RCC Honors History Project

Out of context

Posted by ga2008bby on December 4, 2008

While I was reading a letter written by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw to his wife Annie, I came across this interesting quote about the raid at Darien, Georgia, “The reasons he gave me for destroying Darien were, that the Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war, and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old. In theory it may seem all right to some, but when it comes to being made the instrument of the Lord’s vengeance, I myself don’t like it.” I find this quote very intriguing because it seems to be repeated in different events in history. Like when slaves were being taught stories of the bible yet the stories were being twisted around for the masters liking. How can people be so single-minded to where they can twist things around when it is in completely different context??! Why does this quote seem to be occurring throughout history?

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7 Responses to “Out of context”

  1. blooney said

    I believe this quote seems to occur throughout history because, it is easy to say God wants this then for a person to say ‘I have ulterior motives and am a greedy capitalist’. By saying it is preordained it takes the blame off of the person committing the injustices and it puts it on God. I also think many people who use God’s name to commit their horrendous actions prey on those who are uneducated. It is easy to manipulate a person if they have little knowledge of the Bible and can not read the for to verification of what they are being told.

  2. andrewptscott said

    The answer is simple. Man can never have enough power. Whenever they find opportunity to manipulate the weak they will do so. This is the reason I no longer consider myself a religious person. I would rather consider myself a person with good morals and belief in a divine creator. How can man try and interpret the words and laws of God? Seeing how Christianity spread in America makes me think that it was only used as a tool for manipulation.

    I suppose, in a radical approach, perhaps these 19th century Americans are correct in believing that there is a manifest destiny. I was pondering this idea last class session. What if this really is a goal we are destined to fulfill? To spread Democracy throughout the entire planet and through the “final frontier” of space.” Life and human existence has served to discover the age long question of what the meaning of life is. Maybe this group of people do have a destiny to fulfill but to avoid getting too philosophical… I do love this quote! It shows that people of this time were persuaded by the belief in a ultimate destiny and were perhaps starting to buy into it. It also corresponds with the point I was trying to make earlier. I don’t believe that fear should be endowed in an all righteous being such as God and this is what early 19th century Americans in a sense created.

  3. drwprkr said

    All these comments are lovely, they make me happy to respond. To start off I would like to simply say that all humans do is interpret things, even the so called “laws of God.” The Old Testament vs. the New Testament is one of the key examples of this. For all that have read the Old Testament, they can clearly see the horrible natures behind it. Although they were not horrible then, it showed God’s Almighty power but in the New Testament there is a big change, things are much more conforming to humans. The Bible is, however, a work of man, of man, not God, I do not know how much I need to relay this point. I have heard many say that the Bible was given to man by angels or God but The Old Testament was written by the Hebrews and the New Testament, arguably written by the Christian faith, unified by Emperor Constantine of Roman, roughly 330 Anno Domini. It is arguable that Constantine was a pagan, but he knew that Roman needed a uniform religion, much like the seperation of the North and South in America. Lincoln knew he had to unite the North and South and so did Constantine know that he had to unite Roman under one religion. They both had different stances of the issues but they knew greater good must triumph. (Just some related context for you.) Also, maybe people do believe in a Manifest Destiny, now we may call them ignorant but that is only because we live in a sinical world, believe it or not. Whether they believe it or not, we see it as stupid and we cannot relate to it but that is due to our modern nature. Is it so wrong to be so blinded by an ideal such as religion? Religion is simply a way to convey the “meaning of life” onto humans. Religion gives us a purpose so how can we quest for the meaning of life if it has already been given to us by a creator? All religions are interpretations. If anyone knows a little about the Mormon denomination then they know what I am talking about. Religion gives us purpose but we have to shift and mold it into our likings as we are still on Earth, that is why such people “blame” God as said before. They are not “blaming” God but simply using Him to make what is wrong right. Such a human behavior to create a “God” and mold his “words” to better ourselves.

  4. dselinger said

    In order to answer your question why people can be so single-minded and twist things around, there is a fairly easy answer. Unfortunately, people especially politicians as you have probably noticed, have the tendency to twist things around in order to gain the support of voters. Although every politician is claiming that he or she is different little has changed throughout history regarding this fact. I think it lies in our heritage that in order to get what we want, we will do anything to obtain it; boundaries are not even an option. I too, have to agree with Andrew and Drew that maybe because of this fact more and more people are distancing themselves from religion. Religion was and still is a pretence in order to justify certain action without having a real proof of actions, and history has shown us that this sort of engagement is one of the most effective once in our society. (Try thinking of the Crusades, or even the suicide bombers in the Middle East).

  5. freestylepro1 said

    I do not understand how God could support the “spread of democracy.” So far, in what I can see anyways, this so called spread of democracy has done nothing but end in the deaths of thousands of people—and this is just with the war in Iraq. I thought that God (the Christian one anyways) supported peace, not democracy. Never once have I heard democracy quoted out of the bible. I, too, do not get how people can use religion as a tool for their personal gain. I also do not get how people can blindly follow along with the words of politicians that use religion to their advantage, while the words of their religion are a direct contradiction to politicians. It does not make much sense to me; it never really has.

  6. kriemer said

    Religion is a very, very powerful thing. Many people put religion as their number one priority. If you can manipulate/twist what someone thinks is God’s will, you can manipulate them. That is why time and time again religion has been distorted to cause people to do bad things. Cults use religion (and other things) to control their followers, many politicans get elected by faith-based voters, many dictators, tyrants, etc., murder, raped, plumaged in the name of religion. History shows us that nearly anything flies if it is in the name of religion and that nothing is more powerful than religion. On going wars have waged for centuries on differences in religion. Politicians and others use the power of religion to have their will done while supporters often blindly follow. I think it’s important to be very skeptical of what someone says is “God’s will.”

  7. ookpo said

    Within every man, there is much evil and given the right circumstances, those evils will manifest themselves. Competition and the need to survive are also prevalent in humans and like evil, some men would be willing to go to any length to preserve the interest and increase their survival rate. Religion like every comment before this has said, seems to be the perfect canopy under which people commit atrocities because there is a certain protection they get. Not many are usually quick to criticize a religious act until the act is seen as harmful to others. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that religion and God are used to explain radical behavior because it attracts negative attention to other genuine acts with similar backing.

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