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We no longer have ears to hear or eyes to see. The eyes and ears of the Civil Warriors were taught during two centuries. Europe’s very first program of universal education began in Protestant areas of Germany in the second half of the 17th century, and the teachers’ manuals offered instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic and four-part harmony. As many German Protestants sought refuge in America as Englishmen, and the hymn-singing culture that produced a Bach or Haendel also informed the soldiers of the Civil War. That is America’s true popular culture, the adornment of its true Protestant mission.

No longer. As Joseph Bottum explains in a 2013 book that I reviewed here, the old American Protestantism has all but been replaced by a secular religion inspired by the old Social Gospel, in which religious categories are twisted to fit the narcissistic sentiments of the descendants of the old Puritans. How did this happen? Perhaps because the sacrifice of the Civil War was too great: it killed or crushed the spirit of the most enthusiastic members of that generation.

Appomattox Through a Glass Darkly — read it, the discussion of music is well worth the time.