Mon, 27 October 2014
In his book, Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War, historian John Pinheiro argues that much of the enthusiasm for the war was tied up with an array of disparate theological and nationalistic convictions. Many Evangelical Protestants (including such celebrated figures as Presbyterian Lyman Beecher, a Temperance activist and father of Harriet Beecher Stowe) believed that God’s purposes for America included the development of and transmission of the virtues of Republican government. These activists and their followers believed that Roman Catholic teaching and practice, in being opposed to republicanism, was thus contrary to God’s purposes in history.
“The religious history of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 is the story of how anti-Catholicism emerged as integral to nineteenth-century American identity as a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant republic. Americans had long wondered whether Providence had blessed them with North America as part of a divine plan to spread republican civilization. In 1846 the overwhelmingly Protestant United States went to war against Mexico, a country that barred all religions save Roman Catholicism. Fighting Mexico forced Americans to negotiate in new ways the deep interconnectedness among race, religion, and republicanism. This process revealed the universality of a peculiarly American anti-Catholicism that heretofore most Americans had unreflectively relegated to an evangelical Protestant subculture. This unifying discourse, which was most fully developed and popularized by Lyman Beecher and thus in this book is called the ‘Beecherite Synthesis,’ transcended section, religious denomination, and political affiliation. It proved to be the most important means of extracting transcendent meaning from the experience of the war.”
This issue of AUDITION features a portion on an interview with John Pinheiro, the full version of which will be heard in a future edition of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal.
Wed, 8 October 2014
Since 2006, theologian Richard Viladesau has been working on a multi-book project that has been exploring the meaning of the cross of Christ in Christian theology and in the artistic expressions of faith. The first book in this series (all published by Oxford) was The Beauty of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts from the Catacombs to the Eve of the Renaissance. The second, published in 2008, was The Triumph of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. The third book, published this year, is The Pathos of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts—The Baroque Era.
In an interview with Ken Myers for the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, Vilasdeau explained: “The arts were used as kind of illustrations or as kind of proclamations . . . for the service of God. The main intent was to serve as a mode of preaching, a visible mode of preaching in the case of the graphic arts or an auditory mode of preaching in the case of music. The problem is, of course, particularly when you get to the graphic arts, is that you have to be concrete, and in being concrete, you’re always saying both more and less than what the original message is.”
This issue of Audition features an excerpt from that interview, to be featured on a forthcoming volume of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal.