We Hold These Truths, by Matthew Spalding

What are you reading?

We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future, by Matthew Spalding. He’s a historian who works for the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. It’s one of my top three or four books; it’s about the founding period in American history; what the founding fathers intended for the government and how it’s supposed to run; and an analysis of where we’ve gone astray. One of my favorite examples has to do with the ‘wall of separation between church and state’ and the First Amendment. In 1947, the Supreme Court took those words from Thomas Jefferson’s private letter to the Danbury Baptists and used them out of context. He was concerned that the congregations were going to rule everything, and he didn’t want just one denomination ruling. But the point was that he didn’t want the government to intrude into the affairs of religion, not the other way around.”

Tell me about the style.

“Spalding gives a lot of source material — it’s not just his opinion. But he uses good logic to give a really analytical account of the point of limited government; how it protects a vast sphere of public institutions, which then can thrive economically, politically, and morally.”

Excerpt from We Still Hold These Truths:

“Liberty ‘can be lost, and it will be,’ Truman observed [at the dedication of the National Archives Building], ‘if the time ever comes when these documents are regarded not as the supreme expression of our profound belief, but merely as curiosities in glass cases.’ This cannot — this must not — be allowed to happen. We may take some comfort in recognizing that every generation finds it necessary to relearn our history and the heritage of freedom.”

Compare it to other books you’ve read.

“I read a lot of Navy books, a lot of history and political books. I was a history major as an undergrad. I just finished David Limbaugh’s Crimes Against Liberty: An Indictment of President Barack Obama. And right now I’m reading Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington. [Author Rick Perry’s] the governor of Texas, and he really contrasts his state with California — how businesses are leaving California because they’re overtaxed and overregulated.”

Who is your favorite author?

“I like J.C. Ryle, who wrote A Call to Prayer. He’s a preacher from the 1800s who writes from a biblical perspective, and he’s really perceptive in knowing the heart of man. It’s great for shaping my sons’ morality, addressing things that can pull you away from what you should be doing in life.”

What book was most life-changing for you?

“The Bible. I didn’t read it until I was 25. It just pierced me as far as knowing my mind, how everything works. I really saw who I was and what was wrong with the world.”

Do you talk to your friends about reading?

“My wife and I are both Christian, and we’ll talk about certain passages from Scripture when we come home from church. But she reads more books about homeschooling and raising kids and stuff like that. When you’re in the military, it’s tough to move around, so we home-school. We’re getting ready to move to Japan now. She’d love to read more; she just doesn’t have as much time as she used to.”

Name: KEITH SCOTT | Age: 35 | Occupation: SURFACE WARFARE OFFICER, U.S. NAVY | Neighborhood: SANTEE | Where interviewed: BORDERS, EL CAJON

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