Tag Archives: Civil War

It’s What’s In the Bottle that Matters Most

Ole Doc Bell

Last month, as you may remember, I went to a Civil War reenactment nearby (you can read about that in this previous post, if you’d like). But the part where the soldiers get together and shoot at each other is only a small part of the experience.

Just like back in the old days, the soldiers (reenactors) usually camp out somewhere not too far from where the mock battles will take place. It’s there where you will find period reenactors living life like they did back in the 1860’s, and that includes people like Ole Doc Bell (I don’t know his real name, or if he is really a doctor).

The bottles in the above picture were meant to hold your choice of beverage. I thought is was a pretty cool idea. You’d get free refills in the bottle you purchased, and when it was all said and done – or drank – the keepsake would be a lot prettier than a plastic cup.

Regardless, whatever the bottle looked like, and regardless what the label said, it was all Doc Bell’s products on the inside: root beer, birch beer, lemonade, or cream soda.

Ole Kanye

That being said, I just want to make a loose connection to the bottles and say a quick word about Kanye West and his profession of faith.

I don’t know Kanye’s heart, only God does. However, his actions of late have boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ to the world, while I know others who claim to be Christians that haven’t shared their faith in 20 years.

I listened to his album Jesus Is King. I was impressed with the lyrics, especially the ones in “Hands On.” There’s room to take issue with his lament over other believers making him feel unloved by doubting him – I mean, it was just a short while ago he claimed divinity for himself. Yet, when he said what he really needed right now was “hands on,” as in people praying for him, I totally agreed.

Kanye West is a different bottle all together. But what really matters is what’s inside. If that is the legitimate product, he could make a huge and lasting impact on many, many people.

And therein lies the danger: he’s a threat if he’s legit. Ask Paul.

All I can say is “hands on,” everybody. Hand’s on.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Christianity, current events, Faith, salvation, Witnessing

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Standing In the Gap

The Reenactment

Last week I got to see the reenactment of the occupation of Sandersville, Georgia. It was the 155th anniversary of the battle that left a few dead (not like the 10’s of thousands in other battles), a courthouse burned, and a citizenry who was thankful it didn’t turn out much worse.

In November of 1863, General William T. Sherman and the Union army marched into the Sandersville area, just 10 miles or so south of where I sit right now. A skirmish broke out between some of the advance Union cavalry and the Confederates under General Joseph Wheeler. This led to more fighting and a near-disastrous misunderstanding.

Below is a video I made of the reenactment in the Sandersville town square.

General Sherman (the “march to the sea” Sherman who’s tactics embodied the term “scorched earth”) thought it had been the citizens of the town who’d fired upon the Union troops, and he was furious. He didn’t know it was Confederate soldiers. Therefore, after entering the city, he intended to burn it to the ground.

That was when the Rev. James Anthony, a Methodist pastor, went to General Sherman to beg for the city to be spared.

Changed Feelings

Before I get back into the history of the battle and the main point I want to share, I must tell you about what I felt while videoing the reenactment.

If it had been 20 or 30 years ago, maybe even only 10, I would have watched this display of musketry and role playing as “totally cool!” I mean, you’re talking to a guy who “played army” all of his young years, up into his teens. Seeing all that action, especially that close, would have been awesome.

Yet, as I stood there on the curb letting my imagination get into the act, I was surprised by my sense of sorrow, of fear, and the tears that began swelling up in the bottom of my eyes. From the moment the two horsemen rode into town warning of the impending and unstoppable invasion, to the point where men and boys were point-blank shooting at each other right in front of me, my heart sank.

There was nothing “cool” about this at all; it was utterly sad.

So “country” even the Confederates eat here 🙂

After it was all over, a deacon from our church saw me and invited me to have some tea (sweet, of course) in the little buffet right behind where I had been standing. Sitting there in the restaurant, the surreal scene of muskets lining the walls and “wounded” Confederates eating fried chicken, we talked about what we had seen.

He had felt the same way I did.

He had been standing down around the corner (where the video ended), and he said that when they came around and started shooting at “our boys,” he couldn’t help but shed a tear. He said, “This really happened.”

Back to the Story

So, upon hearing that General Sherman was going to burn Sandersville, Rev. Anthony went to Sherman to beg for the town. He finally convinced him that it wasn’t the people who fired on the troops, but opposing forces that had already fled.

When Sherman heard that Rev. Anthony had also been kind to a wounded Union officer and kept him from being executed, he accepted the pastor’s request and spared all but the courthouse and other government buildings. Sandersville survived because of the brave actions of a pastor who put his own well-being on the line.

