I continue to receive these idiotic emails from something called Dixie Broadcasting, which is apparently an extension of Dixie Outfitters.  I’ve asked to be taken off their list, but thus far they’ve refused.  The latest email included a list of suggested readings which draws a very close connection between Christianity and the political goals of the Confederacy, high-ranking Confederate commanders, as well as the common soldier.  Of course, I am not suggesting that religion was not important to white southerners, but if we were to go on popular perceptions of the Civil War alone one must conclude that Jesus did indeed hold a cabinet position in Jeff Davis’s government.  Memory is sometimes very funny.

Update: One of my readers posted a critical comment that I would like to briefly address.  First, I did not post the image with the idea of alienating my readers the day after Easter.  As I indicated in the comments section I received the email this morning and decided to respond.  The reader believes the image to be offensive and I am sensitive to that but at the same time I am curious as to why.  After all, Christian themes, and the image of Jesus specifically, are all too common in contemporary images of the Lost Cause.  Is the problem that I am the one posting the image to make a point or could the problem be that Jesus has been photoshoped into Davis’s cabinet?  Perhaps the problem is the assumption that the individual who photoshoped this had nefarious intentions.  That said, I decided to delete the image rather than have people think that I am taking cheap shots at Christianity which I have no intention of doing.  Click here if you are interested in viewing the image and scroll down to the second frame.

Instead, I give you my favorite Mort Kunstler print.


About Kevin Levin

13 comments add yours

  1. I think the answer to this is in Lincoln’s “Meditation on the Divine Will.” He wrote:

    “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be both for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party… He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day.”

    If God decides the course of human events, He was decidedly on the side of the Union.

  2. You are digressing at an alarming rate. This blog has become less about intelligently examining historical memory and more about making inflammatory remarks in order to instigate a reaction. You’ve turned into a shock jock. Too bad.

  3. B. — I am sorry that you feel this way. That said, I don’t feel as if I’ve digressed whatsoever with this post. I am simply making the point (one that I’ve made in much more detail in the past) that we tend to remember the white South as more religious or of certain individuals as more naturally associated with Christianity. I find that unusual. Why don’t we see images of Sherman or Grant in prayer or think of the United States as motivated by religious concerns during the Civil War? This is an important question for those of us who are interested in our popular perceptions of the war.

    Images of Confederate generals in religious scenes or interpreted as carrying out the work of Christ dominate our popular memory. Why isn’t it reasonable to ask whether Jesus would have supported the government that the armies were working to render permanent?

    I don’t think there is anything here that remotely counts as “inflammatory.” Thanks for taking the time to write.

  4. It just seemed a bit ironic that the day after the most holy of Christian days, when the resurrection is celebrated, you post this image and comment. You had to know that it would upset some. With respect those that propose the notion that God smiles upon the victor in war is also wrong, as according to that logic, God would have favored the Viet-Cong in that conflict. I personally think he looks down on wars and shakes his head in disgust at us.

  5. B.– You are probably right that I should have waited and for that I apologize. I posted it simply in response to the email I received this morning. I recently came across the image and thought it went well with my point, which was hopefully made clearly in the post as well as in my last comment to you.

    I tend to agree with your last comment. It seems to me to be quite absurd for anyone to appropriate God, Jesus, etc. for their political purposes. But that is business as usual in our Civil War culture. In fact, someone is going to have to explain to me how the image is offensive given that so many people are comfortable with a close association between Jesus and the Confederacy. Is it that I have used it in a way that is seen as inappropriate because I am questioning that connection? Perhaps it is the fact that Jesus is photoshoped into the image.

  6. I mean absolutely no disrespect Mr. Parks but, HUMBUG to your suggestion that Kevin is straying from the path with his blog content AND that this post is inflammatory.

