John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and The American Proposition is the short title of a book by David Wemhoff. This book presents the collaboration between three major pillars of American society in spreading around the globe the ideology that formed that society. Beginning with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms talk of January 6, 1941, the American media, intelligence agencies, and powerful banking and business interests proceeded to remake societies around the globe to be like America which meant inculcating in them the idea that America was organized in accordance with ideas that are good in principle. One of the more important targets of these efforts was the Catholic Church and by 1965 the Americans had succeeded in convincing the Church leadership that America was the ideal of social organization. The flashpoint of those efforts was the entire debate on church and state or religious liberty. The men at the center of those efforts were two close friends — Jesuit John Courtney Murray and media mogul Henry R. Luce. Together they forged a doctrinal weapon called The American Proposition and injected that directly into the intellectual veins of the Church. Working with the US Government, the most powerful government on earth, during the Cold War which pitted America versus the Soviet Union, the American media, represented by Luce and his Time/Life empire, effected real change in the Church. The US Government had in conjunction with the American media devised and implemented a program of doctrinal warfare that targeted the intellectuals, leaders and elites in a clever campaign to get them to sign onto the American ideology, thereby insuring the success and power of these same intellectuals, leaders and elites while reordering the target societies to be like America which meant that real power and wealth went first to powerful private interests. This book helps to explain the real nature of the Cold War, or World War III, the nature of the society known as America, and just what happened to a once mighty and independent Catholic Church.
Ideas have consequences. That was the title of a book written by Richard Weaver back in 1948, and it expresses a truth that philosophers, pundits, scholars, and more have come to recognize and act upon. Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of history, Gordon S. Wood, is quoted by Professors Alison D. Howard and Donna R. Hoffman in their brilliant article entitled “A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Building American National Identity Through Art,” as saying that “The United States was founded on a set of beliefs and not, as were other nations, on a common ethnicity, language or religion.” (Perspectives on Political Science, 42:142-151, 2013)
The man who best articulated those beliefs at their core was none other than Thomas Paine, an Englishman who arrived in the colonies about thirteen months before penning Common Sense. That important document, which first appeared on January 9, 1776 in the streets of Philadelphia, made clear there was something called America and a people known as Americans distinct and separate from the British. Paine’s Common Sense called for independence from the British Empire, and six months later the Declaration of Independence issued. It was a powerful work, and Paine an influential man whose ideas were shared by the American founders. Indeed, John Adams remarked that Thomas Paine was the most influential person for the period of 1775 through 1805, which Adams called “the age of Paine.” The ideas, or principles that he set forth in Paine’s Common Sense endure to this day in America, and go a long way in defining the American character.
This website is an attempt to present learned commentary and scholarly work on the nature and role of America. It is my sincere desire that it help us all understand better the past and the present.