To the Point

There’s a lot more to the story of Rev. James Anthony and his conversation with General Sherman. You can read about it by simply Googling his name. But as I stood there in the city square and heard the reenactment of the conversation between Sherman and Anthony, I could not escape the similarity between the Reverend’s name and mine.

I couldn’t escape the following passage that has been a “life verse” of mine for decades:

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. – Ezekiel 22:30

If only more pastors would stand in the gap!

If faced with an invading army, would I have the courage to risk everything, stand face-to-face with the conquering General, and beg for the lives of my people as Rev. James Anthony did?

Do I not have that opportunity even now?

But on my knees?

It’s war, and it’s really happening. 

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Filed under America, Church, General Observations, Life/Death, Prayer, Struggles and Trials

The Coming Incivility War

In a recent interview on CNN, Hillary Clinton said:

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about… That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”

Now, I understand that politics can get ugly, and that’s unfortunate. Anyone who dares enter the political landscape had better be prepared for misrepresentations and dirty tricks, slimy deals and back-stabbing colleagues. But what has historically been little more than mud slinging is now becoming even more than character assassination; it’s getting dangerous.

In the above-mentioned interview, Clinton referenced the “swiftboating” of John Kerry. She also talked about the “lies” the “right wing” told about her. But in both of these cases, including others she mentioned, we were dealing with wars of words. Even if lies were told (and I certainly don’t believe all the stories about her were lies), lies should have been expected – it’s politics… dirty, old-fashioned political theater.

But ever since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, politics-as-usual has become a thing of the past. No longer is it acceptable to have a conversation; words have been exchanged for screams toward the sky and door-banging. When Hillary lost, the old way of doing things had to change and a new norm had to be established.

Even if Donald Trump is guilty of saying racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, or Hillaryphobic things, what about his words justified violence as a response? Even if Trump disagreed with everything every Democrat ever stood for, does that justify threatening every Republican’s life?

Hillary said, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” but how many conservative college professors called for the castration of Democrats? How many conservative comedy writers rejoiced at the thought of at least ruining somebody’s life? How many conservative school employees have asked when someone was going to “take one for the team” and kill somebody?

With all the violence, threats, intimidation, calls for attacks, death threats, and physical assaults meant to disrupt the lives of American citizens just going out to dinner or walking to work, how are the above words any less disturbing than anything Trump was accused of saying that supposedly promoted violence?

You see, regardless of your political persuasion…regardless of how you felt after the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh…where will ending civil discourse and the mature, adult-like exchanging of ideas lead? Where will you draw the line? What if you don’t win the next election, will you up the ante and resort to armed conflict?

That’s the way lots of other socialists around the world have done things. Why shouldn’t I be nervous?

I fear for America.

In December of 1941 the Japanese decided to end talking, resulting in the awakening of the “sleeping giant” Admiral Yamamoto feared. My question to the liberal and angry left is this: What kind of giant are you about to awake?

Even though so many of us saw what we believed in, some of our most treasured biblical institutions, assaulted by the Obama administration, we remained civil and kept our fight within the realm of discourse. We didn’t call for attacking Democrat representatives every time they went out to eat. Yet, amazingly, there are people who call themselves Christians who side with this new Democrat strategy. They evidently have no problem with the call for incivility and continue to support the people who endorse it.

I don’t understand.

Who is the author of confusion? Would the Prince of Peace identify with those who harass and intimidate? It would seem to me that Jesus is not behind incivility and terroristic threatening, so why would His followers condone it?

America survived a Civil War, but will we survive an Incivil one?

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Filed under America, current events, politics

I Know I’m Gonna Get Hate Mail, But…

I Have to Say Something

As of this writing (it could change tomorrow), a local group from the Tennessee chapter of the NAACP was, but now is not, but might (they haven’t yet made up their mind) come to Chattanooga to push for the removal of a statue of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart from outside the front of the Hamilton County courthouse. Speaking of statues like this, including the one of Gen. Robert E Lee recently removed from downtown New Orleans, a representative of the group said, “it’s time for these to come down.”

Is it really?

Before you pass judgment, why not read a little about General Stewart? Maybe you’ll better understand why this particular monument (cast at Tiffany’s in NY, by the way) should stay. CLICK HERE  

Speaking to one of our local news outlets (see source), another representative of the group said back in June: “We find it offensive to be reminded constantly of the atrocities that they [Confederate statues] represent.”

Really? Is that what they represent?

