Since we've recently busted the bounds of polite conversation with a Sonic Boom might as well enjoy the ride...try and steer what is almost certainly a rudderless craft.
Actually I'm not offering you a sermon at all. I found something yesterday while doing my usual Friday reading at "work." Sometimes I'll bounce from one band to another on Wikepedia, other days I'll read the old out of copy-right Imperial memoirs on google books...and others I'll root around the Southern Partizan archives.
Yesterday's choice was made for me after Ronnie's comment about Puritanism. I mentioned to him Clyde Wilson's "The Yankee Problem in America"...having thought of it, I wanted to read it again and....
Y'all can find that essay here...
Keep in mind there is a heavy irony at work in this piece. For some, the title would make that obvious...for others probably not. He is writing about the Yankee the same way Southerners and The South are usally written about. So, if you're not a Southroner and you find yourself put off by the opening paragraph...that's kinda the point.
Suzanne Mary-Grant, a British historian, who along with Pete J. Parish edited the collection Legacy of Disunion, covers this very issue in her contribution to the book "The Charter of its Birth Right: The Civil War and American Nationalism". She quotes an editorial from a Northern paper that explained "There is one, and only one, sure policy for the immediate future...The North must become the absolute dictator of the Republic until the spirit of the North shall become the spirit of the whole country." There's also a letter from Henry Adams to his brother, expressing his conviction that it was up to him and "his generation" to bring the country "back to it's true course." That course being, of course, the one guided by the "New England element."
(one of the most Southern moments ever put to film...Hader's from borderline Oklahoma...McBride is straight outta Statesboro Georgia)
Anyway...the highlight yesterday was the The Real Old Time Religion by the late A. J. Conyers.
The essay looks at Puritanism, Fundamentalism, and Pantheism in US religious history and how The South has responded to these ideas.
It was a moment that not only reminded me of the reality of ideas but, also, of how much genuine pleasure they can bring. A moment where things you know to be true, ineffable things that you feel to be true, and things you hadn't pondered are brought together to explain a phenomenon in a way that immediately seems obvious. For instance, it gave me a better understanding of why we have found such a comfortable home in the Anglican Church, very comfortable, and not in the Baptist church where I was raised.
The section on nominalism and the tendencies of literal minded people gave me a real chuckle. This is something that comes up a lot around here because my in-laws, and some very good friends, are from the Mid-West where there is a tendency there toward literal mindedness.
I'm reminded of my Father-in-law, who is an outstanding man and one that I love, pulling me aside one day and letting me know that whenever I said I was "going out to check the weather" that he knew I was really going out to smoke. Busted. :)
I can imagine Jesus trying to tell someone to get the beam out of his own eye in Columbus Ohio...
"Now look here Jesus. In order for a board to be a beam it must A x B in width and C in length...the circumference of my head is only....hahahha.
(Not surprisingly these people are very good at inventing and building things...my Father-in-Law is probably a world-class stone mason)
I was told point blank in Connecticut that Southerners are two faced...they never say what they really mean.
You don't have to be engaged with our disputes to enjoy it though. You certainly don't have to be a Christian or religious to get something out of it (though I do hope and look forward to hearing from some of our Christians on this one). There's plenty for anybody who's curious about religion in these United States or just a general interest in ideas and why they appeal. I think you can probably find yourself in one of these categories...and certainly some of our recent troubles :) can be put into a different perspective. And, I think, some of the difficulty that can be had in trying to communicate with one another what we actually mean.
Besides all that Mary Flannery O'Connor makes an appearance...
What more could you want?
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