Two wonderful Christmas books teach me about the land on which I live. I still remember a sermon by Walter Smith (who will this spring mark fifty years as a priest) in which he talked about the importance of connecting with the land. I like knowing where I live and what has happened there. Peachtree Creek by David R. Kaufman, and Atlanta is Ours: The Plot to Capture Sherman by Richard H. Sams help me do jus that. The first is a tale of a man who canoed the creek in modern times with copious photographs and historical comment. The second is an historical novel by a great grandson of Washington J. Houston of Houston Mill. Together these books have helped me find out where the actual mill was (now the parking area for Hahn Woods Park of Emory) and what troop movements there were across this land. I was particularly struck by learning something of the Sage family whose home fell to urban sprawl in the 1960s and became Sage Hill where I go to the grocery store. Kaufman’s book includes a photograph of Margaret Sage. I imagine a resemblance to Margaret Sage Hoare (nee Smith). Given the realities of the South there simply must be a connection.
Sams’ novel does well with the complexities of the civil war and the feelings that ran to the preservation of a way of life that can not be reduced to a simple defense of slavery. And the feelings that led to a belief in the importance of the Union that could not be reduced to a hatred of slavery. I could not but help think of the complexities that are leading conservatives to try and secede from the ‘union’ of the Episcopal Church and my own sense of the importance of defending and upholding the reality of our ‘union’. Homosexuality is the defining issue for us, just as the institution of slavery was the defining issue of that old war. Our conflict is not something that can be fully understood by reducing it to a single issue however, and I believe that what is going on is that people who are used to defining reality are finding that they no longer have a monopoly on ‘the norm’ and really hate that change.
Happy New Year to one and all.