    Personally I think his picture makes his point crystal clear. When I hear the Confederate apologists go on about how Tom Jackson was so pious or how General Polk stopped to pray in Harrodsburg after the vicious fighting at Perryville I’m left to wonder if these people have forgotten all the abolitionists in the north east that had at the center of their argument a very strong biblical foundation. I think about all the Union Chaplains who saw to the moral welfare of their regimental “flocks”.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We make people do all kinds of things. We turn tyrants to martyrs and make philosophers of loons. From what I’ve read the soldiers on both sides, whether General or Private, were just people. Some were faithful and some were not. Some were upstanding gentlemen and some were not. For those of us in the 21st Century to consider their motives after 145+ years beyond what they may have written is a fool’s errand in my opinion.

    As a reenactor I have to seriously(yes, some of us are serious) consider this question as I present the impression of a man living in the 1860s. When I work with a site whether it’s a battlefield like Camp Wildcat or Richmond Kentucky or a formal Depot like Camp Nelson I have to be careful how I present myself. My job isn’t to show visitors what I believe these people **SHOULD** be. My job is to show them how they WERE. A difficult task to be sure. As a Kentuckian, if I held to the apparent popular notion of the “yankee” then I’m actually insulting the very people I’m trying to portray.

    With that in mind, I think his post is well on target and worthy of consideration.

    As for this post being inflammatory, I can certainly see how the Dixie Outfitters folks might be inflamed but beyond that I just don’t see it. Christians have no prohibition against showing the “image” of Christ. Unlike some of our more radical Islamic friends, we don’t kill people because they but a mustache on a picture of Jesus.

  7. Wayne, — Thanks so much for the comment. The worst part of this is that the people who push this silliness have very little interest in understanding religious history; rather, they quote the same lines and tell the same stories over and over as some kind of mantra. Americans on both sides of the Potomac expressed a profound interest in Christianity and to suggest or favor one side’s religious convictions over another or suggest that one side was more sincere than the other is simply a reflection of the individual in question and has almost nothing to do with the past.

  8. Bob Pollock:

    I think the answer to this is in Lincoln’s “Meditation on the Divine Will.” He wrote:

    “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be both for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party… He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day.”

    If God decides the course of human events, He was decidedly on the side of the Union.
    ======================================

    Only if might makes right.

    Following the Civil War the Glorious Union proceeded with Westward Expansion- using coolie (slave) labor and displacing and decimating the native tribes of the west.

    God’s will?

  9. These people are too sensitive. There is always a battalion of folks quick to take offensive at any religious imagery. I liked the original pix better.

  10. Border – You missed the word IF in my assertion. I personally am not convinced that God does direct the course of human events. Nevertheless, is there any doubt that many of the leaders of the Confederacy believed God was on their side? Did they not assume their early successes on the battlefield meant they had God’s favor? And when they were not successful, they called for more devotion and prayer, believing they were perhaps being divinely chastised for not being good enough. One of their greatest challenges after the war was explaining why God had not favored them with victory. Some argued that God had taken away thier slaves, not because slavery was inherently evil, but because they had not done a good enough job taking care of them. The point is, during the war, loss or victory on the battlefield was an indication of divine will. Afterwards, they were left to rationalize, which modern day supporters of the Confederacy are still doing.
    By the way, in his Cooper Union address Lincoln said he hoped right would make might. Perhaps that is what happened.

  11. Matthew, – I agree with you, but I need to do a better job of picking my battles. In the end I would have had to deal with comments surrounding the image rather than the point I was making.

  12. It is interesting that subverting Christian iconography as social commentary has incensed one of your readers. I wonder whether folks who feel this way had the same reaction to those Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed? I would suspect it depends on whose golden calf got gored. What ever happened to the 2nd Commandment (and no, that’s not the one about my Divine right to regulate my militia)?

  13. Hi Tim, — My guess is that most of them have no idea what you are referring to. I agree that it is just a bit absurd that one could be offended by that image given the ways in which Christian iconography has been utilized for social and political purposes in the past. The image in question was fairly tame, but at the same time points to an assumption that many no doubt find believable. And that is that southerners are more religious compared to northerners. Such a comment has nothing to do with reality, but with memory which gets passed down in various ways, including Civil War prints which overwhelmingly align Confederate leaders with Christ.

    Finally, as I stated in my previous comment I have to pick my battles.

Leave a Reply to Bob Pollock Cancel reply