Remembrance Sunday 4a
Meditation and Reflection

We will remember them, won't we?

 

We will remember them. We intone it ritually every year. We even make a chronological covenant: ‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning..’

There have been more than 35,000 goings down of the sun since Armistice Day, 1918. We have remembered them at the Cenotaph almost every year since 1919. It dipped a bit during World War II, perhaps understandably, when it became apparent that we hadn’t really fought the war to end all wars. It’s hard to remember the poppies on Flanders fields when you’re battling for Britain and sailing to Dunkirk. But the more we say we remember them, the more we seem to forget. Remember.. Forget..

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.

We can no longer rely on our political leaders to pay their respects to those who gave their lives so that those same politicians could stand in free and fair elections. They gaze at rows of crosses and argue about whether to wear a white poppy this year: political pacifism is deaf to the echoes of guns and bombs that killed our finest and bravest. They died that we might be free: free from tyranny and oppression, and free to determine our own future. Why do we say we will remember them when we chuck serving officers out of pubs; advise members of the Armed Forces not to wear their uniforms in public; and allow the enemy within our universities to ban real freedom fighters because it’s important “to avoid taking sides in conflicts”? Remember.. Forget..

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

They are all dead. They don’t see any more goings down of the sun or mornings. Every life that was loved is just dust. Flanders fields.. Normandy beaches.. Port Said.. Goose Green.. Belfast.. Basra.. Helmand.. etc., etc., etc.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Life isn’t really much to lose when you’re old, but it’s an awful lot when you’re young. We don’t send the old to war: we send the young so that the rest of us can grow old, and then we can build our marble monuments and write our paper memorials to remember the glorious young dead with honour and solemnity, religiously, every year. And then the politicians come along and remove those monuments and re-write those memorials because.. well, times change and we must move on. If not this generation, it’ll be the next. Or maybe the one after that. Old enemies become friends, and old friends become enemies. Memories must be erased because good is re-evaluated and evil is turned to dusty myths.

Would we remember the 1,300 who died in Isandlwana if it weren’t for Zulu? Have you seen Zulu? We don’t really remember them. They don’t want kisses and cuddles any more. Their medals are sold at auction and placed in glass cases to be gawped at. Bronze trinkets for forgotten valour. There is no one to remember them at the going down of the sun or in the morning. Their sacrifice is lost. Who knows? Who cares if it was even worth making?

But God does not forget. He remembers everyone who ever died that we might live, and He knows them all by name. Our wars and tears and times of desolation will pass away, but the spirits of the fallen will sing their songs of glory throughout eternity. Our glorious dead. He will remember them even when we don’t.

  • carl jacobs

    Life isn’t really much to lose when you’re old, but it’s an awful lot when you’re young.

    The reference for those who don’t recognize it.

    Here dead we lie
    Because we did not choose
    To live and shame the land
    From which we sprung.

    Life, to be sure,
    Is nothing much to lose,
    But young men think it is,
    And we were young.

    A. E. Houseman

    • Anton

      Housmans’s “Shropshire Lad” was high among the favourite books of English army officers in the trenches during WW1.

      • carl jacobs

        A month or so back, I was reading on the internet about the “Death of Poetry.” One of the things mentioned was how few Google searches there are for poetry these days. It’s one of the metrics used to measure its rather stunning decline. And I thought to myself “Well, I have searched the internet for poetry in the last year.” But I wasn’t sure that I counted because every poem I was looking for was at least 100 years old.

        It’s sad what happened to art in the 20th century. Poetry is perhaps the most difficult of all art forms, and it is easily the most decayed art form today. I suspect more poems have been written in the last 50 years by “professional poets” than had been written in the previous 500 years. And not one of them is worth a single verse by Kipling.

        • Anton

          Poetry is easily the most decayed art form today? Have you listened to Stockhausen or visited a gallery of modern art?

          They’re all crap, unhappily.

          • carl jacobs

            OK, well … I admit there might be some subjectivity to my evaluation. Reasonable people might come to different conclusions. Especially regarding contemporary classical music. But there is still good music being written. Gorecki’s 3rd for example. Sure, the modernists hated it. But I guess that’s the point isn’t it.

        • Old Nick

          Much as I love Eliot, I fear that it was the Waste Land which sundered the connection between poetry and the reading public – it was too obscure, especially for folk whose previous taste had been the Georgians.

  • The Explorer

    I want to be honest. I hope I give offence to no one, and if I do then I apologise, but this issue confuses me.

    I believe in honouring the war dead. But how far back? Casualties from Afghanistan, Northern Ireland or the Falklands, which happened during my lifetime, are more real to me than those of WWI. I still remember my shock at the news of ‘HMS Sheffield’, or the worst week of Afghanistan road bombings. They have an immediacy for me that even the Battle of the Somme doesn’t have. Ancestry there is the only possible link. I never knew them, and – unlike recent casualties – I couldn’t have known them.

    The Light Brigade, the 44th Regiment of the First Afghan war, the crew of the ‘Revenge’, the bowmen of Agincourt: after how long was it acceptable to consign them to history without public commemoration?

    Another thing that niggles: does this in fact keep old animosities alive? Does it keep us focused on the past enemy instead of the present one?

    • alternative_perspective

      Perhaps but the Somme and WW1 has left an unhealed trauma in the British psyche ever since.

      In those years Britains decline as a power was sealed by a loss of confidence in itself, in the goodness and rectitude of our class based politics and the seeming absence of God on those fields of blood.

      In my opinion that was the first serious war Britain had faced since God’s hand of protection had lifted from us. We had become complacent, arrogant and proud but worst of all abusive in our dominion.

      The shock of mechanised warfare and the hitherto unknown bloody loss it brings coupled with our sudden fallibility left a permanent wound that will only ever be healed by a heart felt national return to God.

      It is as though the abuses of Empire, those bitter seeds sown decades beforehand, were reaped on the battle fields of France and Belgium.

      • The Explorer

        Good points. Two queries.

        1. Are we commemorating loss of national power along with national loss of life?

        2. If we as a nation did return to God, and healed the trauma, would we still feel the need to continue the commemoration?

        • alternative_perspective

          Thanks, those two are also good questions.

          My gut instincts are:
          1. We grieve not only the fallen but the death of Britain as it was. Though I think there’s also an unsaid disbelief at how callous our leadership was, that we could feed the machines of death with our men as though we were putting beef through a grinder. Totally thoughtless and cruel,va compete disregard for human life: I think illustrative of how far the elites of this country had fallen from God. Black Adder hit the nail on the head here.

          2. If the nation repented it would continue to remember but in a different way. Today our mourning is akin to a man shocked that sin has a consequence but who remains unaware of his sin, as one who cannot take responsibility for his own wrong doing. If we were to repent it would be more like reflection on the stations of the cross: penitential, healing and formative. As it is its a tad more like hopeless wallowing: woe is me self pity. I think I’d like to an apology from the government to the families of the deceased for the inhumane way they conducted the campaign.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you.

          • CliveM

            “Black adder hit the nail on the head here”

            No it didn’t. It swallowed hook line and sinker Lloyd George, self serving lie.

          • alternative_perspective

            Something like 60000 Brits died on the first day of the Somme.

            That demanded an immediate change in strategy, I don’t see any evidence to suggest the commanders after witnessing such carnage made any such changes.

            I would like to think they did but to the powers that be saw those men as little more than pawns in their game.

          • CliveM

            One of the many myths surrounding the Somme is that the Generals learnt no lessons or developed their tactics.
            The Somme was in reality a series of battles which saw a major evolution in tactics, which eventually led to the development of the successful tactics used at the Battle of Amien. It is forgotten but the Somme saw the first use of the tank.

            However what I was addressing was the suggestion that the Generals were calous with regards the lives of their men. Many died in the fighting and at least one had a break down because of the stress caused by the responsibility to his men. They also lost sons in the fighting. At the end of the war it was Haig who pushed for the armistice, rather then the total defeat of German armies (which the Anericans were pushing for), because he saw no point in further deaths , the Germans were after all defeated.

    • Dreadnaught

      Forget your History and you forget who we are(were) as a Nation. I see little to recommend the British as a homogenous people capable of defending their land and culture in the future. This is what they all died for?

      • alternative_perspective

        The next war will be on two fronts. Overseas and at home.
        As we fight foreign forces on their lands their coreligionists in the UK will bring the war to ours.

        And the radical (now mainstream) left will err on the side of the opposition. I cannot see a future for a country with nothing to unite it but its geography. We have recreated the Balkan powder kegg on our own islands.

