Minstrel Banjo

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Please read this and offer your take on this 19th Century view...is this tongue in cheek, or an inherent view of the time?

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Looking into the past is such a useful tool,,,,to try and grasp what we are blind to ourselves today. Can we go 150 years into the future and possibly see ourselves objectively?

This is a difficult topic for me to engage in without talking about the philosophy of religion, but I'll try.  I often think about how horrified the people of 150 years ago would be to look at us today.  It is easy for us to sit in judgement of them, but would we listen to their judgement of us?  Are their judgements and predjudices less valid than our own?  Are we superior to them because we are living in a later age?  Something Strumelia has been saying has been hitting a resonance with me with one of the courses I'm taking in seminary.  History has a purpose, and its purpose is to teach us not to make the same mistakes we made in the past.  The question is, will we draw the right conclusions, will we learn?  One of the great things about human nature is that we can choose to overcome our base instincts, we can change.  One thing that I like about Pascal is that he forces us to look in the mirror, in spite of the fact that we may not like what we are seeing when we look there.  This is true with racism, and predjudices in general.  We can choose to change, but will we change, and if so, will we change the right things?  I'll get out of the pulpit now...

Biblically, it is sort of like removing a speck from our neighbor's eye, when we have a plank in our own. Sound absurd? I'm sure the 19th Century mind thought quite well of themselves.....and so it goes on and on. 

Very well put John.... 

I truly feel we are a product of our environment.  We can be all good, non-judgmental with or family and our kids.

But, we get to our work environment and our language, attitudes, and the way we treat and judge others change... 

Then on the way home we may think of our actions, But well we truly change them?  

As I read that page Tim posted... It brought back some memories of my childhood past of Great Grand Family and how they talked and treated the same people Strumelia mentioned. And its sickens me to this day that was the product a of my environment    

Yes, I am part of the near or over 50 gang as well...  


John Masciale said:

This is a difficult topic for me to engage in without talking about the philosophy of religion, but I'll try.  I often think about how horrified the people of 150 years ago would be to look at us today.  It is easy for us to sit in judgement of them, but would we listen to their judgement of us?  Are their judgements and predjudices less valid than our own?  Are we superior to them because we are living in a later age?  Something Strumelia has been saying has been hitting a resonance with me with one of the courses I'm taking in seminary.  History has a purpose, and its purpose is to teach us not to make the same mistakes we made in the past.  The question is, will we draw the right conclusions, will we learn?  One of the great things about human nature is that we can choose to overcome our base instincts, we can change.  One thing that I like about Pascal is that he forces us to look in the mirror, in spite of the fact that we may not like what we are seeing when we look there.  This is true with racism, and predjudices in general.  We can choose to change, but will we change, and if so, will we change the right things?  I'll get out of the pulpit now...

My dad...speaking of racism in the military..as a WWII Navy vet "didn't see any".

Look again.

BTW...don't get me wrong....those racial views were certainly "planks".

I don't think he "allowed' blinders....they were just there.

Whether or not a "core Christian belief" is to treat others as yourself, certainly most racists I have known (and most all American slaveholders) considered themselves "Christians".

And most Jewish people I know are not 'hedging' about the role of Christ...  (wtf??)

Dan'l said:  And it's also relevant because the overwhelming majority of U.S. residents at the time considered themselves Christians. Even those that hedged about the role of Christ -- the Deists, Unitarians, Mormons and Jews -- still cited the same old testament and ten commandments.

Let's talk some stats.  At the time of the civil war, 35% of the population were church members.  Church attendance on Sunday was approximately 50% of the population.  The abolition movement was run by predominantly Christian people.  Many ministers were involved in the movement.  The splits in the Methodist church and the Baptist church in the 1840s was over slavery.  The northern branches of those churches were strongly anti-slavery.  It is true that many abolitionists were racists by today's definitions.  However, I don't see strong evidence to suggest that the majority of racists were Christian. 

 

Some more facts for anyone interested. Both the Methodist church and the Baptist church were on the verge of requesting members to sell all their slaves in the 1790s.  What happened to turn that around?  There are a number of issues, but one major one was the advent of the cotton gin.  Another was that at that point in time church membership was about 5% of the population.  Did the Church fail in standing on its principles?  Yes.  Its a good lesson for today's church. 

Strictly my opinion- but I don't think we need to look any thing to "help to excuse Converse for his statement." Regardless of the time, location, etc, his statements are made out of ignorance. Any day and age, no matter how much we love a person, it's an ugly way to think.
I'm not perfect and I, too, have a lot to learn about people. I often think about lessons I've taught on cultures different from my own hoping I have given an accurate picture to my students.

John said....

"However, I don't see strong evidence to suggest that the majority of racists were Christian."

I should have recognized that this could be a touchy subject.  My statement wasn't meant to be an indictment on Christianity.  I said that most racists I have known and most American slaveholders undoubtedly considered themselves to be Christians.  That is quite different from saying most Christians I have known and most mid-19th C American Christians were racists.   If I questioned why Christianity became part of the discussion, it was probably because I sensed that a parallel was made between it and morality....and though there may be one, I don't think it takes a Christian (or an adherent to any other religion, for that matter) to live a moral existence, though, because mid-19th C America was inhabited by a large percentage of Christians, I suppose that is the reason the parallel was made.    Christians, like any other segment of society, come with all kinds of attitudes and agendas and have interpreted/cited scripture to justify those attitudes.  Perhaps they are not considered "true Christians".  I don't know.  Mid-19th C churches also split over the use of music.  As a handed-down family story goes, my G-G-Grandfather could not convince my G-G-Grandmother to join the church because she liked to dance.  

John said...

The northern branches of those churches were strongly anti-slavery.

Perhaps I'm being cynical here but, human nature being what it is, I suspect that if the climate/soil, etc., were reversed and cotton flourished in northern instead of southern states, so too would have the attitudes of northern and southern churches.

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