Friday, March 14, 2008
John Adams is the most vivid American founder. Everything Adams touched bore the imprint of his nature: petty, querulous, and vain; yet also candid, playful, and curious. Adams elevated self-scrutiny into an art. His diary drips with Puritan angst, yet Adams fell several tenets short of the basic requirements of Christian orthodoxy. For starters, he rejected original sin and the doctrine of predestination; the Atonement — "Christ died for our sins" — fit nowhere in his theology. He didn't think like a true believer, but he felt like a true believer. A lifelong churchgoing animal like his fathers and mothers before him, to Adams the Bible was the best book in the world and Christianity the one indispensable guarantor of public morality.