Skip to content

Robert E. Lee – The Flaw in a Southern Icon

Photo of Gen. Robert E. Lee, Library of Congress (digital ID cwpb.04402) , Author Julian Vannerson, Source https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html (PD as published/registered before 1/1/25)

Much has been written about Robert E. Lee:  why he chose loyalty to his home state of Virginia over loyalty to the United States in the Civil War; whether he should have divided his forces during the Maryland Campaign; whether he regretted having ordered Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.

Lee acknowledged that it was not until after the “War Between the States” that he truly considered himself an American.  Lee always, however, considered himself a Christian gentleman.

Lee’s blind spot, the flaw in his character, involved slavery [1].

Slavery North and South

Lee was, unfortunately, a man of his time.  Remember that slavery was endemic to the United States by the 19th Century.  North and South benefited from that appalling economic system.

Many Southerners believed that Africans were created for servitude, and “civilized” under the lash.  They used the Bible to justify slavery [2].  Africans were descendants of Noah’s son, Ham, and cursed.  Had Africans not been enslaved and forcibly transported to the Americas, they would not have been Christianized.  So went the reasoning.

Slave literacy was outlawed and slave Bibles heavily redacted, so that the few slaves who could read would not be incited to riot [3][4].

Lee’s Views on Slavery

Not having been brought up on a large plantation, Lee opposed slavery, at least in theory.  In a letter dated December 27, 1856 Lee wrote his wife:

“Slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country…I think, however, a greater evil to the white than to the black race…The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small part of the human race, and even among the Christian nations what gross errors still exist!”

Lee believed slavery degraded whites, giving rise to corrupt behavior.  In 1857, that belief was borne out when Lee’s father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis, died. Read more…

The Days of Elijah, Part 2

Stained glass window by Louis Comfort Tiffany depicting John the Baptist, Arlington Street Church, Boston, Author John Stephen Dwyer (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christians in this day and age have cause for grief as well as joy, for fear as well as celebration.  This Bible Study examines Scripture in light of the tumultuous times in which we live.

Still, we are the voice in the desert crying [1]

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God’ ”
(Isa. 40: 3).

Often, it feels as if we are the voice in the desert, the last remnant praising God.  We long for Jesus’ return in a dry and weary land (Ps. 63: 1).  When He comes again, the last shall be first, and the first last (Matt. 19: 30).  The rough places will be made smooth, and His glory will shine for all to see (Isa. 40: 4-5).

No one but the Father knows the day or the hour, when that will be (Matt. 24: 36).  Meanwhile, we cannot despair (2 Cor. 4: 8).  We are to “defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Ps. 8: 3) as long as God gives us strength.

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ ” (Matt. 3: 1-2).

John the Baptist was assigned the task of preparing the way for the Messiah. John was the final prophet to precede the Lord, baptizing Him in the Jordan.  Not long afterwards, John was martyred for his adherence to the truth (Mark 6: 18-19, 27-28).

Jesus said of John the Baptist that from among those born of women there was none greater (Matt. 11: 11).  The Lord added, however, that the least in the kingdom would be greater than John.  Astonishingly, that was a reference to us.  The Lord knew that faith would be a challenge in our day.

Some speculate that John the Baptist may be one of the two witnesses in Jerusalem at the end of days, and Elijah the other.  Whatever their identity, we are told the two witnesses – like Elijah earlier (1 Kings 17: 1) – will be given power “to shut heaven so that no rain falls” (Rev. 11: 6).

Behold He comes riding on the clouds

“ ‘…[H]ereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven’ ” (Matt. 26: 64).

Jesus made this reply, when asked by the high priest whether or not He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.  For these words He was condemned.  Yet we will see them fulfilled when He returns in glory. Read more…

The Days of Elijah, Part 1

Statue of Moses, Library of Congress, Author Carol Highsmith (PD as work product of Federal govt.)

This Bible Study will focus on Scriptural passages with bearing on the present day.  Some are prophetic.  Others are not, but speak to our circumstances, as if penned yesterday.  All offer us assurance and encouragement, in God’s own words.

These are the days of Elijah [1]

“ ‘But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land…’ ” (Luke 4: 25).

