Abraham Lincoln’s Religious Mind

Reviewing And There Was Light, Jon Meachem’s new biography of the sixteenth president, Andrew F. Lang examines the unique political theology that animated so much of Lincoln’s thinking. Nowhere is this theology more apparent than in Lincoln’s second inaugural address:

On that day in March 1865, Lincoln asked his fellow citizens to consider why God wrung American blood to affect His holy will in accounting for the nation’s collective sin of slavery. His query embodied a lifetime of introspection into the mysteries of providence, the consequence of time, and the enduring battle between good and evil.

As a young man, Lincoln struggled with questions of divine will. He nevertheless sensed the world gripped in a supernatural struggle between virtue and malice. To what extent did God mediate this eternal dispute? Lincoln did not know. But as he matured, particularly when he engaged in the national debates over slavery during the 1850s, Lincoln came to see history not as an arbitrary or random process. The world was rather “defined by a moral drama” in which God furnished His people with clues and a compassionate soul to discern His will. When God’s children ignored or cursed His holy designs, they confronted an inevitable punishment foretold in the Old Testament. For Lincoln, perpetuating American slavery beckoned the Lord’s wrath.

Meacham thrives in surveying Lincoln’s swift evolution into seeing the Civil War not merely as a political crisis, but as a spiritual battle that engulfed Americans and their divine Maker. How did Lincoln arrive at this mystic proposition? He committed his presidency to untangling why God acted “in a specific place and a specific time—in the United States of America in the mid-19th-century” to impart a prophetic message about the dignity of all individuals.

Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, American Religion, Religion and politics

The Ugly Roots of Ireland’s Anti-Israel Policies

Prime Minister Varadkar’s meretricious messaging concerning the freeing of a kidnapped child is only one example of the Irish government’s perverse reaction to Hamas’s assault on Israel. Varadkar has accused the IDF of pursuing “something approaching revenge” in Gaza, and compared the Israeli war effort to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His parliament, meanwhile, came close to expelling the Israeli ambassador. Terry Glavin writes:

In a recent interview, . . . the retired Irish diplomat Niall Holohan put it this way: “We feel we have been victimized over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche—underneath it all we side with the underdog.” But there’s something else in the Irish psyche that’s impolite to mention in the comfy Dublin pubs and bistros. . . . Not a few of Ireland’s gallant and celebrated champions of the underdog, its heroes of Irish freedom, were vulgar anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators.

And in recent years, Irish Jews are commonly baited, harassed, and badgered every time there is some eruption in Israel involving Palestinian “resistance.”

The republican pamphleteer Arthur Griffith approved [of anti-Jewish agitation in Limerick in 1904], calling Jews “usurers and parasites.” Griffiths was one of the founders of Sinn Féin, in 1905, and he served as Sinn Féin’s president in 1911.

There was always a deep division in the Irish nationalist movement between Irish republicans who felt an affinity with the Jews owing to a shared history of dispossession and exile, and Catholic extremists who ranted and raved about Jews. Those Catholic shouters are still abroad, apparently unaware that for half a century, Catholic doctrine has established that anti-Semitism is a mortal sin.

Read more at National Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, Gaza War 2023, Ireland