29 October 2010

On Understanding "A Sense Of Place"

**See an update at the end of this post

"The south has produced the world's best literature. It dominates world culture. Southern culture is the most powerful and expressive in the world." ~ Timothy Tyson

William Faulkner's Typewriter

"The American South is a geographical entity, a historical fact, a place in the imagination, and the homeland of an array of Americans who consider themselves southerners. The region is often shrouded in romance and myth, but its realities are as intriguing, as intricate, as its legends." ~ The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

"The South is cultivated in collards and covered in kudzu . . . Many of us are descended from Scottish settlers and African slaves--and we usually find that we have more in common with each other than with Northern urbanites." ~ Clint Johnson

In a recent post at Civil War Memory, Kevin Levin wrote about a question he was recently asked in a public forum. The question was in regards to where Kevin was born. He responded on his blog with this rather curious comment:

"The question is, of course, silly since it implies some kind of privilege or unique access to the past depending on birth."

Kevin's response presents a wonderful opportunity to briefly discuss how our place of birth and where we grew up - our "sense of place" -  impacts our views on history and does, in fact, often give one "unique access to the past" - particularly when it comes to the WBTS.

First of all, no honest questions are silly - especially if it pertains to one's place of birth and is asked of someone whose field of work specializes in dissecting and psycho-analyzing a particular geographic region of the United States.

Secondly, no informed historian or writer could state, with a straight face, that one's place of birth, and the various cultural influences of the diverse regional areas of the United States, do not impact one's perspective and views on history - whether that impact is realized or not. Of course, this is true of not only the South, but practically any region of the world since all regions have their own unique and colorful history.

Thirdly, I'm not quite sure what Kevin has to gain by insulting someone for asking an honest and reasonable question - someone who took time out of their schedule to come hear Kevin participate in a public forum. That won't go very far to encourage attendance and sincere questions at these types of events in the future, that's for sure.

Since Kevin has mentioned this issue before, I get the distinct impression he's uncomfortable with the topic, perhaps revealing his own feelings (justified or not) of inadequacy due to his not being "Virginian, born and bred." (See, I can pyscho-analyze too.) Many moderns like to imagine a homogeneous America where our rich regional differences have been purged and we all march in bland (and boring) lockstep sameness of opinion, perspective, dialect, and views on history. While some of that has occurred due to mass marketing and other influences, the various regions of the United States still have distinct cultural differences which impact the way we view all sorts of topics, history being just one of them.

Being born in Dixie and raised with the knowledge that your ancestors sacrificed and fought bravely to defend their homes against overwhelming odds certainly has an impact on your perspective, your emotions and, yes, the way one intellectually approaches the study of the WBTS. I should know since I was born on a battlefield where two of my own Confederate ancestors fought. I also spent much of my childhood at my grandmother's home on that same battlefield, exploring the surrounding woods, fields, and streams where, just underfoot, lay mini-balls, shrapnel and yes, blood. Images of Lee, Jackson and the boys hung from parlor walls, books on the WBTS adorned our bookshelves, and the ghosts of the Confederacy seemed to always be present. This experience does indeed give me "unique access" to the past.

Does anyone really believe it is a coincidence that the definitive biographies of the Confederacy's two most recognized icons - Lee and Jackson - were written by proud Sons of the South and descendants of Confederate soldiers: Douglas Southall Freeman and James I. Robertson, Jr.?

Could anyone, other than a Southerner like Faulkner (who grew up breathing Southern air still - figuratively speaking - heavy with the smell of gunsmoke), have written these words:
For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago. ~ William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust
Some historians have openly admitted their regret for not having Faulkner's connection to the South and the Civil War:

Moreover, not a single ancestor fought in the war, a fact I lamented as a boy reading books by Bruce Catton and Douglas Southall Freeman and wanting desperately to have some direct connection to the events that fascinated me. ~ Gary Gallagher

Both Faulkner and Gallagher refer to this passion being associated with youth, but don't fool yourself into thinking that much of that feeling does not linger into adulthood - it often grows even stronger. And these feelings also often lead to a lifelong passion regarding history and one's life work, as evidenced in the following line about legendary relic hunter and historian, Tom Dickey:

"And, this was not just any war fought in a far away land. It was a war that took place on the soil where he was born and grew up, and therein lay his fascination with the Civil War and its artillery."

