A short biographical aside appears appropriate at this juncture. I am a lawyer and thus my approach to these matters has probably followed a somewhat different course than others (excepting perhaps Chellis). My curiosity began largely from sociological/legal interest in how people construct, adapt, modify, and deliver argument. Specifically, the various kinds of political arguments Americans make, why they make them, and what historical experiences are at the root of those arguments. I remember being rather stunned to discover that the American puritan impulse and the American universalist impulse were siblings in the great reformational/enlightened modern family. And like many siblings, they have the most heated rivalries. All the high-falutinâ€™ philosophy of politics and history came later and provides a pretty coherent theoretical framework for what I suspected, and am now convinced, is true about our own political experience. It is fascinating to me to observe the internal feedback loop of the American (modern) soul cut adrift from an Augustinian/platonic/medeival conception of reality. The Puritanical conservative sects and the universalist liberal sects are at separate ends of the same spectrum of belief in manâ€™s perfectability in the here and now. And each has fixated his gaze on the other as that which is to be most feared and loathed; as that mirror image â€” one of the other â€” which each is terrified of becoming. And the comi-tragic irony is, of course, that the Puritans did become universalists, and the universalists have now become the new Puritans, propagating all kinds of regulations on human happiness and flourishing (anti-smoking campaigns come to mind) in the name of progress and continuing enlightenment.