August 18, 2006

With War: Timing is Everything?

Like many around the stblogisphere, I've been thinking about wars just and unjust and have the obligatory mixed emotions which change hourly. World War II is generally considered a "good war" but it's hard to imagine it happening without the "bad war" of WWI, an unimaginably outrageous, unnecessary and brutal war. Times have changed; we've gotten softer and more self-indulgent and that seems to have its benefits - at least when the timing is right*. For example, one could wish for a lot more softness and spinelessness out of Europe in, oh say, 1914. In one of his novels Christopher Buckley humorously outlines the accomplishments of the Baby Boom generation:
"Disco, junk bonds, silicone implants, colorized movies, the whole concept of stress as a philosophical justification for self-indulgence."
But in 1939 or 1941 to have been soft would've insured that the German language would be the world language of 2006, along with all the concommitant horrors that would've attended that and I'm not just talking about the sound of phlegm moving while making guttural Germanic consonant sounds. Yet sometimes I think things are getting better since at least the world condemns civilian deaths (at least when caused by Israeli or American soliders), where it didn't seem to back in the mid-decades of the 20th century. That is progress.

Meanwhile Christianity Today reviews a couple interesting books on the theological differences that helped incite the Civil War. But that war seemed to be fought over a greater principle (be it states' rights or slavery) than the First World War. More interesting to me would be a study of how despite the lack of theological disagreements Christian Europe managed to find herself engaged in carnage on that scale, although some say use of the Christian adjective, at least among the educated elites, is questionable.

* - Which, of course, is the problem. It gives pacifists ample ammunition (ha) since so many wars (i.e. Civil & First WW) weren't expected to last long or have a fraction of the casualties they did.

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