June 20, 2011

G.K. Chesterton, again!

Gilbert Keith Chesterton died 14 June 1936. I just came across several excellent quotes honoring this great man:

Chesterton is dead! That is to say and
Englishry shrunken; death upon a day
was not content with More but took
   his heir.
~Robert Farren: ‘Chesterton.’

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“IT seems to me that Gilbert Chesterton at his baptism was visited by three fairies. Two good and one evil. The two good fairies were the fairy of fecundity of speech and the fairy of wide appreciation. The bad fairy was struck dead as she entered the church---and served her right. He was blessed in knowing nothing of the acerbities which bite into the life of writing men.”

~Hilaire Belloc: Gilbert Chesterton in English Letters.

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“HIS mind was oceanic, subject indeed to a certain restriction of repeated phrase and manner, but in no way restricted as to the action of the mind. He swooped upon an idea like an eagle, tore it with active beak into its constituent parts and brought out the heart of it. If ever a man analyzed finally and conclusively Chesterton did so.”

~Hilaire Belloc: Gilbert Chesterton in English Letters.

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“WE are in some danger today of underestimating our debt to Mr. Chesterton, of forgetting the impact which his books made on the minds of young men who were infected by the fallacy of Victorian rationalism. In those distant days many people still cherished the futile hope of reconstructing a positive ethical system on the basis of mere negation. Mr. Chesterton’s destructive criticism of the Huxleys, Brandlaughs and Haeckels of our youth was as devastating as it was brilliant, and its value would be more widely appreciated today if it had not been so completely effective.”

~Arnold Lunn: Now I See.

June 15, 2011

"Blessed" G.K. Chesterton?

Interview on Possible Beatification of English Author
By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, JULY 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) is well known for his clever and humorous writing, and his thought-provoking paradoxes. But he might also become known as a saint, if a proposal to launch his cause of beatification goes forward.

ZENIT spoke with Paolo Gulisano, author of the first Italian-language biography of the great English writer ("Chesterton & Belloc: Apologia e Profezia," Edizioni Ancora), about the origins of this proposal. Here, Gulisano explains why Chesterton might merit recognition as a saint.

ZENIT: Who is promoting this cause of beatification?

Gulisano: The cultural association dedicated to him, the Chesterton Society, founded in England in 1974 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the great author's birth, with the idea of spreading awareness of the work, thought and figure of this extraordinary personality. For years now, there has been talk of a possible cause of beatification, and a few days ago, during an international conference organized in Oxford on "The Holiness of G.K. Chesterton" -- with the participation of the best exponents in the field of Chesterton studies -- it was decided to go ahead with this proposal.

ZENIT: Why a beatification?

Gulisano: Many people feel there is clear evidence of Chesterton's sanctity: Testimonies about him speak of a person of great goodness and humility, a man without enemies, who proposed the faith without compromises but also without confrontation, a defender of Truth and Charity. His greatness is also in the fact that he knew how to present Christianity to a wide public, made up of Christians and secular people. His books, ranging from "Orthodoxy" to "St. Francis of Assisi," from "Father Brown" to "The Ball and the Cross," are brilliant presentations of the Christian faith, witnessed with clarity and valor before the world.

According to the ancient categories of the Church, we could define Chesterton as a "confessor of the faith." He was not just an apologist, but also a type of prophet who glimpsed far ahead of time the dramatic character of modern issues like eugenics. The English Dominican Aidan Nichols sustains that Chesterton should be seen as nothing less than a possible "father of the Church" of the 20th century.

ZENIT: What are his heroic virtues?

Gulisano: Faith, hope and charity: These were Chesterton's fundamental virtues. Moreover, he was innocent, simple, profoundly humble. Though having personally experienced sorrow, he was a chorister of Christian joy. Chesterton's work is a type of medicine for the soul, or better, it can more precisely be defined as an antidote. The writer himself had actually used the metaphor of antidote to define the effect of sanctity on the world: The saint has the objective of being a sign of contradiction and of restoring mental sanity to a world gone crazy.

ZENIT: What is the cultural, literary and moral contribution that Chesterton has left to British society and to Christianity?

Gulisano: When Pope Pius XI was informed of the death of the great writer, he sent a telegram of condolences through his secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli. In the telegram, he mourned the loss of a "devout son of the Holy Church, rich defender of the gifts of the Catholic faith." This was the second time in history that a Pontiff would attribute the title "defender of the faith" to an Englishman. Perhaps the secretary of state did not realize the ironic parallelism, which would have sparked in Gilbert one of his proverbial guffaws -- but the other Englishman was Henry VIII, the man who inflicted on the Church in England its gravest and deepest wound. Chesterton tried to again bring England, and also the world, closer to God, the faith, reason.

ZENIT: What is your opinion on all this?

Gulisano: Reading Chesterton, whether his novels or his essays, always leaves the reader with great serenity and a sense of hope, which certainly does not come from an immature and worldly optimistic vision of life -- which in reality couldn't be farther from the thought of Chesterton, who carefully denounced all the aberrations of modernity -- but rather from a Christian conception, the virile strength of the religious experience.

Chesterton's proposal is to take all of reality seriously, beginning with the interior reality of man, and to confidently make use of the intellect, that is to say, of common sense, in its original sanity, purified of every ideological incrustation.

One rarely reads pages that speak of faith, conversion and doctrine that are so clear and incisive, while being free of every sentimental or moralistic excess. This comes from Chesterton's attentive reading of reality; he knew that the most harmful consequence of de-Christianization has not been the grave ethical straying but rather the straying of reason, synthesized in this critique of his: The modern world has suffered a mental fall much greater than the moral one.

