Review: The 5000 Year Leap

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Author: Cleon Skousen

Publisher: National Center for Constitutional Studies

 

 

 

 

For a book that has incurred quite a bit of hostility and derision, The 5000 Year Leap by Cleon Skousen is discerning, non-aggressive, simple, and direct in its explanation of the Founders’ ideas for forming the United States. Skousen’s book is divided into what might be called three parts. The first small section of the book, just over thirty pages, is full of forwards, praise, and reasons for the book in addition to the actual introduction. The actual first part establishes the foundation for the book, including the Founders’ basis in Judeo-Christian values, Anglo-Saxon law, the three branches of government, and the influences of certain Enlightenment thinking.  The 28 chapters which comprise the meat of the book are titled by principles that Skousen believes built and energized what is often called the Great Experiment.

Skousen’s ideas are nothing new to those who know history, but they are conveniently placed into a singular book that is decent for reference. Nearly every page has a quote by a founder, and if not a founder then one who praised, criticized, or led America. These are decent for reference, but it may seem tedious to those who are not accustomed to reading chucks of original text from the founding era. Even so, they aid the modern reader trying to understand why and what the Founders did. Not enough people read what our Founders wrote, if they even read our founding documents! Though Americans should read the actual texts, this book does a decent job summarizing their ideas.

These ideas, or founding principles, vary in nature but are unified in purpose. Each of these ideas built upon the others to make our nation what is it, or perhaps what it is supposed to be. The author frequently comments on the fact that our nation, especially our governing body, has strayed from these founding principles. A few of these principles include: Natural Law, Morality based on Judeo-Christian values, Equality under the law and in the eyes of God; right to defense and property and the necessity of them both; limited powers and freedom of people; the burden of debt and the need for a strong family. While I agree with many of the arguments that Skousen made in his book, he is not flawless. Though America is great, she is not perfect as people are imperfect. Towards the end of his book, he seems to lose the focus on the fact that mankind is morally flawed and gives Americans a little too much credit. But then again, he wrote this book during a different time, and I see today’s world a much bleaker one.

Additionally, Skousen held to Mormonism, which, though holding to Judeo-Christian values, is not a true Christian faith. For those who are not Christian, this will hardly impact your reading, as I am sure most everyone can agree these values are essential to a reasonable society. For those who are Christian, just keep it in the back of your mind. His Mormonism barely impacts the book and does not hinder his message concerning the Founders and their goals. Even so, keep it in mind.

Skousen’s The 5000 Year Leap is a simple book that shows how a group of people moved past millennia of royals, dictatorships, slavery, and secularism to form a government based on the power of the people, limited government, and Judeo-Christian values. His praise may seem to high for these people, but do not let that overshadow the monumental change made by the Founders. Though not on as big of scale as Christianity, the Founders and America as a whole changed world history, and mostly for the better. We are not perfect, and we have strayed from our founding. Skousen’s book is one effort to educate more people in a reasonable manner on where we came from, a warning for where we are going, and a guide to get back.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

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Threading Through Labyrinths

“But when you have killed him, how will you find your way out of the labyrinth?”

“I know not, neither do I care: but it must be a strange road, if I do not find it out before I have eaten up the monster’s carcass.”

“… I will give you a sword, and with that perhaps you may slay the beast; and a blue of thread, and by that, perhaps, you may find your way out again”

It was not Holmes that first utilized clues to find his way, but a brave – or reckless – man who sought to end the strife between two countries. From the above text, it appears that Theseus only had cleos in mind when he decided to enter the labyrinth and slay the Minotaur, so I am sure in some way he was grateful for the forethought of Ariadne to give him a way to both victory and freedom.

But how exactly did Ariadne clue in Theseus? She gave him a ball of thread.

Indeed, the word for a ball of thread was once called a clew, derived from the Old English word cliewen. This is a globular ball “formed by coiling it [string] together”, like a ball of thread or a skein of yarn. But this word came to be used to refer to something we follow, like a trail of evidence. Perhaps this is because you have to follow the thread around to unwind the clew or skein.  The meaning of clew was reshaped into a “guide to anyone ‘threading’ his was through a maze or labyrinth” by author John Gay in his poem “Of Walking the Streets by Day.”

