Monuments

We are in the midst of competing ideas to either keep or remove that which conjures up images and heart-rending feelings of our past that cannot be erased with even the strongest refiner’s soap. We are at odds as to how to accomplish even the most basic ways to heal. Monuments and symbols of our dark history that led to our nation’s civil war have revealed how much bitterness is still alive in the hearts of so many. Every heart is being laid bare in the midst of this tumult. The din of confused and angry voices seems to be on every day’s page. You already know what to expect when the page is turned.

Mary Shelley wrote in her novel Frankenstein, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” But this history of events in our country is not sudden. It has been going on since 1619. Yet so many have not come to terms with this country’s sin. So many people want to hold on to monuments erected to honor those who fought against our union. For every statue that comes down, there is an opposing reason of why it must remain and how it is part of our heritage and history. This is not a history we can forget. But we must be unified in our efforts to remove this evil and disgraceful stain from hindering our ability to move forward into healing.  Right now, we are like that monster in Shelley’s book that has been resurrected and is alive. It’s hideous and it cannot walk unseen in the light of decency.

Monuments honoring those who rose against our nation in civil war were built by those who still harbored feelings that led us into civil war. Groups like The United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of the Confederate Veterans endeavored to defend the Confederate states. Periods of time when most monuments were erected coincide with a point in history when segregation was in a time of strength and disenfranchisement of Blacks was at its height. Keep civil rights down. Schools and living fully segregated. I witnessed those years in the 1950’s when people of color were not allowed in classrooms with me. When, as a small boy in North Carolina, I could see blacks on one side of the street and whites on the other in downtown areas. No blacks allowed in restaurants that I could go to. Separate water fountains. These years of reconstruction after the civil war brought in new horrors. The KKK. Lynchings for fabricated crimes or slights as innocent as just not knowing your place. One should wonder, and even be confused, as to why such monuments that are derived from a mindset of white supremacy would still be standing during such trying times. But they are. The greatest legacy of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was their Mount Rushmore of the Confederacy completed in the 1960s. This monument depicts Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. It is still revered.

In Chapter 6 of the book of Judges, the Lord is speaking to Gideon. He is telling Gideon what he must do, but Gideon is afraid and tells the Lord that his clan is the weakest and he is the weakest in his father’s house. Yet, when the Lord first addressed Gideon, He called him a mighty man of valor. The Lord told Gideon that he was chosen to tear down the false images and altars. Gideon obeyed, but he did it at night because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city. The men of the city were in fact enraged at Gideon’s action and wished to kill him. Gideon’s father stood up for him and asked the men of the city if they would plead for those false idols. The Lord was then with Gideon in great power. I feel that we are being called to stand up against that same spirit that seeks to protect these monuments of shame. It is imperative that we address this now because protecting that which is a replica of evil deeds only leads to more hate and division. As Jacob told his household in Genesis 35, “Put away all these foreign gods from among you. Purify yourselves and change your garments.”

Change can be messy. Even destructive. Emotions and pent up feelings of injustice can cause the pendulum to swing in a way that pummels all within its arc. I understand, as best as I can, the depth of emotions that are being felt. What I have trouble coming to terms with are those who defend the monuments as our proud heritage and wish to punish those who want them removed. There are those that say if we remove these statues and monuments then we may as well get rid of the Pyramids, or the Colosseum, or even the Temple on the Mount because they were built with slave labor. One prominent prophetic minister on the west coast facetiously said that maybe we should get rid of books in the Bible by men like Moses, the Apostle Paul, and the Psalms by David because they were murderers. I’m sure these same people wouldn’t disagree with removing statues of people like Herman Goring or Heinrich Himmler. But they were evil Nazis. Even Germany doesn’t venerate their World War II Nazi leaders! It’s funny how we can so easily condemn one thing yet not see our own connection to an evil past. People are defending the indefensible. Carl Sagan said, “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.” We need to open our eyes. As Jesus said in John 4, “You worship that which you don’t know.” You might think something is acceptable, but what about when it’s exposed to His light? Can we say that we are walking in the light as He is the light? Ask Him.

Right now, every action we take in response to the factions in our society are vitally important. People all over the world are watching. All Heaven is also witness to what we do and how we react. We have no excuse for trying to fortify a foundation whose cracks and faults have been laid bare. Now is the time for all to be so cognizant that we are in a position to educate a new generation and help heal other generations.  How do we teach our children and those we are spiritually in a place to mentor? Words from the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song, Teach Your Children Well, come to mind. “You who are on a road, Must have a code you can live by. And so, become yourself, Because the past is just a goodbye. Teach your children well. Their father’s hell did slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams. And the one they pick is the one you’ll know by.” Teach them well and it will be seen. Do it now why it is still today. We have no idea how important of an example we can be.

I pray we gain insight into what is necessary for healing to come to this land. We see spurts, but not enough to truly heal, as the wounds are so deep and so infected. We cannot allow this to become a political conversation. This is right and wrong. Good and evil. Life and death. Choose life. Embrace healing. I pray, just as it is stated in Ezekiel 36, “That the Lord sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

I urge you, my brothers and sisters, for the sake of the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree to live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart. Blessings.

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