Recently, my wife and I took the “Emotionally Healthy Relationships” course developed by Peter and Geri Scazzero. During one session we did a genogram. A genogram maps out a multi-generational, relational family tree that notates functional, dysfunctional, broken relationships, and the like. It was a bit uncomfortable and certainly an eye-opening experience. I hate to admit it, but this exercise revealed how much of my family’s relational dynamics (good, bad, and ugly) are prepackaged or woven into my personality and character. This week I finished reading Douglas A, Foster’s A Life of Alexander Campbell. I am a huge Restoration Movement History Geek, and this book does not disappoint! Well, you might be disappointed if you are looking for a simplistic, sanitized, propagandistic, or a revisionist version of an extremely intelligent and complex man. But, after reading this book, I more clearly see how the positives and negatives of Alexander Campbell’s personality have been imprinted on the Stone Campbell Movement’s collective personality.
We can be impressed by Campbell’s intellect, talent, hard work, debates, publications, and influence (both religious and secular). And yet, we can also be disturbed by some of his less than noble attributes. But, it is unfair to judge Campbell with a twenty-first-century perspective. We must realize that he was a man made from his time and culture. And, we must admit that each one of us is, even now, a mix of noble and less than noble attributes.
Foster, helps us, as a movement, to genogram our past by gaining a clear and honest picture of one of our most prominent ancestors and influencers of the Stone Campbell heritage. You may think you are an original. You may be to a certain extent. But, if you ignore the heritage that you are made of you will likely repeat the mistakes of those who have gone before. The goal is not to become embroiled in the past, but rather, to use our understanding of it to map a new future! Thank you, Douglas, for this incredible work.
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