Freeman would never have written his monumental biography of Lee were it not for his youthful fascination with the Confederacy and his ancestral ties:

Douglas Freeman had acquired a lifelong devotion to Confederate history from tales told by his father, one of General Lee's soldiers. He was taken to see the first 'Civil War Re-enactment', one performed by the actual veterans and it was then that he vowed to write the history of Lee's fabled Army of Northern Virginia. As well as the two massive biographies, Dr Freeman (he was part of the first generation of historians to earn a Ph.D.) wrote several other works of Southern history and historiography. ~ Richard Mullen: America's Greatest Biographer: Douglas Southall Freeman

And David Johnson, in his excellent biography of Freeman, further points to the fact that Freeman's place of birth, and all that went with it, continued to influence Freeman's writings until the day he died:

Having written and read millions of words, Douglas Freeman chose to be remembered with words from Tennyson's Ulysses: I am part of all that I have met.

The influences that shaped his life never left him. Always there was Walker Freeman - wounded veteran, struggling clerk, successful businessman, keeper of the faith; always there was the city of Richmond - its traditions, its heritage, its tragedies, its future . . . always there was Lee - the supreme example of service and sacrifice.

Now, all of this is not to say that those from outside the South can't write good histories of the region or offer insight on the Confederacy and the WBTS. Outside observers very often do see things that natives miss. That is a perspective (whether one admits it or not), as is one which comes from a homegrown Southerner. So, yes, it is important to know of an author's or historian's place of birth, where he grew up, and whether or not he understands what many have referred to as "a sense of place" so one may evaluate bias and perspective. That is certainly a legitimate inquiry. Why would anyone think otherwise?

In reading Kevin's blog, and others like it, it seems many writers and historians have difficulty getting their mind around the concept of "a sense of place."  Wikipedia offers some good insight on this concept:

Cultural geographers, anthropologists, sociologists and urban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people or peoples. Places said to have a strong "sense of place" have a strong identity and character that is deeply felt by local inhabitants and by many visitors. Sense of place is a social phenomenon that exists independently of any one individual's perceptions or experiences, yet is dependent on human engagement for its existence. Such a feeling may be derived from the natural environment, but is more often made up of a mix of natural and cultural features in the landscape, and generally includes the people who occupy the place. The sense of place may be strongly enhanced by the place being written about by poets, novelists and historians, or portrayed in art or music, and more recently, through modes of codification aimed at protecting, preserving and enhancing places felt to be of value . .

In order to have even the most fundamental understanding of Southern history and memory, one must understand this concept referred to as "a sense of place." This is especially true of the South and her various (and often complicated) perspectives on the WBTS . One's place of birth does, very often, provide a "unique access" and perspective to the study of history - especially the WBTS. And it can also be "privileged." I consider mine both.


Kevin and his followers have responded here, kinda. First of all Kevin defends the charge that he "insulted anyone during this conference." That's great, except I didn't accuse him of that. The insult came in his post after the conference, by calling the question posed "silly" which, as I've demonstrated, it wasn't.

Kevin then evidences a misunderstanding of what I was referring to in "sense of place" by stating, in part: "The study of history has taken me all over this beautiful state. " If you will read my post, you'll see that's not quite the same thing. Kevin then poses the question:

"What exactly does it mean to be “biased against Confederate heritage/history”?"

