Happy (Belated) Constitution Day!

Yesterday was Constitution Day.  Let's face it.  It's a commemoration that hasn't caught on.


A few years ago Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia snuck through some legislation requiring that every college and university getting government aid (almost all of them) have some kind of Constitution Day celebration. 

Someone might say it's unconstitutional to make 'em do that!  But it is constitutional. Government can and does attach all kinds of conditions when it distributes what used to be the taypayers' money.  Although I don't think anyone is really watching, our provost here at Berry is worried enough to make sure we comply.

It's always awkward when Constitution Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday.  No college is going to think the Constitution is important enough to cut into students' Saturday, what with football and all.  (And a big point of the Constitution is that we have the right to reserve Sunday for the free exercise of religion.) So this year the commemorations are occuring before or after the actual day.

It's worth noting that the rare college that doesn't take government money—such as Hillsdale in Michigan—is usually all about teaching the Constitution on a daily basis and so has Constitution Day stuff quite voluntarily.  The usual criticism of such places is that they take the Framers' words too seriously or haven't adapted them to our times.  Studies show that real CONSTITUTIONAL LITERACY is very high at Hillsdale.

Compulsory educational Constitution Day activities has been, of course, a boondoogle for many professors.  Most years I make some extra bucks giving a Constitution Day lecture somewhere.  Last year, I spoke against unconstitutional judicial activism at Georgetown.  This year, I'm giving a seminar to some of our country's top young Jewish thinkers in New York City on St. Augustine and war instead.

What does St. Augustine have to do with our Constitution?  Here's what I'll work in to the seminar:  It's the Christian idea of the person that's the real foundation of limited government.  People aren't merely citizens or parts of their countries, just as they're not merely parts of nature.  Government is limited by the fact that each of us is free to be much more than a political being.

And our Constitution's silence on God (an unprecedented silence for such a document) is based on the Christian insight that the true God is to be distinguished from the fraudulent gods of the city and so true theology—the theology of the person—from degrading civil theology. 

Because, as our Supreme Court once said, our Constitution presupposes a certain understanding of who "the Supreme Being" is, our Framers refused to use Him as a political tool.  If you don't like that answer but like God, you can say instead our Constitution presupposes the Declaration of Independence, and the Declaration talks about the Creator.

Constitution Day actually has caught on a bit in these parts through THE TEA PARTY. Those notorious partiers sponsored an ambitious and diverse event in the Forum in Rome, GA. yesterday—on the actual Constitution Day. The event included all kinds of music, games, educational activities, and booths and stuff sponsored by local businesses.  I would give you a report, but I didn't go.  My impression is attendance was respectable—including lots of non-partiers—but maybe a little disappointing.  One reason: The Rome Beer Festival was the same day.  No, I didn't go to the beer festival either.

Here's a big difference between Constitution Day and the Fourth of July:  On the Fourth, beer and patriotism are found at the same events.

What was I doing on Constitution Day (yesterday)?  That'll be for the next post.

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less