But who was the man behind the monument? A new book by a Lexington, Va., resident explains Lee’s motivation. In “The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee,” R. David Cox addresses how Lee defined his life. His reading of Lee’s papers confirms that Lee was deeply religious. But his religion allowed the moral contradiction that scarred the nation. What sort of religion allowed such wrong?
Lee then, like Cox and myself now, was an Episcopalian. Lee was the product of a rational, English Christianity and an American evangelical one. Uniting his faith was the sense of a superintending providence. As Cox explains, “whatever happens — other than as the result of human sin — happens because God wants it that way: ... what happens is, in the end, best.”
Lee believed that divine will inevitably prevailed. Mortals could accept God’s designs; or they could — by rejection, passivity, or “outright sin” — make the world “more wicked.” Lee saw passivity as a source of evil. So he acted, even as he pondered the circumstances in which he found himself. He was capable of resignation, not passivity.
Speaking to the Soul: Alleluia! Alleluia!
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