From Valerie Protopapas
As an Orthodox Christian, I am often amused when I speak to my Protestant brethren and discover that somehow they see ‘Church history’ as beginning with the Reformation. They forget that before the Reformation, indeed, before the schism in 1054 A.D. which resulted in an Orthodox East and a Roman West, there was a period of well over a thousand years in which the Christian Church was ONE – albeit, existing in different places and with differing local customs. The doctrines and dogmas of the Church were THE SAME. There was a unanimity of faith and Tradition (with a capital ‘T’) even though there were different ‘traditions’ (with a lowercase ‘t’).
The same thing can be said here. The heritage and history noted here is NOT just that of the South or the Confederacy, but of the UNITED STATES! It is the heritage and history of the nation founded by Jefferson, Franklin and Adams to name just three. It is the heritage and history defended by Washington, Lee and Glover. It is the heritage and history that was lost when part of that nation chose another path albeit without the knowledge or consent of most of those who believed that they were in fact fighting for the America of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin.
It is essential to RECONNECT the history and heritage of the South to the history and heritage of the nation that was lost in that ‘civil war’ and to prove to the people that that nation was not the Confederacy – or at least not just the Confederacy, but, in fact, the nation that was lost was the United States of America! We must make the point that the very foundation of the original nation is to be found not in the present system of government which came into being through that war, but in the nation that tried to maintain those principles and beliefs in the face of overwhelming might wielded by those who had rejected the vision of the Founders in order to create an empire.
I believe that we make a terrible error when we permit and even foster the concept that we are fighting against ‘the United States’ as most people do not realize just how far we have departed from the original concept of that nation as voiced by the Founders. In fact, we are fighting for those original principles and concepts; we laud and venerate the vision of the Founders of our nation. Our fight is with those who have perverted all that we hold dear and those who feel the same are to be found everywhere in the country and not just in the South – though, doubtless, its most tireless and courageous adherents are in that region.
As long as ‘those people’ are able to make Americans believe that those who venerate and honor Southern and Confederate history and heritage are glorifying slavery and rebellion against a just and lawful government, there is little hope of victory. However, if we are able to make people understand that the South in the 19th Century was resisting fundamental changes to the principles upon which the United States was founded and, not being able to arrest that direction, was eventually forced to try to maintain those principles by seceding from those states which were already far down the path of apostasy, then there is a chance for the enlightenment of the rest of the nation.
We must ‘reframe’ the debate. Those who ‘define’ an issue, ‘own’ that issue. So far, our enemies have been able to do just that by making the Confederacy synonymous with slavery, tyranny and treason. We have to try to take the debate back and to my mind, this is the way to do it. At the present time, there is a climate of ‘hero bashing’ with which I don’t necessarily agree. However, we might be able to use this cultural peculiarity by refocusing on the Lincoln ‘myth’ and the ‘civic worship’ that is provided to him and other Northern ‘heroes’ like Sherman and Sheridan – neither of whom are worthy of that appellation. It would go a long way, I believe, in reframing the debate to knock a few haloes off a couple of ‘secular saints’.