The First Electronic Church of America

S A I N T S   &   B I R T H D A Y   P A G E

April 13, 1997

Saint Of The Day:

Thomas Jefferson

third president of the United States, was born on this date in 1743, and, most proud of being a writer, wrote his own epitaph: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the University of Virginia." Jefferson did not, of course, say anything about being a slave owner, as Joseph J. Ellis points out in a 1997 biography, American Sphinx. According to Ellis, a professor of history at Mt. Holyoke College, Jefferson "was never a legend in his own time, always a controversial figure who combined great depth with great shallowness, massive learning with extraordinary naiveté, piercing insights into others with daunting powers of self-deception." Ellis writes that Jefferson left a staggering debt when he died in 1826. His stately manor, Monticello, bore no obvious evidence of the slaves who helped build and maintain it. Jefferson favored abolition of slavery, but only if African-Americans could be deported or somehow made to disappear from the lands they had helped develop. His aversion to a multi-racial state was made clear in his "Notes on the State of Virginia," which, according to The New York Times, "advanced wacky, racialist views that anticipated the modern eugenics movement." Nevertheless, Jefferson did write the Declaration of Independence, the most resounding statement on human freedom ever written. The natural rights section of the Declaration -- the most famous words in American history -- reflected the belief that personal freedom is guaranteed by God himself. It was not a notion invented by Jefferson, but borrowed from a Jesuit cardinal, the philosopher-theologian Robert Bellarmine, who was himself influenced by the great St. Thomas Aquinas. To Bellarmine and Aquinas, human rights derive from our nature as human beings, made in the image and likeness of God by reason of the fact that we have reason and will, a free will. Those who oppose the notion of natural rights say such rights are given by the state, a position that makes human rights very relative indeed. For if the state, or any human agency, can bestow rights, then the state, or any human agency, can take them away.

MODEL: Jefferson's clarity of thought, seen in his clarity of expression. For Jefferson, thinking and writing were all of a piece. Clear thinking leads to clear writing. If your writing is muddy, better go back and think things through.

Your Birthday Today:

April 13
Day of the Nonconformist Aries

Innovative, Outspoken, Earnest

Misunderstood, Estranged, Forlorn

Off kilter. If you were born on April 13, you feel out of place and attempt to make a place for yourself through your work. You may even blaze new trails. But even if you aren't a radical innovator, you feel a desire to rewrite the rules in your field. Ruled by the number 4 and the planet Uranus, you exhibit erratic, unconventional behavior.

A true starving artist. You can work solo and unappreciated for years. If you are successful, you can force others to see the validity of your radical approach but adopt it for themselves. If not successful, you'll of course feel rejected, but probably continue on your path no matter what people think.

Effects of disapproval. A "love me or leave me" attitude prevails in your strong personality. But if your friends and family reject your eccentric behavior outright, it can affect you strongly. You'll either hold this negativity inside until it makes you physically ill or lash back at your critics.

Total recluse. Society's discomfort with your oddities leads you to live a very private personal life. In rare cases you can become a regular Howard Hughes, with one or two stoic companions to help keep the public away. This causes a mystique to surround you, encouraging wild stories of your true nature. These rumors can hurt, since you do care what people think of you.

A little advice: Don't hide from society. Get out, interact and see how others interact. And don't let your pride get in your way. It could keep you from even greater success.

Also born on this day: Thomas Jefferson (US president) Samuel Beckett (poet, playwright, novelist) Gari Kasparov (champion chess player) James Ensor (Belgian painter, etcher, writer, composer) Frank Woolworth (chain store magnate) Seamus Heaney (Irish poet) Stanley Donen (producer, director, choreographer) Al Green (soul singer) Eudora Welty (writer, critic) Ron Perlman (actor) Bud Freeman (jazz saxophonist) Madalyn O'Hair (worked to outlaw school prayer)