I’m sure it’s only a coincidence, but nearly every time I’ve shoehorned a brief lecture on Scientology into my survey of religion in North America course—brief because I’m not at all sure it merits being classified as a religion—I’ve received a phone call or e-mail from some Scientology entity or another offering to send a representative or materials so my students will be properly informed.
On July 11, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey—just across the Hudson River from Manhattan—two longtime political adversaries faced off in a duel. The result: Vice President Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded the former secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. (No, Dick Cheney was not the first vice president to shoot someone!)
Dueling, which Benjamin Franklin characterized as a “murderous practice,” was technically illegal in most states.
It requires only modest exaggeration to say that C. Everett Koop, the distinguished surgeon general (and Dartmouth alumnus) who died on February 25, was responsible for the emergence of the religious right.
The American Bible, Stephen Prothero’s latest assault on the best-seller lists, is a compendium of writings that, Prothero insists, together define Americans as a nation. “Words matter,” he tells us in the introduction, and conversations about our identity as a people are essential to our common life.