30 September 2008

I Hope This Helps

Some folks seem to be having a difficult time understanding some Southerners' attachment to the South's Christianity, the War Between the States, and those heroes associated with the Southern Army. Academics like to put Southerners and their culture under a microscope and poke and prod them. They've been doing it for years and most aren't any closer to figuring things out than they were 40 years ago. I actually find it amusing. I've posted on the combined impact of Christianity and the Civil Ware before.

This particular article which originally appeared in Christian History Magazine (A publication I HIGHLY recommend) might help.

(Painting by Dale Gallon.)

13 comments:

Kevin said...

With all due respect to you, your claim that "academics" have had little success in understanding the role of religion in Confederate and Civil War Memory assumes that you have read the literature in question. I've rarely seen a reference to any of these books on your blog. If you are familiar with these authors than you must know that some of these authors identify themselves as Christians. Your generalizations of academics as "poking and prodding" implies or suggests a stance against religion and Christianity in particular, which is not the case at all.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Not all academics. I should have clarified - "some", probably the majority. Sorry.

I do maintain, however, that many do not understand the subject from a Christian viewpoint. I do, of course, respect the different opinions of other and realize there are exceptions.

More recent books that touch on this issue, and which I've read, are Robertson's biography of Jackson, "Faith in the Fight" by Woodworth, et al, "Baptized in Blood" by Charles Wilson (a little dated), Wesley Brinsfield's two works on Civil War Chaplains - (both excellent!) and Albert J. Raboteau's "Slave Religion" (also excellent), to name a few. I may have a few of the others you have in mind, but have not read them in any depth. What would you recommend?

You should know by now, I'm not one who thinks just because something is "new" means its worth my time to read.

The works that tend to belittle (or attempt to diminish the relevance of) the faith of Southerners are, frankly, very boring to me as they are so predictable.

Admittedly, I've also read a lot of works considered "dated" i.e., Jones's "Christ in the Camp" and Bennett's "The Great Revivals in the Southern Armies." Though dated, they have much to offer. (Have you read those books?)

"Your generalizations of academics as "poking and prodding" implies or suggests a stance against religion and Christianity in particular, which is not the case at all."

Not necessarily. Some, certainly. Those that do, do so because conservative, evangelical, native Southerners remain the "red-headed" step-children of the more sophisticated blue-staters.

Come on Kevin, its no secret that most of the higher institutions of learning (where most academics work) in America are hostile toward Christianity and conservative values. Certainly, you are not denying this.

Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part this is true. Even those on the inside admit it:

http://www.theamericanscholar.org/su08/elite-deresiewicz.html

Even the Washington Post admits it:

"College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says."

See:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8427-2005Mar28.html

Best,
RGW

Kevin said...

Richard, -- Thanks for the clarification - well, sort of. Actually, some of the titles you listed were ones I had in mind, especially the Foster book. However, when you say the "majority" are hostile I have to ask for clarification. Perhaps you can give me examples of academic historians who you consider to be examples of disrespect- specifically historians since we are talking about the Christianity and the Confederacy. What specifically, according to you, justifies such a characterization.

Well, if they are hostile I certainly have not experienced it and I've spent a good chunk of my adult life as a student. You said:

"Come on Kevin, its no secret that most of the higher institutions of learning (where most academics work) in America are hostile toward Christianity and conservative values. Certainly, you are not denying this."

That seems to me to draw much too close a connection between conservatism and Christianity. You seem to imply that liberals are hostile toward Christianity and that is simply ridiculous. Actually, the generalization tells me more about how you feel about higher education as opposed to anything that could be confirmed or even analyzed.

Finally, I have indeed used the book by Jones, which you refer to, as well as other titles written by participants. In fact those books are the bread and butter for anyone studying camp life, etc. The difference is that I tend to see those as primary rather than secondary accounts.

Michael Aubrecht said...

Great link. In the MUCH bigger picture of life Richard, I'm sure you will agree that those that worship Christ and acknowledge He and only He as their personal Savior are redeemed for their sins and welcomed into the Lord's Kingdom. It is a blessing that no one truly deserves. Everyone else who does NOT, is out of luck. Matthew 11:27 clearly states that "no one knows the Son except the Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son, and those to whom the Son has revealed him." Jesus himself said "No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Therefore Jackson, Forrest and every other sinful Christian Confederate (which BTW is all of them) were forgiven for their transgressions that they committed on this earthly plain against their fellow man, and are now in Heaven worshipping in the circle of the Lord. On the other hand, many of these anti-religious academics, agnostics, and atheists who fervently preach against Christ and his followers (including born-again historical figures) are headed to a much-much darker place. I suggest that these professors put down their history books and pick up a bible.

And as I stated before in regards to my own teachings on the life of 'Stonewall' Jackson: It's not a course on hero worship, it's a course on worshipping, looking at the example of a hero." A hero as a Christian. What color uniform he wore, or what cause he supported in the Civil War is meaningless in the grand scheme of his path towards salvation.

Michael Aubrecht said...

Also Richard, I would like to 'preemptively' add that anyone who wishes to argue or disagree with the above theology that I quoted (Heaven His way - Hell our way) clearly does not understand the most basic fundamental of the Christian religion and could not possibly comment on it in an intelligent manner in regards to how it would play into a believers conscience and conduct.

