Archives For War

Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky,
born on this date, 1821
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Poem of the Day:
Closure: A Much Needed War
by Steve Mason
*** A poem for Veteran’s Day

 

Kindle Ebook Deal of the Day:
A People’s History of Christianity
by Diana Butler Bass
Only $2.99!!!
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*** NOTE: This stated price is for the United States. Unfortunately, this offer may or may not be available in other countries. Sorry!

 
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The Wake Up Call – November 11, 2014

 

Is there No Peace in the Land?

A Feature Review of

A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Brian Zahnd

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2014.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by John W. Morehead

 

In recent years an increasing number of Evangelicals have taken up the work of peacemaking. No longer seen as the sole purview of progressives or liberals, these Evangelicals have connected their work in peacemaking as a central facet of the Gospel and a broader Christian theology and praxis. Brian Zahnd makes a thought provoking contribution to this growing body of work through his book.

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Dulce et Decorum est
Wilfred Owen

 

 

Wilfred OwenBent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

 

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

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“Reflecting on Christian Faithfulness
in a Post-9/11 World”

A review of
Who Is My Enemy?:
Questions American Christians Must Face
about Islam — and Themselves
.
by Lee Camp.

Review by Chris Smith.

Lee Camp - Who is my Enemy?Who Is My Enemy?:
Questions American Christians Must Face
about Islam — and Themselves
.
Lee Camp.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11. In the days that followed, as we learned more about the men who coordinated the hijackings of planes and who crashed – or intended to crash – these planes into strategic landmarks including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there was a huge public outcry, not only against al-Qaeda, the terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the events of the day, but also against the Muslim faith at large. Public opinion of the Muslim community ranged from suspicion to vilification in those days and months following 9/11, which fueled rhetoric that can generally be characterized as depicting a grand conflict between Islam and the West.

As we remember, however, the events of a decade ago, it would serve us well to reflect on the emotions and rhetoric that prevailed in the American public in the months after 9/11. For those of us in the Church, one very helpful tool for such reflection is Lee Camp’s new book, the title of which asks the pointed question Who is My Enemy? Camp is professor of theology and ethics and Lipscomb University in Nashville who earned his PhD as a student of John Howard Yoder at Notre Dame, but is perhaps best known these days as the creator and organizer of the Tokens “Old Time Radio” stage show (Click here for our review of an earlier Tokens show). Camp is also the author of Mere Discipleship, which offers a poignant and compelling call to radically Christ-centered life in the contemporary world.

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Hauerwas - War and the American DifferenceAlthough it will not hit the shelves of bookstores until early October, Stanley Hauerwas’s newest book promises to be useful in helping churches think about Christian faithfulness in the United States in a post-9/11 world.

War and the American Difference:
Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity
.
Stanley Hauerwas.
Paperback: Baker Acadmic, 2011.
Pre-order now: [ Amazon – Paperback ]


Read an excerpt from this book on the Baker website!

 

In addition to the books reviewed above (Lee Camp’s WHO IS MY ENEMY? and Miroslav Volf’s ALLAH), here are a few books that would be useful in helping churches to reflect on what Christian faithfulness looks like in a post-9/11 world).

(Your purchase of any of these books helps to support the work of the ERB!  Thanks…)

834877: The War on Terror: How Should Christians Respond? The War on Terror: How Should Christians Respond?

By Nick Solly Megoran / InterVarsity Press

$1.99 —  *** SALE PRICE ***

432316: Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution

By J.H. Yoder;
T.J. Koontz & A. Alexis-Baker, eds. / Brazos Press

$23.49

[ Read our review… ]

834900: The Gods of War: Is Religion the Primary Cause of Violent Conflict? The Gods of War:
Is Religion the Primary Cause of Violent Conflict?

By Meic Pearse / InterVarsity Press

$3.99 – *** SALE PRICE ***

208984: The Crusades Through Arab Eyes The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

By Amin Maalouf / Random House, Inc

$11.99

171420: Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures

By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger / Ignatius Press

$9.99

523700: The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi"s Mission of Peace The Saint and the Sultan:
The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace

By Paul Moses / Random House, Inc

$16.99

[ Read an  excerpt…]

 

“Not to Keep”
Robert Frost

They sent him back to her. The letter came
Saying… And she could have him. And before
She could be sure there was no hidden ill
Under the formal writing, he was in her sight,
Living. They gave him back to her alive—
How else? They are not known to send the dead—
And not disfigured visibly. His face?
His hands? She had to look, and ask,
“What was it, dear?” And she had given all
And still she had all—they had—they the lucky!
Wasn’t she glad now? Everything seemed won,
And all the rest for them permissible ease.
She had to ask, “What was it, dear?”

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A Brief Review of

Divine Rebels:
American Christian Activists for Social Justice.
Deena Guzder.
Paperback: Lawrence Hill Books, 2011.
Buy Now:
[ Amazon – Paperback ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

Reviewed by Joshua Smith.

There’s a famous scene in Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee’s 1970 play, The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail, in which Henry David Thoreau—a noted author, environmentalist, transcendentalist, and anarchist—sits alone in a moonlit prison, listening to the cry of a loon outside his window. Thoreau, imprisoned for a night in Concord, Massachusetts, in July of 1846, refused to pay taxes for fear of the money being used to subsidize the Mexican-American War. In the play, upon hearing of Thoreau’s incarceration, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson rushes to the prison in the night. Peering in through the bars from outside the jail, he asks, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” to which a composed Thoreau replies, “Waldo, what are you doing out there?”

