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Jon Meacham's Quotes

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Born: 1969-05-20
Profession: Editor
Nation: American
Biography of Jon Meacham

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As a southerner born after the epic events of the civil rights movement, I've always wondered how on earth people of good will could have conceivably lived with Jim Crow - with the daily degradations, the lynchings in plain sight, and, as the movement gathered force, with the fire hoses and the police dogs and the billy clubs.

Tags: Daily, Fire, Good

Cynically but accurately put, Americans oppose public intervention or regulation if it helps others, but favor it if it helps them - take social security, disaster relief, public works projects, for example.

Tags: Others, Put, Social

Environmental concern is a little like dieting or paying off credit-card debt - an episodically terrific idea that burns brightly and then seems to fade when we realize there's a reason we need to diet or pay down our debt. The reason is that it's really, really hard, and too many of us in too many spheres of life choose the easy over the hard.

Tags: Diet, Hard, Life

If heaven is understood more as God's space on earth than as an ethereal region apart from the essential reality we know, then what happens on earth matters even more than we think, for the Christian life becomes a continuation of the unfolding work of Jesus, who will one day return to set the world to rights.

Tags: God, Life, Work

Only the most unapologetic biblical fundamentalists, for instance, take every biblical injunction literally. If we all took all scripture at the same level of authority, then we would be more open to slavery, to the subjugation of women, to wider use of stoning. Jesus himself spoke out frequently against divorce in the strongest of terms.

Tags: Divorce, Jesus, Women

Religious belief, like history itself, is a story that is always unfolding, always subject to inquiry and ripe for questioning. For without doubt there is no faith.

Tags: Doubt, Faith, History

The lesson of the Clinton years and of Obama's win of both the nomination and the general election in 2008 is that Democrats need to be as tough as JFK was.

Tags: Both, Tough, Win

The more we can do to support and promulgate the intellectual traditions of the Abrahamic faiths - of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - the better armed we will be to fight fundamentalism.

Tags: Fight, Islam, Support

A globalized world is by now a familiar fact of life. Building walls or moats may sound appealing, but the future belongs to those who tend to their people and then boldly engage the rest of the world, near and far.

Tags: Future, Life, May

A lot of people, including business leaders, think the future belongs to China. Globalization is not a zero-sum game, but we need to hone our skills to stay in play.

Tags: Business, Future, Game

Anyone weighing whether to re-elect the President should take the bin Laden operation into account: it is a powerful exhibit that Obama is a steely Commander in Chief - a critical test for many Americans.

Tags: Anyone, Powerful, Whether

As crucial as religion has been and is to the life of the nation, America's unifying force has never been a specific faith, but a commitment to freedom - not least freedom of conscience.

Tags: Faith, Life, Religion

Attacks on a politician's identity - questioning Romney's religion, say, or Obama's birthplace - tend to come when an opponent is desperate and can't sell himself.

Tags: Desperate, Himself, Religion

Extremists often derive their inspiration from literal interpretations of texts that should rightly be read not as Associated Press reports from the ancient world, but as theological and literary enterprises requiring independent intellectual assessment.

Tags: Often, Press, Read

From Jefferson to Jackson to Lincoln to FDR to Reagan, every great president inspires enormous affection and enormous hostility. We'll all be much saner, I think, if we remember that history is full of surprises and things that seemed absolutely certain one day are often unimaginable the next.

Tags: Great, History, Remember

Given that religious faith is an intrinsic element of human experience, it is best to approach and engage the subject with a sense of history and a critical sensibility.

Tags: Best, Faith, History

Given that sexual orientation is innate and that we are all, in theological terms, children of God, to deny access to some sacraments based on sexuality is as wrong as denying access to some sacraments based on race or gender.

Tags: Children, God, Wrong

Here is a pretty good rule of thumb for Democratic Presidents: if it didn't work for Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won four terms and a World War, it probably won't work for you either.

Tags: Good, War, Work

History tells us that America does best when the private sector is energetic and entrepreneurial and the government is attentive and engaged. Who among us, really, would, looking back, wish to edit out either sphere at the entire expense of the other?

Tags: Best, Government, History

I am a huge admirer of Franklin Roosevelt's, and I believe social security has done untold good in alleviating the once-widespread issue of poverty among the elderly. FDR believed in the greatness and generosity of Americans - but he was also a cold-blooded politician.

Tags: Done, Good, Poverty

I am an Episcopalian who takes the faith of my fathers seriously, and I would, I think, be disheartened if my own young children were to turn away from the church when they grow up. I am also a critic of Christianity, if by critic one means an observer who brings historical and literary judgment to bear on the texts and traditions of the church.

Tags: Children, Faith, Young

I believe history will come to view 9/11 as an event on par with November 22, 1963, the date on which John F. Kennedy was murdered, cutting short a presidency that was growing ever more promising. Dreams died that day in Dallas; it is easy to imagine the 1960s turning out rather differently had President Kennedy lived.

