You would expect that a pastor reviewing a book called, The Words We Live By, would be reviewing a book about the Bible. As great as a title that would be for a book about the Bible, this edition of The Words We Live By is by Linda Monk and as she says on the cover it’s “your annotated guide to the constitution.”
Yes, I read a book about the Constitution of the United States of America. Yes, I was on a trip to Washington, D.C. when I bought it. There was a bit of tourist motivation in buying. I had seen it in the store at the National Archives building of National Treasure fame. No, they didn’t let us look at the book of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution for a secret map. We did see the historic documents that have framed our country.
It wasn’t until we went to the Library of Congress a couple days later, and there it was in the gift shop. What I like about this book is how it goes line by line through the constitution and its amendments to explain the background, the history, the reason it’s in there, how it has been used, and how it has been debated.
In a certain sense, Linda Monk gives both sides of the story. She ties together how our 3 branches of government (you can name them right?) work together: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial or President, Congress and the Supreme Court. I discovered how much of a living document our constitution is. I appreciated what our founders got right, and grieved how in the issue of slavery and a few others they got wrong. That has continued to be our pattern in history.
Linda Monk also adds quotes and anecdotes throughout the book, that adds a great flavor to the conversation. The Words We Live By provided a great reminder of how our government works at its best, and how we have sought to survive, grow and hopefully lead as a nation in our world.
If it’s been a while since you have looked into what it means to be an American, The Words We Live By would be a great reminder of the stuff you suffered through in your U.S. History class, and now find to be true as a proud American living out the freedoms we have been given.
What book has been a great reminder to you of what it means to be an American?