        • Dreadnaught

          No one knows where the ‘front’ is anymore – its anywhere there’s a soft target. The enemy is Islam and that’s untouchable by law.

    • You may know (or not) that the Catholic Church celebrates canonised Saints throughout its liturgical year. Every day has a particular Saint that is remembered and each of them has a story from their own time in the history that is Christianity.

      When Jack was a boy, the school assembly always recalled the brief details of these Saints and their heroic sanctity. Some days there were more than one. It gave one a great sense of membership of a living, breathing community that was making its way victoriously through this time on earth.

      A nation that forgets its past and its heroes is a nation that will not last.

      • The Explorer

        Yes, and that’s my intended point. Note my use of historical examples beyond WW1. I’m not saying (or not intending to) that we should forget WW1; just that we should remember the others as well.

        In my view, those who died on board HMS Hood died for their country just as much as those who died at the Somme.

        If we are saying that Poppy Day commemorates all those through history who have died in the service of these islands, and it is clear to everybody that this is what we are commemorating, then long may it continue.

        • Manfarang

          WWW1 or the Great War as it was called.

        • sarky

          Always thought it commemorated all those who had fallen in service of our country.

          • The Explorer

            Good way of putting it. I suppose the poppies and 11th hour of 11th day makes some people think it’s specific to WW1.

      • chiefofsinners

        It is no accident that All Saints’ Day is so close to Remembrance Day. Nor to the day which we “Remember, remember…” (except Catholics, understandably).
        But this generation has overwritten the lot with the abomination that they call ‘Halloween’.

        • Inspector General

          Erm. It is actually an ‘accident’. 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month and all that…

          • chiefofsinners

            There are plenty of people who believe everything is an accident. Not me.

          • Inspector General

            The only thing planned in the great war was that Germans would re-run the Franco-Prussian war and that victory would be theirs in weeks, or at the latest, a few months. Beyond that short time, everything else came about by expedience.

      • Anton

        I was pleased to see that Pope Francis, within two months of his election, canonised the 800 martyrs of Otranto who were executed for refusing Islam when the Ottomans invaded the heel of Italy in the 15th century.

        • It took a long time coming too. It was Pope Benedict XVI who made the decision. Announced it the same day he informed the world he was to resign as Pope.

    • chiefofsinners

      I think it is about the living. We stand with the veterans as they remember their fallen comrades and we show our gratitude for their suffering. We cannot properly remember the men of Agincourt, but there has been enough conflict and sacrifice in our lifetimes for us to dwell on and learn from.
      I have no direct experience of war, so on Armistice Day I always carry my great grandfather’s dog tags. He died in WW1 and never saw his son. I remember my grandfather, who grew up without a dad. It’s up to each of us to find the connections we can.

      • The Explorer

        The post below says better what I was trying to say.

    • Manfarang

      I remember the laundryman at the front door who couldn’t pick up a coin my mother had dropped because his finger nails were ripped off by the Japanese when he was a POW. I don’t think the cruelty of the Imperial Japanese Army should be forgotten nor do many living in China and South Korea today.

  • carl jacobs

    you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Gen 3:19

    It is the fate of man to be forgotten. We build monuments to ourselves and they collapse. We build nations of ourselves and they fall. It is only our vanity that allows us to think that we could ever build something permanent. But the curse of God upon us is omnipresent. We were made from dust, and ultimately we remain nothing but dust.

    Men live in the tyranny of the moment. We respond to the immediate need and some of us make great sacrifices in the time of need. In the moment we can remember them, but ultimately it is our memories that are memorialized. Monuments after all serve the living and not the dead. As the collective memory of the moment fades with the inevitable onset of death, the monument gradually loses its purpose. Those immediate memories cannot be passed on to succeeding generations. The abstract purpose of the monument might still exist, but the visceral impact that motivated the monument must inevitably fade. We are dust, and to dust we must return.

    If men do not remember today, it is because they have been made dull from a lack of danger. It is the nature of man. What was once received gratefully and memorialized is now taken for granted as an entitlement. Men go about their lives in security and comfort, and take no thought that it could ever be otherwise. What need then have they of soldiers and monuments to wars past? They live in full expectation that tomorrow will be just as yesterday – that peace and security and comfort are theirs by birthright. Not until they feel the visceral fear of losing what they have will they again memorialize in stone their memories of sacrifice made on their behalf.

    In the morning hours of August 6th, 1944, my father was almost killed by an artillery shell in northern France. There was a man standing next to him at the time. That man did not have the good fortune to be standing outside the cone of shrapnel. He died later that day in a hospital. I often wonder about that man, and the life he did not live. I don’t know his name. And I wonder who remembers him. But then, 200 years hence, will any of us be remembered? How much do you know about your great great grandfather? Of his joys, and sorrows? Of his living and dying? Of his life and death?

    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:37-40

    • Manfarang

      My grandfather spoke to a man who had spoken to man who was alive at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
      I once spoke to a Boer war veteran. He told me about a church parade.
      The officer shouted out for all the Anglicans to form up and march to the Anglican church then the Baptists etc. Finally only the veteran and his friend were still standing in the square. “What are you two up to?” enquired the officer. We are rationalists the veteran replied.

  • Dreadnaught

    Yet another sterling post from Cranmer.

    Yes the politicians will bow their heads and lay a wreath of poppies and pretend to remember the dead but who remembers the living? Remembers them enough to house, care and retrain the ex-forces personnel they sent into danger where they wouldn’t send their own offspring? not a chance.

    They even stand by as a long serving sergeant languishes in prison on a life sentence for dispatching a mortally wounded Talib whose pals had the day before, flayed alive a British captive and hung body-parts from trees only for some shit-heat to record Alex Blackman delivering the coup-de-gras on his helmet-cam.

    They would do well to remember him ,as he watches them, engage in this annual tv and photo-op and display of faux sincerity.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Helmand_Province_incident

    • alternative_perspective

      Frankly, I often despair at the moral cowardice and popularity games displayed by our politicians… Sickening.

      I was just graduating when Tony Blair decided to take us into Iraq. His obfuscations and deceipt were obvious to me and immediately put an end to the enlistment process I’d commenced. How could I possibly fight and kill for such a cause? I could never submit to such a devious authority.

    • grutchyngfysch

      Alex Blackman murdered a wounded combatant. He knew he had done this, because he said as much immediately after doing so. He didn’t shoot him in the heat of battle. He dragged him across a field, beat and punched him, and then killed him. As he shot him, he said “…it’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

      Quite so. Which is why, as we punish men who do such when they are our enemies, we must punish men who do such when they fight on our side.

      • Dreadnaught

        And you would tell him to his face would you? You train a man to kill and when he does you sit in judgement. Never been in a tight situation coming under fire I reckon. He was a warrior not an armchair philosopher and laptop general.

        • grutchyngfysch

          I would. You’re right, I’ve never had anyone shooting at me. I have had someone come at me with a knife, and you know what went through my mind and came out of my mouth? “God bless you.” The poor fellow ran off.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Dreadnaught, do you think I wrote what I wrote because I have a problem with warriors? I don’t. I accept the necessity of warfare, of the use of force, and even support the handing down of death sentences by the proper authorities. Alex Blackman was undoubtedly brave and a warrior. But those things do not preclude him also being a murderer, and it is because so many soldiers would not have done what he did, that it is important to punish him for his crime. It’s not a comment on his service.

  • Inspector General

    Here’s something else to remember. We have politicians, even now, who would gladly put British troops on foreign soil to fight evil peoples, who think nothing of waving into this country those very people we could well do without…

    They lost their lives so we might know freedom and peace and security, we’ve been told for decades. Did they? Did they really?

    • CliveM

      Yes they did.

      They may have been betrayed, but it would be wrong to allow their sacrifice to be questioned, because of the actions of lesser men.

      • Inspector General

        One agrees with you, Clive. In the case of the Conservative party, why bother to be a member at all if your prospective parliamentary candidate is imposed on you by Central Office. How would the local members even be assured that the candidate that they will provide genuine and unexhausted effort to promote is a REAL CONSERVATIVE if all that is available from them is a CV. Might as well leave and let them to it…

        • alternative_perspective

          The party system has truly corrupted British politics.

          I would like the dissolution of political parties and the reformulation of informal and fluid groupings, by subject, within parliament; to which individual MPs could join, associate and disassociate: in accordance with the mandate they received from their constituents.

          Add to this the right of recall and we have a representative democracy with superior checks and balances.

          • Inspector General

            There’s an idea. That MPs coming together to form a ‘party’ be indicted for forming an illegal gathering. The riot act to be read, and failure to disperse resulting in a round of shot from the militia.

