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​Shapiro notes

Goals of book include search for basic foundations of west.   Ideas matter and important ideas represent the motivational road along which humanity travels. 

Freedom built upon twin notions that God created humans in own image and human beings capable of investigating and exploring Gods world.  Ideas from both Jerusalem and Athens. 

Beliefs:
**life is more than material pleasure and pain avoidance,
**Govt has no right to intrude on your exercise of free will,
**you are bound by moral duty to pursue virtue,
**human beings are capable of bettering our world thru use of reason, and bound by higher purpose to do so…. You are a product of Jerusalem and Athens.

Jerusalem and Athens built America, ended slavery, defeated Nazis and communists, lifted billions from poverty and have given billions of people spiritual purpose. And ​Jerusalem and Athens were the foundations of Magna Carta, treaty of Westphalia, declaration of independence, proclamation of emancipation, Kings letter from prison

We are in process of abandoning Judeo Christian values and Greek natural law, favoring moral subjectivism and rule of passion.  We are watching our civilization collapse into tribalism, individual hedonism, moral subjectivism.   Our communities are riven with internal contradictions, bereft of values, meaning.

God commands us to live in right action according to Gods will.  Live in accordance with a moral purpose.  Either we do so or we serve foreign gods, and will pay a price.   Four components of Moral Purpose:

**individual purpose

**individual capacity to pursue same

**communal purpose

**communal capacity to pursue same

Necessity of communal capacity

When strong social institutions thrive, like churches, synagogues, social clubs and charity orgs, when govt is strong enough to prevent anarchy and limited enough to prevent tyranny.

In the end, communal capacity requires active social communities promoting virtue, and a state nonrestrictive enough to provide a forum for our free choice.

Happiness comprises the four elements noted.  If we lack one of these elements, the pursuit of happiness becomes impossible, if that pursuit is foreclosed, society crumbles.

Our society was built on these four elements.  But we are losing that civilization because of the loss of underlying issues of sources of meaning: divine meaning and reason.  By cutting ourselves off form our roots, we are drifting to an existential wandering. 

Judeo Christian civilization is the foundation for the west, the greatest force for material prosperity and freedom in history.  J-C granted individual and communal purpose.  Four components:

**Judaism claimed God was unified (0ne), had a master plan behind everything

**Judaism claimed human beings are held to particular behavioral standards for moral reasons….  We were ordered to be moral at the behest of a higher power, even if Gods rules could benefit us in this life

**Judaism claimed history progressed…revelation was the beginning, but not the end, man has a responsibility to pursue God and bring about redemption of mankind and God’s chosen to act as the light unto all nations (as an example).

**Finally, God had endowed man with choice, men were responsible for their choices and that choices made matter

Christianity broadened message, focused more heavily on grace and successfully spread the fundamental principles of Judaism as amended by Christianity to billions of human beings across the planet.   Western values mean moral purpose.

In todays west this is also attacked.  They portray religious believers as fools or bigots, mock them as anti-rational and backward and suggest that true enlightenment rests on destruction of J-C heritage.  They posit that religious beliefs that undergird western civilization is in direct opposition to western values, so it can only be preserved by destroying its roots, religious beliefs. 

In a world of destructive chaos, (no plan, no purpose, no personal accountability) only politicians can save us from an uncaring fate.  Many civilizations in past were polytheistic, worshiped many gods.  Polytheism is more pessimistic and cynical than Judaism. 

Judaism proclaimed God is One, has rules (the universe is not random), argues for internal logic of universe.  The notion of a moral universe is a Judaic creation.  It rejects the idea of a corporeal god, no idols or images.  It sets forth a singular God and a standard of behavior.  It argues that we ought to be holy to please God.  It took the practice of making sacrifices (polytheistic) and flipped from appeasement to self-betterment.  God cares about us and is invested in our history.   Jews insist that history has a purpose and humanity a destiny.

Re individual purpose, God expects things of us via standards of behavior (fear God and obey His commandments).  We are free agents, able to choose sin or holiness.   Assumption of rules in the universe is vital to western civ.   Gods standard of truth matters, not our own. 

Re communal purpose, we must live our lives within communities and model our behavior to others.  Judaism believes power ought to exist in the family, in the community in faith and finally in govt.

Religious faith is empowering because it tells humans we are loved, have the capacity to choose between good and evil.  Man has been lifted above the animals and associated with a Godly mission and a Godly soul.  

For the Contributions of Athens, click here
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