Monday, June 22, 2015

What would Robert E. Lee Do?

When you get a Family Tree DNA kit for Father's Day from your family, you could probably guess that history matters to us. Not just history, but our family's history. We don't know a great deal about the Wilson side. Poverty will do that - fewer traces left. But we know a pretty good deal about my Mother's side.

Both sides were proud of what they came from, and proud of what that meant. Mostly that meant that we were Americans - they showed that by going off to war on a pretty regular basis for this country. But for a few years in the 1860's, being a Georgian mattered more.

I can't say exactly what they fought for. I'd sure love to be able to pin it on state's rights, or just simply protecting their land and the land of their neighbors. Maybe that was it. But I also know that at least on one side of my family, they owned slaves. Don't think Tara when you try to picture it, because the same folks stuffed newspaper inside their jackets in the winter because they were too poor to buy winter coats. But still, they owned slaves and as slave owners, they were wrong. They may well have gone to war to protect their right to own another human being.

As a boy I was taught Southern History. I was a voracious reader of everything Civil War, and a great admirer of the great Confederate Generals -men like John Gordon of Georgia,and of course Stonewall Jackson and Robert E.Lee. General Lee in many ways was held out to me as a model of a Christian man. What would that Christian man do with the problems we face today?

At the end of the war, Lee refused any attempt to have him occupy any position of leadership and even thought that Confederate monuments should not be erected believing that they would only serve to inflame passions at a time when the nation needed to concentrate on healing the wounds of war.

In Charles Bracelen Flood’s book Lee: The Last Years, he tells of a time after the Civil War when Robert E. Lee visited a woman who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her home. There she cried bitterly that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Union artillery fire. She waited for Lee to condemn the North or at least sympathize with her loss. Lee paused, and then said, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and then forget it.”

It's time to take Lee's advice. Bring the flags down. Focus on the one who brings us together, just as the 9 of our Christian brothers and sisters were doing last Wednesday night when their lives were taken.

Focus on Jesus.

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