Quest for Meaning
October 20, 2015
October 19, 2015 (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Seminary Ridge Press announced the publication of its new title Gettysburg: The Quest for Meaning, giving readers the chance to explore the multifaceted way people seek meaning in Gettysburg and see it with new eyes.
The 208 page book features essays by a dozen historians and cultural observers on how we remember the battle and understand its consequences edited by Gerald Christianson, Barbara Franco and Leonard Hummel. “The quest for the meaning of Gettysburg is the unfinished work of all who long for a new birth of freedom” said Hummel, “This book exemplifies how such a high ideal may not only take on flesh but also be put into print.”
The work examines the unique history, complex present-day problems, and the dynamic future of Gettysburg and its battlefield, as a part of the search for meaning – a powerful mix of things religious, academic, commercial, cultural and literary. Its authors bring a wide range of disciplines, including history, theology, medicine, literature, social psychology, art, and biblical interpretation – to give nuance to pressing questions about memory and how to make sense of the battle.
Historian Randall M. Miller noticed that “the authors have done something remarkable in rewalking and reworking the hallowed grounds and histories of Gettysburg” resulting in “an epiphany of meanings that are at once revealing and redemptive by helping us reimagine everything we thought we knew about Gettysburg.”
The essays explicate the themes that are found in the award-winning Seminary Ridge Museum occupying the 1832 seminary structure that served as a pivotal military lookout and focal point of the first day of the battle, a large field hospital, and a place where in the mid-19th century, seminarians and professors debated slavery and the biblical interpretation as the American churches were being torn apart. This study and its quest creates opportunities to offer fresh new “voices of duty and devotion” in Gettysburg’s past, its role as “a place of pilgrimage and haunt of ghosts,” and several studies of “The past that Isn’t: The unfinished work,” and more.
In his foreword, Edward T. Linenthal highlights the collection’s creative insights revealed by cultural practices and patterns of pilgrimage, the spiritual and ghostly sense of presence in the place, and the effort to recapture the voices that played important roles in the quest to find meaning from the events at Gettysburg. Linenthal believes that the authors bring a rich world alive “with new eyes” and works together with the “new museum on Seminary Ridge, which sparked the idea for this project.” The fresh eyes are provided by Rick Beard, Gerald Christianson, Pamela Cooper-White, Maria Erling, Barbara Franco, Susan Hill, Bradley Hoch, Gregory Hoskins, Leonard Hummel, Mark Oldenburg, and Nelson Strobert.
Peter Carmichael, Director of the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute, said “today, Americans searching for a Civil War past are swept into a powerful historical and spiritual journey that the contributors of Gettysburg: The Quest for Meaning brilliantly explore in all of its varied dimensions.”
Seminary Ridge Press is the publishing arm of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, specializing in works relevant to the history of Seminary Ridge, theology and the American experience. Gettysburg: The Quest for Meaning (ISBN 978-0-692-44935-6) is for sale at the Seminary Ridge Museum shop and the Gettysburg Seminary Bookstore, 717-338-3005 61 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, for $18.95 plus tax, and shipping to those calling in at 717-338-3005.
Listen to a podcast interview about Gettysburg: The Quest for Meaning with Leonard Hummel at The Seminary Explores.