Myth of Power

Myth of Power

Pentecost 32

Legend or myth has it that the man known as Saint Andrew was crucified on two pieces of wood reminiscent of the Roman numeral for the number ten of “X”. For most who call this man Saint Andrew, there are two different myths about who he was and how he came to be a disciple of the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. Both come from scripture, one being that Andrew, a common name of the time, followed the traveling preacher now called John the Baptist. The story says that when Andrew saw John’s cousin, Jesus, he immediately recognized him as the promised Messiah John the Baptist had been preaching about and become a follower of Jesus. Another story tells of Andrew and his broth Simon Peter out fishing when the man Jesus calls to them and invites them to be “fishers of men”. Whether you follow the story of Luke or of John, all agree that Andrew was present at the final meal Christian mythology calls the Last Supper.

After the death of Jesus, Andrew embarked on travels of his own, continuing to preach as John the Baptist and Jesus had done. He traveled along the Black Sea into Kiev and other regions. For such travels and preaching, he is considered the patron saint of Ukraine, Romania, and Russia. Andrew was tied with ropes to a structure known as a crus decussate or saltire, an x-shaped cross. He hung there until he died, martyred for his beliefs. The Eastern Orthodox cross has near its base a similar cross piece that makes the bottom reflect such a symbol.

Many legends and myths abound regarding Andrew. One tells of a ship carrying Andrew that ran aground on what today we call Cyprus. Andrew supposedly went ashore and struck his staff in the sandy soil, causing a spring of healing water to erupt. There are others regarding Cyprus as well as Malta and places within Romania. Those in Kiev lay claim to visitation by Andrew although some historians doubt this is true, believing that some just wanted to be able to make the claim to aid in tourism.

It is not disputed that Andrew’s relics or partial remains ended up in Scotland. The Roman emperor Constantinople was aid to have had “divine guidance” in sending these relics to Scotland. According to legend or myth, in 832 ACE, a group of Scots and Picts charged into battle with the mighty Angles near the modern city of Athelstaneford. The Scots’ leader Oengus prayed top Saint Andrew, vowing that if he experienced victory, he would make Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. The legend states that on the morning of the battle a crus decussate or saltire appeared in the sky, formed out of clouds. The modern-day flag of Scotland reflects a white saltire against a blue background. A 1320 declaration named Andrew to be the “first to be an apostle” and the patron saint of Scotland. Saint Andrew crosses, the saltire proudly displayed on the flag, were carved into Scottish fireplaces to ward off evil spirits and worn to offer protections from witches.

The Andrew’s Cross has been used by many countries and groups throughout time to reflect devotion to a cause and strength. It is used, as previously mentioned, on the flag of Scotland and on the flag of Jamaica. It appears in reverse coloration from Scotland on the flags on the Russian and Imperial Russian Navy flags. A red variation on a field of white appeared as crosses swords on the Spanish Burgundy Flag, the flag of the Spanish empire from 1506-1701 and as a Spanish naval land battle flag until 1843. The Spanish burgundy flag was the first flag to fly over some of the Southern U.S. territories known as Southern states and it is reflected in the flags of two states today, Florida and Alabama.

Flags were carried into battle as a mythology, a myth that denoted bravery as well as identification. During the early months of the United States civil uprising known as the War Between the States, the lack of such designation proved the reason for friendly fire on both sides. The Confederacy could not use the flag of the country from which it had just claimed independence so a new flag was adopted in 1861, bearing a left hand corner with seven and later thirteen stars in a circle with three broad stripes, two red with one white in the middle. This first flag of the Confederate States of America was called the “Stars and Bars’ flag.

However, this flag was very similar to the flag used by the United States and could not be easily identified on a field of battle. Resulting causalities from friendly fire were experienced on both sides due to the flag confusion. A plan was devised to use a flag of a state militia, the Northern Virginia militia’s flag. This second official flag of the C.S.A. contained a difference left-hand corner on a field of white and was known as the “Stainless Banner”. The corner decoration contained a Saint Andrew’s cross with stars embedded within the bars of the saltire on a field of crimson. The white background on which the corner sat would allow for easy visibility. A third flag was adopted with a red vertical bar on the right-hand side to prevent anyone from thinking the second flag might be flag of truce. Known as the “red-stained banner” it was under this flag that the final battles were fought and that the Confederacy stopped fighting.

The flag known today as the Confederate Flag is a myth since it never flew over any troops during the War Between the States. A radical group, based upon a myth previously discuss (see The Myth Killing Mankind” published June 18th), adopted a flag using only the left-hand corner of the second and third C.S.A. flags in the late 1800’s. Their myth believing their race to be superior has been responsible for the killing of many innocent people, most recently this past week in a church in South Carolina. Their use of the flag does not denote bravery but rather cowardice, the failure to be brave enough to be with someone different, the lack of courage to grow and become diverse, a weakness not to be respected, revered or duplicated.

For many, any use of a flag of the Confederacy evokes images of family and of the willingness to stand up for one’s convictions. Although many now recognize the multiple layers the War Between the States enveloped, most do not believe any way should be fought for the right to enslave any part of mankind. In a country that was founded for the rights of the common man to exist, a country whose major documents of organization, incorporation, and legislation all boast the words supporting and commemorating “human rights and dignity”, no emblems promoting slavery should be displayed in a judicial or legislative setting.

No one should fail to honor their ancestors, even when those ancestors fought for a cause now discovered to be in error. There is pride to be had in having courage but it takes even greater courage to live one’s belief. The U.S.A. was founded on religious principles that espoused “All men (women) were created equal”. That is no myth and continues to be the compass point from which all legislation and rulings are based.

The states that comprised the Confederacy were beaten and in their defeat had much to regain. The ensuing one hundred fifty-plus years have seen these once-defeated people rise up from the ashes, actual ashes, of their homes to once again thrive and survive. The original inhabitants of Florida and Alabama were the Spanish and their presence is reflected in the red and white saltire flags those states wave over their government buildings.

The Southern states were left with little after the war because war destroys. War never builds. The real strength of these people is not a misnamed flag. It is a myth to believe that a decoration can give power and the flag of a radical, cowardly group should not be desired … unless one wishes to proclaim cowardice and ignorance. The best testament and honor the modern South has given its history is the revival of its cities, the strength of its economy. To admit defeat and become strong again is a testament to its citizenry, people who today boast more integrated institutions, corporations, and entities than any other part of the U.S.A.

Like Andrew, power comes from walking one’s faith. You cannot claim to be Christian without remembering the words of Christian mythologies that state all are God’s children and all are to be respected. It is a foolish myth of power to believe one race to be supreme and to wave a flag that never was really a flag. What passes today for the Confederate Flag was simply a logo of a radical group of man who breathed hate, a hate born out of a fear of the future. It is a painful and embarrassing part of history that needs to die a natural death of misuse.

The flags of our history are just that – flags of antiquity, the past. No one can move forward by living in the past. Reenactments may seem like honoring the past but they must be done with wisdom and not become weekend entertainments. War is not entertaining. Neither is hatred and it should not be advertised in a nation that was founded on human rights. Be proud of your ancestors but let them live where they did – in the past. It is a myth of power to believe that we prepare for the future by repeating the mistakes of the past. Let the past live in museums and on the pages of history books. Today is for living. Today we need to write our own history of success and mankind working having the courage to work together.

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