That's curious. Does he not understand the definition of "biased?" Does he not know what Confederate heritage/history is? Kevin implies that this is some kind of new revelation or accusation. Really? Perhaps in his worldview, but not others. Many have written about it. Robert Krick has spoken about it. A 2007 piece in the Washington Times noted:

Robert E. Lee has been attacked by revisionist historians who have argued that the Confederate commander's reputation was a "postwar mythical creation," a Civil War historian said at a weekend conference in Arlington. "A wretched flood of Lee biographies" has been published in recent years, Robert K. Krick told more than 200 attendees at Saturday's Lee Bicentennial Symposium at the Key Bridge Marriott hotel. "These kinds of books ... offer no new evidence," said Mr. Krick, author of 16 books on the war. The revisionist arguments, he said, consist mainly of "counterfactual blathering." Revisionists have asserted that Lee's reputation was inflated after the war as part of a "Lost Cause myth," said Mr. Krick, who spent three decades as chief historian of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
I actually attended that conference where Krick also noted that revisionists have most certainly attempted to redefine Lee, not by the facts or any reasonable logic and scholarly research, but by pseudo-history and psycho-babble. Calling some of these writers “anti-confederate” Krick went on to note that those making these false assertions about Lee—particularly that his hero status was the result of “Lost Cause” sympathies after the war—must, by necessity, fall into one of three categories:

1. They are stupid.
2. They are lazy.
3. They are malicious.
    (His words, not mine.) 

    So, recognizing writers and historians who are "anti-Confederate" is certainly not anything new or outside of the mainstream, as Kevin and his followers would like for us to believe.
    In closing his not-so-convincing response to my original post, Kevin states:

    "In the end, Richard has done little more than follow in the footsteps of the individual he accuses me of insulting." But in his comments here, Kevin stated: "Thanks for the follow-up. It sounds like we actually agree on quite a bit here." Apparently, Kevin disagrees with himself.

    Also, I would recommend readers here read the comments section in Kevin's post as the person who posed the question that got this whole thing started has posted a very thoughtful comments and response to Kevin's accusation. Somehow, this person doesn't seem to have the fangs Kevin suggests. Kevin now appears to walk it all back by thanking the commenter for his "silly" question. 

    28 October 2010

    Long Overdue

    Some time ago, Mr. David Corbett of the Battlefield Balladeers (who frequently comments here), sent me a couple of CDs of his WBTS period music. I failed to both thank him publicly and recommend his music. The man who is always "for the old flag" and his band play Civil War music the way the soldiers fighting would have played and heard it - raw and simple. No phony reverb, no studio splicing - just heartfelt, patriotic tunes. I highly recommend David's music for all those purists looking for authentic Civil War period music. Thanks David!

    You can find out more about Battlefield Balladeers here.

    27 October 2010

    Metal Detecting Post #5 - The Tom Dickey Collection

    A really cool and classic video about a Civil War relic metal detecting legend, Tom Dickey. Dickey is using an old surplus WWII mine detector in this video.

    You can read some details about his collection and life here.

    (Hat tip to GrizzlyRelic)

    What's Wrong With This Statement?

    "The newest member of the Supreme Court is in the minority in backing a stay of execution over questions about the safety of a drug to be used in a lethal injection."

    Nothing. It was made by a Harvard academic. Makes perfect sense. These are the same folks running the country. Like I said, it makes perfect sense. Story here.

    26 October 2010

    Metal Detecting Post #4

    Last week, I purchased a new metal detector - a White's MXT Pro, along with extra coils for various types of detecting and soil conditions. This last Saturday, I spent about 4 hours in a couple of fields near the Battle of Piedmont here in the Shenandoah Valley. To the right is a photo of what I believe is a shell fragment from either a Parrot or Hotchkiss shell. I also found something that could be part of a fuse, an 1893 V Nickel, and several other items that I'm working on identifying. This shell fragment find was particularly important to me as my great-great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield, who  fought for the 60th Virginia, was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Piedmont. Standing on that open field by myself last Saturday morning in the brilliant sunlight and digging that piece of shell out of the ground near the area my ancestor was wounded was quite an experience.

    Needless to say, I've become quite passionate about this hobby and am reading and watching everything I can get my hands and eyes on.

    22 October 2010

    Clarity On The Tea Party

    I'm seeing more and more references to the Tea Party movement in the academic WBTS and history blogosphere (You know, the apolitical folks) - most of them revealing the writers have no earthly idea what they're talking about. So as a community service, I thought I'd post this video for some clarity. After watching it, you'll understand why some academic historians can't relate to the Tea Party folks.

