On a rainy Georgia night near the end of the Civil War, a soldier named Arly, who is more interested in survival than piety, addresses God about his young companion Will, who “thinks an army at war is a reasonable thing. . . . He thinks we live in a sane life and time, which you know as well as I is not what you designed for us sinners.”
Anyone browsing through a bookstore will notice the popular new biographies of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. No doubt many Americans are devouring these books in search of insights that the founding generation can provide into today’s political controversies and questions about national identity.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun, understands that a bipolar personality disorder has afflicted our nation. We see everyone and everything in terms of conservative versus liberal, or religious right versus secular left.