Thus hardy Theseus with intrepid feet,

Travers’d the dang’rous labyrinth of Crete;

But still the wandering passes forc’d his stay,

Till Ariadne’s clue unwinds the way.

Young Theseus followed a golden thread to lead him out of the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur, thus making a clew into a clue. A clue is what leads someone though “a circumstance” of “perplexity, difficulty, or intricate investigation” and can be “taken hold of and followed”. This is where the phrase “following a thread of evidence” or following a thread of “discourse, thought, history,” come from. In the case of Theseus, that clue was a lifeline to grab hold of. But for most of us, clues lead us to remembering a great detective. Aren’t these etymological clues interesting?

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


Works Referenced

“clue.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. 2017. Accessed 8 May 2018.

“clue.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 

“clew.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. 2017. Accessed 8 May 2018.

Gay, John. The Works of Mr. John Gay: In Four Volumes. Dublin: James Potts. 1770. p. 116.

 

A Chimerical Idea

To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.

~ James Madison

Though the idea has since escaped us in recent days, it was once widely recognized that people are corrupt. People are sinful, evil, desiring wrongdoing. It is only through careful instruction, typically from youth, that our debase nature is curved. It is for this reason we have government, laws, churches, the Bible. When we gain instruction in our youth, our adulthood choices are better-guided.

But what has this to do with liberty? This has to do with self-government, or responsibility. If people are able to govern themselves, they are able to govern their households. And if their households, then their community. If their community, then their country. This was the intent of our founders. They knew that men were inherently bad, thus they made it where tyrannical rule was most difficult to achieve. It was the people who had the power. But what does self-government look like? Self-government is living with good manners, putting others’ needs above your own, being courteous, civil, working to the betterment of yourself, virtuous. Self-government is recognizing the bad within oneself and striving to do what is right in spite of it, hopefully with the acknowledgement and help of the Lord.

When people are self-governed, the sanctity of life, the ownership of property, and the respecting of opinions reign in freedom and liberty, and then people are truly happy. But to say that this is possible without virtue is chimerical because it is
“incapable of realization” (“chimerical.”).

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

~Benjamin Franklin

Human rights only exist so long as people are self-governed and virtuous. Without such a foundation in the hearts and minds of people, liberty and happiness dissolve. And it is only if we are a virtuous people that we will be able to deserve those things we cherish.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

 


Works Referenced

“chimerical.” The Online Etymology Dictionary. 2017. Accessed 29 Apr 2018.

Skousen, Cleon. The 5000 Year Leap. National Center for Constitutional Studies. 2011. pp. 49-57.

A Great Man and a Greater Source

As many of my literary friends may know, today marks the day that Shakespeare died and, likely, was born. Shakespeare was a great man; Shakespeare was a writer. He was a man who took old stories, history, and lessons and crafted them into plays and poems that have stood the test of time. Little more can be said about this giant of English and world literature than what has already been said. But there is one point, one source about Shakespeare’s works that should be emphasized, and that is the Bible.

There is much truth in the remark that “without Tyndale, no Shakespeare.” It is also true that “without Tyndale, no King James Bible.” “Without the king James Bible,” Alister McGrath observed, “there would have been no Paradise Lost, no Pilgrim’s Progress, no Handel’s Messiah, no Negro spirituals, no Gettysburg Address. … Without this Bible, the culture of the English-speaking world would have been immeasurably impoverished.” The literary debt Anglo-America letters owe to this translation is incalculable.

The English Bible’s influence on great works of literature accounts for only a fraction of its overall influence on the English Language.

Daniel Dreisbach, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers, 31.

Like most literature in the Western world, Shakespeare was heavily influenced by, or at least heavily filled with, the Bible.

The most frequently repeated figure on the books of the Bible to which Shakespeare refers is 42 books–eighteen from each of the Testaments and the remaining from the Apocrypha.  Shakespeare’s writing contains more references to the Bible than the plays of any other Elizabethan playwright.  A conservative tally of the total number of biblical references is 1200, a figure that I think could be doubled.

