WORDS FROM W.W. September 28, 2011
of my reading projects for the past couple of months has been reading James
McPherson’s Battle Cry For Freedom, his extensive 900 page
masterpiece about the Civil War. It’s a fascinating work that exposes some
situations about the Civil War that I never knew. For instance there was the
Fugitive Slave Law, which gave a slaveholder the right to go into any state that
his runaway slave had escaped to, and claim his slave as property. In 1842, when
a slaveholder from Maryland sent a man into Pennsylvania to bring back his
escaped slave, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that a slaveholder’s right to his
property overrode any contrary state legislation. In another situation,
President Millard Fillmore threatened to send federal troops into Boston to help
retrieve a couple that had run away from their Georgia owner and been in Boston
for two years.
also amazed to find out that Jefferson Davis, when he was a U.S. Senator, led an
effort to purchase Cuba from Spain to try to make it into another southern
slaveholding state. There was an effort afoot to increase the number of states
where slavery would be legal. In doing so it could tip the voting balance in
Congress. On the other hand, there were apprehensions expressed about any
possible new state being added. These concerns were from pro-slavery Senators as
well as Senators who were abolitionists.
don’t remember a lot of the things that McPherson writes about being taught in
my U.S. History class my junior year of high school. Perhaps I was sleeping.
After all, class was right after lunch and our teacher’s voice was infected with
“extreme monotone syndrome!”
look back at that era from today there is a tendency to summarize the situation
by saying the South wanted slavery and the North was against it. It makes it
easy to remember, but misses much of the history.
constantly amazed today at how people frame their explanation of a problem on
the basis of what will make them look right. People, and talk radio hosts
especially, rewrite and reconstruct current events not so much to look right and
knowledgeable, but rather to make the other side look out-of-touch and
you see, I also think we dangerously “rewrite Scripture” to say what we desire
it to say. It seems there is a tension these days between “culture” and “the
written Word.” It is foolish to think that we are able to look at Scripture
without any filtered culture lens–and it is also foolish to allow culture to
dictate what it is that Scripture is saying.
essence, we allow our culture to be the double-edged sword that determines who
is going to get cut and where. Our leaning is to figure out what I believe and
then find Scripture to support it, or interpret Scripture so that what I believe
does support it.
are many things in Scripture that people cannot come to agreement about, and I
don’t think we should expect that. The community of Christ should expect to have
interesting and diverse dialogue. As long as there are Yankee and Red Sox fans
in the church there will be debate on God’s opinion about pin stripes.
However, it seems that editing the Word and rewriting it
has gained new momentum in the midst of polarized people.
that I wonder, although I won’t be around to discover the answer, how history a
generation from now will summarize the Christian movement of the present?