Multiple personality chapter?

December 17, 2003

So far in the last two days I have decided that chapter two is bloated but useful, that chapter two has some really good material in it, and that chapter two is full of crap. At the moment I am leaning towards all of the above - in other words I am in the process of looking at what I argued, looking at some new material that I intend to work into it, and working up a newer tighter argument.

Right now I need to think hard about the relationship between oaths of office, state churches, individual religion, and religious establishments.

Where early modern European states tended to have their nationality defined by state church rather than by fixed borders or governmental agencies, the United States defined their membership by oaths of loyalty. Loyalty oaths are fuedal - you swear allegiance to a lord as part of a reciprical exchange of duties - but these oaths were sworn to a document.

I want to argue that state constitutions replaced state churches as the establishment that defined the terms of the "nation" - so the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania consisted of all who had sworn the Pennsylvania loyalty oath, and all who had been born in the Commonwealth after it became a Commonwealth. That argument hinges on loyalty oaths. But, loyalty oaths predate 1776 by a lot. And, while I want to argue that religion was both depoliticized by the Revolutionary establishment and enlisted in support of oaths, I can find gobs of English case law discussing the tie between religion and the state using oaths as the place where the two combined: No religion, no binding oaths; no binding oaths, no secure government.

So, right now my ideas are just a mess. I think I am onto something good about changes in the relationship between religion and society on the state level, and I think I can make a good argument that the counter-enlightenment of the 1790s reshaped the revolutionary settlement. What I need to do a better job of is clearly, precisely, and correctly describing the before and after moments.

Thinking makes my brain hurt.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at December 17, 2003 10:35 AM | TrackBack