Faced to this reality, Chesterton chose Catholicism, and affirms that there are at least 10,000 reasons to justify this choice, every one of them valid and well-founded, but able to be boiled down to one reason: That Catholicism is true. The responsibility and the task of the Church then consist in this: In the courage to believe, in the first place, and therefore to denounce the paths that lead to nothingness or destruction, to a blind wall or a prejudice. An undoubtedly holy work, and the holiness of Gilbert Chesterton, which I hope the Church will recognize, already shines and sparkles before the world.

[Translation by Kathleen Naab]

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Source: http://www.zenit.org/article-26454?l=english

June 14, 2011

In memory of G.K. Chesterton

Homily given by Monsignor Ronald Knox at the Requiem Mass for Gilbert Keith Chesterton on June 27, 1936. (Chesterton died June 14, 1936)

Blessed are they that saw thee, and were honoured by thy friendship. For we live only in our life, but after death our name shall not be such (Ecclesiasticus 48:11).

THE man whom we laid to rest the other day in the cemetery at Beaconsfield was one of the very greatest men of his time. If posterity neglects him, it will pronounce judgment not upon him, but upon itself. He will almost certainly be remembered as a great and solitary figure in literature, an artist in words and in ideas with an astounding fecundity of imaginative vision. He will almost certainly be remembered as a prophet, in an age of false prophets. He warned us, in spacious times, that human liberties were threatened, and to-day, human liberties are in debate. He warned us, in times of prosperity, against the perils of industrialism, and industrialism is labouring for breath. He warned us, when imperialism was a fashion, that nationalism was a force not easily destroyed; today nationalism is the shadow over men's hearts.

Whether he was a great author, whether he was a true prophet, does not concern him now-he lies deaf to the world's praise, and secure from its catastrophes-nor does it concern us here; we are met, as Christians, to say farewell in our own fashion to a fellow-Christian who has outstripped us in the race for eternity. The most important thing about Chesterton (he would have been the first to say it), the most distinctive quality in Chester- ton, was a quality which he shared with some three hundred millions of his fellow-men; he was a Catholic. The public discovered him in the early years of the century; it was not till twenty years later that he discovered himself. There is a legend, told of his absentmindedness, that he once telegraphed home the words, "Am in Liverpool; where ought I to be?" And it took him fourteen years after the publication of his book 0rthodoxy to find out that he ought to be in Rome.

I hope I do not wrong such a man, in preaching his panegyric, when I confine myself to considering the position which belongs to him as a religious force: what Catholicism meant to him, and what he meant to Catholicism. In the case of a meaner man, we should be content to celebrate his domestic virtues, his inconspicuous acts of charity. But Chesterton moved, though with the personal simplicity of a child, in a world of apocalyptic images; he saw his religion everywhere; it mattered furiously to him. What he did, is in God's hands; what he was, is matter of gracious recollection to his friends; it is the effect which he made on the world that claims the world's attention, and its gratitude.

I would speak first of the influence which Chesterton's earlier works had, on young men for the most part, and on Protestants. And it is the only claim I have to stand here, in the place of older and closer friends, that at the time when his earlier works were published I was myself a young man, and a Protestant. I think it is true to say that the generation which grew up between the turn of the century and the Great War had a tendency, all the time, to react in favour of religious orthodoxy. The triumph of evolutionary materialism had seemed complete; the faith of Englishmen was laid out for burial, with the cynics, the pessimists, the positivists driving the last nails in its coffin. There was a reaction, of which we should hear more if the events which began with 1914 had not decimated it, and left its less characteristic specimens to represent it. I do not wish to discount the influence of other religious leaders, Anglicans like Scott Holland, or Catholics like Hugh Benson. But the spear-head of that reaction was a man so plainly on the side of the angels that you did not stop to enquire whether he were an Anglican or a Catholic, G.K. Chesterton. The brilliance of his work, the wideness of his appeal, set the fashion in favour of a religious attitude which the fashion of an earlier age had derided. He was conscious, himself, of that change of atmosphere when he wrote the introduction to his book, The Man Who Was Thursday. It is an extraordinary book, written as if the publisher had commissioned him to write something rather like the Pilgrim's Progress in the style of the Pickwick Papers. And the poem which introduces it is a song, not of triumph, but of release from tension in the middle of a conflict.

But we were young; we lived to see God break their bitter charms;
God and the good Republic came riding back in arms;
We have seen the city of Mansoul, even as it rocked, relieved
Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind believed.

The direct effect of that reaction, in stemming the tide of religious liberalism, has been in great part obliterated by the War. Its indirect effect, in producing conversions to the Catholic faith, made itself fully felt only during the War, when the annual figure of conversions went up from eight thousand to ten, and from ten to twelve, where it has remained ever since. Meanwhile, the prophet who had acted as a signpost for us, directing us to the true destination of the soul, remained himself outside the Church, content to fight a lonely battle for the philosophy he could see was right, but could not see was ours. What changed him, then, four years after the Armistice? What was the new momentum which lent impetus to his thoughts so that he no longer believed, being blind, but saw? I never yet knew a convert who could give a precise answer to that question. To give a precise answer, we should have to understand, as we shall never understand it here, the economy of God's grace. We can only say that if it were possible to deserve the grace of conversion, Chesterton had deserved it for years as no other man did; and if he had to wait so long for it, there is hope in that for many a waiting soul, perhaps for some waiting soul here, which still cannot see the end to its despairs.

