No, this is not a rewrite of Tolstoy’s monumental book. I simply draw your attention to a new tendency in the thread of comments on The Roaring Mouse. The subject has turned to the painful issue of warfare. Is there such a thing as a just war? How justified is pacifism? In a war, the real enemy is war itself.
I believe that no war in history has ever done any good, even if things seemed clear that the Allies fought against Hitler for life and freedom. The Normandy coast to this day is festooned by indestructible Nazi concrete bunkers, and they will still be there in 2044 and 2144. Our coastal towns are all built of ugly buildings from the 1950’s, built in haste to house the homeless and reconstruct something like a normal life again.
I am old enough to have had nightmares about the nuclear holocaust we all feared in the 1960’s, the war to end all wars. May no child ever have to fear as we feared!
I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds (Bhagavad Gita).
Man will always have something to fear something imminent and near-at-hand, whether it is wars, diseases, natural catastrophes, etc – the issue of which are misery, desolation, and ultimately, death. And sometimes man himself is the agent and bringer of those things which other men fear. What is important, I think, is to cultivate a readiness to the inevitable, coupled with, if we believe in God, a resignation to his will, and prayer for courage. Readiness, resignation, courage. Thus, the aim is perhaps to know how to welcome death when it comes. This is the lesson of Socrates in the later dialogues, especially, the Phaedo, in which death is seen as the liberation of the soul from the body which prevented it to contemplate the Ideas. In the Christian tradition, we have Origen’s Exhortation, written to help Christians face martyrdom. And then, the mediaeval and later treatises on the ars moriendi, pursued by Roman, but also Anglican authors, cf. Jeremy Taylor.
The ars vivendi and the ars moriendi are each facets of an ars belli, wherein in the Gospel, our Lord instructs us. The circumstances of the composition of the Akathist Hymn are interesting in that respect: the physical and spiritual aspects of war come together. And for the protection vouchsafed to the City by Our Lady, the Hymn calls her ὑπερμάχῳ στρατηγῷ – which I’m sure is no mere poetical license.
I’m all for pacifism – but before, I must know: what peace? whose peace?
Tell me something, please. Suppose you get elected as Prime Minister of the Principality of Little Fenwick somewhere between the borders of Italy and Switzerland, lost in the mountains. The Sovereign Prince is a constitutional leader like the Queen of England, and you have the run of the place with your Government and Parliament.
The country is mainly Roman Catholic, but there is a Muslim minority, some Protestants and a small Jewish community.
How would you run the country in religious terms?
I would issue edicts of toleration – if they do not already exist – to these minority groups and incorporate them in statute law as legal entities, afford their practitioners the protection of the law of the land both qua practitioners of the religion and qua subjects. Which entails a recognition of the right of these religions to internal self-government within the limits of law, i.e., with right of appeal to the crown courts. Proselytism is rigidly regulated. I will ensure that it be mentioned and integrated in jurisprudence this legal regime does not entail the recognition of the truth or untruth of these religions.
Given that the majority of the population is Catholic, the relationship with the Roman Church would either be that of a concordat, or that of a pre-existing recognition of the libertas ecclesiae. If it is under the second, the Lords Spirituals – Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots would be expected to sit in the High Council of Parliament, with the Other Estates – Lords Temporal, Burghers and Knights of the Counties. The Archbishop of Rumpole (Currently, the Cardinal St-John de Gruyère) is the primate, and as such is the principal officiant in the coronation of the monarch, which takes place in the Abbey of Plonkminster…But I digress.
I suppose, considering the financial situation, that I will have to review the payment the annates…and re-channel some to the Crown. I expect some difficulties from the Cardinal.
Yes Ed, its me, Francis.