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(Walt Garlington, RECKONIN’) – Exile from one’s homeland can cause overwhelming grief to flood over him, a condition illustrated poignantly in the familiar Psalm 137, which begins with the words, ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.’
However, internal exile gives rise perhaps to even sharper pains, as these exiles must stand by and watch as piece after piece of their tradition is destroyed before their eyes.
Internal exile is the situation of traditional Southerners today. And though there are differences between internal and external exile, they are sufficiently similar that Dixie can draw wisdom from the experiences of those who have suffered external exile.
Two especially superb examples of Christians suffering patiently and joyfully despite their exile come to us from the early 5th century: St. John Chrysostom and St. Olympias. St. John is one of the finest pastors the Church has ever known. His surname, Chrysostom, means ‘golden tongue’, a name given to him for the excellence of his many sermons. He was exiled from Constantinople by the God-hating rulers of his day who falsely accused him of various infractions. St. Olympias was born into a well-to-do family, but devoted her life to God after her betrothed died. She became a deaconess in the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia under St. John and was sent into exile because of her loyalty to her godly pastor.
Many letters of these two to one another have survived to our day, and they offer a wealth of helpful advice on how Southerners can deal with our current…