Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Boasting and Boosting with Bruno!

Bruno Littlemore

The other day over at the Marmot's Hole, I had the chance to play historian on a brief discussion of the reason for the American Civil War. One commentator had cited certain historians who claimed that the war was about states' rights. I objected by citing Wikipedia - yes, Wikipedia, because ease of access sometimes trumps scholarly rectitude - and posting this remark:
On the other hand, one significant figure, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, delivered the Cornerstone Speech (aka Cornerstone Address) at the Athenaeum in Savannah, Georgia, on March 21, 1861, and he said of the Confederate Constitution, that:
"Our new Government is founded upon . . . the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition."
This would seem to indicate that the South saw slavery as a significant issue - possibly the most significant? - of the war.
I was actually thanked for that helpful tidbit, so I responded in an agreeable manner:
The states' rights interpretation was part of revisionist history that opposed the older historical interpretation that the war was about slavery. Not that there's anything wrong in principle with revisionist history, generally speaking (no, not General Lee speaking!). Merely that revisionism, while useful in calling attention to different interpretations, tends to exaggerate its own interpretation. Why? Because there are careers to be made!

I gained this insight too late to make personal use of it even though I had something extraordinary to say about John's Gospel and Gnosticism . . .
I was then asked what "extraordinary" thing I'd had to say "about John's Gospel and Gnosticism", so I replied and linked to a couple of online sites:
Here are two online sites, each with a presentation I gave on John and Gnosticism in late 1999:
"'Ethical' Dualism of Food in The Gospel of John"

"Gift-Giving Across the Sacred-Profane Divide: A Maussian Analysis of Heavenly Versus Earthly Food in Gnosticism and John’s Gospel"
The audiences of academics were very interested in my reinterpretation, but no university department cared enough even to interview me for a position.

My career therefore took a different turn, which is how I ended up here in South Korea.

Such such is life.
And life does go on . . .

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At 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure you are hearing some of the debate over the confederate flag as well. While it was never the official "flag of the confederacy", it was the battle flag of General Lee's Virginia Army and has become the defacto symbol of some white supremacy groups. There is a lot of revisionist history on it as well. While there were certainly other issues between the North and South, a lot of it agricultural based, the main sticking point was slavery.

I believe your picture with Bruno must have been before his nose job.


At 6:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, Bruno had not yet gone under the knife . . . but I imagine he'd still have had some incisive, cutting remarks about that Southern flag.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest in addition to “Wikipedia” referenced, one also read and absorb: Slavery’s relevancy to the Civil War is undeniable, however, it was not the “single contributing factor”.
Cuz Bill

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Tom Ball said...

Well, of course the central Question of the Civil War was States' Rights. Obviously, this included the States' right to legalize slavery. But I have always felt that since they were advocating "rights" in the plural, they had a whole shopping list of new ideas for things they didn't expect the Federal Government to allow, and which, if the Confederacy had prevailed, we would have come to know and admire as the "Other Peculiar Institutions".

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Cousin Bill, let me link that properly: Slavery in the United States.

Slavery might not have been the "single contributing factor," But I wager it was the most significant factor.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:23 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Tom, such as a "Peculiar Institution of Southern Wedlock"?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Sperwer said...

Jeff -

Even Lincoln didn't think it was the most significant factor. The view that it was is actually also a "revisionist" view of the Civil War

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, I'm no expert on this issue, and historical causation is usually complex, so I'll retreat to the position that it was a major factor.

Jeffery Hodges

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