Numerically the book with the most references is the book of Psalms, and usually Shakespeare refers to this book as it appears in the Anglican Prayer Book.  Other biblical books that are high in the number of references are Genesis, Matthew, and Job.  The Bible story that appears most often–more than 25 times–is the story of Cain and Abel.  There are so many references to the opening chapters of Genesis in Shakespeare’s plays that scholars make comments to the effect that Shakespeare must have had these chapters nearly memorized.  Shakespeare’s allusions are sometimes generalized, as for example to characters in the Bible, but often the parallels are linguistic and specific, requiring a specialist’s knowledge.

Leland Ryken, “Shakespeare and the Geneva Bible”.

One can hardly ignore God in the sonnets between Romeo and Juliet, in the reference on Protestantism in Hamlet,  or in any number of references to God within the historical Henry plays. So in remembering one of the greatest writers of all time, we remember that one of his influences comes from the greatest Book of all time: the Bible.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


Works Cited

Dreisbach, Daniel L. Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2017. p. 31. Accessed 23 Apr 2018.

Mabillard, Amanda. Biblical Imagery in MacbethShakespeare Online. 20 Nov. 2001. Accessed 23 Apr 2018.

Ryken, Leland. “Shakespeare and the Geneva Bible“. Jul 2009. Accessed 23 Apr 2018.

Shakespeare on religion: 8 quotes from the greatest English writer

Beware the Slow Death

Our freedoms will likely not be lost in one swift blow, but instead by the careful and steady hand of “silent encroachment”. This is why we must remain on the side of truth, on the side of what is right. Let us not be self-serving but seek to serve truth and justice. Encroaching on the rights of one person or group is to encroach on them all. Our government leaders must be reminded of their bonds: the Constitution. We give them their power; they do not give us ours. We must not let them take our property, our rights, and our liberty from us. For if they do, they will surely take our lives.

~Rose

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The above images come from the book The 5000 Year Leap.

Never Again…?

Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day for the Jews, called Yom Hashoah. The U.S. had a day of remembrance a couple of months ago, but that day came and went without much comment. Coincidentally, today happens to be a day when a mass grave of Jews found in Poland was announced in 1943. This mass grave, of course, was of Jews murdered during the Holocaust. But apparently this history has been forgotten over the past few decades. According to a new survey,

41 percent of Americans don’t know what Auschwitz was, including two-thirds of Millennials. Approximately 22 percent of Millennials had not heard of the Holocaust, and 41 percent thought 2 million or fewer Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

(Ben Shapiro)

This is troubling, but not surprising. It is no wonder considering most young people do not know what Nazism, Communism, or Socialism is. After all, they wanted to elect a self-proclaimed socialist! No decent or well-read person would dream of doing such a thing. But young people do not know how many died in the Oktober Revolution, WWI and WWII, or during the Holodomor, nor do they know how these events came to fruition. Many young people do not know the recent events in our history that changed the world, for good or ill, nor why those things happened. They do not know the past.

What is worse, they do not care.

The fact that they do not know and do not care to know is the most troubling of these facts. Many people do not know the past and they do not wish to learn about it. Last night I watched a film called Hotel Rwanda. It was the first time I had seen the film and the first time I thought to look deeper into the history of that genocide. To be quite honest, I had never even heard, to memory, of the Tutsi and the Hutu before four years ago. But I sought to overcome that deficiency and looked up information on it. I am glad I did too, because it better helps me understand what is going on in South Africa at present.

I do not want to be ignorant of my personal history. I do not want to be ignorant of my country’s history. I do not want to be ignorant of world history. How can I hope to be a cause for change, a means of good, a word of instruction if I am in ignorance?