Like Thoreau, the activists Deena Guzder describes in Divine Rebels have had enough of the established paradigm, opting instead to stand in the way of injustice, placing their reputations, financial well-being, and even their lives on the line for the sake of their Christian morals. Though Divine Rebels is nonfiction, it flows with an interwoven narrative, connecting the individual stories of “holy mischief-makers,” highlighting Guzder’s superior skills as both a journalist and a story-teller.

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“That This Mighty Scourge of War
May Speedily Pass Away

A review of

God’s Almost Chosen Peoples:
A Religious History of the American Civil War.

By George Rable.

Review by Timothy Morriss.

GOD'S ALMOST CHOSEN PEOPLES - RableGod’s Almost Chosen Peoples:
A Religious History of the American Civil War.

George Rable.
Hardback: U of NC Press, 2011.
Buy now: [
Amazon – Hardback ][ Amazon – Kindle ]

Modern claims by religious leaders to understand particular events, normally natural disasters, as acts of God’s judgment, are widely attacked and dismissed in our modern culture.  Believers today are encouraged to see providence in their daily lives, but not necessarily in the larger movements of history.  The historical profession is not interested in tracing the ways of God amid the courses of history.  Maybe that lack of interest has partially blinded the profession to providential understanding of history that dominated earlier generations.  Today we, probably wrongly in the aftermath of world events, feel so much more in control of history and of our fate.  But previous generations, unable to create meaning with the iPad, looked to the workings of providence.  This was especially true for the Civil War.

Of making books on the American Civil War there is no end.  Interest in this conflict, which broods over American history, has created a vast marketplace for books, but only a small fraction of the total books published have touched on the religious dimensions of the war.  These books have focused on denominational history, have reviewed apocalypticism, have investigated the role of chaplains and revivals, and, in one of the most recent and best, Harry Stout’s Upon the Altar of God, examined the war according to traditional just war theory.  But, until George Rable’s work, no one has attempted a religious history of the entire Civil War.

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“Trial and Error

A Yoderian Rejoinder to
Leithart’s DEFENDING CONSTANTINE.


By John  C. Nugent.

Defending Constantine.
Peter Leithart.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

[ Peter Leithart’s response has been posted here… ]

Constantine on Trial

Those looking for another excuse to dismiss John Howard Yoder are sure to find it in Peter J. Leithart’s Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom. Though Leithart takes Yoder quite seriously, those less familiar with Yoder’s work may be left with the unfortunate impression that he was a sloppy thinker, blinded by the pacifism of a naïve tradition, and ignorant of the complexities of history. I am sure this is not Leithart’s intention. Leithart, however, does intend to start a “fight” (10) and his admittedly polemical tone sometimes borders on patronizing his primary foe along with his Anabaptist heritage. This should not detract readers from hanging in there with this rather long work. Some of its most stimulating suggestions come near the end. Leithart’s well-crafted and articulate case deserves more than a series of brief reviews; it requires substantive rejoinders both to his historical portrait of Constantine and his theological critique of Yoder. Though no one can speak for Yoder, least of all me, I will nonetheless enter the fray by presenting Leithart’s basic case and evaluating its polemic against Yoder and those who share similar convictions about faith, history and social ethics.

Polemics aside for the moment, Leithart’s task is ambitious: to write a life of Constantine, to rebut popular caricatures, to demonstrate that Yoder’s work on Constantine is wrong both historically and theologically, and to make a case for Constantine as a viable model for Christian political practice (10-11). This task is complicated by the nature of the extant resources. Leithart’s preferred source is Eusebius, a contemporary of Constantine who adoringly portrays him as God’s providential instrument in ushering in the millennium. Leithart grants that Eusebius’ work is replete with exaggerations, contains accounts of questionable historicity, and intentionally omits incriminating material (228). Nonetheless, it remains the earliest and most comprehensive account available, so Leithart makes extensive use of it. He makes less use of the account of Zosimus, a late fifth century pagan who portrays Constantine as a violent ruler who was politically motivated in the worst sense of that term. Beyond this, Leithart had access to an oration of Constantine, published legal decrees, coinage, letters, and miscellaneous excerpts preserved among Eusebius’ writings. This situation is hardly an ideal one for a historian or a theologian.

The title of Leithart’s book gives a sense of his strategy for dealing with this difficult historical material. Consistent with his aims, Leithart plays the part of a defense attorney in a court setting. The last several decades of historians and theologians (e.g., Jacob Burkhardt, James Carroll, Stanley Hauerwas and, of course, Yoder) play the role of prosecuting attorneys who have been overly critical of Constantine and unfairly suspicious of favorable testimonies in the primary sources. It seems, to Leithart, as if they have sought only to find fault. As defense attorney, Leithart tasks himself with finding innocence or at least explaining fourth century details to make his clients’ actions more defensible. Making extensive use of Eusebius, he brings forward as many positive testimonies as possible. Evidence that does not support his case is either ignored, chalked up to exaggeration (126), or creatively re-interpreted with the help of more sympathetic secondary sources (227-230). Though this kind of reading is sure to encourage constructive historical work insofar as careful historians are spurred on to revisit the primary sources neither to prosecute nor to defend Constantine, Leithart’s book is not that kind of work.

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