Restricted Should Lee Chapel be Renamed?

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byron ed

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I visited Lexington recently and thought I'd share these photos from the Lee Chapel and Museum and Washington and Lee University.

It's reasonable that that Lee's memorial is being restored more to it's original intent as a mausaleum, a room in the back of what was then a Christian chapel. The next thing that needs to happen is to stop identifying this as Lee Chapel, since all the Christian trappings were long since removed. Being a chapel is not appropriate for a fallen civic hero,* and it's something this particular civic hero (Lee himself) would have been greatly disturbed by, as would the Mrs., whose intent was to have Lee's Sarcophagus displayed in a connected room at the back of the existing Christian chapel --- in no way would either of them allow supplanting worship of God in Christ with worship of a secular hero. Lee Memorial should be the name of the place.

I understand how the place became to be known as Lee Chapel by default, but just like the ring of Confederate battle flags being removed (the CBF being another thing Lee himself was opposed to glorifying) it's time to correct past agendas.



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* I searched for definitions, they are all quite clear what a chapel is: i.e. "a small building for Christian worship...a subordinate or private place of worship...A place of worship that is smaller than and subordinate to a church...The term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship...A chapel is a building used for worship by members of some Christian churches...
a small building or room used for Christian worship...a room that is part of a larger building and is used for Christian worship" etc. etc.

We do not worship Lee, we honor him. His sarcophagus is not an altar despite how the space has been re-oriented over time to appear that way.
 
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White Flint Bill

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It's reasonable that that Lee's memorial is being restored more to it's original intent as a mausaleum, a room in the back of what was then a Christian chapel. The next thing that needs to happen is to stop identifying this as Lee Chapel, since all the Christian trappings were long since removed. Being a chapel is not appropriate for a fallen civic hero,* and it's something this particular civic hero (Lee himself) would have been greatly disturbed by, as would the Mrs., whose intent was to have Lee's Sarcophagus displayed in a connected room at the back of the existing Christian chapel --- in no way would either of them allow supplanting worship of God in Christ with worship of a secular hero. Lee Memorial should be the name of the place.

I understand how the place became to be known as Lee Chapel by default, but just like the ring of Confederate battle flags being removed (the CBF being another thing Lee himself was opposed to glorifying) it's time to correct past agendas.



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* I searched for definitions, they are all quite clear what a chapel is: i.e. "a small building for Christian worship...a subordinate or private place of worship...A place of worship that is smaller than and subordinate to a church...The term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship...A chapel is a building used for worship by members of some Christian churches...
a small building or room used for Christian worship...a room that is part of a larger building and is used for Christian worship" etc. etc.

We do not worship Lee, we honor him. His sarcophagus is not an altar despite how the space has been re-oriented over time to appear that way.

Is this space no longer being used as a chapel? I just assumed that it is. I grew up attending a little church called Kerns Memorial United Methodist Church. It was named in honor of the Kerns family and there are many churches here with such names. Of course we didn't worship the Kerns family. As you said, the family was simply honored by the naming. I have just assumed that is the case with Lee Chapel.
 

byron ed

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Is this space no longer being used as a chapel? I just assumed that it is....

Yes, my understanding of it is that the space has been, and continues to be, used as a chapel. Yet do the pews face a Crucifix or do they face Lee's scheplecure?

It would be easy enough to return the Crucifix and have the pews face it. That's not asking for some sea change of political correctness, but merely returning the space to the Lee's original vision of it.
 
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byron ed

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...Let's don't spoil Bill's great picture thread with another debate about...the name of Lee Chapel

It's fair to challenge that this should be called a chapel, a place of worship. That in no way spoils Bill's great pictures, and anyway it's Bill's call to be upset by it or not.

But thanks for the link to an older thread on the topic, yes newly pertinent in context of Bill's images here.
 
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Dave D

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... The next thing that needs to happen is to stop identifying this as Lee Chapel, since all the Christian trappings were long since removed.


"The University began construction on the Chapel in 1867 at the request of Robert E. Lee, who served as president from 1865 to 1870 of what was then called Washington College."