Meanwhile, what had happened was, to Chesterton himself, admirably clear. He had the artist's eye, which could suddenly see, in some quite familiar object, a new value; he had the poet's intuition, which could suddenly detect, in the tritest of phrases, a wealth of new meaning and of possibilities. The most salient quality, I think, of his writing is this gift of illuminating the ordinary; of finding in something trivial a type of the eternal. And it was a gift of vision he himself valued. In the first of his books which really made a name for him, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, the story opens at a moment when a Government clerk, walking behind two friends in town coats, suddenly sees the buttons on their coats as two eyes, the slit underneath as a nose-line; he has a vision of his two friends as two dragons walking backwards away from him. There is a law (he says in that connection) written in the darkest of the books of life, and it is this: If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time.

That was what happened, when Chesterton was converted. He had looked for the thousandth time at the Catholic Faith, and for the first time, he saw it. Nothing in the Church was new to him, and yet everything was new to him; he was like the man in his own story who had wandered round the world in order to see, with fresh eyes, his own home. That it was his home, neither friend nor foe had doubted; men did not even dare to whisper of him, the old, pathetic lie that converts are unhappy. Whether his work as a Catholic has been as influential as the work he did when he was only a defender of Catholics, is a question hard to resolve. He was no longer the latest fashion; he had reached the age at which most men have said their say; his health had begun to decline, and he was overworked, partly through our fault. Nor, I think, will the world ever give a just hearing to one who has labeled himself a Catholic. But this I will say, that if every other line he wrote should disappear from circulation, Catholic posterity would still owe an imperishable debt of gratitude, so long as a copy of The Everlasting Man enriched its libraries. This I will say, that whenever I ask an enquirer whether he has read any Catholic books, his answer regularly begins, "I've read some Chesterton, of course."

We live only in our life, and after death our name shall not be such; few men of our time could refuse that epitaph to Gilbert Chesterton. Meanwhile, blessed are they that saw him, and were honoured by his friendship; they found in him a living example of charity, of chivalry, of unbelievable humility which will remain with them, perhaps, as a more effective document of Catholic verity than any word even he wrote. But the familiar voice, with its high chuckle of amusement, will reach us no longer; he, whose belief in immortality was so publicly influential, can give us no whisper of reassurance, now that he knows. Only, we know what he would say if he heard the suggestion that nothing remains of him beyond what was interred at Beaconsfield.

The sages have a hundred maps to give;
They trace their crawling cosmos like a tree;
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free;
And all these things are less than dust to me,
Because my name is Lazarus, and I live

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-from The Chesterton Review, 1990.


Chesterton page by Church of St. Teresa, Beconsfield, UK.

June 1, 2011

The Heavy Cost of the Bush-Obama Murder Rampage

By Anthony Gregory
June 1, 2011

IN EVERY election cycle, the politicians love to pretend there is a difference among them on the foreign policy questions. Yet on these issues of unsurpassed importance, we see the Democrats and Republicans are all part of the same bloodthirsty gang.

On the superficial level of presidential politics, Obama and Bush appeared light-years apart. They play opposites in the DC-approved official culture war between those who pretend to be genuine red-blooded Americans of the heartland and those who feign an understanding of the beleaguered urban minorities and oppressed underclass, when in truth both perfectly embody the same Wall Street-Pentagon-friendly power elite. This is most clearly seen in their virtually identical approach toward empire.

After 9/11, Bush could have used his Republican bonafides to stress not pacifism but at least the humble foreign policy he had promised. We shouldn’t be "an arrogant nation," he famously said in his October 11, 2000, debate with Al Gore. "[O]ne way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you."

But instead, Bush used 9/11 as an excuse to expand the federal government more than had happened in decades, gut the Bill of Rights, and start two major wars to "democractize" Afghanistan and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands, maybe more than a million innocents, were slaughtered in his wars. He left America in low morale, bankrupted from his recklessness, bloodied from battle, with thousands of Americans having returned in flag-draped caskets.

Obama in 2008 gave even more lip service to foreign policy humility than did Bush in 2000, or at least was perceived this way, and somehow everyone believed it. He said Bush made a terrible mistake in invading Iraq. He said we could save a fortune and restore American honor by withdrawing.

Yet here we are, over two years into his presidency, and the mountain of corpses continues to rise. In Afghanistan, there were more civilian deaths last year than any time since the war began. In Pakistan, Obama has unleashed unspeakable terror with his drone attacks, deploying more than three times as many last year as Bush did in 2008. This killing spree has greatly exacerbated a refugee disaster, wherein a million or two have been displaced from their homes.

But of course, most Americans don’t care about the death of foreigners. Non-Americans are barely human. Yet even by purely U.S.-centric standards, the Obama model of war has amounted to a continuation of the Bush trajectory. My new Independent Institute policy report, What Price War? Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Costs of Conflict, goes into the numbers and cuts through the rhetorical fog of partisan nonsense.

Last year, 559 American troops died in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is ninety more than died in Bush’s last full year – 2008 – in office. Both 2009 and 2010 were far bloodier for Americans in Afghanistan than any year under Bush. In 2008, Bush’s deadliest year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, 155 died there – fewer than half of the 317 who fell in 2009 and fewer than a third of the 499 who fell last year.

Even conservative Americans should be alarmed by this, and liberal peaceniks should be horrified that their man has apparently increased U.S. belligerence from its 2008 levels, by which point U.S. casualties were winding down from their peak during Bush’s most lethal years. All Americans have to be concerned with the financial cost too. Obama repeatedly promised to save money from the Iraq adventure and devote the savings to other priorities – which he has, more or less. Yet the U.S. was going to begin drawing down in Iraq anyway: Bush signed the Status of Forces Agreement in 2008, setting a timetable for Iraq similar to what we’ve seen followed under Obama.

