A Brief Look Into the Southern Soul

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Don’t let anybody tell you that because strip malls and subdivisions have sprawled across the South, that the “Old South” is dead, or that “we don’t live in that time.”

Most of the people who say those things are, obviously, against the Southern heritage. They wouldn’t say we “don’t live in that time anymore” when it comes to apocalyptic predictions about global warming, or the throwback-to-Gomorrah pro-trans agenda at work today. Why do they say it about the South?

Because unlike global warming and sex changes, the South is real.

Here is the Abbeville Institute giving a glimpse into the souls of two great Southerners:

Between the characters of Washington and Lee, Dr. Palmer, in a recent address, draws a parallel which is no less true than it is eloquent and suggestive. The points of resemblance between them were indeed many and striking. Both were Southerners; both were slaveholders, both, by inclination as well as inheritance, were planters; both possessed in an eminent degree those qualities which ennoble and invigorate the Southern character; and both were inspired by a heroic devotion to liberty and right. But here the parallel ends…

For instance, both were of unflecked social purity. Washington, however, was cold and austere in his nature. Inaccessible to men, formal to women, no warmth of social enjoyment or rational pleasure ever thawed the frigid dignity which enveloped him. Lee, on the contrary, was affectionate and genial. Cheerful without levity, cordial but not obtrusive, he enlivened the hours of relaxation with a humor almost sportive in its fancy, while the moments of sorrow were comforted by the sympathies of a loving heart…

Both were just, magnanimous, and modest. Washington, however, was born with a love for command, and a yearning after it. He fawned upon no one, and he scorned to act the part of a demagogue; but those whom he suspected of disputing his leadership he denounced with fierce and vehement wrath. Even those who beheld him for the first time intuitively recognized in him a master; for the intensity of his will, and its calm self-assertion, placed him in authority over men as naturally as the sweep of pinion and the strong grasp of talons place the eagle in the kingship of birds.

To Lee self-assertion was a thing unknown. His growth into universal favor and honor was the result of a slowly dawning consciousness in the popular mind of his retiring merit and transcendent excellence, of that affinity which silently draws together great men and great places when a nation is convulsed.

Take Washington and Lee as two twin poles of Southern manhood and statesmanship: both stoic, both devout, both dutiful, and both powerfully in command of their manly duties, but distinguished in personality. Personality, after all, only gets sharper as virtues grow stronger.

Read the rest of this very long piece from the Institute and get a deeper glimpse into what these two men’s greatness was made up of.

It’s important, given the outlook of the United States.

The South is inevitable as a nation. It’s the most Christ-haunted, the most conservative, the most local and rooted, the most patriotic, and the most soldierly region in North America. While Catholicism eventually degraded into ethnic tradition in other regions, the South maintained a longstanding historical relationship with the Church. Rosaries are in the graves at Jamestown. Jefferson Davis was penpals with Pope Pius IX. America’s first cathedral was the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, at the time a hub of post-Jamestown Southern culture. The same city is the historic capital of Catholicism in the United States, from which the Baltimore Catechism was issued, and from where America got her official patroness, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. The famed “poet laureate” of the Confederacy was a Catholic Priest.

But with all this under existential threat from Black Lives Matter’s statue-toppling and anti-White racism, from the regime’s anti-Christian cultural politics, from Marxist academia’s fashionable folk tales about Southern “bigotry” and “racism,” to Hollywood’s propaganda churn…one is tempted to ask: Can the South rise again?

If we begin by admitting that the future will simply not resemble the past, and if we admit that all of our ancestors marched into the same unknown we’re marching into, holding fast to their traditions, things become clearer.

Boyd Cathey responds, at Reckonin’, and takes it back to the Faith of Our Fathers:

Since the 1980s and ‘90s, we have seen the almost unrestrained and rapacious growth of an eventually fatal cancer within our body politic. Denominated variously as “progressivism,” “neo-“ or “post-Marxism,” and more recently as “anti-racism” or “the movement for equity,” it draws its force intellectually from the concept of the Idea of Progress, that is, that history unfolds irresistibly in one direction—the “progressive” direction—which encompasses the ineluctable advance and triumph of essentially secular and globalist ideas. At base it is egalitarian, and even though it may profess respect for or even belief in God, its cumulative effects are to pervert, weaken and, finally, destroy the natural linkage between man and his Creator. For the progressivist, religion, particularly the Christian religion, becomes just one more obstacle to be tamed, neutralized, and lastly, employed in the advance to a universal secular utopia.

In the contemporary South the great success of the revolutionaries has been to atomize much of society, deprive large portions of it, especially the young, of those inherited traditions, those customs, those beliefs—those memories—which have given it substance and continuity, which have served as its shield and buckler. Instead of what Southern writer Richard Weaver called a communitarian “social bond individualism,” life centered around family and church, and indelibly defined by region and custom, progressivism breaks and severs those bonds, isolates individuals, and renders them subject to the social decay and dislocation which an omnipotent managerial state, in league with woke capitalism, utilizes to advance its vision of a future society.

One of the most remarkable poems of the 20th century is by the incomparable Southern Agrarian Donald Davidson. Titled “Lee in the Mountains,” it summons us once more to the battle lines and to eventual victory, if we have faith and an unshakeable commitment to our cause. For, in the end, God will not forsake us:

Young men, the God of your fathers is a just
And merciful God Who in this blood once shed
On your green altars measures out all days,
And measures out the grace
Whereby alone we live;
And in His might He waits,
Brooding within the certitude of time,
To bring this lost forsaken valor
And the fierce faith undying
And the love quenchless
To flower among the hills to which we cleave,
To fruit upon the mountains whither we flee,
Never forsaking, never denying
His children and His children’s children forever
Unto all generations of the faithful heart.

Read the whole piece and hear Mr. Cathey’s own family story. It gives his writing even deeper meaning.

Saint Bede; Saint Patrick; Saint Andrew: ora pro nobis!