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Does "to make a convert" mean "to make a convert of my own"?

 
 
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 09:18 am
(1) Does "to make a convert" mean "to make a convert of my own"? Or "to make a convert of somebody else"?

(2) Does "in four words 'be just and good' is that in which all our inquiries must end" mean "'be just and good" must be the ultimate goal of all our inquiries"?

Context:

Jefferson felt that religion was a deeply private matter. People did not need to proclaim their beliefs: "I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wish to change another's creed."[6] Jefferson saw religion as private and therefore found priests unnecessary. He wrote in the same letter "I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences for which we were accountable to him, and not to the priests."[7] He only spoke about his own religious beliefs when he was asked to, and only in his private letters did he speak clearly of his beliefs.

.......
More important than beliefs to Jefferson was the way people lived their lives. "I have ever judged the religion of others by their lives . . . for it is in our lives and not from our words, that our religion must be read."[11] In a letter to Adams, Jefferson concluded about religion: "the result of your 50 or 60 years of religious reading, in four words 'be just and good' is that in which all our inquiries must end."[12] This emphasis on behavior over belief was at the core of Jefferson's creed, although he did think that morality was connected to belief in God.
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 730 • Replies: 9

 
View best answer, chosen by oristarA
Tes yeux noirs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 09:22 am
Why do you ask? "Make a convert" is clear in its meaning.

oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 09:30 am
@Tes yeux noirs,
Tes yeux noirs wrote:

Why do you ask? "Make a convert" is clear in its meaning.



Did you mean that it refers to "make a convert of either his own or someone else?" Not sure for me.
0 Replies
 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 09:44 am
Oristar wrote:
I never attempted to make a convert

To make a convert is to persuade or convince another person of the truth or wisdom of some idea or belief or set of these. So he could only make a convert of somebody else. There is no other meaning.
0 Replies
 
Tes yeux noirs
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 09:46 am
@oristarA,
Quote:
(2) Does "in four words 'be just and good' is that in which all our inquiries must end" mean "'be just and good" must be the ultimate goal of all our inquiries"?

The wisdom accumulated during 50 or 60 years of religious study may be summarised in those four words.
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FBM
  Selected Answer
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 10:14 am
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:

(1) Does "to make a convert" mean "to make a convert of my own"? Or "to make a convert of somebody else"?


He meant that he never tried to convert someone to his faith, which means to make a convert of his own. The "of my own" part means that he's acknowledging that others did at least try to make converts of their own.

Quote:
(2) Does "in four words 'be just and good' is that in which all our inquiries must end" mean "'be just and good" must be the ultimate goal of all our inquiries"?


Yes, after 50 or 60 years of reading about religion and philosophy, he sums it all up in just those 4 words. That is, all the religions and philosophies he's studied can be that easily summarized.

InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 12:58 pm
@FBM,
Quote:
"The "of my own" part means that he's acknowledging that others did at least try to make converts of their own."

Unless I'm missing something, in the text that oristarA cites "of my own" refers expressly to Jefferson's religion.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Jun, 2015 08:00 pm
@InfraBlue,
If so, it would be better to say "to my own," I'd think.
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InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2015 02:24 pm
This is getting muddled here.

Nowhere in the text that oristar cites does Jefferson write "of my own."

He does write "my own" in reference to his religion. "I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another."

When he wrote, "I never attemptedĀ to make a convert," he meant that he never attempted to convert anyone to his religion.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Jun, 2015 07:53 pm
@InfraBlue,
Good point. I should have noted that the "of my own" was suggested by Oristar. Yeah, in the context of the quote, it could be either "of my own" or "to my own," seeing as how religion was the object of the previous clause.
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