Onward Christian Soldiers?
2011 marks the 150th Anniversary of the onset of the American Civil War, an event that still has the power to fascinate, divide and define a nation. If the war was an embarrassment to the country’s civil institutions, it was nothing less than an indictment of her churches. We cannot presume to definitely answer the question of the root causes of the war, but as a journal concerned with the church and her history, we cannot ignore the simple fact that years after schools, workplaces and neighborhoods were integrated, the most segregated hour in America is 11 AM on Sunday morning.
At Leben, we have always believed that discerning readers be both informed and blessed by the recounting of the lives of those who have gone before us in the faith. We try not to be preachy, and we shall surely try not to default to regional prejudice or mere cliché’. In this issue, we sketch the history of a single family of Huguenots—the Bushongs—who, having landed in Pennsylvania, branched North and South. When other men drew lines in the sand, the members of this extended family found themselves on opposing sides, from reluctant conductors on the Underground Railroad to makeshift surgeons trying to save the lives of grizzled Union veterans and 15-year old VMI cadets, cut down in the “Field of Lost Shoes.”
We will visit Reformation Italy, and the often-neglected Reformer, Peter Martyr, and consider the oddly anachronistic issue of “communion tokens.” In this issue of Leben, you will find out why many churches in Europe have a rooster on their steeple as we consider “the iconoclasts” who took it upon themselves to purge houses of worship of idolatrous images, often with disastrous and unintended consequences. And while we’re knocking down icons, William McGuffey comes under scrutiny. The conclusions may surprise many who consider his “Readers” to be the epitome of conservatism and Christian virtues.
And finally, we will learn just how it happened that a printer fleeing across Europe jotted down divisions within the text of the New Testament, and how those divisions became what we now know as “chapter and verse.”
On the Cover
Fight For the Colors (detail). Painting by Don Troiani, www.historicalartprints.com.
The October-December 2011 issue includes these articles:
- House Divided: The Church at War, 1861-65
- The Field of Empty Shoes: Triumph and Tragedy at New Market
- McGuffey and His Reader
- Peter Martyr
- Chapter and Verse
- The Iconoclasts