            One sincerely believes that what we know as democracy is doomed. It is already past its best by.We must look for alternatives and all the sooner at that…

          • ukfred

            Inspector General, why do you think successive politicians have disarmed the populace?

          • Inspector General

            Good question, Fred. It could be stated, and at the same time be true, that the electorate votes in a career politician who is only out to further their own career. What that career is is a mystery to us all in many cases. But in the case of established political parties, we expect the Conservative to be conservative and the Labour hopeful to be a socialist. As for the Liberal Dem, the least said the better. Perhaps one expects some honesty in politics. So you see where the disappointment stems from?

        • CliveM

          Our MP is a local man. He was one of the big surprise wins. I suspect therefore that central office didn’t see our seat as being worthy of imposing a candidate.

          It won’t be to long until the ww2 generation will only have a few remaining. What then? We will probably have the PM of the time publicly apologising for Dresden and the shame it has brought to the country.

      • michaelkx

        as this government adds yet another nail in the coffin of free speech, under the guise of PC, and quietly slips in laws to allow closer scrutiny of our actions, all in the name of safety and harmony. they have been betrayed.

  • “But God does not forget.”

    No, but we are forgetting Him and that is why sacrificial service and death in pursuit of a higher cause is loosing meaning.

    • David

      Indeed Jack, indeed.
      We now have a leadership that struggles to understand motivation outside the approved narrow aims of personal enrichment, personal aggrandisement and hedonistic pursuits. Youth is presented with a very low bar to clear. The very idea of higher ideals, seeking truth and even the common good are becoming unfamiliar, and even questioned, by those who exercise power over us and even strut forward as role models. But man cannot live by bread alone.

  • Martin

    I could feel happier if it were not for the preponderance of military uniforms and parading involved in the remembrance.

    I happily remember those Christians who performed great service for God, and of course, the recent Reformation Day.

    • Inspector General

      Martin, you miss the point of Remembrance Day when you object to uniforms…

      • Martin

        IG

        You mean it is to glorify the military?

        • carl jacobs

          No, Martin. Because men in uniforms go up the hill when men without uniforms would run down the hill.

          • Martin

            Carl

            And what of those who have dies for the gospel down the centuries, did they wear uniforms?

          • carl jacobs

            No, they didn’t. What has this to do with anything? Are you saying that only those who die for the Gospel should be remembered? Are you saying that unless those who died for the Gospel are publicly memorialized, then no one else should be either? I fail to grasp your point.

          • Martin

            Carl

            You seem to be claiming that only those who wear uniform are brave. Are you now changing your mind?

          • carl jacobs

            You seem to be claiming that only those who wear uniform are brave.

            I never said any such thing. Could you answer a question with a direct answer? What is the thesis behind your posts on this thread?

          • Martin

            Carl

            This is what you said:

            “No, Martin. Because men in uniforms go up the hill when men without uniforms would run down the hill.”

            Seems to me that this is saying that those without uniforms are not brave.

          • carl jacobs

            The phrase you quote is an intentional allusion to firemen going up the stairs in n the Twin Towers while survivors went down. Those firemen died.

            The statement was made in and for a particular context.

          • Martin

            Carl

            The context wasn’t obvious, to me at least.

    • CliveM

      Martin

      You make it sound as if these soldiers should be embarrassed by what they done.

      • Martin

        Clive

        Should not war be an embarrassment? Indeed are not some of the adventures of the past embarrassments?

        • CliveM

          Wars are always a failure, however not of these mens making. They did their duty, protected their country. They can be proud.

    • ukfred

      Martin, when one follows in another’s footsteps, one tends to remember one’s predecessor. There is no surprise that there is a preponderance of military uniforms at the Cenotaph, given that most of the fallen we commemorate there were serving in military uniform.

      Equally, when one hears of reports that the vast majority of schoolchildren thnk that Sir Winston Churchill is famous because he founded an insurance company, even those like me who were born when he was well past his prime wonder about what our country is becoming. I dread to wonder how many of the schoolchildren could remember that the Prime Ministers who served during the First World War were called Herbert Henry Asquith and David Lloyd George.

      One name I cannot recall is the man who first uttered the words, “Those who do not understand the lessons of history will be condemned to repeat it”

      • The Explorer

        George Santayana?

        • Pubcrawler

          That’s the chap. Thucydides was even less optimistic: human nature being what it is (kata to anthropinon), history is bound to repeat — or, more precisely, future events will always resemble past events. History is a diagnostic, not a cure.

      • Martin

        Fred

        And in the first and second World Wars many of those who fell were not career soldiers but conscripts, not to mention the civilians that died in the bombing raids. But does it not give the military an opportunity to display how smart they are, how fine their medals look when polished? What a grand recruiting sergeant that is!

        And those events that led to the wars, most could have been learnt of and added to our reasoning to help prevent similar situations happening again. Sadly, as a post war child I was never taught that, indeed mostly I was taught of the glory of the Empire maintained by our politicians and military.

        • carl jacobs

          If Britain had not fought the First World War it would have become a servant of Germany. I can make a credible argument that the world would have benefited far more from German victory than German defeat. It would be a counter-factual argument with all the unavoidable uncertainty. The principle loser in that argument would be Britain.

          If you are willing to say “Better that England be reduced by Germany than the war that was fought” so be it. But that is not how the British Gov’t would fulfill its responsibility to its people.

          • Martin

            Carl

            Do you imagine that it matters to the believer who rules his country when God is in control? They are all sinners and all hate our Lord.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, it matters. All things considered, I’d rather live under Augustus than Caligula.

          • Martin

            Carl

            For the believer, what matters is that you live under the Lord Jesus Christ.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, that’s true.

            But (for example) when my daughter fell in a barn and broke her foot, it also mattered that she could be treated by a doctor. The former does not preclude the latter. The eternal does not mean the temporal can be ignored.

          • Martin

            Carl

            But for the believer God is in control of both.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, that correct. But I still taught my children not to play in the street, and I still took them to the doctor if they got injured. God can ordain outcomes through ordinary means. Providence isn’t fatalism.

    • sarky

      What about the non christians without whose sacrifice you wouldn’t be able to write this crap in the first place?

      • chiefofsinners

        Fair comment. The non-Christians unwittingly sacrificed far more. They gave up what they believed to be everything. They have gone on to eternal separation from God. It is them we should remember the most.

        • sarky

          If you believe that sort of thing then you are absolutely right.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        You mean the likes of you who oppose my freedom to speak of the things of God? But it seems that under this government Theresa May wishes to nullify any claims that they died to save us from tyranny and grant us freedom.

        In any case, was it their sacrifice, did they choose to be there, in the main, or to die?

        • sarky

          You really are a prat!

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Oh dear, have you run out of arguments, long may it last.

          • sarky

            No, just get exasperated arguing with stupidity.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            You argue with yourself? Of course you do, you’re an Atheist therefore mentally unstable. And of course the Bible calls you a fool.

          • sarky

            Pots and kettles.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            You’ve become a tinker?

  • Anton

    Re your last line, they weren’t all Christians, Your Grace. Nevertheless they all died that I and others should be free and I shall certainly remember them.

    To which end, last year and this year I have watched on DVD the two 26-part TV series, The Great War and The World At War. Both superb.

    • “Re your last line, they weren’t all Christians, Your Grace.”
      What a crass, graceless, thoughtless, patronising, ignorant comment.

      • Anton

        God is going to condemn some of them to hell and that is my reservation behind my words. The point of my comment was to say that I am grateful to them all regardless of faith.

      • carl jacobs

        To die for Great Britain (or the United Sates, or any other country for that matter) is not a perfect work on the eyes of God. The shed blood of the soldier does not atone for sin no matter how great his sacrifice. To say that God will remember them is to subtlety invoke the memory of the penitent thief. But that is not a fixed reality in every case. This may be a hard truth, but it is nonetheless true.

        We honor the dead because they deserve to be honored for their sacrifice on our behalf. But we dare not claim that their sacrifice is propitiatory in nature.

      • Inspector General

        God loves all his earthly peoples, even the blighters, one is told. But he loves his Christians better than the rest. Rejoice in that, if you will, eminence…

      • chiefofsinners

        The statement “the spirits of the fallen will sing their songs of glory throughout eternity” is factually inaccurate. Some of them are in hell. Tragic, but true.

        • Pubcrawler

          Indeed. I suspect Wellington’s assessment of his own army wouldn’t have been entirely inaccurate a century later. Remember and lament the loss of life, for no man is an island; reflect with despair on how those who now govern us have surrendered the cause for which they died, because we must live with the results; but be sparing with the hagiography.