Tags: Dreams, History, Short

I do not believe 'Newsweek' is the only catcher in the rye between democracy and ignorance, but I think we're one of them, and I don't think there are that many on the edge of that cliff.

Tags: Between, Democracy, Ignorance

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Much more quotes by Jon Meacham below the page.

Incumbent White House parties have won 10 of the last 18 presidential elections; the odds are tight, but they favor Obama in 2012. And so gloomy Democrats, check your despair; gleeful Republicans, watch the hubris.

Tags: Despair, Last, Won

It is true that traditional Christianity is losing some of its appeal among Americans, but that is a religious, not political, matter. It is worth remembering that the Jeffersonian 'wall of separation' between church and state has always been intended to protect the church from the state as much as the state from the church.

Tags: Between, Political, True

It would be great if politics were fact-based, but it is not, and it is surely not nuance-based. What works in a classroom or a think tank does not work on Capitol Hill or in the White House. Obama sometimes seems to be running the Brookings Institution, not the country.

Tags: Great, Politics, Work

It would be wonderful if the public sector were always great, or always terrible; or if the private sector were always great, or always terrible. Alas, reality is more complicated than comforting caricatures. Governments fail, and corporations fail.

Tags: Great, Reality, Wonderful

It's possible that the 2012 general-election race will be the least overtly religious one since 1972, the last campaign before Roe v. Wade and the rise of Jimmy Carter brought evangelicalism into the political mainstream. That's because faith remains a complicated issue for Obama, who is still wrongly thought to be a Muslim in some quarters.

Tags: Faith, Political, Thought

Justified or not, the Supreme Court has a kind of sacred status in American life. For whatever reason, Presidents can safely run against Congress, and vice versa, but I think there is an inherent popular aversion to assaults on the court itself. Perhaps it has to do with an instinctive belief that life needs umpires.

Tags: American, Life, Reason

Mysteries and thrillers are not the same things, though they are literary siblings. Roughly put, I would say the distinction is that mysteries emphasize motive and psychology whereas thrillers rely more heavily on action and plot.

Tags: Action, Put, Though

Once the cry and the cause of a generation of progressives to make America safer, fairer and cleaner, 'regulation' is now a dirty word in our politics. Even Democrats are quick to talk about cutting regulations; Republicans hate them with - how to put it? - evangelical fervor.

Tags: America, Hate, Politics

One of the central memories of my childhood is of hunting - not well; I am a terrible shot - quail and dove and grouse on a farm on the Tennessee River.

Tags: Childhood, Memories, Terrible

One of the earliest resurrection scenes in the Bible is that of Thomas demanding evidence - he wanted to see, to touch, to prove. Those who question and probe and debate are heirs of the apostles just as much as the most fervent of believers.

Tags: Question, Touch, Wanted

One wonders whether the Obama re-election campaign may be on the right track as it seeks to apply the you-break-it-you-own-it rule to Bush and the American economy. Hardly a day goes by without President Obama or his surrogates arguing that it takes longer than four years to recover from an economic crisis so long in the making.

Tags: American, Crisis, May

Part of what I loved - and love - about being around older people is the tangible sense of history they embody. I'm interested in military history, for instance, because both my grandfathers fought in World War II. I'm interested in writing because one of those grandfathers wrote books.

Tags: History, Love, War

The American Dream may be slipping away. We have overcome such challenges before. To recover the Dream requires knowing where it came from, how it lasted so long and why it matters so much.

Tags: Away, May, Why

The attacks of September 11 - and subsequent acts of terror from London to Madrid to Fort Hood, Texas - embody the most repulsive of human instincts, the will to power at the price of the lives of others.

Tags: Human, Others, Power

The bringing-about of order is the first and fundamental task of government. We accept limits on our rights for the sake of a larger social compact all the time.

Tags: Accept, Government, Time

The decline and fall of the modern religious right's notion of a Christian America creates a calmer political environment and, for many believers, may help open the way for a more theologically serious religious life.

Tags: Help, Life, Political

The fact is that America has been at her most prosperous when government and the private sector have been not at war, but in a wary, if often underplayed, alliance. History is unmistakable on this point.

Tags: Government, History, War

The past always seems somehow more golden, more serious, than the present. We tend to forget the partisanship of yesteryear, preferring to re-imagine our history as a sure and steady march toward greatness.

Tags: Forget, History, Past

The power of the American system of republicanism lies in its capacity to allow religious belief to be a competing, not a controlling, factor in American life.

Tags: American, Life, Power

The traditional religious right's failure to restore public-school prayer or pass an antiabortion constitutional amendment has likely helped fuel the spread of the more extreme dominionist school.

Tags: Failure, Prayer, School

We are now living in a post-Roosevelt, post-Reagan universe. What comes next will not be post-partisan, because faction is an intrinsic human impulse.