Jesus, Himself, spoke of the “days of Elijah,” a time of drought lasting over three years with severe famine the result.  We are not living in the days of the prophet, Elijah, literally speaking.  For many, however, ours is a time of hardship and testing.

Christianity is often ridiculed, and persecution not far off.

While there is widespread drought in our nation as of this writing, the drought for us is as much spiritual as physical [2]. We are bombarded by information, while the concept of truth has been virtually lost.  Though few realize it, we are famished for the Word of God.

Ultimately, Elijah brought rain and revival.  Christians long for the quickening of the Holy Spirit, a downpour turning this beloved nation of ours once again toward God.

Declaring the word of the Lord

“…[T]he word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’ ” (Gen. 15: 1).

The “word of the Lord” is a phrase used consistently throughout Scripture to designate communication from God.  Patriarchs and prophets received their instruction in this way, then conveyed God’s message to His people.

As Christians in this modern day and age, we, too, have a responsibility to declare the word of the Lord, the Gospel message.  This is the Great Commission (Mark 16: 15).  Our audience is the world which is in desperate need of Salvation.

And these are the days of Your servant, Moses

Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue’ ” (Ex. 4: 10).

Despite our inadequacies, we stand on the verge of great things.  This is not greatness as the world esteems it.  Rather, this is the greatness of the Lord.  His power is beyond measure, His love beyond imagining.  And we have the enormous privilege of being His servants, His adopted children, and making Him known to the world. Read more…

A Voice for the Poor – The Parallels Between Poverty and Abuse

Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate (1959-2017), Author US Census Bureau, Source https://www.census.gov (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31: 8-9 NIV).

Poverty and abuse have much in common.

The traumatic and repetitive nature of child abuse, and the huge imbalance of power between adult and child, can leave profound psychological scars on victims – scars that may include PTSD, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

Often, victims are left with a fear of authority as adults.  The impact of poverty is surprisingly similar.

Fear of Authority

Their hopes chronically dashed and their pleas for justice routinely ignored, the poor frequently assume further effort on their part will be futile.

People who have been repeatedly downtrodden – deprived of basic necessities, cheated of their rights by abusive landlords and the host of other scam artists who prey on the poor – will forget that they have a voice, and throw in the towel (already exhausted). Read more…

Coronavirus Coups – Fear, Death, and Dictatorship

Prime Minister Viktor Orban – known for his anti-Semitism and xenophobia – was for all practical purposes made Hungary’s dictator for life, courtesy of the coronavirus [1].  Parliament voted Orban authority to rule by decree for an unspecified period.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Author European People’s Party, Source flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

In the Philippines, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was granted sweeping emergency powers.  In Brazil, Pres. Jair Bolsonaro accused the media of generating hysteria, then fired the health minister and chief of police [2][3].  In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan detained critics of his response to the pandemic.

Around the globe, despotic leaders of all stripes are using the coronavirus as an excuse to consolidate their positions, spread false information, and silence the opposition. Read more…

The Treasures of Darkness, Part 2

Diamond from Crater of Diamonds State Park, AR, Author Robert M. Lavinsky, Source http://www.mindat.org (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

We continue with an examination of the treasures of darkness.

Secrecy

Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Ps. 139: 12).

Nothing can be hidden from the Lord.  No secret plot, no hidden motive by others can harm us, if God does not allow it.

Whatever may befall us, God will use for good (Rom. 8: 28).  He has numbered the very hairs on our head (Luke 12: 7).  We are safely in His care.

Security is, therefore, the fourth treasure of darkness.

Evil and Sin

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness…” (Isa. 5: 20).

We may at times be discouraged.  It may appear that the world is growing ever more dark, ever more evil.  But Christ has overcome the power of darkness.  And we are promised justice – if not in this world, then the next.

Justice is, therefore, the fifth great treasure of darkness. Read more…

The Treasures of Darkness, Part 1

I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel” (Isa. 45: 3).

Diamonds are one of the hardest natural substances known.  Billions of years old, diamonds form deep in the earth, under tremendous pressures and temperatures [1].  They are considered among the most valuable gemstones in the world, and are mined only with great difficulty.

