Statue Storm

Confederate statues are quickly emerging as the focus in the national strife we are in. There is a great danger here. Symbols are important, but not as important as what they symbolize, frequently requiring interpretation. 500 years ago Martin Luther was deeply troubled when he heard about crowds tearing down statues in Wittenberg because

he believed the great theological truths of the reform movement would be lost in a mere physical struggle over stone, plaster, and metal. A few years later the so-called Beeldenstorm (“statue storm” or “iconoclastic fury”) included mobs throughout Europe tearing into medieval statues and artwork. Important ideas and ideals were lost in a struggle over physical objects. Physical struggles are easier to instigate than wrestling with the real underlying issues. We should beware. And we should do the hard work of continuing to deal with the real issues of human dignity endowed by God Almighty on all, which were egregiously violated in the institution of slavery. (I offer here no particular opinion on the removal of Confederate statues since I have invested precious little time in thinking about the issue.)

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