Holding in tension our achievements and failures as a nation
Lincoln understood that the dream of well-being, if not radically democratized, would for some people only be a nightmare.
I jog over some of the most beautiful and haunted geography. There is a place in Chattanooga where stunning nature collides with a series of heart-wrenching narratives.
A recent episode of PBS’s American Experience explored how the massive number of deaths in the Civil War sent the nation into shock. The catastrophe—750,000 dead—was equivalent to the U.S. suffering 7 million deaths today. Besides evoking this ghastly experience, Ric Burns’s film Death and the Civil War (reviewed here in the New York Times), which is based on Drew Gilpin’s book The Republic of Suffering, offers a fascinating perspective on current political debates over the size and scope of the federal government.
There's a danger in making veterans into secular saints. The saints don’t need us to give their deaths meaning; they died fully rewarded.
Paul Harvey's introduction to the history of African-American Christianity emphasizes both the fraught relationship between black and white Christians and the tensions within black religious institutions and communities.
Drawing on Harry S. Stout, Stanley Hauerwas argues that the Civil War became a total, unlimited war because the demand to participate assumed a sacral status.
Americans went into the Civil War believing that God was on their side, and they ended the war believing the same.
For author Harry Stout, the legitimacy of going to war (jus ad bellum) is one thing; the legitimacy of how the war is conducted (jus in bello) is another. The moral problem of the Civil War does not lie in the decision to go to battle—according to Stout, preserving the Union and eradicating slavery offered reason enough. He makes clear that he is not a pacifist and that fighting is sometimes a lesser evil. Rather, the moral problem lies in how the war was conducted.