  • chiefofsinners

    Forgetting is necessary. Forget that the nations who bombed us 70 years ago are now free to live, work and claim benefits here. Forget that those who sought to take our freedom by force have now done it by EU stealth. Forget the nations of the Commonwealth whose sons died for us and make darn sure they can’t come and work here, however much we need their skills.
    “Old enemies become friends, and old friends become enemies.” says Cranmer. Yes indeed.

  • David

    A first class post from His Grace which exposes the hypocrisy and short memories of our ruling political elite.

  • Manfarang

    Drummer Hodge
    They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
    Uncoffined — just as found:
    His landmark is a kopje-crest
    That breaks the veldt around:
    And foreign constellations west
    Each night above his mound.

    Young Hodge the drummer never knew —
    Fresh from his Wessex home —
    The meaning of the broad Karoo,
    The Bush, the dusty loam,
    And why uprose to nightly view
    Strange stars amid the gloam.

    Yet portion of that unknown plain
    Will Hodge for ever be;
    His homely Northern breast and brain
    Grow up some Southern tree,
    And strange-eyed constellations reign
    His stars eternally.

  • David

    Many of those who regularly scan His Grace’s blog, and comment from time to time, will no doubt soon be off to Remembrance Services at their local places of religious and civic gathering.
    I hope that all those services, and many others the length and breadth of our land and the Commonwealth, allow us to grasp the enormity of what has been done for us, by previous more noble generations.
    Perhaps because freedom can only be understood by those have had to risk all to protect it, many now find it easy to be so casual about the surrendering of our rights for self-determination to foreign powers. Maybe only a more acutely felt tyranny will restore the willingness to stand again for freedom. But I hope I am wrong on that.

  • In my village this morning, everyone will be on the main road by 11 by the War memorial. We were refused permission a few years ago to formally close the road, so we close it ourselves. The Police gave up on trying to complain about it a long time ago. The service will be conducted jointly by our Roman Catholic, Church of England and Free Church ministers. The list of our dead from WWI, WWII and our one man who died in the Korean War will be read out. Many of them still have family here. There won’t be a white poppy in sight.

    Don’t ever assume that what some of our idiot politicians do dictates what the rest of us think. God remembers – and so do we.

    At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we do, and we will, remember them.

  • dannybhoy

    On this Remembrance Sunday may I share a poem by the Reverend G A Studdert Kennedy, also known as Woodbine Willie. If any should know the sheer madness, horror and futility of war it would be those who fought and died in “the war to end all wars…”
    “Woodbine Wilie” is not mentioned much nowadays, but his poetry is particularly poignant to us Christians. This one is for all the mothers and wives for whom today has a special significance,,

    BECAUSE I LOVE HIM SO . . .
    SHE could not follow where He went,
    She could but watch Him go,
    And bless Him, though her heart was rent
    Because she loved Him so.

    She stood once at a cottage door,
    To watch His figure grow
    Distant and dim, heart-sore, heart-sore,
    Because she loved Him so.

    She had to turn from Calvary,
    Turn when He bade her go,
    Leaving her heart nailed to the
    Tree, Because she loved Him so.

    Mother of Jesus, Holy One,
    My sorrows thou dost know;
    Bless Thou my son, my little son,
    Because I love him so.

  • Drew Mac

    We had Sassoon’s poem Aftermath for exactly that reason:

    Have you forgotten yet?…

    For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,

    Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:

    And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow

    Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,

    Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

    But the past is just the same – and War’s
    a bloody game…

    Have you forgotten yet?…

    Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Looking the “White Poppies for Peace” website, it is clear to me how little some people understand about Rememberance Day. They seem unable to seperate the political context of war from the unquestionioning sacrifice made by the individuals who fought them. Remeberance Day is about those individual lives cut short in service to their country. It never was about the wisdom of the politicians who sent them to fight. I doubt that any of white (or should that be yellow) poppy brigade would have the patriotism or the courage to lay down their lives for their country. Whether they like it or not, peace and freedom sometimes come at a heavy price or not at all. I’m sure many current residents of the Middle East would love to have peace but no amount white poppy flower-power is going to persuade ISIL to abandon their murderous ways.

    • carl jacobs

      Pacifism is a narcissistic and parasitic mindset.

      It is narcissistic because it focuses on the presupposed virtue of the self to the exclusion of everything else. Around the pacifist flows death and destruction, and what does he say? “I will not kill lest my hands become unclean.” A thousand may fall at his right hand, and ten thousand at his left, and still he will not avert his gaze from that pristine image in the mirror.

      It is parasitic because it arises among the secure and protected. And because it is such a minority position, it is largely an abstraction. The pacifist virtually never comes face to face with the implications of his ideals. In the modern world of volunteer armies, he has only to refuse to enlist. Others enlist in his place and carry the burden for him, even as he declares his willingness to suffer the consequences of his conscience. But he knows he never will in fact have to suffer those consequences. In the modern world, the pacifist simply opts out of service and congratulates himself for this fine act of moral courage – all the while implicitly accepting the protection of those who serve.

      If you want to understand the true nature of pacifism, you need only observe that pacifism is never applied to the police. For here the pacifist feels actual threat. He wants and requires managed monopolized violence to order and protect the society in which he lives from crime. The thin blue line must stand its watch lest anarchy reign in the streets. If the pacifist was consistent, he would abolish the police as well. But he does not.

      The pacifist at a remembrance ceremony demeans the ceremony and the memory of those who died. He says by his presence “These men died for nothing. If only we had adopted the ideals of pacifism these men would not have died.” He removes the focus from the dead and places it on himself. That golden vision of his own virtue must be held up so that men may admire it. If he has to stand on the headstone of a dead soldier to display himself, then so be it.

      He is right about one thing, however. If the ideals of pacifism had held sway, there would be no military graves in France. But there would be many other graves, if not so well kept.

      • Manfarang

        9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

        • carl jacobs

          How did God create peace with Sennacherib’s Army before the gates of Jerusalem?

          • Manfarang

            The text of Sennacherib’s Prism describes how the “terrifying splendor” of the Assyrian army caused the Arabs and mercenaries reinforcing the city to desert. It adds that the Assyrian king returned to Assyria where he later received a large tribute from Judah.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s nice. How did God create peace with Sennacherib’s Army before the gates of Jerusalem?

          • Manfarang

            An outbreak of cholera. Never drink tap water in Jerusalem, it can make you very sick.

          • carl jacobs

            Don’t throw Scripture at me as if it was a rock unless you are willing to take it seriously.

          • Manfarang

            Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

          • carl jacobs

            Lookie there. Another rock. Here, let me help you.

            And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. II KIngs 19:35-36

            That reference to the Angel of the Lord is called a Theophany. It refers to a pre-incarnate tangible manifestation of God. By tradition a Theophany is considered a manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity – not that it matters since the Trinity is never divided against itself. And what did God do to save Jerusalem? The self-same Immutable unchanging God who said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Did He offer a huge care bear stare? No. He walked among the Army of Sennacharib and killed them to a man. Very pacifist of Him, don’t you think?

            If you are going to try to bounce rocks off my head like this, you need to first understand the text. You need to exegete it before you put it in a sling and cast it at me.

          • Manfarang

            Jerusalem has been involved in wars throughout most of its 3,000+ year history and completely destroyed twice.

          • Pubcrawler

            Luke 22:36.

          • Manfarang

            and Matthew 10:34

        • dannybhoy

          Peacemakers in the context of society, not nationalism. Jesus was talking to those who would be His disciples..
          ” Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.” Matthew 5:1

          How many people in the world want to be His disciples? Not that many. Christians are minorities in whichever nation they find themselves. We never want to go to war, but we accept that sometimes war is unavoidable -as in ww2.

          • Manfarang

            Nearly all wars are avoidable. If there had been political cooperation in Germany Hitler could have been kept out of power.
            “Christians are minorities” reminds me of the woman in England with her highly idealised version of Christianity who was devastated when she heard the Christians were fighting in Lebanon(at start of the civil war)
            Anyway it seems the Phalangists now enjoy overwhelming support on this blog.
            War should always be the last resort.

          • dannybhoy

            “Nearly all wars are avoidable. If there had been political cooperation in Germany Hitler could have been kept out of power.”
            You could say the same thing about Lenin’s rise to power, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and other assorted tyrants.

            So my question to you is,
            “Why weren’t any of them kept out of power by political cooperation?

            Regarding your point about the Christian Phalangists, there are in the world Christian groups who identify as Christian in the same way as other faiths do. They are born into it, and that’s that. It’s their identity, and some will be devout in their faith and some will be nominal. But it’s their identity.

