The Truth With Less Trouble

When I first started blogging four years ago, I wrote entries the length of a traditional newspaper column, which nobody probably ended up reading, and writing them put an unsustainable drain on my limited intellectual resources, so I learned to try for entries that are easier to write and easier to read.

I still love all those old entries like ‘Benedict Arnold Saves the Day Twice – Continued,’ but I’m tending more toward ‘A Poor Competitor,’ a shorter punchy entry that links to a longer one, in this case Kennan’s ‘Sad Appreciations,’ for anyone who’s interested in the long version.

So here’s another microquote from ‘Ben Franklin’s Religion‘:

[In a letter to Yale College President Ezra Stiles, reprinted in American Heritage, December, 1955]

“I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render him is doing good to his other Children.”

“As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.”

When he wrote this letter, Franklin was, in his words, “in my eighty-fifth year, and very infirm.”

“I see no harm, however in its being believed,” Franklin continues, “if that Belief has the good Consequence, as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss by distinguishing the Unbelievers in his Government of the World with any peculiar Mark of his Displeasure.”