[BLANK_AUDIO] This topic of religion, in some ways it threatens to overtake slavery. I don't think it's actually going to do that, or has done that. But just as with slavery, it's so what's happening in the country that, that matters. And I think there's a, a new interest in religion generally, not a favorite subject in the mainstream, academic historical study of the US. You can't understand people if you don't get into the things they believe, and you don't take them seriously. Jefferson is a pivotal central figure. Because it's that old idea that goes back to William Parton, if Jefferson's right, America's right. If Jefferson's wrong, America's wrong. Well, if Jefferson's the right kind of Christian, then America is the right kind of Christian country. It's really the obsessive concern, and I use that word advisedly, obsessive concern with fixing the character of the nation of the people, that it matters what the founders believed. Because, somehow, we in our faith in the founders, and belief in the, in the regime they created, have to ... they have to be the right, the have to believe the right things. Jefferson constitutes a real dilemma. He called himself a Christian, but most Christians today would not agree with that self-characterization. They'd say, wow, you, you, if you deny the, the trinity. If you don't believe in all these central principles of Christianity, then where's the Christian faith? I mean, what do you believe? Why are you calling yourself a Christian then? Jefferson would really have resented that. But it's I think the issue has to do with what kind of nation we live in today. This is the dilemma. It's not as if history's over there and here we are now. Especially in these times. It's the there...is...now. Now is then ... at least in the popular imagination or what historians called the national imaginary. So it makes a tremendous amount of difference and this is why you have books coming out right and left, characterizing or mis-characterizing or re-characterizing Jefferson one thing or another. He's elusive. again, you know, I found him interesting for my career because, precisely because he's hard to pin down. He's an interesting thinker, and I don't think there's anything more interesting in Jefferson's life than the way he tries to understand the world, creation, God. Who he is and how he relates to the, to the world. I don't follow him in all things, but that's true of everything in Jefferson. But it's worth, it's worth it's worth paying attention to him. I think ... religion is, at the core of his worldview. What we call religion. His lifelong pursuit of truth, some meaningful truths that would define his life. Religion is absolutely centrally important. It's something that was so important he did not want people to know about it. Religion is really a baseline for Jefferson and because it gets to the core, to the heart of everything toward the consenting individual, that mind that's trying to establish its true independence. So that it can apprehend the world and so it can have some sort of self guidance through the world. These are very much things we attribute to religion, and I think Jefferson would not quarrel with that. Even though he was skeptical about most received truths in Christianity and all religions. Nonetheless, what's most remarkable I think about Jefferson, if you put his religious quest into context is that like religious people, that quest was central to him. It's not so much the conclusions he reaches, as the spirit in which he engages with the quest. It's really, at the end of the day, the things that matter to Jefferson are things that he takes on faith, not things that he can know. And the classic mode of the scientist and the natural philosopher. I'm going to go give this talk in a chapel that shouldn't have been there, according to Jefferson. A chapel, he's got a rotunda, that's the academical village is organized around this ostentatiously secular, neoclassical building which is a library, it's multi-function space, it's everything that should be at the heart of the University. But somehow, all those Christian forces impinging from the outside. Wanting to present then. Something to keep in mind as we go over to the chapel is that it's built in a different age. You know, they say that the past is a foreign country, well Jefferson's time, when the university was being erected, is a foreign country from the period of the late 19th century. When very pious Christians and well, we don't know about their piety actually, but when Christians wanted to, to have a, a bigger presence in the public square, as they call it now. And one of the early victories of this kind of Christianization of America, is that even at Mr. Jefferson's University, we have a chapel. Not only is it a chapel, but it's a neogothic excrescence. So in architectural terms, it violates the whole aesthetic of the university. It's interesting because the university, the stewards of the university over the generations, have been very faithful to Jefferson's aesthetic. It's important to them but here we have something stands out, this chapel. You can't miss it. But I think it's a great place to actually talk about Jefferson and religion. Something he didn't want us to talk about. In a place he didn't want to be there, but we're going to give it a good try, and I hope he likes what I have to say.