Overall, the heightened violence in Afghanistan has meant a war price tag rivaling the worst days of war criminal George W. Bush. Even adjusting for inflation, in 2006, Bush was spending about $133 billion on his two wars in 2011 dollars. Last year, the cost was up to $170 billion. Then we have the record-busting Pentagon budgets that the Democrats have given us.

Obama could have gotten away with a more modest policy than Bush, simply by continuing on the path set at the beginning of 2009. But he wanted to show that the Republicans had "neglected" Afghanistan and so he tripled the U.S. troop presence, from just over 30,000 soldiers at the end of the Bush era to the 100,000 or so that are there now. This puts aside the vast increase in contractors, as I discuss in the report.

Obama has also bombed Somalia and Yemen and started a fresh new major war with Libya, in violation of the War Powers Act, the Constitution, and all semblance of common sense. So far, according to Defense Secretary Gates, the cost has been over $750 million. This particular battle costs about $40 million a month in direct costs, but I’m sure the Republicans are still patting themselves on the back for saving $5 million a year by cutting federal funding for NPR.

All of this ignores the more hidden costs of war: The uncounted thousands of innocents blown to bits and otherwise slaughtered because Obama doesn’t want to appear "weak" in Afghanistan; the civil liberties violations that have only accelerated under this president; the many thousands of Americans injured and psychologically traumatized; the economic opportunities vanquished because of the trillions in resources devoted to and destroyed in these wars.

Concerning all the permanent fixtures of the American state – the trillions in entitlements, the national police power, the Fed and the armies of regulators – Obama has continued and expanded upon nearly everything we had under Bush, just as Bush ramped up what he inherited from Clinton and on and on going back decades. Nowhere is the tragic bipartisan continuity in U.S. policy starker than in the area of war. Yet as I note in my paper, there was no reason to expect otherwise: candidate Obama said Iraq was a mistake, but he praised the horrible surge and voted to continue funding the war, vowing the whole time to expand operations in Afghanistan.

Millions thought Obama would bring home the troops, wind down the wars, stop killing so many civilians, and save money while he was at it. Sadly, the murder rampage continues without interruption, only with a greater emphasis on picking on some nations rather than others and a different rhetorical cloak to obscure the evil of the slaughter. Hawks decry Obama as a pacifist who hates American power and doves often praise him for being more thoughtful than his reckless warmongering predecessor. The only real question is which dishonest characterization is the greater obscenity.

Anthony Gregory is research editor at the Independent Institute. He lives in Oakland, California. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.

May 31, 2011

Population Growth as Propaganda: The Greens and the Reds

By Gary North
May 31, 2011

BEGINNING in the mid-1960s, a propaganda campaign has been waged against the West. Those favoring government control over the economy have used the fear of a population explosion to persuade voters to allow the governments of the world to interfere with their lives. The Greens have made predictions about famine. These predictions began in 1798 in An Essay on Population, written by T. Robert Malthus. The first edition was published anonymously. His bold prediction of inevitable poverty was dropped in later editions, but people remember the first edition.

We need to know how long this nonsense has been going on. We need to recognize it when we hear it or see it.


Concern over population growth escalated in the 1960s, especially after the counter-culture movement appeared around 1965. A major news magazine in the United States, U.S. News and World Report, announced in 1965: "The World's Biggest Problem." It asked: "How can the world feed all its people, at the rate the population is growing?" This article had been preceded by "World Choice: Limit Population or Face Famine." Even National Review, then the most influential conservative intellectual magazine in the United States, got on the bandwagon in 1965.

In 1968, Dr. Paul Ehrlich's best-selling book, The Population Bomb, was published. In it, Ehrlich, a Stanford University professor of biology, warned: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate. . . ." A far better estimate of the threat of worldwide famine was made in 1969 by Harvard University nutritionist Jean Meyer, who predicted that "food may at some time (20 or 30 years from now) be removed altogether as a limiting factor in population." Meyer's viewpoint received very little publicity, although it was to prove correct within a decade.

The predicted famines did not occur in the 1970s or the 1980s. What did occur was a surplus of food. The apocalyptic critics in 1965 should have paid more attention to the statistics of food production. After 1950, worldwide grain production increased steadily. From 1950 through 1975, this increase was in the range of 25% to 40% per capita. In the less developed countries (excluding Communist China), the increase was in the 13% range. Between 1950 and 1980, the world's supply of arable land grew by more than 20%, and it grew even faster in the less developed countries. From 1967 to 1977, the world's irrigated acreage grew by more than 25%. The price of seed, fertilizer, pesticides, and farm equipment also dropped in this period, in some cases by as much as half. In the 1980's, grain farmers all over the world suffered economic losses as a result of overproduction. While these trends may not be permanent, they did create a tremendous public relations problem for the heralded famine-predictors of the counter-culture era (1965-70).

What also occurred was a dramatic fall of birth rates in undeveloped nations: a contraceptive revolution. In 1979, Ehrlich referred back to his book and others like it that had prophesied rising birth rates in the 1970s: "But we were all dead wrong." He still held that a crisis was coming: perhaps famine, or a pandemic, or nuclear war. In 1980, he made a $1,000 bet with University of Maryland economist Julian Simon over the future price of five metals -- a bet on the limits to growth. Simon predicted that prices would be lower. He proved correct; Ehrlich paid off the bet in 1990. He could easily afford to pay off; in that same year, he was granted a $345,000 MacArthur Foundation Prize and half of the $240,000 Craford Prize, the ecologists' version of the Nobel Prize. Simon was unknown to the general public. The media were overwhelmingly supportive of the apocalyptics. Rival viewpoints on the population question, despite the overwhelming evidence, received little attention from the major opinion-makers. The opinion-makers were strongly opposed to population growth because they were strongly pro-abortion. The apocalyptics seemed to provide scientific evidence for a looming catastrophe. This reinforced the legalization of abortion in 1973 (Roe v. Wade).

