Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Offsite Post: ‘Land and Southern Culture’


Mr. Mark Atkins’s essay of 26 Sept. 2023, ‘What Is the South?  What Is Dixie?,’ contains many fine passages, which is not unusual for things written by him.  There is one that is cause for concern, however:

And from the People’s struggle to survive on their Land is born their way of life or culture. That collection of habits, customs, mores, traditions, patterns, ways, means, assumptions, notions, and inclinations that answer most of the People’s questions. Culture is the People’s autopilot, their great security blanket. The wheel that need not be re-invented. It is this culture, born of the People’s struggle with their land, that sustains them over the generations, possibly centuries.

The land is undoubtedly an important factor in defining Southernness, but this passage makes something more of it than it ought to.  The land in this telling has been transformed into some kind of dark, brooding deity that we must struggle with to receive a blessing, and along with the blessing, wounds.  Mr. Atkins has retold the story of Jacob wrestling with God, replacing Jacob with Dixie and God with Land:

And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob's thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day is breaking." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me." And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." Then he said, "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Tell me, I pray, your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him (Genesis 32:24-9).

Further, it is ultimately not something external that we struggle with (the land), but something internal, sin.  That is to say, the sins of men and women are the cause of the rebellion of the creation against mankind.  When sinfulness is quelled in man, then harmony between them is restored.  There are numerous instances of this throughout Church history in the lives of her saints.  We will look at only a couple, for the sake of brevity, from the life of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (+687) by another English saint, St. Bede of Wearmouth-Jarrow Monastery (+735).  In his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, St. Bede writes,

 . . . upon his arrival the wicked spirits withdrew. When he had there, after expelling the enemies, with the assistance of the brethren, built himself a small dwelling, with a trench about it, and the necessary cells and an oratory, he ordered the brothers to dig a pit in the floor of the dwelling, although the ground was hard and stony, and no hopes appeared of any spring. Having done this upon the faith and at the request of the servant of God, the next day it appeared full of water ' and to this day affords plenty of its heavenly bounty to all that resort thither. He also desired that all instruments for husbandry might be brought him, and some wheat; and having sown the same at the proper season, neither stalk, nor so much as a leaf, sprouted from it by the next summer. Hereupon the brethren visiting him according to custom, he ordered barley to be brought him, in case it were either the nature of the soil, or the Divine will, that such grain should rather grow there. He sowed it in the same field just as it was brought him, after the proper time of sowing, and consequently without any likelihood of its coming to good; but a plentiful crop immediately came up, and afforded the man of God the means which he had so ardently desired of supporting himself by his own labour (Book IV, Chapter XXVIII).

Now, supposing a land full of Christian holiness in which there is little struggle with the land, would that people be bereft of a rich culture because of that absence?  Certainly not!  But what would be the source of culture in such a place?  Just what it has been in every other place – the religion of the people, the Christian Faith.

The country of Georgia, which we have mentioned before in some past essays, is a wonderful testimony to the culture-building nature of Christianity.  Georgia was baptized into the Orthodox Church under the holy King Mirian in the 4th century, about the year 324 A. D.; she has not departed from the Church despite numerous brutal assaults upon her by the enemies of Christ.  During St. Mirian’s reign, we see a Christian culture in its early formation:

 . . .

The rest is at https://www.reckonin.com/walt-garlington/land-and-southern-culture.


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

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