoln’s second inaugural address points to his eventual embrace of religion in midlife, White said. The speech, which was just 701 words long, mentions God 14 times and quotes the Bible four times, with two references to the Old Testament and two to the New Testament. In comparison, there were zero biblical references in his first inaugural and just one Bible quote in all previous inaugural addresses combined.

After his son’s death, Lincoln also developed a strong relationship with a Presbyterian minister named Phineas Densmore Gurley. And after his own death in 1865, Lincoln‘s secretary John Hay found an untitled and undated document in Lincoln’s desk that both questioned God’s presence in the midst of the Civil War and offered affirmation that God was somehow a silent actor in the war. Hay called it: Meditation on the Divine Will.

I think that the stress and strains of dealing with the Civil War would cause even a hardened atheist to turn to God.

From one of the comments on the article

well, I can’t remember the contxt of the quote or who he was talking with, but at the onset of the civil war the other party made a statement something like may God be on our side. Lincoln replied “No, may WE bo on God’s side”.

Is Gold the New Black? States Look to Bring Gold Standard Back

I’m not at all sure this is a good sign.

Starting in May, Utah residents will be able to shop in a currency other than the dollargold, something that hasn’t happened since 1933.

Utah became the first U.S. state last month to recognize gold and silver coins minted by the federal government as legal tender. More than a dozen other states are considering similar measures, and are expected to follow Utah’s example. The move, proponents say, is caused by declining faith in the U.S. monetary system and concern about rising inflation.

It’s not like they going to start carrying around gold coins. Rather the dollar will be backed by gold and can be converted if desired. I may not know enough to be sure, but, by itself, I don’t think this is a bad idea. At present, the dollar, and really no currency, is not backed by anything tangible. A dollar is worth a dollar because the government says so. But, this news is worrisome because it shows that some people are losing faith in the dollar and anticipate higher inflation. Half of economics is psychology, what people think is going to happen, and fears of inflation could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Odd Thomas Movie

They’re making a movie of DeanKoontz’s Odd Thomas. Dean Koontz seems to be excited about it, even though he has generally not had very good luck with movie adaptations of his novels. I wonder who will be playing the title role.

I generally like to read Koontz’s books. He features good, likeable characters who often face monstrous evils. They are heroes, but quiet sort of heroes who do what they have to do without seeking glory. The lessons of his novels emphasize the simple but important things in life, love and family, decent behavior, etc.

I looked it up on that invaluable resource wikipedia and Anton Yelchin will be playing Odd Thomas. I’ve never heard of him but judging from the picture in the article, he looks the part.

Yale Student’s Tragic Death Prompts a Shop Safety Review

Yale Student’s Tragic Death Prompts a Shop Safety Review.

The safety rules they list in the article are all just commonsense but it is so easy to be distracted.

Shop Machine-Operating Safety

Never wear loose clothing, gloves or any type of garment that can become entangled in any moving machinery. Tuck in shirttails and roll up sleeves, or wear a close-fitting industrial garment (such as coveralls, an industrial apron or a shop coat) that cannot be entangled by a moving machine part or the workpiece.

Remove jewelry, including watches, rings, necklaces and bracelets.

Tie long hair into a ponytail and secure the ponytail in a bun under a cap, a helmet or other protective headgear.

Wear eye protection. Even when wearing a face shield, wear safety glasses. Put on your safety glasses when you enter the shop and don’t take them off until you leave the shop.

When using wood or cold chisels, carving knives or any sharp cutting or marking tool, direct the force away from your body or hands, so that if the tool slips, you won’t be harmed.

Before operating a machine, ensure that all guards are present on the machine and that any blade, bit, abrasive disc or wheel used on it is in good working order.

Before beginning work on a machine, ensure that all machine controls and work surfaces are clear of dust, debris, dirt, grease or tools. Do not use machine beds or surfaces as work surfaces—use work benches to perform these operations.

Never distract an operator. Approach the operator only after the machine has been shut off and the workpiece has stopped moving or machine parts have stopped moving.

Don’t be distracted while you operate a machine. Concentrate on the work at hand and don’t talk to others in the shop while you are operating the machine. Do not mix alcohol or medication with machinery.

Mark the operator zone on the floor surrounding the machine. No one, other than the operator, should be present within that boundary while work is being performed on that machine.

Keep a safe clearance between yourself and any spinning bit, blade, abrasive disc or grinding wheel. For example, always use a push stick to keep your hand from coming close to a spinning table-saw blade, and never position your hands in the same vertical plane as the blade.

Never try to stop a free-spinning workpiece with a tool or your hand. Never stop a spinning machine part, such as a chuck, disc, blade or bit.

Allow a machine to come to a complete stop before making major adjustments (i.e., adjustments that involve more than turning a hand wheel or rotating a speed-control dial).

Do not use compressed air to clean stationary machines or the workpiece during operation or maintenance, because this technique can send sharp metal, dust or other debris flying. Instead, use a shop brush and, where appropriate, a shop vacuum.

Safe Shop-Keeping Practices

Light the shop area evenly, from above and from the sides.

Stabilize workbenches so they don’t shift under load or while performing work operations.

Sweep floors and aisles so they are clear of sawdust, metal chips, filings or any debris that could cause someone to slip. Stop work periodically to clean the floor and clear off workbenches.

Position a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit in a location that is easily and rapidly accessible.

Heating, cooling or ventilation should be appropriate to the workspace. That is, heaters, blowers and fan motors should not pose a risk of combustion to solvents, chemicals or combustible gases. In an enclosed shop space, never use a combustion heater that is not rated for indoor use.

Improve slippery concrete floor surfaces with nonslip coatings, floor mats or abrasive tape.

Store combustibles in a metal cabinet rated for flammable-materials storage.

Soak oily rags in water and dispose of them as soon as possible, or dispose of them in a sealed-lid trash can rated for oily-waste disposal. Oily rags can catch fire when piled haphazardly in a bin.

Tolkien

Another of my favorite things is The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Tolkien has often been copied by other fantasy writers but never equaled. I think that 500 years from now, The Lord of the Rings will be the only book, besides Atlas Shrugged, from the twentieth century that will still be widely read.