In 1942, Warren Thompson warned of the decline in the birth rate in Western Europe and its colonies, 1890-1940. "It is the most important demographic change of our time." This decline in birth rates in the West has generally continued, although in the early 1990s, it was reversed in the United States. By the late 1980s, there was no Western European nation except Ireland with a birth rate anywhere near 2.1 children per family -- the family replacement rate. Had Islamic birth rates been excluded, the birth rate figures would have been much lower in several nations. West Germany's birth rate had fallen so low by the late 1970s that the German population will die out in the year 2500 if the same birth rate is maintained. (There will be plenty of Muslims, especially Turks, to replace them.) By the late 1980s, a new warning was being sounded: European life spans were lengthening, birth rates were dropping, and government retirement programs were facing a looming crisis: too many recipients, too few taxpaying workers. Yet the apocalyptics continue to warn of an impending explosion, a population bomb.


In 1980, a Presidential Commission reported to the President of the United States on the impending crises. Unlike most reports from Presidential commissions, this three-volume report received worldwide publicity. It was titled, Global 2000 Report to the President, but became known simply as Global 2000. It was a deeply political document. It was also a classic Malthusian document, meaning the 1798 Malthus, not the more mature Malthus. It warned on page 1:
If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the world's people will be poorer in many ways than they are today.

For hundreds of millions of the desperately poor, the outlook for food and other necessities of life will be no better. For many it will be worse. Barring revolutionary advances in technology, life for most people on earth will be more precarious in 2000 than it is now -- unless the nations of the world act decisively to alter current trends.
Nothing like this happened. Two comments are relevant here. First, there has been no revolutionary technological development, for example, along the lines of nanotechnology, where molecule-sized mechanical assemblers put together atoms and molecules in order to produce organic as well as inorganic substances in almost limitless quantities. This development, if it comes, will at last force a drastic revision of the legacy of Malthus. It looks technologically feasible sometime before the year 2070, but it has not happened yet. Second, "the nations of the world" -- read: national governments -- poured tens of billions of dollars worth of aid into the third world in the 1980's, but in the handful of isolated socialist economies of Africa, things nevertheless grew worse. Outside of these tiny socialist economies, which were also suffering from civil war, the predicted food crises did not take place.

This absence of crises was predicted by a group of scholars in a book published in 1984: The Resourceful Earth. This book received very little attention from the press. Its editors offered another scenario: "If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be less crowded (though more populated), less polluted, more stable ecologically, and less vulnerable to resource-supply disruption than the world we live in now. Stresses involving population, resources, and environment will be less in the future than now . . . The world's people will be richer in most ways than they are today . . . The outlook for food and other necessities of life will be better . . . life for most people on earth will be less precarious economically than it is now." This prediction came true for all but North Korea and Cuba.

The Malthusian apocalyptics in 1980 dismissed as irrelevant two centuries of economic and technological progress: 1780-1980. They also ignored earlier periods of population growth in European history. Economic historian Karl Helleiner writes:
The opinion, still widely held, that before the eighteenth century, Europe's population, though subject to violent short-run fluctuations, remained stationary over long periods, or was growing only imperceptibly, is, I believe, no longer tenable. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that those oscillations were superimposed on clearly recognizable "long waves." At least two periods of secular increase can be tolerably well identified in the demographic history of medieval and early modern Europe, the first extending from about the middle of the eleventh to the end of the thirteenth, the second from the middle of the fifteenth to the end of the sixteenth, century. . . . In this sense the demographic development of the eighteenth century was not unique. What was unprecedented about it was the fact that the secular upward movement started from a higher level, and that it was able to maintain, and for some time even increase, its momentum. Population growth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, unlike that of previous epochs, was not terminated or reversed by catastrophe.
Something changed after 1750. The world experienced what Adam Smith taught in The Wealth of Nations (1776): economic freedom produces rapid, long-term growth.

Economic freedom is necessary but not sufficient to produce long-term population growth. A religious worldview favorable to large families must accompany economic liberty. Men must believe what David wrote so long ago: "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate" (Ps. 127:4-5). The issue here is world dominion under God. This faith has faded rapidly in the humanist West. With falling birth rates among the populations of the industrialized world, rates of population growth are headed lower. When third-world nations industrialize, they almost certainly -- a very dangerous phrase in demographics -- will experience the same thing. (We must always add: unless people change their minds and then change their behavior.) It has already happened in Iran, whose birth rate is close to Germany's: 1.4 children per woman.

The Malthusians always talk about the burden of more mouths to feed. They never talk about the economic benefits of more hands to work and more minds to think creatively beginning two decades later. They ignore the long-term capital returns from a 15-year or 20-year capital investment in morality and education. That is, they are present-oriented and therefore lower-class social theorists. Sadly, vocal Christian intellectuals in the late twentieth century joined the camp of the Malthusians.

Are many people facing famine today? If so, what is the proper solution? If not, why are so many Western intellectuals convinced that famine is imminent? How could a supposedly serious pair of scholars have written a book in 1967 titled, Famine-1975!? The famine never appeared. Instead, food prices fell. Per capita consumption of food rose. Yet the myth of looming food shortages continues to be believed. From 1798 until the present, Malthus' predictions have been refuted by the facts, decade after decade. The West has experienced a growing population with increasing per capita consumption of food. Yet the myth still flourishes in the West. That starvation is possible in a major war is quite possible. The question is: If we avoid such a major war, is a famine inevitable? The apocalyptics' answer: yes. This answer has been proven incorrect for over two centuries, but generation after generation of apocalyptics learn nothing from the evidence. Theirs is a religious worldview, impervious to the historical record.

