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Essays


"Principled Communities: The Declarations of Rights in the Early State Constitutions"

Dr. John Paynter

Dr. John Paynter asks "whether there is anything noteworthy to be learned from the state constitutions that we cannot learn equally well--perhaps even better--from the national constitution?" The answer, he declares, is emphatically, "yes." What follows is a wonderful, brief introduction to the early state constitutions, as well as the complete texts of the declarations of rights by six of the eleven states that adopted constitutions between 1776 and 1780. Dr. Paynter's addendum highlights some of the chief lessons to be learned from these documents, including reflections on the state's role in cultivating civic virtue and the place of religion in American political life.

[Read Dr. Paynter's "Principled Communities" here]


Jerusalem's Claim on Us

Dr. Louise Cowan

Dr. Cowan is one of the founders of the University of Dallas. For many years she was the Chair of the English Department, and more recently she has served as the Dean of the Braniff Graduate School. She now holds a University Professorship and continues to teach the courses which have given the English Department a national reputation. She is the author of two books on the Southern Literary Renaissance and has written many essays on literature and the great books. She is also a founding member of the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture.

This article first appeared in the Fall/Spring 2000-2001 issue of The Intercollegiate Review.

What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the Greek quest for excellence and order and beauty to do with the Hebrew quest for the living God? This is the question the Church Fathers asked themselves, a query that we still must raise from time to time. And in our day in particular, it is the question that Christian educators in the West should make their primary concern. For the liberal arts are indisputably Greek in their orientation: and yet those bright gods on Mt. Olympus, who mingled with men (and women!), jealously coveted sacrifices, and accepted official commemoration in marble temples and olive groves, have little to do with the hidden presence who spoke from a burning bush and forbade David to build him a temple. And the center of our faith that lonely one who hung on the cross at Golgotha and redefined the purposes of life took as his earthly ancestry the Hebrew tradition, with its pervasive tendency to regard as idolatry any representation such as we in the West have called art. Writing a poem or painting a picture is a little like fashioning a golden calf. Hence, at first glance, nothing seems further from the concerns of art and human culture than the Scriptural heritage with which Jesus Christ aligned himself. And yet the Western intellectual tradition contains a Hebrew strain even more surely than a Hellenic one. Perhaps, then, educators need to take a look at the peculiar contradictions and the wide inclusiveness of this much maligned and greatly misunderstood "master narrative," as its detractors have called the Western tradition...

[Read the rest of Dr.Cowan's essay here]

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