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Healing, justice, and memory of war
For so long after the Civil War, Americans faced an overwhelming task of trying to understand the tangled relationship between two profound ideas: healing and justice. On some level, both had to occur. Human reconciliations are a good thing, but sometimes reconciliation comes at a terrible cost. The reunion after so horrible a civil war was a political triumph by the late nineteenth century, but it was not or could not have been achieved without the re-subjugation of many of those people the war had freed from centuries of bondage.

As long as we have a politics of race in America, we have a politics of Civil War memory. For Americans, the Civil War has been the defining event upon which we have often imposed unity and continuity. As a culture, we have often preferred the theme of reconciled conflict to unreconciled complexity.”

—David W. Blight, Class of 1959 Professor of History and Black Studies, Amherst College, speaking on the “The Riddle of Collective Memory and the American Civil War,” sponsored by the marial Center on September 19, 2001

The limits of intellectual aestheticism
There is a certain kind of intellectual aestheticism rampant on many university campuses, present also in other circles, which is extremely fond of Russian icons. Not because of the beauty of holiness, but because of the holiness of beauty. In one of the earliest of the Andrew W. Mellon lectures at the National Gallery of Art, Professor Jacques Barzun devoted the entire series to what he titled The Use and Abuse of Art, and he was particularly critical of the use of art as if it could by itself carry the meaning of the transcendent, so that those who do not find the transcendent in the worship of God find it in an art museum rather than a synagogue. And because many of us who try to find it in both places know what that means and what a powerful hold that can have upon the heart and mind, it’s all the more important to recognize both the strengths and limitations of that sort of aestheticism.

—Jaroslav Pelikan, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale
University, presenting “The Christ of the Russian Icon” on October 11, 2001, as part of a series of lectures inaugurating the McDonald Chair for the Study of Jesus and Culture, a distinguished visiting professorship devoted to the person and teachings of Jesus and their cultural impact