Tag Archives: war


April Poetry Dare | Day 11: “Grass” by Carl Sandburg

April is National Poetry Month, to celebrate, Tweetspeak is offering a Poetry Dare, in which participants are asked to read a poem a day for the month of April. Post daily to your blog or favorite social media platform what poem you read. You can find poems at websites like Poetry Foundation, or in books like One Hundred and One Famous Poems.

Today I read:

“Grass” by Carl Sandburg

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The Spirit of War

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:18-23

While clearly referring specifically to food in this instance, Jesus teaches us that it is not what goes into us that makes us unclean or defiled, but what is in our hearts that comes out of us which makes us unclean, or defiles us.

What does that teach us about Mars (Ares)?

Mars was the god of war and battle (he had also been the god of vegetation, but eventually became known solely for his warrior qualities). Often, in literature, we find him associated with the evils of war. He was a god that didn’t necessarily fight for the right side at all times. That may be more true of Athena, as the case may be. Depending upon your view of the Iliad, you might argue he fought for the wrong side in that battle, for instance.

Is Mars–not his mythological personification and caricature, but in his virtues–fallen and incapable of choosing between good and evil, right and wrong, as he influences the warrior spirit of those in battle? Or, as C.S. Lewis would argue, does Mars indiscriminately influence all warriors in battle, and it is their own righteousness or wickedness that leads to them fighting rightly or wrongly, respectively?

In other words, is it the fallen influences of Mars that inspire men to fight wicked battles? Or is it the fallenness in man, the wickedness of his own heart, that perverts the warrior influences of Mars and uses them for evil?

Whether it be Mars or no, there is a “spirit” (for lack of a better term) that inspires men to fight for their women, their homes, their land, and their people. When we fight unjustly, is it this “spirit” that we are to blame, or our own sinfulness?

Six Thoughts Toward a Christian Perspective on War

Many of my Christian friends, pastors and lay people alike, support the current hawkish views of the Republican and Democrat parties. I don’t and I’m trying to consider why that is from a Christian perspective. Here are my preliminary thoughts on the matter.

I think God, even in the OT, is fairly opposed to aggressive wars. Here’s why.

  • Israel never engaged in preemptive war, even in their taking of the Promised Land.

Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses (emphasis mine). Jos 11:18-20

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The Great Civil War Debate

Tonight I watched The Great Civil War Debate between the Reverend Peter Marshall and the Reverend Steve Wilkins, both Presbyterian ministers. The debate DVD is published by American Vision.

Rev. Marshall argues that slavery was sin and was the ultimate and just cause of the Civil War. He argues that both North and South were guilty for the sin of slavery and that war was ultimately a necessary evil to provide the blood atonement necessary as judgment for that sin. He argues that the South had no legal right to secede from the Union–although he does allow for secession in hypothetical scenarios.

Rev. Wilkins argues that slavery was not the ultimate cause of the Civil War. He also argues that both North and South were guilty for sins committed, but that war was not necessary and that Jesus Christ provided the only blood atonement any person or nation will ever need. He argues that the South had the legal right to secede from the Union and did so justly. He argues that while the South fired the first shot on Fort Sumter, it is not the first shot fired that established guilt for starting a war, but rather the action that caused the first shot to be fired. In this case, it was the North who was guilty of having started the War.

The audience was clearly on the side of Rev. Wilkins, as would be expected since the debate was held in Atlanta, Georgia. By way of the applause that came out, it may have been 100% pro-Wilkins.

Overall, it was a good debate. I’ve heard northern apologists who were far more annoying than Marshall. Both Marshall and Wilkins were well-prepared and competent debaters. Some new arguments came out on both sides for me. I would definitely recommend this debate for anyone interested in the Civil War, or for anyone with a student studying American History. You will definitely hear both sides of the story–the winners and the losers–presented very well.

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Ghosts Don’t War

In Peter Kreeft’s Three Philosophies of Life he addresses the effect that meaningless or vanity can have on life and, consequently, the actions that result from it. To him, vanity is a death worse than death; it is the death of the soul.

Walker Percy suggests that the root of violence, especially rape and murder, is this sense of inner emptiness, the perception of ourselves as wraiths, ghosts. The desperate need to assure ourselves of our own reality explodes in two obvious ways: no ghost can create or destroy life by force. No ghost can rape or murder. 

Children “act out” their emptiness by destructive behavior. And today’s warring gangs become tomorrow’s warring nations. What happens when you give adolescent gangs nuclear weapons?

The result of believing life is meaningless is the death of one’s soul, the feeling that one is a ghost. The way that one overcomes this deathly feeling is to do what no ghost can do: rape or murder. This is not to say that rape or murder are the only things that man can do that ghosts cannot, but that to break that feeling man must do something drastic–it is therefore the root of violence. He continues, to suggest that this is why children act out with destructive behavior, because of this emptiness. And, of course, today’s warring gangs become tomorrow’s warring nations.

Is this to imply that nations war because of their own feeling of meaninglessness? Is America trying to create meaningfulness for itself by being the world’s police, because it destroyed meaningfulness for itself when it turned its back on God? Or, is America policing the world as an agent of God, as others might say?