Diamonds from Catoca Mine, Angola, Author Helgi (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

But the treasures of darkness which God promises us are infinitely more precious.

Literal and Figurative Darkness

The word “darkness” can be interpreted both literally and figuratively.

Strong’s Concordance informs us that darkness is not only to be found in mines (Job 28: 3).  Darkness was over the surface of the deep at Creation (Gen. 1: 2).  Darkness was one of the plagues God caused to fall on Egypt, giving it a supernatural dimension (Ex. 10: 21).

The word can, also, be used to signify ignorance; confusion/perplexity; doubt, depression, and mourning; secrecy; evil and sin; death, destruction, and judgment.

What treasures can these possibly yield?  Let us examine them one at a time.

Ignorance

…[T]he fool walks in darkness” (Eccl. 2: 14).  But “…wisdom excels folly As light excels darkness” (Eccl. 2: 13).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9: 10).  Wisdom is, therefore, the first treasure of darkness. Read more…

Faith After Bombing

WARNING:  Graphic Images

On May 13, 2018 suicide bombers detonated explosives at three Indonesian churches, killing 15 people and injuring many more [1A].

The churches targeted were St. Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, the Indonesia Christian Church, and the Surabaya Central Pentecostal Church.  According to Indonesian National Police, the bombs used were of a type known as “Mother of Satan”, the explosive of choice for ISIS.

Two years later, the injured continue to heal and the relatives of those murdered continue to mourn.  But their faith is indomitable.

Relatives of the 2018 Surabaya bombing victims, Author Surabaya Municipal Police, Source twitter.com (PD as published by Govt. of the Republic of Indonesia per Article 43 of Law 28 of 2014 on Copyrights)

Read more…

Coronavirus Deaths and Lax OSHA Enforcement

Washing hands, Author Beat Ruest (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

As we struggle to flatten the coronavirus curve and reduce deaths from COVID-19, lax enforcement by the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may actually be a factor contributing to such deaths [1].

Infectious Disease Standards

In 2005 the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) petitioned OSHA for a rule addressing pandemic influenza [2].  In 2009 AFSCME sought a rule addressing occupational exposure to infectious diseases.

OSHA had already put controls in place for bloodborne pathogens that required hepatitis vaccinations by healthcare workers; the use of masks and gloves; and the disposal of contaminated needles.  Before that, hepatitis had killed 300 workers annually.

Trump Administration Cutbacks

When the Trump Administration came to power, OSHA’s agenda changed.  Rule-making and oversight were put on hold.  The focus was now placed on rolling back existing regulations.

Currently, OHSA has the lowest level of inspections in 50 years.

Coronavirus and Meat Plant Workers

Meat workers are stationed in close proximity to one another.  Enhanced cleaning and social distancing of workers slow production, so are not always attractive to plant operators.

Over 640 cases of coronavirus have been linked to a single Smithfield pork factory in South Dakota [3].  Four workers at a Tyson chicken processing plant in Georgia have died from the virus; two more have died and 186 tested positive at a Tyson pork plant in Iowa [4][5].

Cargill, Sanderson Farms, and Perdue have all reported illness [6]. Read more…

“Our Good Shepherd” by Jaimee Hatcher

“Good Shepherd”, stained glass window at St. John’s Methodist Church, Davenport, IA, Author Robert Bruce (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The following message is by Jaimee Hatcher, Esq, the Director of Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia (CLCP) https://www.clcphila.org/, an urban ministry serving the poor.  As those of you familiar with this blog know, I helped found CLCP’s predecessor.  CLCP remains dear to my heart.

For more on clinics like CLCP, please, click on “Christian Legal Aid” (above).

“Clinics are closed.  Calls have slowed down.  Clients are still being served. Thanks to our faithful staff and volunteers we are still able to assist clients with pressing legal matters to the best of our ability.  In times like these it is of the utmost importance for us to lean on the “Christ” in Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia.  One client that we were able to assist this week said she comforts herself with the 23rd Psalm every morning and night.  I was reminded a few weeks ago in a sermon of our Good Shepherd’s purpose and mission to bring us all home safely.  Our Good Shepherd provides for all of our needs, gives us necessary rest, restoration, protection, discipline, and reward.” Read more…