( https://www.wlu.edu/lee-chapel-and-museum/about-the-chapel/history )

The building was conceived, designed, and built to be a chapel and Lee attended weekday worship services here with the students.
 

byron ed

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...The building was conceived, designed, and built to be a chapel and Lee attended weekday worship services here with the students.

The building was conceived, designed, and built to be a Christian chapel and Lee attended that chapel to worship Christ. Since Lee's death the space has been distorted and re-arranged such that the pews no longer face the Cross of Christ, but reversed to the image of Lee in the added sanctuary containing Lee's reclined image. Mrs. Lee intended that sanctuary containing her husband's image to be an addition to the back of the chapel, that her husband might continue as a congregant in perpetuity.

Yet what's happened is that visually the chapel became a place to worship Lee. No foreign visitor would think otherwise. The Lee's wouldn't be happy with the chapel being absconded into what appears to be a Lost Cause shrine.

But things are gradually being corrected. The circus ring of Confederate jacks were removed from the "sanctuary" a few years ago (and rightly, for Lee himself discouraged display of the jack). Black students -- actually all sorts of students -- on the campus resented the appearance of Lost Cause imagery on their campus, and spoke up about it. With the study of history no longer burdened by agenda - the open-source internet containing reams of un-edited period documentation available to all - folks find Lee's actual last command to his soldiers as the Confederacy collapsed: become good U.S. citizens.

Lee certainly didn't want to be worshiped, merely respected, and by rights the chapel should be returned to that device.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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The building was conceived, designed, and built to be a Christian chapel and Lee attended that chapel to worship Christ. Since Lee's death the space has been distorted and re-arranged such that the pews no longer face the Cross of Christ, but reversed to the image of Lee in the added sanctuary containing Lee's reclined image. Mrs. Lee intended that sanctuary containing her husband's image to be an addition to the back of the chapel, that her husband might continue as a congregant in perpetuity.

If this is true, the pews being rearranged, when did it happen?
 

Viper21

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Is this space no longer being used as a chapel? I just assumed that it is. I grew up attending a little church called Kerns Memorial United Methodist Church. It was named in honor of the Kerns family and there are many churches here with such names. Of course we didn't worship the Kerns family. As you said, the family was simply honored by the naming. I have just assumed that is the case with Lee Chapel.
Lee Chapel hasn't held religious services in a long time. I don't know precisely when the last services were held. I just know it hasn't been used for that in some time. I will find out when the last regular service was held.

The University says specifically:

"Lee Chapel is a gathering place for the University's most important academic events. Concerts, lectures and other University activities take place regularly in the 500-seat auditorium on the main level and its balcony. It is also used for weddings and memorial services. It is not a consecrated religious space."

 

byron ed

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Lee Chapel hasn't held religious services in a long time. I don't know precisely when the last services were held. I just know it hasn't been used for that in some time. I will find out when the last regular service was held.The University says specifically:"Lee Chapel is a gathering place for the University's most important academic events. Concerts, lectures and other University activities take place regularly in the 500-seat auditorium on the main level and its balcony. It is also used for weddings and memorial services. It is not a consecrated religious space."...about-the-chapel/frequently-asked-questions...

Which, again, is why it should be called Lee Memorial Hall, and lose the over-the-top Lee worship space appearance. For one, pews do not belong in a CW Memorial. It disrespects the man for the way he would see it.

Here again is a sampling of the definitions for what a chapel is (underlines mine): "a small building for Christian worship"..."a subordinate or private place of worship"..."A place of worship that is smaller than and subordinate to a church"..."The term chapel usually refers to a Christian place of prayer and worship"..."A chapel is a building used for worship by members of some Christian churches"..."a small building or room used for Christian worship"..."a room that is part of a larger building and is used for Christian worship" etc. etc. etc.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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In fact, the pews can't have been turned. I was there in June and I took these pictures showing the pew Lee sat in and the marker on the wall. The docent was very thorough and while a Northerner (like me) was very, very respectful of Lee and his accomplishments and very admiring of him and what he did for the college, the town, and the area. He wanted me to take as many pictures as I wanted and helped me with that. I think he would have mentioned if they had turned the pews. He mentioned taking down the Confederate flags and he mentioned that he himself thought Lee (he's only guess the man's thoughts) would probably have been happier about that himself, but he didn't make any big deal of it for sure. He certainly admired Lee, they all did there. Heck, I admire Lee. Was he flawed? Yes, like they all were, like we all are. I didn't think they were hiding anything.

