Confederate “Saints and Sinners”

This is the latest in an ongoing public conversation at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. about what to do with its stained glass windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve made my through about half of the discussion and it is quite good. I especially enjoyed listening to Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral, who has her finger on both Civil War memory and its religious implications.

Check out this earlier discussion that included John Coski.

7 thoughts on “Confederate “Saints and Sinners”

  1. J. Wyman

    To eradicate all associations to the Confederate States of America (CSA) would actually be a disservice to our nation’s history. While all would conclude that this was a dark passage in this nation’s history, we must remember that this was a battle among all Americans. We should use these history points to show what happened in the past so we may learn from them. Yes, there were God-fearing men who believed they were fighting for the right cause. Was “their” cause right? Many believed so…

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  2. Andy Hall

    ” Yes, there were God-fearing men who believed they were fighting for the right cause. Was ‘their’ cause right? Many believed so…”

    You’ll have to do better than that. Every nation that ever went to war did so with the conviction that its cause was “right,” even if it had to distort its rhetoric and and evidence to make its case. Confederacy doesn’t get a pass from the judgement of history just because they believed they were “right,” or because they were “Americans.”

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    1. j. wyman

      Never stated anything about anyone getting a “free” pass. Think you missed the point of my post..But that’s okay…

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      1. Andy Hall

        There’s an important distinction, that’s often lost, between acknowledging persons and events in the past, and paying tribute to them with monuments and memorials. It’s the latter that has become increasingly problematic in relation to Lee individually, and the Confederacy in general. Is the National Cathedral really a place that should be making such a prominent tribute to a man who believed that chattel bondage was ordained by God, was beneficial to those enslaved, and took up arms in defense of a nation founded to protect it as an institution?

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      2. Andy Hall

        “Never stated anything about anyone getting a ‘free’ pass.”

        That’s not the word you used, but it certainly seems to be your position that because Lee and other Confederates believed they were “right,” public monuments or tributes to them shouldn’t be questioned of challenged.

        I think that’s simply wrong-headed.

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    2. Forester

      It doesn’t have to be a dichotomy. Maybe the window of the Cathedral is the wrong place now, but a cabinet display elsewhere in the building could contextualize the window while still preserving it. At the least, I don’t think it should be lost or destroyed — it is art, after all.

      Lee himself is a mixed bag. In the context of his day, he was a virtuous Episcopalian and a man with many admirable qualities. But the cause he fought for doesn’t hold up against modern scrutiny, and that has to also be accounted for. Lee cannot be viewed separate from the era he lived in, or the history he took part in. All of your statements are true at the same time ….. it’s all rather complicated.

      Personally, I’m a Southern Baptist and not really comfortable with fancy churches anyway. I hang out with Episcopalians because I like them as people, but putting mortal men in a church window is blasphemous to me. Graven images and all that. I don’t really even like the cross and crucifix, truth be told …

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