Read the rest of the article

Copyright © 2011 Gary North

May 20, 2011

G.K. Chesterton quotes (1)

This page contains a variety quotes from G.K. Chesterton. Enjoy!

“IT IS remarkable that in so many great wars it is the defeated who have won. The people who were left worst at the end of the war were generally the people who were left best at the end of the whole business.” ~Tremendous Trifles.

“DEMOCRACY means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.” ~N.Y. Times, Feb. 1, 1931.

“IF THERE is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy.” ~The Everlasting Man.

“THIS world is all one wild divorce court; nevertheless, there are many who still hear in their souls the thunder of the authority of human habit; those whom God hath joined together let no man sunder.” ~What’s Wrong With the World.

“INSTEAD of the liberty of dogma, you have the tyranny of taste.” ~A Miscellany of Men.

“THERE ARE two kinds of people in the world: the conscious dogmatists and unconscious dogmatists. I have always found myself that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic.” ~Generally Speaking.

“FOR IT IS the test of a good encyclopedia that it does two rather different things at once. The man consulting it finds the thing he wants; he also finds how many thousand things there are that he does not want.” ~The Common Man.

“THE FUNDAMENTALISTS are funny enough, and the funniest thing about them is their name. For, whatever else the fundamentalist is, he is not fundamental. He is content with the bare letter of Scripture—the translation of a translation, coming down to him by the tradition of a tradition—without venturing to ask for its original authority.” ~All is Grist.

“THERE IS no such thing as being a gentleman at important moments; it is at unimportant moments that a man is a gentleman. At important moments he ought to be something better.” ~A Handful of Authors.

“WHATEVER else there was, there was never any such thing as the evolution of the idea of God. The idea was concealed, was avoided, was almost forgotten, was even explained away; but it was never evolved.”
~The Everlasting Man.

“TO BE merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness; just as to spend one’s last earthly money on the newest hat is to condemn oneself to the old-fashioned. The road of the ancient centuries is strewn with dead moderns.” ~The Common Man.

THE CHRISTIAN admits that the universe is manifold and even miscellaneous, just as a sane man knows that he is complex. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the Materialist's world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The Materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the interesting person before mentioned is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts. ~Orthodoxy.

"THE WHOLE modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." ~Illustrated London News (04-19-1924)

“I AM very fond of revolutionists, but not very fond of nihilists. For nihilists, as their name implies, have nothing to revolt about.” ~The Thing.

“PEOPLE put the matter wrong when they say that the novel is a study of human nature. Human nature is a thing that even men can understand. Human nature is born of the pain of a woman; human nature plays at peep-bo when it is two and at cricket when it is twelve; human nature earns its living and desires the other sex and dies. What the novel deals with is what women have to deal with; the differentiations, the twists and turns of this eternal river.” ~The Victorian Age in Literature.

“A GOOD novelist always has a philosophy; but a good novel is never a book of philosophy.” ~A Handful of Authors.

“IT SEEMS seems to me that Gilbert Chesterton at his baptism was visited by three fairies. Two good and one evil. The two good fairies were the fairy of fecundity of speech and the fairy of wide appreciation. The bad fairy was struck dead as she entered the church---and served her right. He was blessed in knowing nothing of the acerbities which bite into the life of writing men.” ~Hilaire Belloc: Gilbert Chesterton in English Letters.

“THE FULL value of this life can only be gotten by fighting; the violent take it by storm. And if we have accepted everything we have missed something—war. This life of ours is a very enjoyable fight, but a very miserable truce.” ~GKC: Charles Dickens.

"THE SAME lesson [of the pessimistic pleasure-seeker] was taught by the very powerful and very desolate philosophy of Oscar Wilde. It is the carpe diem religion; but the carpe diem religion is not the religion of happy people, but of very unhappy people. Great joy does not gather the rosebuds while it may; its eyes are fixed on the immortal rose which Dante saw." ~Heretics.

"OSCAR WILDE said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde." ~Orthodoxy.

When H.G. Wells was seriously ill, he wrote Chesterton and said, "If after all my Atheology turns out wrong and your Theology right I feel I shall always be able to pass into Heaven (if I want to) as a friend of G.K.C.'s. Bless you." --- Chesterton replied, "If I turn out to be right, you will triumph, not by being a friend of mine, but by being a friend of Man, by having done a thousand things for men like me in every way from imagination to criticism. The thought of the vast variety of that work, and how it ranges from towering visions to tiny pricks of humor, overwhelmed me suddenly in retrospect; and I felt we have none of us ever said enough. . .Yours always, G. K. Chesterton."

(Note: Gilbert was a large man, 6' 4" and weighing 290 lb).
On one occasion, Chesterton remarked to his visiting friend, George Bernard Shaw: "To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England". Shaw retorted, "To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it".

“IT IS easy enough to say the cultured man should be the crowd’s guide, philosopher and friend. Unfortunately, he has nearly always been a misguiding guide, a false friend and a very shallow philosopher. And the actual catastrophes we have suffered, including those we are now suffering, have not in historical fact been due to the prosaic practical people who are supposed to know nothing, but almost invariably to the highly theoretical people who knew they knew everything. The world may learn by its mistakes; but they were mostly the mistakes of the learned.” ~The Common Man.

