April 11, 1823 – November 10, 1823
Thomas Jefferson must have been in a particularly “Enlightenment” mood in April, considering the long letter he writes to John Adams excoriating John Calvin and Calvinism, translating John 1:1 to deny the doctrine of the Trinity, and describing the divinity of Jesus as a “fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words,” not to mention “mystical,” and on par with “the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” All this because JA made a joke about his own affinity with Calvin’s arthritis, gout, and sciatica. Talk about hitting a nerve.
This could be the jumping-off point for a discussion of the founding fathers’ Christian beliefs (or lack thereof), but my mood is more along the lines of this sign-off by JA: “I salute your fire-side with cordial esteem and affection. J.A. In the 89 year of his age still too fat to last much longer.”
You also may be wondering how much longer this correspondence can go on, or, equally important, how much longer my corresponding erudition can sustain itself. (Was that a pun?)
Rest assured, 15 letters remain in the collection, which means just 3 more weeks of disciplined reading and questionably enlightened reflection. (Was that a poem?)