Look, I don’t want to be insensitive to my fellow Americans who suffered for generations under slavery – that is the last thing I want to do. However, if I allowed myself to constantly be reminded of evil every time I saw something that was connected in some way to that particular evil, I would have to call for the destruction of every high school I attended, every place my ex-girlfriends and I parked, and especially the places where bad things happened to people I love – including a few formerly-abusive, legalistic churches.

The reason so many of the statues of Southern generals were erected had little to do with the Confederacy and much to do with what was common on both sides of the Civil War – VALOR.

The Civil War (War Between the States) of the 1860’s was full of unbelievable tragedy. Literally, brothers, friends, cousins, uncles, fathers, and sons stood toe-to-toe across grassy fields and stared down the barrels of each others’ muskets. Thousands upon thousands of young and old men fought to the death in hand-to-hand combat, the surviving often left to suffer lifetimes of pain due to the horrible wounds for which modern medicine was not present to treat.

The reasons why men fought this war were not as simple as just a desire to end slavery. Actually, the Civil War was also about states’ rights (for the South), the struggle to preserve the Union (the North), and defending the honor of one’s own home. That was a time in our nation’s history of which context is very difficult to comprehend, even though volume upon volume of history books attempt to explain it. We weren’t there; we weren’t brought up the way they were; we don’t think the way they did; we don’t even write simple love letters with anywhere near the same literacy as the common soldier of that day, so we must be careful when we judge the characters being memorialized in bronze, including those who erected them.

Here’s My Point

I’ve said all this not to cause an argument, stir up hard feelings, or create debate. I’ve said all this in order to segue into a very important, yet rarely discussed event that happened 50 years after the battle of Gettysburg.

In early July, 1913, surviving veterans of the battle of Gettysburg, both Union and Confederate, came together once again. The big difference was that this time they were not enemies, but fellow Americans.

As you might imagine, some of the organizers of this historic event were a little nervous, but none of their fears were realized. There were no skirmishes, no clashes, no hateful banners, no protests, and no modern media looking to stir something up. No, what they had was quite the opposite of what the modern mind might expect – there was peace and reconciliation.

You see, these old men who 50 years earlier were attempting to slaughter each other understood the battle was over, the causes were settled, and that each, a fellow countryman, a fellow American, did what they did because they had little choice to do otherwise. They met as brothers, as new friends, as ones who respected the sacrifices each had made for the sake of duty and honor.

It’s not difficult to look up this on Wikipedia or other websites, should you desire, so the stuff I just told you is easily confirmed. But one story that totally amazes me, especially in the comparative light of our modern culture with all it’s protests and internal conflict, is the story of what happened at the conclusion of the 50th Reunion, the last event being the reenactment of Picket’s Charge (an event which originally resulted in 1,500 Union and 6,000 Confederate casualties – click HERE for history of the battle).

The following is from the caption accompanying the picture below:

“The climactic moment of the 50th Reunion was a reenactment of Pickett’s Charge.  Thousands of spectators gathered to watch as the Union veterans took their positions on Cemetery Ridge, and waited as their old adversaries emerged from the woods of Seminary Ridge and started toward them again.   They converged as they had 50 years earlier at the stone wall but this time the Confederates were met with embraces of brotherly fellowship.”

50th6.jpg (87075 bytes)

What we have these days are people who are unwilling to forgive. What we have these days are people who can’t embrace. What we have these days are people who want to keep fighting old wars. What we have today are people who can’t appreciate honor, dignity, and valor.

What we have today is a country full of people who never literally stepped onto a battlefield to defend anything going around destroying everything when the blood has already been shed.

What we have today are people who can’t do what those who were actually there did: embrace in brotherly fellowship.

What we have today is an America divided, even though the very ones who once went to war to divide us were embraced by the very ones they tried to kill. I’m I the only one who sees the irony in this?

The monuments of Confederates here in the South are not monuments celebrating division or slavery; they are monuments commemorating honor, duty, courage, and sacrifice. The monuments of Confederates here in the South don’t celebrate old ways or injustices; they celebrate universal characteristics that turn ordinary men into leaders, the kind others would trust with their lives.

I believe the men who embraced at that stone wall in Gettysburg would have had no problem seeing monuments made of each other. After all, they were brothers.

Unfortunately, the time has come when we’ve forgotten that.

You know, it was reported in an earlier-linked news story that a representative from the NAACP said, “If you take [monuments] down, the history will not be erased. The history, that’s written in the pages and annals of libraries and tombs all across the nation.” Should you read the story linked to the picture of the monument you’ll come to learn that that’s not always so. If it had not been for the monument the history might have been lost forever.

So, I know I’m going to get hate mail, but I want the monument to stay.

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Filed under America, current events