May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Proclamation

The antiwar roots of Mother's Day may not be well-known, yet it is an important piece of history bearing a valuable lesson. Julia Ward Howe (1819 – 1910) was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet, most famous as the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". After the war, Howe focused her activities on the causes of pacifism and women's suffrage. In 1870 Howe was the first to proclaim Mother's Day, with her "Mother's Day Proclamation". Written in 1870, Howe's "Mother's Day Proclamation" was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe's feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

May 1, 2011

The Criminality of War

By Laurence M. Vance
Source: LewRockwell.com

Even without the WikiLeaks revelations that U.S. helicopter pilots gunned down twelve Iraqi civilians, that U.S. soldiers ignored brutal torture carried out by Iraqi security forces, that the U.S. military withheld from the public information about 15,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, that U.S. special forces have been secretly embedded with Pakistani military, that the U.S. government massacred children and was complicit in the Yemeni government taking the blame for the deed, and that U.S. troops carelessly killed civilians and then covered it up, there were numerous criminal acts perpetrated by the United States military under the guise of the war on terror.

Here are just a few representative examples:

-- Members of Stryker Combat Brigade in Afghanistan Accused of Killing Civilians for Sport
According to charging documents, the unprovoked, fatal attack on Jan. 15 was the start of a months-long shooting spree against Afghan civilians that resulted in some of the grisliest allegations against American soldiers since the U.S. invasion in 2001. Members of the platoon have been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as hoarding a skull and other human bones.

-- Afghanistan Wedding Party Hit by Massive Bomb
At least 21 people were killed last night and 83 wounded after a massive bomb ripped through a wedding party in a village in Kandahar where US special forces have pioneered a controversial militia programme to encourage people to defend themselves in return for development projects.

-- US Troops "Murdered Afghan Civilians and Kept Body Parts"
A group of US soldiers murdered a number of Afghan civilians and took body parts as trophies, documents released by military officials allege.

-- U.S. Soldiers Charged with Murdering Civilians in Afghanistan War
A dozen US soldiers have been charged with a series of crimes committed in Afghanistan, including the murder of three Afghan civilians and the subsequent cover-up, according to documents the US Army released Wednesday. CNN reports that the soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Washington state have been charged in connection with the attempted cover-up of the murder and assault of Afghan civilians, as well as the mutilation of dead Afghans, and drug use.

-- Troops Carrying Out "Battlefield Executions" in Afghanistan, Seymour Hersh Says
What they’ve done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they’re Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I’ve been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can’t prove they’re Taliban, bam. If we don’t do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that's going on now.

-- US Special Forces "Tried to Cover-up" Botched Khataba Raid in Afghanistan
US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened.

-- Cluster Bombs, Decapitation Bombing Killed Hundreds
Hundreds of civilians were killed by Coalition cluster bombs and air strikes designed to decapitate the Iraqi leadership, according to a new report by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said the high cost in civilian casualties caused by the two tactics may have violated the laws of war.

-- US Army "Kill Team" in Afghanistan Posed for Photos of Murdered Civilians
Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of "trophy" photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenceless Afghan civilians they killed.

According to American and Pakistani sources, U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan kill ten civilians for every "militant" killed. And according to U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, of the more than thirty people who have been killed and the eighty who have been wounded in convoy and checkpoint shootings in Afghanistan since the summer of 2009, not one was found to have been a threat: "We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat," said the general.

But as bad as these war crimes are, it should never be forgotten that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are themselves criminal. It doesn’t matter if these crimes were carried out by a few bad apples or rogue outfits, or if they are merely isolated instances or if a majority of U.S. soldiers did not participate. The danger in focusing on the above war crimes – and even terming them crimes – masks the real crime that has been perpetrated against Iraq and Afghanistan.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the destruction of infrastructure in countries that were not a threat to the United States, and the killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who hadn’t lifted a finger against any Americans until their countries were targeted by the United States is the real crime.

These wars are crimes against not only the Iraq and Afghan peoples, but against the thousands of U.S. soldiers who died in vain and for a lie, against the thousands of U.S. soldiers who needlessly suffered horrific injuries that were not worth it, against the thousands of family members of U.S. soldiers who must unnecessarily endure mental anguish over lost loved ones, and against the American taxpayers who are on the hook for trillions of dollars.

And yet, conservatives gave one of the chief war criminals, Donald Rumsfeld, the "Defender of the Constitution Award" at their annual CPAC. Fittingly, the award was presented by another one of the chief war criminals, Dick Cheney. I stand by what I have said several times about conservatives: The very heart and soul of conservatism is war. Patriotism, Americanism, and being a real conservative are now equated with support for war, torture, and militarism.

It is unfortunate that many conservative Christians are also conservative warmongers. To them I offer, and to all other conservative warmongers, the compelling insight of Howard Malcom (1799-1879), former president of Georgetown College, Kentucky. What it especially important about Malcom’s treatise on the "Criminality of War" is that it was reprinted in The Book of Peace: A Collection of Essays on War and Peace – published by the American Peace Society in 1845, long before the horrors of twentieth-century wars were chronicled, and even before images of war were captured on photographs.

By Howard Malcom, D. D.
President of Georgetown College, KY

That man is a fallen and depraved creature, is every where apparent in the ferocious dispositions of his nature. Hence, to speak of him as in "a state of nature," has been to speak of him as "a savage." A savage finds in war and bloodshed his only means of honor and fame, and he becomes, both in the chase and the camp, a beast of prey.

In proportion as war prevails among civilized nations, it banishes whatever tends to refine and elevate, suspends the pursuits of industry, destroys the works of art, and sets them back towards barbarism. Wherever it comes, cities smoke in ruins, and fields are trodden under foot. The husband is torn from his wife, the father from his children, the aged lose their prop, and woman is consigned to unwonted toils and perpetual alarms. As it passes, the halls of science grow lonely, improvements pause, benevolence is fettered, violence supersedes law, and even the sanctuary of God is deserted, or becomes a manger, a hospital, or a fortress. In its actual encounters, every movement is immeasurably horrid, with wounds, anguish, and death; while amid the din of wrath and strife, a stream of immortal souls is hurried, unprepared, to their final audit.

