Early on, however, this group also often visited violence upon white men that stepped outside the boundaries of proper southern values, especially if they harmed or abused a woman as in my grandmother’s story.  The KKK, for a period after the Civil War became a de facto police force since the occupying “yankee” soldiers would not allow re-establishment of civil authorities, fearing that this would lead to the capability for revolt.  They had just barely defeated these feisty southerners, and they had no idea what these people were capable of.  So they had a healthy respect for the fight that was still in southerners and were not willing to take any chances.  But after Sherman burned his way through Georgia with his scorched earth tactics, things looked pretty bleak for the natives.  This land of plenty had been ravished in many places, leaving many southerners without very much wealth or capability to subsist.  Moreover, with the economy in ruins, it was hard to even find food to feed families.  It was a very dark time for the citizens of the South.  Of course, this was hardship that southerners had brought upon themselves by letting the feudal-plantation-utopian vision become higher than God in importance. 

Moreover, the bleakness they saw was a good indicator that southerners really were not honoring God and letting Him have His rightful place in the center of their lives, despite what they claimed and pretended in daily society.  I state this because, once you have God at the center of your life, once you realize who He really is, and once you realize what His character really is, you will realize how much He loves you and how much effort He puts into taking care of you.  So, there is no longer any reason to fear anything, no matter how bleak the appearance of life’s circumstances.  He cares for every single living creature in His creation, even the lowliest of animals on our planet, wanting them to have whatever they need to live and be happy.   If He cares so much for the least of these creatures, how much more must He care for mankind who is His crowning achievement in creation?  God desires fellowship with man, even sending His own Son in the flesh as a sacrifice (the most valuable thing that He had and the most valuable thing that He could offer) to redeem that relationship back to Him.  But despite all the appearance of religion in the Old South, with so many churches and Bibles and so much Christian teaching, southerners had compartmentalized God in their society, perhaps fearing that He would demand that they let go of their utopian dreams that relied so heavily on slavery. 

By holding onto this institution so strongly against God’s will, southerners forced God’s hand.  In order to set the wrong right, He would have to violently tear this institution from the tight grasp of southerner’s hands.  But He had to rectify this institution that was so wrong.  And, despite the bloody struggle of the Civil War, it was still an act of mercy that God allowed it to happen, because southerners then at least had a chance to see Him clearly with this god of theirs out of the way.  And many did seek Him out earnestly, leading to a purer devotion to Him and His work.  Unfortunately, many others continued in their feudal tradition and legalistic religion, just without the piece of the institution of slavery.  Some, wanting to keep that which really was already gone, tried to impose a new order that would keep the old traditions alive by maintaining the caste system and by keeping blacks “in their place” at the bottom of the system.  This was basically how the Jim Crow laws and statutes began.  But the upward pressure of economic success among blacks, their greater education, and the pressure of other political forces (most likely driven by God in answer to the prayers of black Christians) would, in time, again force the hand of southerners.  The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s pushed it over the top, resulting in integration of schools, businesses, and communities, and also resulting in new laws that would guarantee that blacks had all the same political and commercial rights as all other people in our nation.

We finish on this topic tomorrow.  I pray that you will all have a blessed day, walking closely with our Lord. 

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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