    20 October 2010

    Admission Is The First Step To Recovery

    I've often seen academics in the history related blogosphere poo-poo the idea of political correctness and mock those who bring it up as a problem. I think this is most often due to the fact that they are complicit - or fearful. At best, they are out of touch with most Americans:

    "A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Adults believe America today has become too politically correct, while just 23% say the country is not politically correct enough. Eleven percent (11%) say the balance is about right. Some people think that government officials too often override the facts and common sense in the name of political correctness, and 74% regard political correctness as a problem in America today." 

    More here.

    18 October 2010

    Gold At Confederate Prison

    My last hunt yielded nothing but nails, but I'll be going back to the same location soon after adjusting my detector and, possibly, trying out a new detector. I'll "keep you posted."

    Follow up to this video here. You never know what secrets the ground beneath your feet hold.

    16 October 2010

    Front Porch Pickin' #13

    When my 3 youngest daughters were still at home, they used to sing in area churches, fundraisers, and at other community events. They often sang with local bluegrass favorite (and cousin), Heather Berry. I have one daughter who plays the fiddle and guitar and one who plays the mandolin. All three play the piano and they harmonize beautifully together. They've appeared on live radio and at such venues as Sweet Briar College and Lee Chapel. We have many precious memories of hauling all four of these girls in our van off to some local event or gospel sing with them singing and laughing the whole trip. Those were some very special times in our lives and we'll always treasure those memories. All of these girls, save one of my daughters, are now married with families of their own and no longer sing together (except on rare occasions). We did, however, record a number of their events and I plan to post some of those videos in the not too distant future. Below is a video which includes Heather singing with a number of well known female bluegrass vocalists. Heather is the pretty young lady on the far left of the screen, playing the autoharp. The song featured here is a tribute to Mother Maybelle Carter. The occasion is the recording of a CD (Follow Me Back To The Fold on, appropriately, Rebel Records) with the Mark Newton Band and was filmed at the Country Music Hall of Fame. As always, through our "Front Porch Pickin'" posts, Old Virginia Blog seeks to bring you the very best in Southern Appalachia bluegrass, gospel, country & folk music. Get your culture here.

    Academia & Serious Business

    “These are naive idiots who’ve come out of academia and have never done anything real in their lives, and they are actually in power. These are the people we never let in the room when we had serious business to do. Now they’re running the country.” ~ Pat Caddell

    Caddell, who has worked on a number of Democrat presidential campaigns, including Biden's in 1988, was describing the Obama administration and was referring back to his days working in the Carter White House. While I would agree his take on the current administration is extremely accurate, I would add that I don't believe the Carter folks were completely successful in keeping the idiots out of the room.

    15 October 2010

    The Truth About The "Lost Cause"

    A "myth" like the "Lost Cause" surely does not spread so widely and last so persistently without a basis in "fact." One is reminded of the Yankee girl's exclamation on seeing Lee passing through Pennsylvania: "I wish he was ours!" To truly understand a myth you must investigate the human purposes it serves. The "Lost Cause Myth" is international and enduring, which is why Confederate battle flags appeared all over occupied Europe during the fall of the Soviet Empire. It must serve some purposes beyond use as a rationalization by long dead Confederates for their sins and errors – even if one accepts that "the purpose of the legend was to hide the Southerners’ tragic and self-destructive mistake." A mind-reading insight which I reject since I am yet to find a single Confederate who thought he had been mistaken, as opposed to being regretful at having lost. ~ Dr. Clyde Wilson

    12 October 2010

    Stonewall Jackson Is GoingTo VMI

    Well, actually, his house is:

    "The Stonewall Jackson Foundation and the Virginia Military Institute have announced a proposal to transfer the assets and activities of the Stonewall Jackson House to VMI. Under the plan Stonewall Jackson’s house in downtown Lexington, and its collection of historic artifacts, would be administered and managed by the VMI Museum, whose operations include management of the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park."

    The current economic conditions continue to take their toll.

    More here.

    And . . . 

