about me · History · right side of history

Further revelation of the workings of my mind…

With these first few posts, I’m trying to keep it as short as possible so as to start blogging about current events and such, I want to give a good starting place for anyone new to the blog in the future. I hope to link folks back to them for some impertinent information so as to ascertain where I’m coming from. So, onward…

I love history. Studying it, contemplating it, listening to others talk about it, personal history, national history, just… history. It’s such a foundational topic of research. One of the most interesting parts of studying history is, it is all from someone else. As C.S. Lewis mused,

And it seems plain as a matter of history that He[Jesus] taught His followers that the new life was communicated in this way.

In other words, I believe it on His authority. Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority—because the scientists say so.

Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’ pg. 62 (bold/italics mine)

Did you catch that, Lewis opines, “Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority”. Think on that for a moment… Were you there to see Abraham Lincoln give the Gettysburg address? How do you know it was he who gave it? Lewis gives a cogent reason,  “We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority.” The implications of this kind of reflection are limitless. I’ll give two examples and one reference to a historical work(though granted not all in it is historical, more on that at another time).

During The Korean conflict in the early 1950’s, Gen. Douglas MacArthur saw the Communist Chinese forces assisting the N. Korean military with personnel and material. He wanted to remedy the situation my blowing up the bridges along the Yalu and cripple the effort. Here is a great article discussing the event. Now I’m not saying I necessarily agree with the military tactic of the great general, but his military knowledge and prowess is uncredentialed in today’s militaries. Do not forget that he was the primary voice in the defeat of the Japanese war machine in the Philippeans and the commander-in-cheif of the reacclimatizing of those defeated Japanese. It would have no doubt caused WWIII to blow up the bridges. But think of the scenario that might have played out… China and Russia’s communist regimes might not have become what the latter once was or what the former remains to be today… The Veitnam War would have never happened… No Berlin Wall fiasco… Cuba? Not likely… Afghanistan and the whole CIA debacle that issued in the 80’s?… Nope. All these things (negative and positive outcomes) would have been different if MacArthur would have chose to, ‘do it anyway’. Oh, and anyone under the age of say, 35, would not be here. You are effected and everyone else in that age range because of this event. Heavy, I know. God works His providence in wondrous ways.

I hope you paid attention in History class, remember Robert E. Lee? What happened to him before the American Civil War that was significant? John Brown’s body? No, but good point. Him not having a beard? No, but even better point. He was asked by President A. Lincoln to be commander of the U.S. forces. How different do you think the war would have been if Lee hadn’t sided with his, “beloved Virginia”? His family chided him for it, they were mostly Northern sympathizers and went there. Gen. Lee was the main reason the war even lasted 3 years(Gettysburg happened in 1863). Gettysburg was the beginning of the end and only until a General the caliber of Lee was in(Grant) did the war swing to greatly favor the North. I know there were even more factors but, please don’t alleviate from the topic at hand; with anything, you are proving my point of the importance of history and how we know what we know. How different would everything South of the Mason-Dixon line be today if that were the case? How would the rest of the world have looked? Historians often regard the American Civil War as having massive repercussions on the rest of the world, it changed the world’s perspective on warfare.

Now I don’t use two Americans as a point of reference to prove any point as to America’s “dominance”, it’s the history I know best. After all, I do live, was born, and have learned history in America. But this into consideration…

One of my favorite passages from history,

This Candaules then of whom I speak had become passionately in love with his own wife; and having become so, he deemed that his wife was fairer by far than all other women; and thus deeming, to Gyges the son of Daskylos (for he of all his spearmen was the most pleasing to him), to this Gyges, I say, he used to impart as well the more weighty of his affairs as also the beauty of his wife, praising it above measure: and after no long time, since it was destined that evil should happen to Candaules, he said to Gyges as follows: “Gyges, I think that thou dost not believe me when I tell thee of the beauty of my wife, for it happens that men’s ears are less apt of belief than their eyes: contrive therefore means by which thou mayest look upon her naked.” But he cried aloud and said: “Master, what word of unwisdom is this which thou dost utter, bidding me look upon my mistress naked? When a woman puts off her tunic she puts off her modesty also. Moreover of old time those fair sayings have been found out by men, from which we ought to learn wisdom; and of these one is this,–that each man should look on his own: but I believe indeed that she is of all women the fairest and I entreat thee not to ask of me that which it is not lawful for me to do.” With such words as these he resisted, fearing lest some evil might come to him from this… …

Herodotus ‘Book of Histories’ Clio I.8 ff

I ask you to notice a couple things, first: What is Gyges response to Candaules request to see his wife naked? “…what word of unwisdom is this…”. He declares it “unwisdom”. Second, “each man should look on his own”. Twenty-five hundred years ago modesty and honoring marriage in unbiblically learned lands was just, well, understood. Though, lest one gets a jump on this story’s ending well… read it here … Candaules’ wife has Gyges either kill Candaules and become her husband and rule the empire or die for the dishonor he has brought upon them. Guess what happens? He kills Candaules. Morals are always askew without true Divine guidance, for that is the “right side of history”. Mankind may get a little right, but they will fall; and fall further and further … And fall we have.

 

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