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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched
I borrowed Revolutionary Spirits from my local library and after the first two chapters I went online and ordered a copy to keep on my bookcase at home. This volume is wonderfully researched and the writing is a pleasure to read. Anybody who is interested in really understanding the theological culture of this time period should consult this book. Anybody who is...
Published on April 26, 2008 by J. Farley

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4 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary Spirits
After reading two chapters and discovering that this book was written by a secular progressive atheist, I have thrown it in the trash. This book was falsely promoted, which is par for these idiotic idiologs. I have no problem with his right to write and publish this book; however, I do have a problem with his truthfulness. Don't waste your money on this book or any others...
Published on May 24, 2010 by Ernest A. Greene


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Researched, April 26, 2008
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This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
I borrowed Revolutionary Spirits from my local library and after the first two chapters I went online and ordered a copy to keep on my bookcase at home. This volume is wonderfully researched and the writing is a pleasure to read. Anybody who is interested in really understanding the theological culture of this time period should consult this book. Anybody who is interested in understanding the political culture of this time period should consult Forest Church's "So Help Me God".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion in the Enlightenment, April 24, 2008
This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
Although historians of the Enlightenment will miss the cultural environment that drove religion (and nearly every human endeavor) toward scientific methodology in the 18th-century West, Revolutionary Spirits makes its point clearly. This nation was deliberately established on a secular foundation, a point the author, a Unitarian minister, argues effectively using biographical data.

The biographies are based on the everyday lives of men such as Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson as they relate to religious practice and concepts. Quotations from statements and writings, the usual Sunday activities of these men, and unexpected practices such as Washington's refusal to mix government with theology as president help to explain why this nation separates church and state and insists upon religious tolerance.

It is the absence of the ideas emerging from Europe in the preceding century -- the ideas that drove this natural law version of religion that was so popular among intellectuals -- that makes this book so readable. If the author had ventured into the 17th-century to explore the roots of these concepts known as Deism, he might well have lost the very audience that needs to read this book.

The average American needs to understand that our nation has a secular (not a Judeo-Christian) foundation and that this is true because our founders were advocates of a rational religion devoid of miracles, superstition, and revelation, and tolerant of every other religion as well as no religion.

I strongly recommend Revolutionary Spirits to all who wonder about these issues.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Continuing American Experiment, April 16, 2008
This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
With the election of 2008 looming close, there are several new books on the market revisiting the early years of the American Experiment. One of the classics of an earlier era was a little paperback titled America's Real Religion written by A. Powell Davies, minister of All Souls in Washington DC, published back in 1949. It was a historical look at several key Founding Fathers noting their progressive philosophical and political leanings. I view Gary Kowalski's book Revolutionary Spirits in this same tradition. Nothing is quite so interesting and helpful as seeing the actual words of what someone said. Like any good interviewer, the author of this new work knows what questions to ask and finds plenty of solid material in his research to share with the reader. As you read this book these revolutionary spirits seem just as relevant to our times as they were to theirs. Go out and buy the book.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and insightful, February 7, 2008
By 
Deborah Straw "author" (Burlington, Vermont United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
I have always enjoyed Gary Kowalski's work. It is both scholarly and readable and its message is always humanistic. Revolutionary Spirits continues that style; it introduces some little-known facts about our founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. All highly intelligent and creative men, their religious and spiritual lives ran the gamut of church affiliation or lack thereof. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, in particular, were highly influenced by the natural world. They were all "religious liberals" and believed that diversity was a national treasure.
In this time of conservative thought and political action, it would do anyone good to read about what our founding fathers believed, what influenced their thoughts and actions, and how they established this country's government and set of core precepts and values.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating portrait of Franklin, Washington, Paine, Adams, Jefferson and Madison, May 6, 2008
This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers reveals the truth about the religious and spiritual sides of America's founders, many of whom had belief systems that were much more complicated than the mainstream Christianity of the era. Thomas Jefferson performed mathematical calculations to disprove the alleged great flood of Noah's era; James Madison researched the theory that life evolved through natural causes without divine assistance; George Washington deliberately refrained from using the word "God" in his public statements; and Benjamin Franklin created his own private liturgy, to provide just a few examples. Dispelling myths about what the founders believed, Revolutionary Spirits explores their faiths in Nature's God and their quest for inspiration in Creation rather than through traditional religious dogma. A fascinating portrait of Franklin, Washington, Paine, Adams, Jefferson and Madison that sheds light on their efforts as religious reformers and freethinkers, a side to them often overlooked in history's study of them as political rebels. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A needed look at our Founding Fathers, August 26, 2008
This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
This book was a birthday gift from Kit. She chose well. Gary Kowalski is the senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vermont. A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School, he has produced a well researched and well written account of the spiritual and religious beliefs of our most well known "Founding Fathers."
After three introductory chapters to set the stage and entice the reader to read on, Kowalski develops separate chapters which examine the unique searching, the spiritual growth, and the displayed faiths of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Paine, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. His concluding chapter left me convinced of how extremely lucky we are to have had such men of such integrity with such exceptional minds, gathered at that one point in time and place in history.
Writing in a clear style, and eschewing polemics, Kowalski demonstrates the role that religion (or lack thereof) played in prerevolutionary America. The Founding Fathers, having witnessed and understood the problems that arise from state sponsored religions, studiously avoided any reference to any form of a god in their development of our original governmental documents. They were passionately devoted to the concept of the separation of church and state. It was the right thing to do then, and it is the right thing to do today.
Each of our Founding Fathers searched for his own understanding of his relationship with his "Higher Authority." Each practiced hiss form of religion in his own way.
Washington, for example, was a Mason, and he studiously avoided using the words God and Jesus, using instead "Masonic circumlocutions like the Almighty, All-Wise Disposer of Events, Grand Architect of the Universe, or Beneficient [sic] Being." He never even used Christological formulations such as Savior or Redeemer.
Most of us are familiar with the Jefferson Bible, but here we learn how Jefferson produced it "over the course of two or three evenings toward the end of his first term as president."
And so it goes, chapter after chapter. A great read. I recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book!, February 18, 2013
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Several elections ago I started to here from certain politicians that they "...wanted to bring back the religion of our founding fathers." When I heard that I said What? It's not true.

This book reveals the true faiths of our founding fathers. Much of what we hear about them is false for one reason or another and the truth is far better than the myths.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who Knew? The Real Founding Fathers, April 11, 2012
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With all the misinformation out there about what the "founding fathers" believed about religion, freedom, what their vision was for this country (and how that vision is being lost), this book is a must read. Well-written and eye-opening.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 17, 2014
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An excellent appraisal of the true religious beliefs and political lives of the early American leaders.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary Spirits Review, March 28, 2008
This review is from: Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed Revolutionary Spirits The writing style and choice of words are captivating. The author's description of Madison as not having "the stained-glass voice or the temperament" for a religious vocation is wonderful. The combination of history and religious beliefs made for fascinating reading.

Revisionist interpretations of the founding fathers are too plentiful in today's America. The author has the founding fathers tell us, in their own words, how they believed in a higher power.
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