        • sarky

          Unfortunately peace comes through bullets not kind words.

          • Manfarang

            Peace comes when people get round a table.

            President Thein Sein signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with eight armed ethnic groups Oct. 15. The groups that took part in the signing of the NCA include Karen National Union, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (a.k.a. Karen Peace Council), Arakan Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, All Burma Students Democratic Front, and Restoration Council of Shan State. Representatives from the United Nations, European Union, India, China, Japan, and Thailand were present as witnesses to the signing of the accord. The event was also attended by government ministers, ethnic leaders, foreign diplomats and dignitaries.
            .

          • sarky

            Lets send you to Aleppo, see how you get on!

          • Manfarang

            On a swift cloud perhaps.

          • Ivan M

            The Burmese are fortunate that their opposition is led by the pacifist lady. Because of her patience and sacrifice, the transition will be bloodless and conducted in a fraternal fashion. Blessed are the peacemakers indeed.

          • Manfarang

            Lets hope the fighting in the north of the country can be brought to an end.

      • Ivan M

        Rubbish, for anything larger than a kraal or a village – who would all die or be enslaved, in case of defeat – your principle does not apply. At all times, there are others on the enemies’ side who think the same as me. Why should I want to kill them, just on the say so, of some assholes on my side?

        • carl jacobs

          Because those “assholes” were set in authority over you and have the legitimate power to make that decision. You don’t get to say “I will fight in this war but not that war” or “I’ll fight Tuesday but not Wednesday” or “I won’t fight at all.” It is well-settled that the Gov’t can conscript you into service, hand you a weapon, and make you fight. It can do so because the obligation attaches to you as a condition of citizenship.

          • Ivan M

            Absent the justice of their cause, those who send men to fight and those who fight are nothing more than brigands. Thus presumably the belligerents are convinced of the morality of their cause and see God, or nation, or race on their side. The difficulty is that the other side is similarly convinced of the same. Both cannot be right by God, unless the ruling deity is the God Mars. Thus there is no objective principle by which a modern, unencumbered by false loyalty to nation or tribe can be condemned. He can always claim to be judged by his conscience which is any case a higher authority than assorted generals and their masters.

    • Manfarang

      Unlike the Jews and Roma Jehovah’s Witnesses had the option to avoid persecution and personal harm by submitting to state authority and serving in the armed forces. Since such submission would violate their religious beliefs, the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to abandon their faith even in the face of persecution, torture in Nazi concentration camps, or death.

    • IanCad

      The thing is that we have the liberty to remember as we wish.
      Never discount the pacifists PI; they have proved to be the bravest of the brave. Not only in their refusal to compromise their principles (right or wrong) but in their acts of heroism on the battlefield in the roles of stretcher bearers or medics.

      • carl jacobs

        There are times when Medics have to pick up a rifle and fight – protected status or not.

        • IanCad

          Carl,

          Maybe President Truman thought differently when he pinned the Congessional Medal of Honor on the chest of Desmond Doss.

          It was too late for such ceremonies in the cases of Joe LaPointe and Thomas Bennett who received their same honours posthumously.

          If a nation does not provide exceptions (albeit with some degree of travail) for those who, on principle, hold to a different view from the state; then that state may not be worth fighting for.

          • carl jacobs

            Those examples have nothing to do with the point I made. If the choice is between being overrun or pulling the trigger, then he damn well better pull the trigger. The NVA didn’t respect protected status, and there are no prizes for letting yourself get killed nobly. Even less of a prize for letting your comrades get killed for the sake of your nobility.

            If a nation does not provide exceptions

            There are some small religious groups that have established a long history of pacifism, and I can respect that. However, that is more of a concession to religious freedom than any respect for the principle. Pacifism as a principle is contemptible. It isn’t brave. It’s cowardly.

            Back during the Gulf War I, there was an Reserve Air Force Lieutenant who commanded a security squadron. Those guys are like the Infantry of the Air Force. They carry M-16s and their purpose is to provide protection for their wing from armed attack. His reserve unit was activated for the war and he was scheduled to be deployed to Saudi Arabia. So this Lieutenant suddenly claimed he was a pacifist and went AWOL. He turned himself in one day short of being charged with desertion in the face of the enemy. Why is that important? Because desertion carries the possibility of death sentence. He then became something of a local folk hero in certain communities. He was eventually court-marshaled and received a punishment entirely too light by my judgment. But then I thought he should have been shot.

            His unit was deployed without him, of course. How much of a morale problem do you think that Lt caused for his unit by their commander beating feet in the general direction of the Canadian border? But people don’t think about that. They think about this Lt’s principled stand. He was principled alright. Spell that principle “c-o-w-a-r-d.”

            That’s pacifism to me.

      • Dreadnaught

        The thing is that we have the liberty to remember as we wish.
        No thanks to the pacifists.

  • carl jacobs

    It is true that pacifists can voluntarily choose to take up dangerous roles in war. In this way, they can in some manner contribute to the cause. What the pacifist is willing to do is take up the passive responsibility to accept death. He can for example become a medic – a duty that will expose him to the dangers of combat even as he performs a critical mission. There are also stories of pacifists who volunteered for the dangerous duty of disarming unexploded bombs.

    But it must be remembered that wars are not won by people who passively accept the responsibility to die. Wars are won by those who assume the active responsibility to kill. It does not matter how many bombs are disarmed in London if the British army is defeated in the field. The war must be won by the man who is willing to go up the hill, point his rifle at a German soldier, put a bullet through his enemy’s chest, and take from him all that has or ever will have. That is a fearsome and terrible responsibility. And it is from this responsibility that pacifists shrink back.

    The brave man is not just willing to die. The brave man is willing to kill.

    • dannybhoy

      All that is required for evil to triumph is that all good men become pacifists..

      • David

        Quite ! Succinctly expressed.

    • You do not understand the mind of a pacifist if you believe he “shrinks back” from the “fearsome and terrible responsibility” of killing. He refuses to kill because he considers it wrong – an offence against God – and he will marshal a scriptural defence of this. In the final analysis, a man’s conscience is and must remain paramount – even when he is wrong.

      Now, just to be clear, Jack disagrees with pacifism and so does his Church. Pope Pius XII in his 1956 Christmas Message stated:

      “It is clear that in the present circumstances there can be verified in a nation the situation wherein, every effort to avoid war being expended in vain, war for effective self-defense and with the hope of a favorable outcome against unjust attack could be considered lawful.

      If, then, a body representative of the people and a government – both having been chosen by free elections – in a moment of extreme danger decide . . . on defensive precautions and carry out the plans which they consider necessary, they do not act immorally.

      Therefore a Catholic citizen cannot invoke his own conscience in order to refuse to serve and fulfill those duties the law imposes.”

      Absolute pacifism is opposed to Catholic principles; and no Catholic could accept as sound the interpretation of any biblical passages which is in conflict with the Magisterium of the Church.

      • CliveM

        “In the final analysis, a man’s conscience is and must remain paramount – even when he is wrong”

        Even at the cost of others lives?

        • A Long discussion would be needed on this one. Google Aquinas and Newman on personal conscience. It’s a worthwhile exercise. A man can be objectively in error (as pacifists are, in Jack’s opinion) whilst subjectively lacking in culpability.

          • Manfarang

            Just as well many in the Wehrmacht were Catholic.

          • Pope Benedict, when Cardinal Ratzinger, used the example of Nazi concentration camps to illustrate the fallacy of following an improperly formed or malformed conscience. We each have a moral responsibility to discern the objective truth and then to follow it.

            The German army swore an oath of loyalty to Hitler and to the German nation. At the time, Hitler had been legitimately appointed by a democratically elected government. The war he initiated hardly complied with Just War theory and the actions against the Jews and other minorities were obviously evil. Should they have refused to fight on this basis? Why didn’t they?

            This is a different situation to a citizen who declares himself a pacifist in principle – no matter the proper need a nation has to fight to defend itself against an unjust aggressor using legitimate means. He will refuse to do so and will advance reasoned arguments from scripture to justify his conscientious objection.

          • Manfarang

            Those in Germany at this time who didn’t want to enlist had the Gestapo banging on their door at 6am to take them away to the call up center.Those that still refused went to a concentration camp. No one could refuse, it was off to the eastern front and for many never to return. As happened to the husband of a cousin of mine living in Germany in those years.

          • So the point of your initial comment about many of the German army being Catholic was what?

