New Gettysburg Museum Explores Role Of Faith In Civil War
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (RNS)—When Confederate soldiers bore down on Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863, a quiet seminary building atop a ridge was transformed—first into a Union lookout, then a field hospital for 600 wounded soldiers.
Now the structure that stood at the center of the Civil War’s bloodiest and most pivotal battle is being transformed once again.
On July 1, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Schmucker Hall reopened as a museum reflecting on the epic battle, the costly war and the complex role of faith.
Seminary Ridge Museum, located on the campus of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, will take visitors into the minds of those who fought and explore their conflicting ideas of freedom.
About 750,000 soldiers died during the Civil War, and many of them quoted the Bible. But they read it in divergent ways that still reverberate in a polarized America.
“People have found it comfortable to find a way to think about the Civil War in terms of valor and heroism,” said Barbara Franco, executive director of the museum. “We want to really look at these other parts of it—causes, consequences—and leave people thinking there’s more to this than just the simple answers.”
Visitors begin with a big view of the battlefields. They gaze out from the cupola where Union General John Buford viewed advancing Confederate brigades. They walk the creaking floors where wounded soldiers rebuilt strength over a course of months. They ponder how soldiers suffered and how they made sense of it.
“Here were these young men, caught up in these events, and trying to be as faithful as they could be as good Christians,” said Maria Erling, professor of church history at the seminary. “They were consoled by those faith commitments.”
In interactive exhibits, visitors grapple with mid-19th century moral dilemmas: Would you harbor a fugitive slave if it meant you could go to prison? What motivated nurses, such as the Catholic Daughters of Charity, to tend to the injured on both sides?
Exhibits also showcase religious belongings of soldiers who fought at Gettysburg. Example: a 3-inch-by-2-inch Bible carried by Jefferson Coates. A member of Wisconsin’s 7th Regiment and recipient of the Medal of Honor, he was blinded on the Gettysburg battlefield but survived.
“The fact that he carried this Bible with him tells me a lot about him and his purpose,” said Coates’ great-granddaughter, Jean Smith of Kansas City, who donated the Bible to the seminary. “If there hadn’t been some sort of a religious context for him, he wouldn’t have carried it.”
The museum, which cost $15 million to develop, popularizes new insights from recent scholarship, including how clergy on both sides were physically attacked for taking unpopular stands on slavery.
“It’s really a war of words that precedes the war of sabers and guns,” Franco said. “The slavery debate is very influenced by biblical passages to support one side or the other.”
As it turned out, both sides came to interpret Scripture in ways that would support their views on slavery, with literal interpretations hardening in the South and figurative ones gaining favor in the North.
Those interpretive principles still hold sway, Erling added, as the regions differ on social issues from women’s ordination to homosexuality.
“The North had its own agenda, its own reasons for reading the Bible the way it did,” Erling said. “And the South had its own reasons for reading the Bible the way it did. … That’s how we have a Bible Belt.”
- Andrew MasonUncommon Gratitude http://andrewsmason.com/uncommon-gratitude/ #HappyThanksgiving
- Andrew MasonCreating A Small Group Curriculum Map by Ben Reed http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/creating-a-small-group-curriculum-map/
- Marcella WoodridgeThe longer I live the more I know I need GOD leading my life every step of the way.
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia Carter just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost May Jesus Christ Be The Ultimate Treasure We Always Seek by Debbie Harris..
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost Father Who Can We Graciously And Humbly Walk Beside Today Just To Love by Debbie Harris.
- Bryce Johnson just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Bill Reichart published the blogpost 13 Resources For Ministry Leaders Who Struggle with Porn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Expert Reveals Biggest Concern About Youngsters And Social Media.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Half (54%) Of US Teens Think Life Would Be Better Without Social Media.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Roy Lichtenstein's Most Popular Painting is Displayed.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost After Confronting Campus Bully, HS Football Player Gets Suspended.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Conservative Student Is Victim Of ‘Racist Rape Apologist’ Attack Fliers.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Yik Yak app Putting Teens Behind Bars, Police Warn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Hearing That Things Can Change Helps Teens Dodge Depression.
- Andrew Shivers just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost GIVEAWAY: Win a Framed “The Fault in Our Stars” FULL SIZE Movie Poster [Winner Chosen].
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost ‘Boxtrolls:’ Incredible Animation, Charmless Story.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Video of the Day: Dad Lip-Syncs Daughter's Tantrum.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost SOTW: ‘Chasing After The Wind’ by Alan Powell (Free Friday Download).
- Matt Perman published the blogpost The Drive Video: If You Want Engagement, Self-Direction is Better.
- LuAnn Braley published the blogpost BOOK REVIEW/INTERVIEW: The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth.
- Shane Blackshear published the blogpost Seminary Dropout 55: Gary Black Jr. – Co-author of The Divine Conspiracy Continued.
- Lori Fogleman published the blogpost ‘Believe Me': Alum’s thought-provoking film now in theaters.
- Michael Ramsey published the blogpost Stress Kills!!! Here's 3 Ways To Do Something About It.
- Larry Carter published the blogpost How The New Fall TV Season Reminds Me Of The Gospel.
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost 20 Approaches to Battling Depression-Anxiety as Suffering.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Hellion’ is A Wild, Family-Driven Ride Worth Taking.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ is Cool, Uncommitted.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost “Kidnapped for Christ” Review: The Terror of Teens.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Pieces Together a Winning Team.
- Ashley Howland published the blogpost Talking about cancer on WFAA’s ‘Two Chairs’ series.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Get Excited: New ‘Believe Me’ Trailer Validates Everything We Thought.