Tags: Human, Living, Universe

Whether one believes or not, religion is as real a force in the life of the world as economics or politics, and it demands fair-minded attention. Even if you think the entire religious enterprise is at best misguided and at worst counterproductive, it remains vital, inspiring great good and, sometimes, great evil.

Tags: Life, Politics, Religion

While we remain a nation decisively shaped by religious faith, our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago. I think this is a good thing - good for our political culture.

Tags: Faith, Good, Politics

Whoever rises to deliver the inaugural Address of 2013 will speak to a nation in which the American Dream is under profound economic and cultural pressure. This is perhaps best measured by the state of the middle class.

Tags: American, Best, Dream

With the perspective afforded by the passage of time, where does 9/11 rank as a turning point in our national history? For the victims and their families, innocents going about their lives, suddenly and brutally murdered, no other day can ever matter as much.

Tags: History, Matter, Time

A wise nation should cultivate a political spirit that allows opponents to cooperate without fearing an automatic execution from their core supporters. Who knew that the real rogues in American politics would be the ones who dare to get along?

Tags: Political, Politics, Wise

Without education, we are weaker economically. Without economic power, we are weaker in terms of national security. No great military power has ever remained so without great economic power.

Tags: Education, Great, Power

An unexamined faith is not worth having, for fundamentalism and uncritical certitude entail the rejection of one of the great human gifts: that of free will, of the liberty to make up our own minds based on evidence and tradition and reason.

Tags: Faith, Great, Human

If a person is homosexual by nature - that is, if one's sexuality is as intrinsic a part of one's identity as gender or skin color - then society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.

Tags: Gay, Nature, Society

The perennial conviction that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded with a more comfortable present and a stronger future for their children faces assault from just about every direction. That great enemy of democratic capitalism, economic inequality, is real and growing.

Tags: Future, Great, Work

I am a southerner who grew up with and around guns. I own some still. My father gave me a .22 rifle when I was 9 and a single barrel .410 shotgun when I was 10.

Tags: Father, Guns, Single

In America, now, let us - Christian, Jew, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, wiccan, whatever - fight nativism with the same strength and conviction that we fight terrorism. My faith calls on its followers to love one's enemies. A tall order, that - perhaps the tallest of all.

Tags: Faith, Love, Strength

I've been accused of being old before my time more than once. It's true that I've always felt an affinity for, and been comfortable around, older people. I attribute this to a childhood spent around my grandparents - and even a great-grandparent or two. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.

Tags: Old, Time, True

The central tenet of Christianity as it has come down to us is that we are to reach out when our instinct is to pull inward; to give when we want to take; to love when we are inclined to hate; to include when are tempted to exclude.

Tags: Give, Hate, Love

Barack Obama is many things; among them, he is a tough and even ferocious political warrior.

Tags: Political, Tough, Warrior

I believe that my children, who are young, will look back on the early years of the 21st century in rather the same way I look back on the middle of the 20th: as a time when seemingly respectable people supported discrimination against Americans simply because those Americans were different from themselves.

Tags: Children, Time, Young

The problem for those who assert biblical authority in support of traditional definitions of marriage is that one could, with equal validity, assert that the lending of money or certain kinds of haircuts are forbidden by God, or that slavery and the subjugation of women are authorized by the Lord.

Tags: Marriage, Money, Women

I don't think anyone is qualified to answer questions of eternal fate definitively, much less pinpoint it to a given day.

Tags: Anyone, Fate, Less

In the fullness of time, I suspect that bigotry against homosexuals will seem as repugnant as racial prejudice does today. Or so one hopes.

Tags: Against, Time, Today

President Obama is now losing to 'Republican Nominee' in polls - no name needed.

Tags: Losing, President, Republican

Reagan is the Republican FDR, an exemplar of presidential greatness.

Tags: Greatness, Reagan, Republican

Scripture is not inerrant; believers are called to interpret biblical texts in light of tradition and reason.

Tags: Light, Reason, Tradition

The American system of political spending is so unregulated that it might make Adam Smith rethink free markets.

Tags: American, Free, Political

The government invented the Internet.

Tags: Government, Internet, Invented

The middle class, one of the great achievements in history, is becoming more of a relic than a reality.

Tags: Great, History, Reality

The Occupy Wall Street protests at last suggest that America's wealth gap is once again becoming an organizing political principle in the country.

Tags: America, Country, Political

The way to put oneself in a position to take the harder, more honorable political path is to argue for one's virtues in a vigorous way.

Tags: Path, Political, Put

Whenever there is news of a terrible shooting, I wonder why America has so miserably failed to enact even common-sense gun legislation.

Tags: America, Gun, Why

World War II ended the Great Depression with one of the great public-private industrial collaborations in the history of man.

Tags: Great, History, War

Among the many problems with taking the Bible literally is it reduces the most mysterious and complex of realities to simple - even simplistic - terms. Yes, scripture speaks of fire and damnation and eternal bliss, but the Bible is the product of human hands and hearts, and much of the imagery is allegorical, not meteorological.

Tags: Fire, Human, Simple