There is a quote that is hopefully well-known and cannot be over-emphasized:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

(George Santayana)

This is rather true, and I fear I see that across the globe today. People cannot remember the past. Thus, people who do not know about 1400’s Spain do not see a problem with mass migrations of young, male immigrants flooding Europe. People who do not know anything about the Fall of Rome, the Visigoths, and WWII do not pay attention to what Germany is doing with its military. People who do not know about who Marx, Malthus, Lenin, and Stalin were also don’t stand aghast at the fact we almost elected a self-professed communist as President. People who do not know about the English, French, and American revolutions are not afraid when the powerful subjugate citizens by weakening the Constitution. People who do not know about the Holocaust, the Holodomor, or what Eugenics is do not see the problem with abortion and physician assisted suicide.

People do not know history, so they do not know the folly of their ideas. Instead, they are work to destroy what they don’t understand. They wish to do what has been tried – and failed with unimaginable bloodshed. This is to our shame.

The following is a clip from the Band of Brothers. This scene is on the liberation of a concentration camp. This short clip is sickening, and yet it is only a fraction of the atrocities committed against people, a fraction of the over six million people who were murdered in these camps. We can only imagine what these people went through and what these soldiers experienced when they found them.

I have not investigated the numbers, but it is frightening to me that there is even a possibility of two-fifths of Americans who do not know what Auschwitz was. How has our country forgotten the horrors? How have we forgotten the atrocities committed across the world? How do we think we can solve the problems in our own country when we do not even know how and why we got here? How can we hope to stop evil in its path when we do not even recognize it?

How can we say “never again” if we do not remember what should never happen again?

How can we recognize the present if we forgot the past? How can we stop future atrocities if we do not remember past ones, refusing to learn and recognize them?  Will we recognize when our freedoms, our rights, our persons are being stripped of our ownership when they are being stripped away? Or will we, in our ignorance, stand by and say, “Let’s do it again!” while we feast and watch the circuses? As I watch the world, I mourn as I see us repeat history once more.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


For more information on atrocities that should never be forgotten, go to this series called The Revolutionary HolocaustDo not be distracted by the narrator. Listen to the stories, investigate the facts, know what evil should be prevented.

On One Palmy Day

As Palm Sunday is coming up, I thought a post on the etymology of the word palm was in order. I was originally only going to look up the word palm, but I came across palmy and decided it needed to be added as well. Yes, palmy is a word – a word coined by Shakespeare no less. But how did he get a hold of the word?  After all, there are no palm trees in England. Instead, as many English words do, the word palm comes from Latin. Palma meant a “palm of the hand” and came to mean a “palm tree”, as the fronds of the palm tree appear like an outstretched hand. This word was eventually adopted by Old French, Old English, Old Saxon, Old High German, and Old Norse. But how did it get there? And what does it mean?

The palm made its way through Europe not in form but in metaphor. As Christianity was carried through Europe, and eventually to the Isles, so too was the word palm. Palms were plentiful in the Middle East and the word was included in the Bible, mentioned in various Christian writings, and adopted in the languages it encountered. In fact, Chaucer used this word in his Canterbury Tales, within the ‘Second Nun’s Tale’, referring to the “palm of martyrdom”. It was Chaucer who started the path to the eventual word palmy; his usage meant more than a tree or hand but victory. Shakespeare then took the victory-filled word palm and morphed it into palmy, meaning “triumphant”, in his Hamlet. Strictly speaking, the word means “full of palms”. But as the palm was a symbol for victory, full of palms means “triumphant”.

But why did the palm change from a plant to a praise? Well, the reason this word came to these languages through Christianity is because of the account associated with palms: Palm Sunday. In Old English, this day was called palm-sunnandaeg. On this palmy day, Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, oftentimes even giving palm fronds  to everyone in the Church that day (John 12:12-16). But why was Christ’s entrance triumphant? Jesus did not come in riding on a horse of war or with intentions of taking back Israel from Rome. No, instead the Christ was ridding to Jerusalem with the knowledge that He would die there on Passover. How was this triumphant? It was triumphant because with His sacrifice and Resurrection, He would defeat death. Thus, because of the day when palms were cut to welcome and praise in the King of kings, who triumphed over death, the word palmy was born “triumphant”.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


The Canterbury Tales

palm“. The Online Etymology Dictionary.

palmy“. The Online Etymology Dictionary.

palmy“. Merriam Webster Dictionary.