It would be like me trying to judge or comment on something of which I have no practice in. I cannot profess to 'exactly' know what Thomas Jackson thought as a man, but I can absolutely relate and know what he thought as a believer. After all, we both read and followed the same bible.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Kevin:

"That seems to me to draw much too close a connection between conservatism and Christianity."

As is relates to American politics, I don't think so, though there are nuances. Who are the Christian right that forms the base of the Republican Party? Conservative Christians. Who are the "values voters" Obama is pursuing? Conservative Chrisitans. To whom was Obama referring when he mentioned those bitter folks "clinging to their guns and religion"? Conservative Christians. Senator Obama certainly made a very close connection, did he not?

"You seem to imply that liberals are hostile toward Christianity and that is simply ridiculous."

Liberal policies and politics most certainly are hostile toward Christianity. That is what the culture wars are all about. Oh yes, most liberals are fine with Christians who keep their faith inside the four walls of their churches, just don't try to apply that faith in the public square.

"Actually, the generalization tells me more about how you feel about higher education as opposed to anything that could be confirmed or even analyzed."

Confirmed? How many examples would you like? What's to analyze? Higher education in the US today, for the most part, is subservient to political correctness which stifles free speech and free expression and while claiming to promote diversity, they actually promote single-minded liberalism and squash conservative thought.

I'll refer you back to the links and pieces in prior comments. There's really no need for me to reword what these articles express.

I'm done here, thanks for your input. I think I'll go back to posting about trees.

Kevin said...

It's amazing to me that you feel comfortable speaking for all conservative Christians. You seem to think that all conservatives believe that they should wear their religion on their sleeves and that liberals believe religion has no place in the public square. That's quite a bizarre claim.

As for your claims about higher education, it is probably best to steer clear since I don't really believe they are based on anything close to actual experience. It sounds like the same old line that you hear in the media.

Anonymous said...

"Higher education in the US today, for the most part, is subservient to political correctness which stifles free speech and free expression and while claiming to promote diversity, they actually promote single-minded liberalism and squash conservative thought."
================================

Amen to that.

These folk claim to be objective ...when actually they have a agenda that's a mile wide and plain for everyone to see.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Who said I was speaking for all conservative Christians? There are differences of opinions within that group, certainly, but their common positions on most cultural issues is what defines them as "conservative Christians".

Regarding higher education, the facts speak for themselves, they're not my claims.

Thanks again Kevin.

Gil Gibson said...

Fr. Alistair Anderson, former Chaplain General of the SCV (and camp-mate of mine), wrote a series of articles outlining the basic differences between Christianity in the North (intellectual and European centered) and the South (personal, evangelical, Bible centered). In Brinsfield's two volume set, when he quotes sermons from Northern chaplains, they are filled with hatred toward the South and justification for the war. When he quotes Southern sermons, they are directed toward praising God, trusting in Him, and individual need to repent and believe. It is a striking comparison.

Robert Moore said...

"Higher education in the US today, for the most part, is subservient to political correctness which stifles free speech and free expression and while claiming to promote diversity, they actually promote single-minded liberalism and squash conservative thought."

As a philosophical topic of discussion, this actually sounds contradictory to the truth. If higher education is subservient to political correctness, then the professors would be force-feeding (or even subconsciously feeding) this to the students. As a result, the students, as a product of this education, would be silent and less expressive in the public sphere. If this is the way that one defines political correctness, then yes, this would be a bad thing. However, as one who has been enrolled as a full-time graduate student on three public college campuses in Virginia for the last three years, I can say from personal experience that this is not at all the case.

However, if political correctness, by actual definition, equates to people being aware of others' sensitivities and therefore conscious of what they say and how they express themselves (not to mention being respectful of others and their views), is this good or bad for the promotion of diversity and social harmony? How is this bad for our already diverse society and how does this squash conservative thought?

If being conscious of what we say or how we say it equates to stifling free expression, what is it, exactly, that someone wants to say where they need not feel conscious of the feelings of others? Is this represenative of descent human behavior? What is it about being conscious of the feelings and sensitivites of others that squashes conservative thought?

In short, my point is that the quote does not make sense. I know what the author is trying to say, but they aren't making a good argument with the words and phrases selected.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Robert:

You write:

"However, if political correctness, by actual definition, equates to people being aware of others' sensitivities and therefore conscious of what they say and how they express themselves (not to mention being respectful of others and their views), is this good or bad for the promotion of diversity and social harmony?"

If that is the goal (and I don't believe it is), then yes, common courtesies, kindness, and etiquette should be the goal and conduct of every gentleman and lady. But those social graces should be taught in an elective class, if, again, that is the goal; not applied to serious study of history and other disciplines.

Robert Moore said...

Actually, I wasn't speaking of political correctness in any classroom application/setting, but the meaning the way that it was defined in the quote. It takes a strange angle and can be seen two different ways as defined in the quote. It weakens the argument made by the person who said/wrote it. I'm not saying this to belittle the author, just pointing out the rhetorical weakness. Best, Robert