By December 20, 1860 South Carolina had seceded. By early January, Virginia was about to do the same. Everyone knew that the most capable man to lead the Union Army was Robert E. Lee. So, Lincoln called him to Washington and offered him just that: command of the whole Union army. Lee was not a “fire-breather” as those hot for secession were called. He lamented the break up of the Union. But he was a Virginian. And he could not imagine taking the field of battle and commanding the order to kill his own neighbors. So, he resigned from the US Army and joined the rebellion. And killed his neighbors to the North.
Such is sin. It involves you in decisions where every choice is some shade of wrong. Even if you didn’t start the sinning, it gets on you, contaminates you, defiles you. What was Lee supposed to do? What was Lincoln supposed to do? Neither one was going to be able to avoid killing their neighbors. And why? Slavery? The Union? Yes, to both. But more fundamentally the killing began because two sides were unable to sustain a conversation. When you’re talking to someone, it’s nearly impossible to view them as an enemy. But if the conversation dies, if you stop talking, then you are able to conceive of the other person as an enemy that you no longer have to deal with.
The Civil War and the killing didn’t start in earnest until the conversation broke down. Was good able to come out of it? Unquestionably! The Union was saved and slaves were freed. But it didn’t happen because those in power talked with each other as brothers. It happened because they killed each other; and one side eventually and finally shut the other side up. At its heart, the Civil War is, in one way, a great tragedy about the inability to stay in the same room with each other and talk. (To their great credit most of Black America continues to do that with most of White America, despite all that has happened to them. African-Americans deserve respect for the sole fact of continuing to talk with the rest of the nation.)
And the lesson is this: to kill conversation, to kill talking, because you’re sick of talking and listening and compromising, is to invite lonely hatred that begins to view the other person as an enemy. I understand that talking is exhausting. But, to cease talking is the beginning of war. Once the Civil War had started it was bound to spin out of control until the spilling of rivers of blood finally exhausted the madness. Only then could the conversation begin again.
The breakdown of conversation with someone you disagree with comes with terrible consequences. If you’re going to fight, fight to keep talking.
Men’s Prayer Breakfast
Saturday January 13th
Contact Steven Duke
Women’s Ministry Kickoff
“Catch the Vision”
Saturday January 20th
Contact Deb Nelson, our Women’s Minister
Morning Prayer How-To
Sunday January 14th
Evening Prayer How-To
Sunday January 21st
The Gathering: outreach to homeless in Dallas
Sunday January 21st
Contact Sean McConegly
Children First Communion Classes
Jan 28th, Feb 4th, and Feb 11th
Contact Jennifer Chapman, our Family Minister
Why we do what we do on Sunday
Sunday January 28th
8:15 and 10:30
Potluck Church Party
After the 10:30