Some Southern people misappropriate ancestry.
Many modern Southerners disregard their ancestors. I hit on that nail in my last post. Either they neglect to think about them or they willfully forget them. Some Southern people misappropriate ancestry. But how?
Family has suffered at the hand of modernity. Our communities used to be agricultural. Our families were agrarians. By necessity, we lived together or in close proximity. The land provided a means of survival and communities formed around its life-giving abundance. Relationships were forged in the work of community to produce the yield of the land and conserve the resource. Towns were tobacco towns, mining towns, fishing towns, and livestock towns. They were communities made of families enjoying the provision of God through the land.
Now, families disperse to chase the “American Dream”, whatever utopian ideal that represents. Kids move off to find higher-paying jobs so they can buy 4000 square foot homes and drive expensive European cars. They go to liberal colleges where professors teach them that they are better than their ancestors, smarter than their parents, property is a code word for slavery, and the land should be for everyone to enjoy (as long as enjoyment doesn’t include hunting, fishing, farming, mining, or any other non-PC activity).
So much damage has been done to our Southern heritage, many of our Southern children would rather forget their ancestors than honor them. Lincolnists have spun the story of our fathers and grandfathers for a century and a half. Since Reconstruction our children have lived as sons and daughters of conquered enemies of the State. The State has gained control of their education and the truth about their fathers and mothers has been intentionally hidden from them and a distorted historical lie has replaced it.
Cultural Marxists have engaged in total war on the Southern culture, purging the South and her people from the acquired spoils of war, the Southern land. They know to separate the people from the land and to provide a narrative of condemnation of thier ancestors is to divide the community from its roots. It’s meant to kill the culture. What child in their right mind would take on the established meta-narrative provided by public school teachers, scallywag politicians, and Soros funded carpet-bagging looters and rioters, much less challenge the accepted story that any effort to vindicate their ancestors is a “lost cause”. Their most treasured confidant, social media, tows the line that their fathers were traitors and bigots.
Some Southerners consider their ancestry but their contemplations are often ill-conceived. This misconception comes when folks consider the faithfulness of their family to be something intrinsic to them. For example, there may be a very faithful person who many people in a family have looked to for religious inspiration of sorts. That person is sometimes seen as inherently faithful, somehow distorting the truth that any faithfulness that they may have displayed was actually God’s work in that person. That kind of distorted view of ancestry is simply ancestor worship. It steals or misappropriates God’s glory in place of an ancestor’s.
The same mistake is often made of the Biblical figures in the Scriptures. Abraham, David, or Paul are often placed on a pedestal that they don’t belong. It’s easy to attribute faithfulness to a so-called faithful person when in truth, the faithfulness is God’s. No person self-generates their own faithfulness. God regenerates unfaithful people to display his faithfulness. The Scriptures are clear on this. People by nature are unfaithful. Our so-called good works are as filthy rags. This is true of Abraham, David, and Paul. It is true of our ancestors as well.
Looking back for God?
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. While a person may have been truly faithful, they do not get credit for that faithfulness. It is God’s work in them and for that God deserves all the credit. That is what I mean when I say that when we look back at our ancestors, we can look back at God. We can see with a clearer vision aided by the long view of time, that God has worked faithfully for his people. When you think of how your Scottish, Irish, Welsh, African, or German ancestors came to this New World, how they trusted God, how they lived, worked, loved, and worshiped in community, how they explored, lived off, fought for, and conserved the land, see God’s faithfulness in it all.
Have some historical and ancestral perspective
See God’s creativity in his community. From the poorest Celtic miner, to the stolen African slave, the circumstances are different but the stories are similar. God has always been present in oppression when he hasn’t always ended oppression.
See God’s unifying love displayed in a way modernity excuses from history. The free black soldier and the son of a plantation owner bleeding together for the land they both call home. What love is greater than that of a friend who would lay down his life for another?
See God’s blessing on families filling the quivers of two people committed to each other in the sight of God. Let no man separate what God has joined together.
See God carry his people home. The forgotten dead, in unmarked graves and grown-over cemeteries, have not been forgotten but face the East eagerly awaiting the promised reunion of body and soul. Look for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God in our Savior Jesus Christ who shall change the body of our humiliation and fashion it anew in the likeness of His own body of glory according to the working of His mighty power wherewith He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.
Focus on the family
I’m uncertain anyone will understand this apologetic of ancestry. Let me apologize if I have been unclear and let me be clear about a couple of things. I am not encouraging folk to gloss over the errors of the past. No one is perfect and the story of God’s faithfulness is one of redemption. God chooses imperfect people to display his manifest grace. The sin is part of the story.
I’m not asking you to live in some apparition of the glory days either. God is not found in that kind of self-deception. We can’t bring back the good ole days. But, we can learn to make the future better by trusting God because we have seen the evidence of his trustworthiness in the life-stories of our people.
Consider your people
Let me encourage you to consider your people though, whoever they are and from wherever they have come. Maybe they were not Christian. It could be that they were oppressed and treated unfairly. Maybe they were privileged and abused God’s providence. Don’t be discouraged. Find God’s faithfulness anyway.
You may not be Southern but maybe there’s something to learn from those who are. Maybe there’s something to this heritage thing. Ancestry is more than a lost cause and it’s worth a detailed look. Stop neglecting your own people. Honor them. It’s good to do so. But more importantly, honor God’s faithfulness to them.
God has chosen to honor ancestry in his Word. We should not neglect a careful study of why he did so. Pondering that ought to incite us to honor our own ancestry by exploring how God was faithful to them. That’s how I see ancestry-looking back for God.