    On this day, exactly 140 years ago, General Lee went to his Saviour:

    At last, on October 12, daylight came. The watchers stirred and stretched themselves and made ready to give place to those who had obtained a little sleep. Out of the windows, across the campus, the students began to move about, and after a while they struggled down to the chapel to pray for him. Now it was 9 o'clock, and a quarter past. His old opponent, Grant, was sitting down comfortably to breakfast in the White House. With axe or saw or plough or pen, the veterans of Lee's army were in the swing of another day's work. For him it was ended, the life of discipline, of sorrow, and of service. The clock was striking his last half-hour. In some corner of his mind, not wrecked by his malady, he must have heard his marching order. Was the enemy ahead? Had that bayoneted host of his been called up once again to march through Thoroughfare Gap or around Hooker's flank or over the Potomac into Maryland . . . moving . . . moving forward? Or was it that the war was over and that peace had come? "Strike the tent," he said, and spoke no more. ~ from Douglas Southall Freeman's R E Lee.

    10 October 2010

    Front Porch Pickin' #12

    Gettysburg bluegrass from the legendary The Seldom Scene band singing a great classic - Love of the Mountains. They follow with a great gospel tune. As always, Old Virginia Blog brings you the best in Southern Appalachia bluegrass, folk, and gospel music. This evening's selection is sponsored by whoever would like to volunteer. Get your culture here. Turn it up.

    08 October 2010

    Metal Detecting Post #3

    A while back, I announced a new hobby that would compliment my avocation in, and passion for, history - metal detecting & Civil War relic hunting. I've been "diggin'" a few times since, once at Virginia Beach and once in the mountains surrounding my home. I've found a few coins and trinkets, but nothing of great value or interest - yet. I am keeping a journal of everything I find . . . what, where, when, etc.

    But I did wanted to update readers, as I promised to do, about a couple of things. First of all, I plan to go on a hunt tomorrow morning. This site is now a home in a small town here in the Shenandoah Valley. Passers-by would not notice anything unusual about this house - its rather unassuming and located in a modest neighborhood here in the Shenandoah Valley. One might notice that it appears to be one of the older homes on the street. They'd be right about that. It was the first home in the neighborhood. But what they would not know is that beneath the modern siding is the original log structure. The original structure was, as best we can tell, built in the 1840's. It was, however, originally built as a storage and packing house for an agricultural operation. (Yes, I'm intentionally being vague.) I'm familiar with the location as it belongs to an 80+ year-old gentleman I know. I'm eager to see what secrets the grounds of the old place holds. I'll let you know soon.

    I've also been told about the former location of an old Confederate winter hut in central Virginia (on private property) that I hope to get permission to hunt. These huts are much sought after by those interested in WBTS history and typically hold lots of interesting items. I don't want to get my hopes up though as I've not received *permission to check it out. I'll keep you posted on that as well.

    I'm finding this new hobby to be quite consuming and fascinating and am looking forward to several digs over the next 12 months.

    *I strictly adhere to a common sense "Code of Ethics" when it comes to metal detecting.

    From The Good Earth

    A follow up to yesterday's post - just the beginning. My wife and youngest daughter canned these pears last night - while I babysat.

    07 October 2010

    Harvest Time In Old Virginia

    Harvest from one of our pear trees. We'll be canning tonight.


    More Signs Of Incompetence

    *Update: How's this for buyer's remorse? 

    The irony would be humorous if it weren’t so sad: The United Federation of Teachers, the New York City branch of the American Federation of Teachers, which pushed ardently for ObamaCare has now requested – and received – a waiver from its mandates. 

    The fruit of Obamacare:

    "Nearly a million workers won't get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers."

    Not to worry though. After all, the smartest people in the room endorsed our young President. 

    05 October 2010

    Repeating History?

    From 1934 - Click here to enlarge and read the text.
    Hat tip to George Grant.

    Academics & The Ruling Class Are Blinded . . .

    by their own arrogance and sense of privilege. As you browse the various academic history blogs, you'll notice an open contempt and mocking attitude directed toward the Tea Party. As I often say, arrogance is a blinding vice:

    Even old-line lefties like Stanley Fish are warning Democrats (and Establishment Republicans) that their open contempt for the Tea Party movement is not only blinding them to what’s really going on, but also empowering the movement itself. Fish writes that “The Tea Party’s strength comes from the down-to-earth rhetoric it responds to and proclaims, and whenever high-brow critics heap the dirt of scorn and derision upon the party, its powers increase.”