          • Ivan M

            They were being good Junkers, obeying the lawful authority of those placed above them, the Holy German Nation that expects the ultimate sacrifice. God forbid that they question the authority of Generals Beck, Paulus, Model, Manstein or the Fuhrer himself. How could they in a cowardly fashion let their buddies in the SS Divisions down? They could not opt to go to Paris, where there were lots of girls and life was gay. No the proof of their loyalty to Germania was how stoically they faced the Red Army’s numberless divisions.

          • Anton

            “We each have a moral responsibility to discern the objective truth and then to follow it.”

            Welcome to protestantism!

          • dannybhoy

            Lol!

          • Actually, it’s Catholicism. It’s just we arrive at objective truth by different means.

          • dannybhoy

            “The war he initiated hardly complied with Just War theory and the actions against the Jews and other minorities were obviously evil. Should they have refused to fight on this basis? Why didn’t they?”

            Partly because the men in (organised) power with guns and concentration camps usually get their way.
            Ordinary people are overwhelmingly dependent on the hierarchy, good or bad.
            Partly because developed societies depend on obedient citizens in order to function, so in effect we are socially programmed to be obedient.

            Partly because the individual feels absolutely helpless in the face of organised evil, and only a man or woman of great faith/principle will oppose it. Even then it remains a solitary gesture unless others take the courage and organise an effective resistance.

      • carl jacobs

        I understand his thinking quite well. I simply give it no credit. I say “shirk back” because killing in a war is a public responsibility that adheres from citizenship. The pacifist refuses to carry the burden but instead shifts it to others. He justifies this by an appeal to conscience. Since the only beneficiary of this decision of conscience is himself, he does not act nobly but selfishly. He does not prevent the war. He merely shields himself from its most terrible responsibility. In so doing he implicitly accuses those who take the responsibility in his place. How would one even separate the actual pacifist from the man who simply has better things to do with his life than fight?

        There is no legitimate appeal to private conscience that justifies refusing to kill in a war. If the man refuses to fight on principle, then he may be punished for the sake of that principle in a manner the vindicates the men who served in his place. And he will be glad to be martyred for his cause.

        • As a Catholic, Jack agrees. His post makes this clear. However, you accept the Five Solae of the reformation and these have consequences.
          Who are you to determine what a man must believe from scripture and how he must act in accord with his understanding of it?

          • carl jacobs

            Who am I? No one. Rather you should ask “What is the authority of the king to compel?”

            Again you miss the distinction between public and private action. The citizen owes obedience to lawful authority. If that authority is illegitimate (I.e. commands what God prohibits, or prohibits what God commands) then he may refuse to obey. In so doing he must expect to be punished. The important point is that there is no Scriptural prohibition against fighting in a war. So the Christian has no grounds to refuse lawful authority.

          • Yes, but that’s according to your (correct) reading of scripture. And Jack agrees with it – he is a Roman Catholic after all. There is a whole posse of people and modern theologians who disagree with your reading of scripture and will quote endless passages defending their position.

            That’s the rub of the reformation, whether you like it or not. The ultimate ‘authority’ rests with individuals, not with Kings (they’ve been executed and usurped) or with civic governments, and most certainly not with an authoritative Magisterium who speaks for Christ.

          • carl jacobs

            When your current Pope declares that it’s perfectly acceptable for divorced and remarried couples to receive Communion, and you submit to his authority then you can tell me all about the necessary authority of the RCC.

          • He’ll never do it, Carl. He may want to. He may find some ambiguous words to muddle his way through false distinctions between doctrine, discipline and pastoral practice. One sees this already being played out. His position was defeated at the Synod despite him loading members in his favour and manipulating the process.
            No doubt some liberal bishops and priests will permit communion to the divorced and remarried (and active homosexuals). They are already doing so and have been for years. Catholicism in the West is on a downward spiral. However, whatever he says officially as Pope, he will not change established doctrine.
            Oh, and you’ve side-stepped Jack’s substantive point about the Five Solae of the reformation and everyman being free to decide how he interprets and applies scripture. Did you think Jack wouldn’t notice?

          • carl jacobs

            I side-stepped nothing, Jack. I denied the validity of your proffered solution of an infallible interpreter. You know and I know that your loyalty to that infallible interpreter is dependent upon his continued adherence to what you in your private judgment have determined to be RC orthodoxy. You say you are in submission, but let the Magisterium stray beyond certain boundaries,and you will rebel. So spare me the pontifications about the need for RC authority.

            I hear that Francis is appointing a lot of Cardinals. I wonder if they are more like Kasper or more like Pell? Francis will be Pope for a long time yet, and he will appoint many more Cardinals. Come January he will open the door for the German church to do what it wants as a “pastoral accommodation.” Of course, doctrine will not be changed. Just practice. For the sake of mercy and justice.

            That’s just what the Episcopalians did.

          • But do you accept that a man must do what he believes scripture informs him is God’s will, however he arrives at his conclusion? And for some this entails pacifism.

            Your posts on this subject are laden with accusations of cowardice against such men when they may actually be following their understanding of what God demands of them.

            As for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, we’ll leave this subject for another time. Let’s just say, Jack is not bound to agree with the “pastoral accommodations” made by local bishops and priests. Oh, and Jack cannot ever envisage rebelling against the Roman Catholic Church, come what may.

          • Anton

            Kings ARE individuals. Just powerful ones and it is absurd to suppose that they are God’s anointed merely by their having gained power, given who is running this present evil age until Christ returns. Divine right is mere cant to cover over the ruthless way in which kings or their families gained power. (Herod anyone?) If dynasty ‘A’ asserts its divine right but is overthrown by dynasty ‘B’, which then asserts ITS divine right, then you have two claimants to the same throne by divine right (assuming that some of dynasty ‘A’ survived the usurpation). But God is not divided. Ergo, divine right is nonsense. We should nevertheless obey the law unless it commands us to directly deny God by, for instance, worshipping the king/emperor.

          • Phil R

            “So the Christian has no grounds to refuse lawful authority.”

            Dangerous ground Carl…

            “The Special Air Service team had made their base near Verrieres,
            the location of which was betrayed to the Germans. In the follow-up
            attack on their camp, 33 men from the Special Air Service were captured
            and later murdered together with one American Air Force pilot who had fallen in with them, after bailing out of his P-51 Mustang. Seven captured Maquisards
            were also executed in the woods after the attack. Three other SAS men,
            who had been wounded in the fight and taken to hospital, were murdered
            by lethal injections while in their hospital beds.”

            The leader of the Germans who carried out the orders was I understand, a Lutheran Priest.

          • sarky

            Absolutely no evidence for this, which makes your point a mute one.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Kieffer

          • carl jacobs

            The key is to understand the concept of “lawful authority.” This is why I included the qualification…

            If that authority is illegitimate (I.e. commands what God prohibits, or prohibits what God commands)

        • sarky

          Always thought pacifism was an excuse for cowardice.

    • David

      Well expressed and true.

    • Ivan M

      The pacifist could be merely doing his duty towards his fellowmen, without wanting to participate in the patriotic jingoism, that makes an acceptable peace impossible. For example Einstein, Wittgenstien, Russell and Eddington were pacifists during WW1. I happen to think that they were right in their opposition to that war that brought much greater disasters in its train.

      • carl jacobs

        A man cannot qualify his duties. You can’t say “I will serve but only in these limited capacities.” The officer set over you determines how you will best fulfill the needs of the service. It therefore does not matter that you don’t want to “participate in the patriotic jingoism, that makes an acceptable peace impossible.” The authority to make that decision is not given to you.

        I once knew a man who volunteered for Swift Boat duty in Vietnam. He had completed his training, and had orders in hand to deploy. At this point, someone in the Navy noticed that he had a degree in Nuclear Engineering. His orders were immediately canceled and – very much against his will – he was transferred to submarine duty. The Navy considered him far too valuable to “waste” on a Swift Boat. It’s much easier to find someone who can operate a Swift boat than it is to find someone who can manage the nuclear reactor on an attack submarine.

        My acquaintance was disappointed and angry. Guess what. The Navy didn’t care. The needs of the service come first.

        • Ivan M

          You have your stories, the draft dodgers have theirs. My point is that neither you nor anyone else can rule pacifism out of order, since there is always a higher principle that can be appealed to.

          • carl jacobs

            Yep. You sure can appeal to that higher principle. And they will still throw your ass in jail.

      • carl jacobs

        btw, Ivan. Let me make an educated guess here.

        You have never worn a uniform in your life, have you.

        • Ivan M

          What has that got to do with anything? BTW my mother was afraid that if I did indeed serve in the National Service here in Singapore some decades ago – it was an option as I am an Indian citizen – I would end up in prison. I was a pretty belligerent youth and would most likely have ended up fighting with the sergeant.

