Friday, January 25, 2013

The Constitution and Virtue

I have been reading Os Guinness' new book 'A Free People's Suicide and it is excellent. Here are three quotes about our Constitution and our need for Virtue and Faith from pages 98-99


 "The framers also held that, though the Constitution’s barriers against the abuse of power are indispensable, they were only ‘parchment barriers” and therefore could never be more than part of the answer.  And in some ways they were the secondary part at that.  The U.S. Constitution was never meant to be the sole bulwark of freedom, let alone a self-perpetuating machine that would go by itself.  The American founders were not, in Joseph de Maistre’s words, ‘poor men who imagine that nations can be constrained with ink.’ Without strong ethics to support them, the best laws and the strongest institutions would only be ropes of sand.”

 “liberty lives in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there. No constitution, no law, no court can even do much to save it.  While it lives there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”

 “What the founders believed should compliment and reinforce the Constitution and its separation of powers is the distinctive moral ecology that is at the heart of ordered liberty.  Tocqueville called it ‘the habits of the heart,’ …the cultivation and transmission of the conviction that freedom requires virtue, which requires faith, which requires freedom, which in turn requires virtue, which requires faith, which requires freedom and so on like the recycling triangle, ad infinitum. “

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