Matthew R. Perry

When Seminary Makes You Forget Other Passions You Have

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2008 at 7:53 am

Seminary tends to be all consuming, and from 1995-1998, then from 2001 to 2003, I found myself focusing solely on my studies out of necessity. Whatever I try to do, I try to do to the glory of God and and to the best of the ability He has given me. In the process, I found myself letting slip something of particular interest — U.S. History.

Having grown up in Virginia, we were well aware of the role Virginia played in shaping our country’s history.  Eight presidents came from Virginia, especially early on.  Plus, Virginia played a key point in the Civil War as well, being one of the great states of the Confederacy and the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.  I remember in 2nd grade we took a field trip to Appomattox, the place where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant of the Union Army to effectively end the brutal Civil War (or as the southerners call it, the War of Northern Aggression).  So the love of U.S. history runs deep — but lay dormant during my seminary years.

But no longer! That passion was rekindled this past week when I had an opportunity to visit Richmond, Virginia. We saw the Capital Square (right) which had statues of Stonewall Jackson, George Washington and a number of other Founding Fathers of our country. We went to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where many of the Confederate soldiers (including Robert E. Lee) worshiped.

Then we went to the Museum of the Confederacy. You may also see in the picture the gray building to the left — that’s one of the nine U.S. Court of Appeals. What really struck me in the Confederate museum was not only the fight that the “Rebs” had in the war, but also how they took for granted certain customs in their culture, not the least of which was slavery. One display showed an insurance advertisement from American Life advertizing how well they would help slave owners stay insured on slaves in case they died or escaped. They were treated as property — something rather detestable to me.

Matthew Perry and R.E. LeeBut the South produced one of my heroes, General Robert E. Lee. To the right, you see me posing next to a thumbnail picture of Robert E. Lee at the Museum. The Confederacy’s position on states’ rights showed in Lee’s conviction to stay true to his beloved Virginia rather than join the Union Army.

On Saturday, we went to Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson, our country’s third president who served from 1801-1809) and Ash-Lawn Highland (home of James Monroe, our country’s fifth president who served from 1817-1825).  While Thomas Jefferson (1735-1826) was not what one would call an orthodox Christian since he rearranged his Bible to take away all of the supernatural elements, he did possess a keen mind and intellect as one of the main crafters of our country’s governmental structure.  He was a man of immense detail, writing down and blueprinting every aspect of Monticello — making it very easy on later curators of the home to recreate the layout right down to the cups on the dining room table.  The visitor’s guide (left) was filled with wonderful information that Cindy read through all the way home from Virginia.

Not many really know about James Monroe, our nation’s fifth president.  His home was much more modest that Jefferson’s, but his resume is quite impressive nonetheless.  He did not keep the records of his home like Jefferson did, but he contributed greatly in Jefferson’s administration to the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 which doubled the size of our country.  He also put forth his vision of Manifest Destiny in which he urged European nations to stay out of the Western Hemisphere while nations in North and South America began to blossom into full-fledged democracies.  Also, Manifest Destiny was America’s believe that we were destined to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  This would shape our foreign policy for the three or four administrations after his.

So there it is!  What passions do you have?  What has made them lay dormant?  Just curious.  This was just an incredible vacation.

  1. I have a passion for a few things, all dormant due to full time college. Here are a few:

    1. Church history, particulary working through Luther’s letters and writings.

    2. Skateboarding. I have been for 15 years, and it is fun.

    3. Travel/Geography: I love driving across the states and watching the change of geography and flora. I really want to drive to and through South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and back through Utah with my son Simon, camping along with the way and stop and marvel at historical and natural landmarks, marveling at God’s glory.

    4. I want more evangelism with total nonbelievers. In the area I live, there is an indifference, and most have at one point identified with Christianity, regardless whether they are continuing to. I want to do more evangelism with people who have never thought about Christianity and possibly are hostile.

    Your vacation sounds great! Thanks for the questions.

  2. Same here on #4. I’m working on making contacts at particular schools to do a study through “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. I’d appreciate your prayers in the matter.

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