The Articles of the Confederation

When I first saw the title of this old political document, I thought it was referring to the laws for the government of the confederacy of the South in the civil war. It turns out that this was actually the first set of legal responsibilities/capabilities of the first United States government. In theory it was near perfect, it allowed the United States’ government to perform is governmental duties, such as protecting its citizens, while not being capable of oppressing the states. This was the perfect arrangement for the states, because they were protected by a larger power while still being able to do anything they wanted. The problem here is that the Articles did not actually grant the federal government any power to garner funds for anything. All they could do was politely ask! Now, while some states did provide funds, most states didn’t. Why would they? This was a problem that needed to be addressed.

Eloquent Language

While reading the Federalist, I have already come across several words that are new to me. Not only are these words new, though, they also perfectly convey the author’s intended meaning. I wonder why language like this isn’t used today. It seems the goal of our generation is to make speech as easy as possible. The side-effect of this convenience is the loss of the potential eloquence and grace of the English language. While a conglomeration of many languages, English is artistic in its own right, and I hope that this potential is not smothered by a preference for simplicity. Of course, I am not telling you to constantly be speaking like somebody from the 1800s, but rather I am exhorting you to maybe just throw in a new or large word every now and then in everyday life. You will impress your friends and colleagues as well as dazzle your family and co-workers.

It could have been worse

Hamilton described today another reason that unified government would be good for the colonies- it would largely prevent any conflict concerning trade and land distribution, and would keep the colonies organized and more focused on deterring outside threats instead of dealing with inside ones. Imagine if the colonies had not been united. there could have been multiple instances like the Civil War.

All for one!

John Jay has taken over the narrative for Hamilton. He asserts that a great reason that America should have one central government is the fact that it will be stronger in war. He gives a fantastic parallel to the Britain of the time. He asks how strong Britain would be if the English militia, the Scottish militia, and the Welsh militia all obeyed only their respective countries. Britain would not have had nearly the power that it did have at the time. This example was not just any old analogy, however. Jay knew it would have special meaning to the American people who had mostly just escaped from Britain and knew her power well.

With Fire and Sword (In Politics as it is in Religion)

In just the fourth paragraph of the first document of the Federalist, Hamilton made a profound point that stuck out to me. He said, “For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword.” This quote had specific meaning to me. Too many times I have been talking to somebody about something religious via the internet and heard them mention that they are not Christians because of actions that Christians have done. Brennan Manning said this, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.” This is profound. This is why witnessing is so hard, because at some point or another in their life, a non-believer has been attacked by some Bible-thumping Christian or another. Now, hold up. I am not preaching tolerance, and I am not endorsing sinful activity or a lack of action by Christians. What I am endorsing is a balance of grace and truth. If you try to speak the truth to somebody without grace, you will come across as judging them and trying to force a lifestyle on them. If you speak with too much grace, you will come across as tolerant or even endorsing of a sinful lifestyle. A perfect balance is the only way that you will show somebody the saving grace of Christ.

The Art of the Pen Name

Potentially the most enjoyable aspect of writing is the ability to write under a fake name. Today, many writers have shirked the art of the pen name for two reasons. The first is that if somebody knows your real name, its easier for them to give money to you. The second is that complete anonymity is almost impossible these days, especially with the internet and social media as it is. However, the use of a pen name was common practice sin the decades and centuries past. For example, in the Federalist, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay took the names of Ferguson, Albert Furtwrangler, and James Boyd White. Despite it being more difficult to apply today, making a pen name is still incredibly fun. There are a variety of ways that you can make a pen name. You could choose a name significant to you, that you’ve always wanted to be called, that has some deep meaning, or so much more. My candidates for my pen name are as follows: Rafael III, That Guy, Lorem Ipsum, Demosthenes, and Mike Rotch. Maybe you, oh faithful reader, can help me decide, or think of your own pen name and post it below.

