Seems like a weird combination doesn't it? I'm taking a course called "Religion in America" at Gettysburg Seminary this semester. Today we took a "field trip" ... literally ... out to the Virginia monument on the Gettysburg Battlefield. I must admit, as a Californian the whole Civil War thing seemed really remote to me growing up - just a bunch of names I had to memorize for my American History class in high school so I could pass the test.
But now, here I am, going to seminary in the middle of this Civil War battlefield. Tour buses literally drive right through the campus (which means we have to be on our best behavior when trying to parse Greek verbs when we're sitting outside!).
So our class went out to the Virginia monument on Seminary Ridge today - just south of the campus (that's General Robert E. Lee on his horse Traveler on the top of the monument). The whole of Seminary Ridge is the former Confederate line. Driving down it, you come upon monument after monument to the various Confederate Army units. When you look out over the battlefield facing the direction Gen. Lee is facing, you can see Cemetery Ridge and all of the monuments to the Union Army's units.
Stanley Hauerwas was our guest lecturer this year at the Luther Colloquy. He spoke about war and offered his observations that the Civil War was a theological war insofar as the deaths of so many soldiers were wrapped in sacrificial imagery for a glorious cause. Ever since the Civil War, the U.S. has cast every conflict in the language and imagery of glorious sacrifice. Instead of trusting in the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, once for all, we repeatedly sacrifice our youth on the altar of war.
It's a strange irony that it was the Confederacy who lined up along Seminary Ridge (they actually took over the seminary and used the cupola on our library as a command center). The losing side of the War and this battle were lined up with a seminary which prepares ministers for Christ's church. The slaughtered alongside the Crucified. Something to ponder going into Holy Week.