    More here.

    Amercian Excpetionalism & The American Creed

    "The American creed has two main components. First, its core belief is that America is an exceptional country and that the American people are an exceptional nation. Second, it asserts that as Abraham Lincoln first said outright, America is the last, best hope for mankind." ~ Caroline Glick

    03 October 2010

    Misquoting History - On Purpose?

    "So I opened the pamphlet and read the final paragraph:

    It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

    Deeply moving—but, I thought, something isn’t right. Did you notice what had been omitted? What’s missing is Lincoln’s description of the United States as a nation under God. What Lincoln actually said at Gettysburg was: 'that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.' The American Constitution Society had omitted Lincoln’s reference to the United States as a nation under God from the address he gave at the dedication of the burial ground at Gettysburg."

    The excerpt above comes from a piece at First Things and was written by Robert George. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton. I suppose some would classify Professor George as a "religious fundamentalist" and guilty of "historical fundamentalism."

    George goes on to point out . . .

    "The omission of the words 'under God' in a document characterized as a founding text by a liberal legal advocacy organization in the context of our contemporary debates over the role of religion in American public life and the meaning of the Constitution’s provisions pertaining to religion is just too convenient. We now have positive evidence that they know exactly what they are doing, and, to achieve the result they want, they are willing to violate scholarly consensus, common sense, and the memorization of generations of schoolchildren."
    (Emphasis mine.)

    You can also see the common narrative in this event and what I've pointed out in two recent posts here and here. One can clearly see the real agenda of the left and academic revisionists. You can read Professor George's complete piece here.

    Missing The Forest For The Trees

    We have some academics accusing conservative Christians ("religious fundamentalists") of using the Tea Party and "historical fundamentalism" [sic] - ostensibly perverting religion, history, and politics to promote a political agenda. I suppose they've not been paying attention to what is going on right before their eyes. Rather telling, isn't it? -

    (I offer no opinion and no commentary on the information below - just quotes and links to verify. I'm only using the quotes below to point out the glaring double standard and hypocrisy of the left. You can form your own opinion and come to your own conclusions. BTW, I considered, albeit very briefly, voting for Barack Obama. I'm sure that shocks most of you. I'll explain what changed my mind in some future post.)

    "Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus."
    -- Politiken (Danish newspaper)

    "No one saw him coming, and Christians believe God comes at us from strange angles and places we don't expect, like Jesus being born in a manger."
    --Lawrence Carter

    "Many even see in Obama a messiah-like figure, a great soul, and some affectionately call him Mahatma Obama."
    -- Dinesh Sharma

    "We just like to say his name. We are considering taking it as a mantra."
    -- Chicago] Sun-Times

    "A Lightworker -- An Attuned Being with Powerful Luminosity and High-Vibration Integrity who will actually help usher in a New Way of Being"
    -- Mark Morford

    "What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history"
    -- Jesse Jackson, Jr.

    "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
    -- Barack Obama

    "Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey, I mean, as he has said, the utter improbability of it all?"
    -- Daily Kos

    "He communicates God-like energy..."
    -- Steve Davis (Charleston, SC)

    "Not just an ordinary human being but indeed an Advanced Soul"
    -- Commentator @ Chicago Sun Times

    "I'll do whatever he says to do. I'll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear."
    -- Halle Berry

    "A quantum leap in American consciousness"
    -- Deepak Chopra

    "He is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians. . . . the agent of transformation in an age of revolution, as a figure uniquely qualified to open the door to the 21st century."-- Gary Hart

    "Barack Obama is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings . . . He's our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence."
     -- Eve Konstantine

    "This is bigger than Kennedy. . . . This is the New Testament." | "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. No, seriously. It's a dramatic event."
    -- Chris Matthews

    "[Obama is ] creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom . . . [He is] the man for this time."
    -- Toni Morrison

    "Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. . . . He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh . . . Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves."
    -- Ezra Klein