          • carl jacobs

            You shouldn’t be asking “What has that got to do with anything?” You should be asking yourself “How did he know?”

          • Ivan M

            You have taken to referring to yourself in the third person? Nonetheless the question is nowhere as settled as you see to think.

          • carl jacobs

            You have taken to referring to yourself in the third person?

            That’s what those quotation marks dictate. You are the interrogator and you are interrogating yourself so that dictates use of the third person pronoun “he” in that quotation.

            The reason I knew you had never been in the military is that you are so obviously clueless about it. Think you would have fought with your drill sergeant, huh? Yeah, not likely. It isn’t like they have never encountered an angry private before.

          • Ivan M

            If I were drafted I would fight since on balance there would be no way out. My cohort included those who trained at Sandhurst and Annapolis which I believe is the naval academy and others at Arizona where the air force people trained. Since I grew up with them I am unimpressed with any claims of great bravado.

          • carl jacobs

            Bravado? There haven’t been any claims of bravado on this thread to the best of my knowledge. If you are referring to my statement regarding the probability of you fighting your drill sergeant, that was about control and not bravado.

          • Ivan M

            You are very big on control aren’t you?

  • None of the above

    “They shall grow not old”, please! It’s taken me three years to din that into the reader who does that bit each year in our Remembrance service (he actually got it right this year.)

  • In March, 2007, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, says the Antichrist presents himself today as a “pacifist, ecologist, and ecumenist.”

    His point is that in every age huge numbers of people adopt various “enthusiasms” and give them a noble aura. Cardinal Biffi warned, the anti-Christ is in these enthusiasms insofar as they distract us from Christ who must be kept at the center of all our work.

    “Today,” said the Cardinal, “we run the risk of having a Christianity that puts aside Jesus, the Cross, and the Resurrection” and replaces it with “a mere set of values.” The Antichrist dilutes the truths of the faith, accommodating every interest, and becoming more and more popular. But those who are not fooled hold out to the end and declare: “You have given us everything except the one thing that we want: Jesus Christ.”

    It is the essence of an “ism” that it attempts to explain reality in terms of a single idea. They give the illusion of moral purpose while distracting man from the rigorous integrating principles on which one ought to build one’s life. The three modern enthusiasms that the Cardinal referenced are pacifism, environmentalism and ecumenism. It is not wrong to work for unity among Christians, or to improve our stewardship of the environment, or with choosing (in the face of threats to oneself) never to shed blood. On the contrary, all of these are good. It is precisely when they are elevated to an “ism” that the trouble begins.

    Pacifism applied as a universal idea seriously undermines not only the ability to defend what is worth defending (home and family, country and faith) but even the ability to discern that some things are, after all, important enough to defend by blood. Environmentalism writ large so emphasizes the environment that it forgets the primary importance of the human person, which it begins to redefine as one thing among many. Ecumenism proposed as a sovereign good elevates unity over truth.

    From

    https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/articles.cfm?id=177

    • David

      I might quibble about the details, but the main thrust of the Cardinal’s message is a very sound one. He does well to risk the raised eyebrows of the trendy, usually liberal, Christians who are legion in all the denominations nowadays.
      Yes, we can run off down side avenues of fashionable causes and thereby all too easily neglect the core faith. In the C of E this can often be the social gospel overshadowing, even replacing, the ever urgent need to preach the gospel of salvation through repentance and trusting in Christ.

      • In 2015, in the progressive wings of the Anglican and Catholic Churches we can add feminism, genderism, homosexualism and socialism to this list of ‘noble causes’.

        • David

          Sadly yes ! – sigh.
          It is a wonder there’s any room left for sound liturgy and teaching.
          Tell me, please. Of your Catholic churches, which type is better attended, the traditional or the liberal ?

          • Everyday Catholics don’t really pick and choose the church they attend and generally attend their local parish one. They also tend not to get into church “politics” too much. The sacred liturgy is the centre of our Mass. There is a growing movement in parts of England for the traditional Latin liturgy and for more orthodox priests but the hierarchy isn’t over impressed by all accounts.

            In Jack’s neck of the wood, South West Scotland, most of the priests are liberal. To be honest, Jack often switches his hearing aids off during their homilies. There is a solid orthodox priest nearby and when Jack needs spiritual counsel or if he wants to receive the sacrament of confession, he visits him.

          • David

            Thank you for that answer, Jack. I am glad that you have your personal strategies in place to assist you to remain focussed on core truths.

          • dannybhoy

            Eh?
            Speak up man..

          • David

            You may choose to speak louder, and perhaps on other topics I would as well, as appropriate.
            But on this topic I shall speak quietly. This is because, despite our theologically different approaches to some aspects of our mainly shared faith, I respect Jack’s deep, sincere conservative Catholic faith. Moreover his very open, honest answer to me regarding a very personal spiritual matter is worthy of respect, I feel. Experience shows me that he would reciprocate. It’s my take on ecumenicism, and polite behaviour.
            Have a good evening.

          • dannybhoy

            I think or rather I hope, you misunderstood my one liner David.
            It was in connection with this sentence..
            “To be honest, Jack often switches his hearing aids off during their homilies.”

            It was meant to amuse, not offend.

          • David

            I wasn’t offended, Danny, but I did misunderstand your cryptic comment. My wife tells me I am slow to spot “hidden” humour. I blame my father who was an engineer and had zero sense of humour. But no harm done. I shall enjoy have a belated chuckle.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s one of the drawbacks of internet communication; it can be hard to divine the intended meaning of a comment. It can also be difficult for the writer when his comment is misunderstood…. :0)

          • David

            Indeed !
            We evolved to “read” body language, facial expressions and tone of voice as well as the spoken words. The problem of misunderstanding is most acute with those whose word skills are low.
            In my last decade running an office of about 100 people, I noticed that there were more minor misunderstandings happening. I soon twigged that it was because many of the young, computer very savvy ones hardly spoke directly to one another, at the coffee machines or in the informal spaces. They relied far too much on e-mails, even to someone on the next floor or two dozen yards away from their desk.
            So I started a persuasion campaign to encourage people to go and seek a face to face discussion, once a touch of disagreement or misunderstanding started. At first they just thought it was “the old man” going on one of his eccentric obsessions again. But they listened and gave it a go.
            Within weeks I had things calmed down and on more friendly, and therefore productive, basis again. It was part of my very traditional philosophy of “walk the office floor, observe and engage routine ” every morning, lunchtime and before leaving routine – a bit military really (again I blame my upbringing), but it really does work to make a place hum along. Computer communication can work well between the reasonably mature and experienced, but it can cause a lot of misunderstandings and avoidable disagreements.

          • dannybhoy

            Very good. That fits with my belief that it is more important to establish a relationship before discussing different belief systems.
            I have just finished a book on theology by Keith Ward “Is religion irrational?” (hard work and ultimately unrewarding). Now I’m into a book that deals with the very issue you addressed in your office -face to face communication.
            It’s called “The Big Disconnect” by Catherine Steiner-Adair.
            About the effects of electronic communication on human relations. Quite fascinating.

          • David

            Hmm, sounds very interesting.

          • dannybhoy

            So what you’re saying Jack is that the essence of your faith Is Christ Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected; as interpreted by the (traditional) Catholic Church, whose authority in all things spiritual you recognise and obey?

          • Happy Jack is a Roman Catholic – period.

          • dannybhoy

            Danny is a Christian – period.
            I thought you would make a similar statement.

          • No you asked for details about the nature of Jack’s Catholicism and Christianity, Danny: “as interpreted by the (traditional) Catholic Church, whose authority in all things spiritual you recognise and obey”.

            There is only one Roman Catholic Church and, so far as Jack is concerned, only one authoritative interpretation of the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord.

          • dannybhoy

            “There is only one Roman Catholic Church and, so far as Jack is concerned, only one authoritative interpretation of the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord.”

            Which is what I said Jack,
            “the essence of your faith Is Christ Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected; as interpreted by the (traditional) Catholic Church, whose authority in all things spiritual you recognise and obey?”

            You made the same point as many of us Christians of the Protestant tradition would make…

            “In Jack’s neck of the wood, South West Scotland, most of the priests are liberal. To be honest, Jack often switches his hearing aids off during their homilies.”

            We seek to worship our Lord in a way we feel comfortable (tradition/denomination) and we look to be fed spiritual food. When we are deprived of either our spiritual life is the poorer.

  • Anton

    Give me a pacifist who is willing to die for his beliefs anytime over the sort of people who did such a good job for peace in the 1930s in the League of Nations, and who today inhabit the UN.

