Though Lincoln underwent very little formal education, he was an avid reader from his early years. As an adult, he was able to draw on a wide range of cultural references. Nothing had a more significant formative influence on him, however, than the Bible - which, of course, also profoundly influenced most of the major abolitionists, including Julia Ward Howe. In virtually every one of his principal writings, Lincoln referred directly or obliquely to the Bible, and he repeatedly invoked God's guidance. I myself am an implacable atheist completely devoid of religious sentiments, but I marvel that some people think that invocations of God by political leaders are invariably deplorable. Are such people dismayed, for example, by the magnanimous close of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address?
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Lincoln and Bible Literacy
Matthew Kramer on Lincoln via NormsBlog,