    "Obama has the capacity to summon heroic forces from the spiritual depths of ordinary citizens and to unleash therefrom a symphonic chorus of unique creative acts whose common purpose is to tame the soul and alleviate the great challenges facing mankind."
    -- Gerald Campbell

    "We're here to evolve to a higher plane . . . he is an evolved leader . . . [he] has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth."
    -- Oprah Winfrey

    “I would characterize the Senate race as being a race where Obama was, let’s say, blessed and highly favored. That’s not routine. There’s something else going on. I think that Obama, his election to the Senate, was divinely ordered. . . . I know that that was God’s plan."
    -- Bill Rush

    (Quotes and links are from http://obamamessiah.blogspot.com/ )

    01 October 2010

    Peter Marshall Dies - Misinformation Lives

    I was not aware, until this morning, that Christian historian Peter Marshall had died recently. We used some of his books when homeschooling our children:

    "Christian historian and author Peter Marshall has died after suffering a massive heart attack at a gym in Orleans, Mass., Sept. 8. He was 70. Marshall co-authored three best-selling U.S. history books titled, The Light and the Glory, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Sounding Forth the Trumpet. After graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1965 . . ."

    More here

    Relevant to Marshall's work is a recent post at Civil War Memory. Kevin Levin quotes the following excerpt from a book by Jill Lepore, *The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History.

    Historical fundamentalism is marked by the belief that a particular and quite narrowly defined past-”the founding”-is ageless and sacred and to be worshipped; that certain historical texts-”the founding documents”-are to be read in the same spirit with which religious fundamentalists read, for instance, the Ten Commandments; that the Founding Fathers were divinely inspired; that the academic study of history (whose standards of evidence and methods of analysis are based on skepticism) is a conspiracy and, furthermore, blasphemy; and that political arguments grounded in appeals to the founding documents, as sacred texts, and to the Founding Fathers, as prophets, are therefore incontrovertible. (p. 16)
    Wow. Where does one start? "Historical fundamentalism." That's cute. I've been involved in various aspects of Christian ministry since 1979. I've worked for one national ministry, visited scores of fundamental and evangelical churches, co-produced a documentary which focused on the religious underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution, and written articles on the subject and yet I've never met one person - "religious fundamentalist" - who thought "the founding" is "to be worshipped" or that "the founding documents are to be read in the same spirit . . . [as] the Ten Commandments."

    Actually, such notions would be considered sacrilegious by orthodox believers with even the most basic understanding of the Christian faith; since the Ten Commandments expressly forbid believers from having other gods or worshiping anything (or anyone) other than the God of the Bible. One has to wonder if the author is even remotely familiar with the Ten Commandments or understands the sincere reverence most believers have for them. Apparently not.

    Furthermore, the notion that "religious fundamentalists", in any significant number, believe "that the academic study of history . . . is . . . blasphemy" is almost as ridiculous. This excerpt is one of the most ridiculous and misinformed statements regarding Christians who recognize the Judeo-Christian traditions of the founders that I've ever read. So typical of much of academia.

    Ironic that the same absurd statements coming from an academic historian would, however, make part of that same statement true:

    "the academic study of history (whose standards of evidence and methods of analysis are based on skepticism) [sic] is a conspiracy"

    There's some truth there - a conspiracy of misinformation.

    *I've not read the book. I'm commenting only on the excerpt noted here.

    "Unexceptional" America & Social Justice

    "Unexceptional" America. Progressive contempt for the values and traditions which make this the greatest country on earth can no longer be disguised. An American president who "believe(s) in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism" has made it plain that this is not a great nation which needs tweaking, but a fundamentally flawed one needing a complete progressive make-over. Once one understands this basic premise, everything this administration and Democratically-controlled Congress does makes sense. All of it centers around the ridiculous premise that America owes the world an apology for any number of shortcomings, many of which can only be alleviated by government-mandated "social justice." ~ Arnold Ahlert

    Just another "nonsensical and meaningless complaint." Gee, there's a lot of us out here, isn't there?

    Read the rest of the article here at Jewish World Review.