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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Military History

Interesting that Fred would lead me to Victor.

In an article back from 2002, Victor Hanson laments (as does Fred in his latest blog) the lack of Military History being taught in colleges today. I like how Fred marvels that its absence cannot be accounted for by lack of interest: Look at the sales of military history books and the success of military history on television/cable/satellite channels.

Prof. Hanson's article is also an apologetic of sorts for the potential virtue of war. I agree with him when he writes:

"The very thought that Mao, Stalin, and Hitler had murdered far more millions off the battlefield than on was incomprehensible...War, military history teaches us, on the right occasions can save more lives than it takes. Pacifism and appeasement can take more lives than they save."

One of the problems with war, in such instances, is that it can be difficult to argue from a preventative standpoint. In other words, all people see are the bodies on the battlefield and it is much harder to see the bodies (often because they would be hidden anyway) that might have arisen via pacifism and appeasement. For instance if someone invades my home and I kill him, while it would be easy to argue that he'd invaded my home, its much harder to argue that if I had done nothing he would have gone on to invade other people's homes. (Even though we all know the truth of this).

It's all very nice to stand in protest with peace signs and banging on bongo drums, but really only if you assume the "other" guy is willing to return your favor in kind. This somewhat hearkens back to the notion of our feminizing men, who feel less and less need to aggressively defend themselves or others. Besides military history, our regular history (even recent - see the horrible tale of the Wichita Massacre) teaches us that some people are indeed evil. Please, can we be weary of moral ambivalence?

It's a little hard - given our present social environment - to think about peace being more ugly and/or deadly than war, but clearly history tells us it can be and has been. Why aren't we teaching it?

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:15 AM [+]
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3 comments


3 Comments:

Now THIS I agree with. Sitting back and making nice with an aggressor has never yet worked. Why else would St. Sergius of Radonezh have sent two warrior monks to advise whoever it was -- Dmitri Donskoy? -- on battle tactics? Why else would the warrior Alexander Nevsky be declared a saint? Sorry, pacifists -- war may be evil, but it *is* a *necessary* evil.

By Blogger Meg, at 1:45 PM  

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How do you factor in Christ's commands to turn the other cheek? His lack of resistance to the Romans? His words of blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons os God? Interesting that in a very bloody and oppressed social context (Roman oppression), He never once even drifted towards your argument.

Also, real peace *making* is not the bongo drum marching cartoon you portray. Whether legitimate and effective diplomacy, or the active, intentional, and yes courageous methods (of, say King and Gandhi) - there are those examples in history and current day practice where peacemaking takes more courage than you or I might posssess. That's NOT to say that there may be times when a state might be called upon to legitimately fight. I guess I just don't think that the issue, as a Christian, is about simplistically realized masculine and feminine cartooned gender roles.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 AM  

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How do you factor in Christ's commands to turn the other cheek? His lack of resistance to the Romans? His words of blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons os God?

Well it's not easy to factor in, is it? Generally I take it to be a command for me to employ personally on levels that deal not only with violence. I feel profoundly obliged to defend my family - if you do not then there is frankly something wrong with you. By the same token, if someone were to try and kill me it would be a VERY serious problem for my family and hence I DO feel morally obligated to protect myself. Not to mention I'm rather fond of myself.


Do YOU believe these references insist on pacifism?

Why do you suppose Jesus commanded his disciples to purchase a sword? (Luke 22:36) I really have no answer here.

Interesting that in a very bloody and oppressed social context (Roman oppression), He never once even drifted towards your argument.

Jesus, not being Muhammed, had no political vision for His mission or for His disciples. Thank God. He also never mentioned that Atheistic Communism is a bad form of government, but that doesn't mean we have no need to note as such.

Also, real peace *making* is not the bongo drum marching cartoon you portray.

You're right (whoever you are)...I admit I was being a bit melodramatic. It's just that every friday I see a small collection of bongo drum toting pacifists at the ferry dock...hence the reference. My bad.

Also, real peace *making* is not the bongo drum marching cartoon you portray. Whether legitimate and effective diplomacy, or the active, intentional, and yes courageous methods (of, say King and Gandhi) - there are those examples in history and current day practice where peacemaking takes more courage than you or I might posssess.

You will note that nothing I have written (or Prof Hanson) states that war should not be avoided whenever possible. Don't turn me into a war monger now.

You mention Ghandi. Well, In 1946 Gandhi said: “Hitler killed five million [sic] Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butchers knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.” When asked: “You mean that the Jews should have committed collective suicide?” He replied: “Yes, that would have been heroism.”

I'm sorry, but I think Ghandi is dead wrong. The full quote has him claiming that the Nazi's hearts would have melted to see them laying down their lives. He's wrong.

That's NOT to say that there may be times when a state might be called upon to legitimately fight. I guess I just don't think that the issue, as a Christian, is about simplistically realized masculine and feminine cartooned gender roles.

You are right, the issue is that given our current state of moral ambiguity I do not think we will ever be able to muster the moral fortitude to fight for a legitimate cause. We don't recognize them anymore.

I'm not for war for war's sake...I am for war when the peace without it is worse.

By Blogger fdj, at 9:56 AM  

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