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LNF House Leader

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Religion and the Southern Way of Life
Mar 21st, 2018 at 8:03pm
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This is an excellent lecture that I think will interest many here.

The lecturer starts by delineating the difference between a traditional, or pre-modern view of the world and the modern view of the world.

Then he talks about the fact that though both the religion of New England and the religion of the South were largely Calvinist, they wound up going in very different directions.  Basically you could say that the New England Puritans, in brief, were too forward looking/progressive (they wanted America to be a utopian 'city on a hill), and they also became to enamored of logic, leading them to eventually abandon concepts, like the Trinity, which couldn't be fit into a neat logical box (New England is the birthplace of Unitarianism).

By contrast, the Southerners never had such utopian views, they respected tradition, were less fanatic, and recognized that some knowledge is beyond complete rational explication (something recognized by every Saint and Sage in history).  He also notes that, in religious terms, the South was far more tolerant than New England,* while also noting that though the New Englanders eventually abandoned Christianity, they never abandoned their self-righteous, morally crusading attitude.

But something though that I found very interesting, especially because it was new to me, is the lecturers assertions about modern religious fundamentalism.  He asserts that it began in the North as a reaction against the increasing logical positivist and secular bent of Northern thinking, and that initially it was rejected in the South as Southern Christians, being part of a more traditional society, had no need of it.

He asserts that Southern Christians did not read the Bible like a biology or geology textbook but were perfectly capable of understanding poetry and metaphor when they saw it.  He goes on to class fundamentalism as a modern reaction to a modern problem.  In trying to preserve their religion, the fundamentalist actually takes on many of the bad qualities of boorish secular philistines, qualities like the above-mentioned inability to read a text in any but the most basic and literal way (I have often noted that both atheists and fundamentalists tend to share an extremely literal interpretation of the Bible, especially Genesis).

He does not end on a positive note for the Southern patriot, noting that much has changed in the South, especially starting during the second half of the 20th century.  As the old agrarian culture, the culture that in fact supported the South's pre-modern worldview, has faded away, the same problems that plagued the modernist North have entered the South (including increasingly fundamenalist religion).  He notes that Southern cities increasingly resemble Northern cities, Southern towns resemble mid-Western towns, etc., and essentially the South as a pre-modern society is, unfortunately, on its last legs.  But, I would note, as long as some people are willing to take a stand for traditional values not all is lost, and in fact, the defeat of tradition and the victory of modernism can, in the nature of things, only be temporary.  All things will be put aright when the Heavens are ripped asunder and the King of Kings comes riding in on his chariot of glory.

*When Jefferson Davis was languishing in a Northern prison after the war (he was never charged, because constitutionally speaking, no case against secession could be made) the Pope sent him a crown of thorns.  Think on that.  In New England, the descendants of the Puritans were extremely intolerant towards Catholics, while the leader of the Confederacy received a crown of thorns to comfort him from the Pope.

The 17th Century ~ The halfway point between the Middle Ages and Modernity
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Willys Wonka - Ex-Member
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Re: Religion and the Southern Way of Life
Reply #1 - Mar 27th, 2018 at 2:35pm
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In addition, a list of “relics and documents” presented to Memorial Hall in New Orleans by Varina Davis attributes the crown of thorns to her. The following appeared in Confederate Veteran [July 1899]:

    [F]amily Bible, given by Jefferson Davis to his wife Varina Jefferson Davis, with his written indorsement to that effect, and one from Mrs. Davis, presenting it to Memorial Hall; pciture of Pope Pius IX (framed), with an autograph and a Latin sentence inscribed on it by his holiness, bearing his seal, and certified to by Cardinal Barnabo Pref. (The Pope sent this picture to Jefferson Davis while a prisoner at Fortress Monroe.  Accompanying the picture is a crown of thorns, made by Mrs. Davis, that hung above it in Mr. Davis’s study[.]

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