Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution

Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution
Goerge Anastaplo 
Lexington Books 2013 

In Part One, the uses of divine revelation in the Western world are reviewed by recalling authors that include Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Plato, Maimonides, Cervantes, Hobbes, and Milton. The challenges posed by such monstrosities as Aztec human sacrifices and the Second World War Holocaust are recalled.

In Part Two, the challenges of religion for and by Americans are examined. Documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of 1787, and Presidential Farewell Addresses are recalled. The lives and thought of eminent Americans are also recalled (including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln). Recalled as well are such movements as that of the Mormons and that of the “I Am” sect. The implications both for religious developments and for religious orthodox of modern science are investigated.

The Appendices reinforce these inquiries by providing reminders of how distinguished commentators and others have tried to deal with critical questions noticed in the Essays of this book.

George Anastaplo is currently Lecturer in the Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago, Professor of Law at Loyola University of Chicago, and Professor Emeritus of Political Science and of Philosophy at Dominican University.

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Anastaplo’s genius lies in his capacities for discovering interconnections linking the most disparate inquiries—in a single afternoon he may ask of a gathering of physicists why masses attract and of a survivor of Nazi imprisonment what had been the happiest day of his confinement. His “Reflections” upon replies elicited from decades of such inquiry provide guidance to thinking through the dependence of political principles upon religious belief as well as to understanding how changes in religious beliefs result from political experience.  — John Alvis, Professor and Director American Studies Program, University of Dallas

No one but George Anastaplo could range so wide—from the Greek classics to contemporary unorthodox religious movements in the United States, from Aztec human sacrifices to the human problems posed by modern physical sciences—without for a moment dulling the edge of his unmistakable voice, a voice full of passion, indignation, skepticism, reason, and an unreasonable hope that the human race will not go on forever making the same stupid mistakes. Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution, the fifth in a projected series of ten volumes of essays, is rich in insights, opinions, and disturbingly persuasive arguments. — Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago Divinity School

George Anastaplo challenges us to question what we believe that we know and to recognize what our way of life depends upon. In his Reflections on Religion, the Divine, and the Constitution, he employs unexpected and unorthodox manifestations of our religious passions to make us aware of the relationship between our understanding of the divine ordering of the universe and the constitutional order under which we live. The inquiries provided through the “constitutional sonnets” of this volume offer us the opportunity to cast off the chance objects that our circumstances have provided for our religious passions and to replace them with what is truly enduring. — Laurence D. Nee, St. John’s College