I’m not a big fan of Glenn Beck but after recently completing Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope and while looking for a version of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense to read I decided to explore Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine (which includes a complete copy of Paine’s thesis). Anyway, if you’re curious and have the time, read both Obama and Beck for an interesting point-counterpoint with their writings sharing many ideas in common.

Other resources for the next book club meeting (on Thursday, January 14, 2010 where we’ll discuss Common Sense) include the following:

First, Common Sense is available online at http://bit.ly/7jYvV4. That site includes the complete text as well as The Project Gutenberg E-text of Common Sense, a text version (you can download) and links to the Amazon.com web site with listings of hard copy and Kindle versions of the text. Checking out Amazon’s site enables you to see all the versions available and then order from your favorite bookstore.

Second, you might find it useful to review information on evaluating internet sources. We’re bombarded daily by forwarded email messages and media experts who clearly have an “agenda.” It’s good to review how sources of information should be evaluated rather than just accepting anything in print (or everything on the web) as fact. Take a look at the following sites:

For a quick overview, check out “Evaluating Internet Resources” at http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic32.htm (you may wish to jump to the section “Criteria for Evaluation” though the entire site is interesting, especially the “Misleading Websites” section).

For a scholarly discussion of how we evaluate information check out “Evaluating Information: An Information Literacy Challenge” by Mary Ann Fitzgerald, Assistant Professor, Department of Instructional Technology, University of Georgia at http://bit.ly/5dEipw.

Another good source is the UC Berkley Library’s “Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask” at http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html.

Back to Early American documents, you’ll find www.earlyamerica.com an excellent source for other documents that may be valuable as we discuss Thomas Paine and Common Sense. Some of these documents will also be discussed during the Adult Sunday School class that starts at 9:30 AM on January 10, 2010 at the Community of Christ church (79th and Mission Road in Prairie Village, Kansas). The class will run 3-4 weeks and cover the topic “Was America formed as a Christian Nation and if so what are the implications today?”

Among the writings of Thomas Paine, histories of early American patriots and articles on early America, you’ll find “George Washington’s Farewell Address to the People of the United States” at http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/farewell/text.html and “Jefferson and Religion” by Tom Jewett at http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2009_summer_fall/jefferson-and-religion.html.

Finally, Thomas Jefferson’s letter to his nephew, Peter Carr from Paris on August 10, 1787 is available at http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/jefferson_carr.html.

Happy reading!