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Thoughts on the Civil War and Lincoln

Thoughts on the Civil War and Lincoln

 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

Families were devastated. The economy was in ruins. Major portions of cities and farms were wastelands. Resentment ran high and in some portions of the land, there had been systematic acts of terrorism on both sides. Just Google “Kansas, Bloody Kansas” and you will be shocked at the horrors that exploded in Kansas and Missouri, as well as other parts of the south—acts of terror that would make the Middle East look tame. It was to this greatest national emergency that the president addressed his attention:

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.

When Abraham Lincoln spoke these words on December 1, 1862, our American Civil War appeared intractable, tragic, and expanding. The country had to “disenthrall” itself. The bigoted, closed-minded attitudes of then we recognize now as antiquated, racist, classist, sexist, and fool-hearty.

Think on what perspectives you hold today that will need to be revised in the future. Expand that to include any aspect of society. What new insights are necessary now? Let us “disenthrall ourselves,” as we consider carefully, evaluate fully, and live compassionately.

More importantly, consider what God’s spirit, working in and with regular people like you and me, might be up to in our world today. As language works within the confines of culture and human perspective, it continues to change and adapt. Following the Civil War, many would now agree there was a gradual spiritual awakening as regular people opened up new realities. We now realize the immoral and anti-spiritual nature of slavery—and, finally, though still gradually, we have begun to see the destructive nature of discrimination and prejudice. Reflect on how God might be at work today, in you or in those whose voices you hear. Search for new insights emerging in your mind, heart, or surroundings.

 

Open unto me – light for my darkness … courage for my fear … peace for my turmoil … wisdom for my confusion … Thyself for myself. Lord, Lord, open unto me! Amen.

—Howard Thurman