How does blood cleanse, if it is not a matter of revenge? “Washed in the blood of the Lamb” always seems a strange, powerful image to me. I was listening to an old folk spiritual recently, “Wayfaring Stranger,” and I wondered if the wildness and mystery of such traditional Christian images hasn’t gone underground. The song contains this verse: I want to wear a crown of glory When I get home to that good land. I want to shout salvation’s story In concert with the blood-washed band. Shouting salvation’s story has been in vogue lately as a way to secular power, but does our nation, led by a president who calls Jesus his favorite philosopher, still know the difference between a blood-washed and a blood-soaked band? Whatever kind of band we are, the blood has to be hidden. For at the very moment that our society has become more sophisticated at inflicting violence and at fictionalizing it for entertainment, real violence is less visible. — Dan Finlay