Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unlikely Discovery

In the process of writing a rather long blog post that I'm still working on (I hope it is done later today) I did some background searching and stumbled upon this volume: The Social and Political Thought of American Progressivism.  Reading the introduction and reflecting on it in relation to the present, it is hard to believe that more than 100 years ago it was the Party of Lincoln that gave childbirth to the Progressive moment.  Even more stunning, however, are the biographies of the Progressive intellectuals whose ideas spawned the movement.  From the bottom of page xv: 

One wonders what happened in the interim to turn most evangelical Protestants into Conservatives. 

The biggest surprise for me, however, was learning who edited this volume, Eldon Eisenach.  I had him as a professor in a course on American Political Thought at Cornell.  I believe it was my junior year, 1974-75, but I can't recall if it was fall or spring.  A good chunk of that course I had a hard time penetrating.  We read a book by Heimert on Evangelical Origins of the American Revolution.  The general thesis made sense but that book was over my head.  I lacked the background necessary to read it.  I did better with Tocqueville's Democracy in America and especially liked Herbert Croly's The Promise of American Life.  It's a thrill to find this connection to my undergraduate years and seeing the work of Professor Eisenach.

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