  • Anna

    For an Orthodox perspective on war:
    http://incommunion.org/2011/03/31/orthodox-perspectives-on-peace-war-and-violence/

    From youtube, John Wesley Sermon: Thoughts on War

  • IanCad

    A small point perhaps, but one that needs clarifying.
    There is a difference between a pacifist and a person who will not fight for a particular cause because of principle or conscience.
    Both should be accommodated in civil societies.

    • dannybhoy

      “The belief that war and violence are unjustifiable and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means:there remains a powerful undercurrent of pacifismthe case for absolute pacifism..”
      Oxford Dictionary. I agree that pacifists and people who will not fight on a point of principle should be afforded a place in a civilised society Ian, and by inference the majority in that society has the right to express disapproval of such people.
      As our Lord said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Mark 3:25So the problem a community or society or nation has is that in the face of an external threat, they cannot encourage abstention from organised resistance to that threat..As I see it, one of the weaknesses of the democratic system is that an enemy can encourage the right to representation of all views, however extreme or detrimental to the health of that democratic system. It’s called “Divide and Rule.”

    • carl jacobs

      Yes, I would accommodate the chickensh*ts who burned their draft cards and ran off to Canada because they didn’t want to fight “for a particular cause.” I would accommodate them with a prison cell.

      But that fool of a President Carter pardoned them all. He thus declared moral equivalence between those who fought and those who ran. Between those who were killed and those who spent the war doing nothing more dangerous than picking out a pair of socks to wear.

      Never will I forgive or forget the cowardly and morally obtuse vision of that political decision.

      • IanCad

        Carl,
        I did say in my previous post that it shouldn’t be easy for those who will not bear arms for King and Country.
        The options must of necessity be dangerous, or every LMFer would cop out.
        I agree; Carter was wrong.

  • grutchyngfysch

    Thanks to all for thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary – have read through all the comments this morning. One thing occurs.

    Carl is, I think, right to say that the pacifist is shielded by the labours of the soldier and the conscript. There is also much to be said for the view that the pacifist must come to terms with the fact that their inaction will very probably contribute in some small or larger way to the shedding of blood of others. The pacifist cannot understand their consciences to exist in a vacuum from which there will be no external consequences.

    But the soldier sees dimly if he ignores the shield that is cast about him by the labours of the peacemakers, the (yes, arbitrary) rules of war, the self-restraint of civilised nations, even the call to arms not needed for a triumph won at the table. The tradesman is no less indebted to the peacemaker than he is to the soldier to enjoy his prosperity.

    As the quality of our life is directly owed to those who laid their lives down or took up arms to ensure it, it is continually dependent upon those who spend their lives labouring for quality of peace. We err gravely if we imagine that peace is simply the absence of war, or the pause for breath between conflicts. When peace really is just the absence of war, war is usually not long following.

    Much has been noted of the Christian view of war and of its understanding of pacifism (apparently primarily negative). Little has been said of the early church of saints and martyrs who for love of the Prince of Peace would not pick up the standard of Rome. Less still of Calvary, where Christ disarmed rulers and authorities, making public spectacle of them in His death on the Cross.

    I should know about that, because I still remember being an enemy of God. When I mocked Him, He did not seize me by the throat to crush the life out of me. When I whipped Him, He did not strike me down. And when for love of the darkness in which I hid my sin, I drove nails into His hands and feet, His only cry was “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Where I deserved destruction, He took it, and returned only mercy.

    The One who was once my enemy is now my Commander in Chief. Like all soldiers, I follow not only my Commander’s orders but His example, wear His livery, and bear the arms He supplies me. Faith is my shield, His Word my sword – I have no hands to bear, nor can find better in other arms. When the weapons of war are pitted to dust, the weapons of the peacemaker will be bright shining still, and it is in the lee of the blessing of the Peacemaker’s labours that we will live and not know war.

    • Martin

      There is a point that the military intervention in, for example, Iraq actually made the situation worse and exposed society to more danger.

      • grutchyngfysch

        There is, though in the case of Iraq I’d say that premature withdrawal and the subsequent vacuum are more immediate causes – but I take your point, and certainly don’t hold to the view that all military action is justified in all circumstances. The point I was trying to make is that I don’t think pacifism – in the sense of holding a solely negative view of warfare – can be supported in Scripture; I think Christians can serve in the military (though not all militaries) or accept conscription (cf. John the Baptist’s answer to the soldiers for instance, Luke 3:14). But I think that any such service is only ever coincidental to their Christianity, and can never be central to it. That is, as a Christian must engage with certain necessities of life – amongst which war may, on occasion, be counted one – they cannot always avoid it, even though they may with good reason wish to, but nor should they confuse it with their calling to a higher war in the service of the King of Kings.

        That calling is, I believe, incompatible with violence. You cannot serve the Gospel and violence at the same time. You may not abandon the Gospel to take up arms in times of war, but you cannot prosecute both wars simultaneously. I cannot love my enemy, and also seek his death, even on the field of battle. If I love my enemy, my heart is disarmed from killing him. I believe it is possible to kill in war without hating your enemy – but I do not believe it is possible to kill whilst loving him.

        • carl jacobs

          But I think that any such service is only ever coincidental to their Christianity, and can never be central to it.

          Would you apply this to the Officer of the Law as well?

          • grutchyngfysch

            Yes, I would Carl. I don’t honestly see much difference between them besides the location of their work and the degree of force they anticipate using.

            Christians must discharge their earthly duties faithfully and fulfil their obligations, but they must not forget that they owe service to another Lord besides Caesar in Whose army they also have a commission. A slave must render service to his master, but he does not do this because God has called him to be a slave. He does it because God has called him into freedom. His labours for his master are in and of themselves coincidental to his faith, his conduct in exercising them is not since it is a witness to Christ. A soldier may witness to his troops, he may witness to those he defends, he may even witness to the enemy by his conduct, but he cannot witness to the enemy he kills. This does not automatically make doing so a sin, but it is not the action or work of the Church.

            It comes down to how what God meant when he told David that he could not build the Temple because of the blood he had shed. A pacifist may see in that a reproach against war, but only if they ignore everything else in his life. I think it is simply a statement of the truth that a man must put down all other arms if he wishes to take up the work of building God’s Church not because he despises such arms but because the arms of God are mightier to build the Church and serve the Kingdom. Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

      • carl jacobs

        Assume for the sake of argument that 25000 American soldiers were deployed into Rwanda on 7 April 1994. One very important consequence of this deployment would have been the loss of information about what would have happened in the absence of deployment. We know today that 800,000 people died in the absence of deployment. But there is a tendency today to assume that leaders then should have acted before the fact based upon information available only after the fact. There is also a tendency to assert that the costs to the intervener should have been measured then against the hmanitarian cost that is known today only because there was no intervention. My hypothetical intervention in Rwanda would not have been judged by the unknown numbers of Rwandans saved. It would have been judged by the number of Americans killed.

        The 2003 Invasion of Iraq caused a similar loss of information. We don’t know what would have happened in the absence of intervention. But we do know what Hussein was like. We do know his ambitions. And we can predict the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iraq in that part of the world. The prospect of an aggressive expansionist Iraq dominating the Gulf oil states, and facing off with Israel across the Golan and Jordan River would have necessitated a vast indefinite military commitment by the US to contain Iraq in the Middle East. The 2003 War was a preventive war intended to abort that outcome. It was necessary to avoid that outcome because of the real danger of nuclear war if Hussein ever achieved his goal of possessing nuclear weapons. That outcome had to be prevented. The war had to be fought eventually. It was a prudential judgment to fight it in 2003.

        You see the cost of fighting the war – actually the cost of American incompetence and naivete about the post war. You do not see the extraordinary potential cost of doing nothing. That potential cost was real and far more severe than what is happening in Iraq today. The war was fought to mitigate the possibility of ever realizing that cost.

        It’s easy to take for granted the problems you don’t experience because people choose to act. It’s easy to see only the current costs. There are no perfect solutions. The choice to avert problem A often means Problem B must be accepted. But you can’t judge the choice on Problem B alone. You must also ask the question “But for..” But for the Second Iraq War, what would have happened?

        • Martin

          Carl

          The facts remain, the invasion of Iraq destabilised the region, no evidence of nuclear weapons was found and the claim that they did was dishonest. No state has the right to invade another merely to protect the citizens of the invaded state, we do not set up states as policemen. Interference has frequently resulted in a worse situation. That the politicians could not see beyond their noses what would be the result is not a justification. They may have thought that the people and politicians would jump at the chance to embrace democracy but they were doing so in the face of overwhelming evidence.