A Live News Report

“This is your anchor, Lorem Ipsum, with breaking news in Blog City. Panic has broken out about the news about the upcoming book that they were going to undertake, known as The Federalist. The sheer size of the book has caused riots and a complete breakdown of all blog systems. I am here with a random bystander now. What is your name sir and what is going on here?”

“My name is Dinesydd Ar Hap and the city is terrified of this book.”

“What is so scary about this book sir?”

“Well, first of all, the book is massive. It is even bigger than my face! It has over five hundred pages and is written by men of the past, which makes the book even harder to read! Plus, the Lettore Maestro wants this finished by October! There is no way.”

“Thank you very much for your input Mr… Your name again sir?”

“Dinesydd. Call me Dinesydd.”

“Alright thank you for your input Mr. Dinesydd. Now, audience, we have an exclusive meeting with the Lettore Maestro of this town, lets go there now.”

“Ah, you must be the news crew. Lets get on with it shall we? I have a lot to do.”

“Of course, of course. First of all, what is your name, if you don’t mind me asking? A lot of people only know you by your title.”

“Well, my real name Hominis Intelligens, but you can just call me Hom.”

“Thank you Mr. Hom. Now, what in the world made you think that undertaking this blog about The Federalist was a good idea? The city is in panic!”

“Well Lorem, while The Federalist is long and intimidating, it has many redeeming  qualities. For example, it will allow us to not only understand more about the American government, it will allow us to get a look into the minds of some of America’s founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Jay. In fact, this is the message that I wish to portray to my people in a speech I am about to do, so if you would excuse me…”

“Of course, thank you very much for your time.”

“It was a pleasure.”

“Well there you have it folks. It appears as if Blog City will be doing this after all. I, for one, eagerly await the results. Until then, this has been Lorem Ipsum, reporting to you live from Blog City.”

A conclusive ending to Burke’s speech

When I was first assigned Edmund Burke’s speech for reading this year, I thought it was going to be a short, dry, and extremely focused speech which would not interest me. Instead, I found myself pleasantly surprised. Burke spoke with poise and elegance, with humor a brilliant sense of sarcasm. I found his speech fun to read, not only because of how he spoke, but because of how he used the rhetorical strategies that I had been learning about last year. Although his policies were not acted on soon enough to keep the colonies from rebelling, he speech was nevertheless inspiring and enjoyable.

Dang it, Reading is hard

Well folks, I read more of Edmund Burke’s speech today, and the grand total of the information that I garnered from it amounts to the face that Burke thinks the American colonies shouldn’t be taxed. Therefore, as much as for your benefit as mine, I am going to discuss reading critically. When reading any document, it takes effort to maintain focus and retain information from what you’ve read. Techniques for this include reading out loud to yourself, scrolling your fingers across the page (or mouse across the… page?), asking yourself questions about what you’re reading, and the most surprising of all- not trying to take too much time understanding what you’re trying to read. To clarify, trying to understand every word, phrase, connotation, implication, and other fancy words will take up far too much of your time. Unless there is something specific that you need to focus on, don’t try to understand every single word and phrase. The meaning will come to you in time. For example, I did this while reading the Iliad, and what are my lasting impressions? Blood, gore, Greek gods, and Troy. That pretty much sums up the book. (Did I mention blood and gore?)

Moving analogies to make a point (Ft. Edmund Burke)

Sometimes a well placed analogy can be the key to illustrating your point perfectly to your audience. There really isn’t much to it- just that certain analogies will really hit home with different people. Edmund Burke provides a great example of this, “Do you mean to tax America, and to draw a productive revenue from thence? If you do, speak out; name, fix, ascertain this revenue; settle its quantity; define its objects; provide for its collection; and then fight when you have something to fight for. If you murder—rob! if you kill—take possession! and do not appear in the character of madmen, as well as assassins, violent, vindictive, bloody, and tyrannical, without an object. But may better counsels guide you!” In other words, work something out and think about it first! Don’t just impose or take away taxes for no reason whatsoever! From what my source text says, this fell with immense weight on the audience.