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byron ed

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That's not true. The pews have never been turned. They are facing the same direction, & in the same place they were when General Lee was attending regular service at the chapel.

Or not: "in 1871, the Lee Memorial Association commissioned a life-sized marble statue from Edward Valentine. No suitable home was found for it until June 28, 1883, when the Lee Mausoleum and a memorial room were dedicated at the back of the chapel." - encyclopediavirginia.org

The back of the chapel. Being a Christian chapel of the period, as built, the pews had certainly been originally installed facing the front, which is the way Lee experienced the space (though Lee's pew is marked, that's no proof of which direction it faced when he was alive). So at some point during one of the several renovation cycles -- some major according to the source -- the space was reorganized to be directed at Lee's mausoleum at what was the back of the chapel. It would be interesting to know when that was.

However the pews ended up facing Lee's image, it's a clear visual signal to visitors that this is a place to worship Lee -- which is ridiculous. It disrespects what Lee himself would have thought of it. The college itself at some point had literally designated the space a "shrine" in recognition of that. But notice the effort the University makes today in posting that the space is not a religious space.

As with removal of that circus ring of Confederate battle flags a few years ago, things are slowly being returned to the proper condition of being a memorial to Lee, and not so much a "shrine." Any American should feel comfortable in paying their respects to this war hero. As it is, how many African-Americans, even students of the college, can stand being in the place for longer than 5 minutes, and that out of requirement of ceremony?
 

Viper21

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Or not: "in 1871, the Lee Memorial Association commissioned a life-sized marble statue from Edward Valentine. No suitable home was found for it until June 28, 1883, when the Lee Mausoleum and a memorial room were dedicated at the back of the chapel." - encyclopediavirginia.org

The back of the chapel. Being a Christian chapel of the period, as built, the pews had certainly been originally installed facing the front, which is the way Lee experienced the space (though Lee's pew is marked, that's no proof of which direction it faced when he was alive). So at some point during one of the several renovation cycles -- some major according to the source -- the space was reorganized to be directed at Lee's mausoleum at what was the back of the chapel. It would be interesting to know when that was.

However the pews ended up facing Lee's image, it's a clear visual signal to visitors that this is a place to worship Lee -- which is ridiculous. It disrespects what Lee himself would have thought of it. The college itself at some point had literally designated the space a "shrine" in recognition of that. But notice the effort the University makes today in posting that the space is not a religious space.

As with removal of that circus ring of Confederate battle flags a few years ago, things are slowly being returned to the proper condition of being a memorial to Lee, and not so much a "shrine." Any American should feel comfortable in paying their respects to this war hero. As it is, how many African-Americans, even students of the college, can stand being in the place for longer than 5 minutes, and that out of requirement of ceremony?
You are wrong. The pews have never been turned around. They are facing the same direction they were when, General Lee was attending services at the chapel. Because you think otherwise, doesn't change the facts.

Most of the period churches I've personally entered, have the pulpit facing the main entrance. That way the preacher can see anyone who walks in during his sermon :cool: Such is the case with Lee Chapel. Perhaps if you were to visit the chapel yourself, you'd realize the error in your hypothesis.

The church that my Mother regularly attends (me sometimes), was built about the same time as Lee Chapel was. It is laid out almost identically. It's very similar in design, inside, & out.
 

mikekj

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I believe the "back of the chapel" would be behind the speaker, lectern, pulpit, etc. As one walks through the "front doors of the chapel" you are looking at the rear of the pews towards the rear of the chapel.
 

Lost Cause

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Yes, my understanding of it is that the space has been, and continues to be, used as a chapel. Yet do the pews face a Crucifix or do they face Lee's scheplecure?

It would be easy enough to return the Crucifix and have the pews face it. That's not asking for some sea change of political correctness, but merely returning the space to the Lee's original vision of it.
Have you ever visited the Lee Chapel?
 
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