That tyrants should lead men into wars of pride and conquest, is not strange. But that the people, in governments comparatively free, should so readily lend themselves to a business in which they bear all the sufferings, can gain nothing, and may lose all, is matter of astonishment indeed.

But the chief wonder is that CHRISTIANS, followers of the Prince of Peace, should have concurred in this mad idolatry of strife, and thus been inconsistent not only with themselves, but with the very genius of their system. Behold a man going from the Lord’s Supper, fantastically robed and plumed, drilling himself into skilful modes of butchery, and studying the tactics of death! Behold him murdering his fellow Christians, and praying to his Divine Master for success in the endeavor! Behold processions marching to the house of God to celebrate bloody victories, and give thanks for having been able to send thousands and tens of thousands to their last account with all their sins upon their heads! Stupendous inconsistency!

Surely this matter should remain no longer unexamined. It cannot. In this age of light, when every form of vice and error is discussed and resisted, this great evil, the prolific parent of unnumbered abominations, must be attacked also. Christians are waking up to see and do their duty to one another, to their neighbors, and to the distant heathen. They cannot continue to overlook war. I persuade myself that there are few, even now, who object to its being discussed.

I propose not to discuss the whole subject of war; – a vast theme. I shall abstain from presenting it in the light of philosophy, politics, or patriotism; in each of which points of light I have studied it, and feel that it demands most serious attention. In the following observations, war will be discussed only as it concerns a Christian.

Happily, there are few who would oppose the prevalence and perpetuity of peace. The need of discussion lies not in the bloodthirsty character of our countrymen, nor in the existence of active efforts to propagate and prolong the miseries of war; but in the apathy that prevails on this subject, and the almost total want of reflection in regard to it. A military spirit is so wrought into the habits of national thinking, and into all our patriotic pomps and festivals, that the occasional occurrence of war is deemed a matter of course. Even the fervent friends of man’s highest welfare seem to regard a general pacification of the world, and the disuse of fleets and armies, as a mere Utopian scheme, and chose to give their money and prayers to objects which seem of more probable attainment. This apathy and incredulity are to be overcome only by discussion.

The following observations will be confined to two points.

I. War is criminal because inconsistent with Christianity.

II. This criminality is enormous.


1. It contradicts the entire genius and intention of Christianity.

Christianity requires us to seek to amend the condition of man. War always deteriorates and destroys. The world is at this moment not one whit better, in any respect, for all the wars of five thousand years. If here and there some good may be traced to war, the amount of evil, on the whole, is immeasurably greater. Christianity, if it prevailed, would make earth once more a paradise. War makes it a slaughter house, a desert, a den of thieves and murderers, a hell. Christianity cancels and condemns the law of retaliation. War is based upon that very principle. Christianity remedies all human woes. War makes them.

The causes of war are as inconsistent with Christianity as its effects. It originates in the worst passions, and the worst crimes, James iv., 1, 2. We may always trace it to the thirst of revenge, the acquisition of territory, the monopoly of commerce, the quarrels of kings, the coercion of religious opinions, or some such unholy source. There never was a war, devised by man, founded on holy tempers, and Christian principles.

All the features, all the concomitants, all the results of war, are opposed to the features, the concomitants, the results of Christianity. The two systems conflict in every point, irreconcilably and forever.

2. War sets at naught the entire example of Jesus.

"Learn of me," says the Divine Examplar. And can we learn fighting from him? His conduct was always pacific. He became invisible when the Nazarites sought to cast him from their precipice. The troops that came to arrest him in the garden, he struck down, but not dead. His constant declaration was, that he "came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save."

True, he once instructed his disciples to buy swords, telling them that they were going forth as sheep among wolves. But the whole passage shows he was speaking by parable, as he generally did. The disciples answered, "here are two swords." He instantly replies, "it is enough." If he had spoken literally, how could two swords suffice for twelve Apostles? Nay, when Peter used one of these, it was too much. Christ reproved him, and healed the wound. He rneant to teach them their danger, not their refuge. His metaphor was misunderstood, just as it was when he said, "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," and they thought he meant bread.

Once he drove men from the temple. But it was with "a whip of small cords." Moral influence drove them. A crowd of such fellows was not to be overcome by one man with a whip. He expressly declared that his servants should not fight, for his kingdom was not of this world. His whole life was the sublime personification of benevolence. He was the PRINCE OF PEACE.

Do we forget that Christ is our example? Whatever is right for us to do, would in general have been right for him to do. Imagine the Savior robed in the trappings of a man of blood, leading columns to slaughter, setting fire to cities, laying waste the country, storming fortresses, and consigning thousands to wounds, anguish and death, just to define a boundary, settle a point of policy, or decide some kingly quarrel. Could "meekness and lowliness of heart" be learned from him thus engaged?

There is no rank or station in an army that would become the character of Christ. Nor can any man who makes arms a profession find a pattern in Christ our Lord. But he ought to be every man’s pattern.

I need not enlarge on this point. It is conceded; for no warrior thinks of making Christ his pattern. How then can a genuine imitator of Christ, consistently be a warrior?

3. War is inconsistent not only with the NATURE of Christianity, and the EXAMPLE OF JESUS, but it violates all the EXPRESS PRECEPTS of Scripture.

Even the Old Testament does not sanction war as a Custom. In each case, there mentioned, of lawful war, it was entered upon by the express command of God. If such authority were now given, we might worthily resort to arms. But without such authority, how dare we violate the genius of Christianity, and set at naught the example of Christ? The wars mentioned in olden times were not appointed to decide doubtful questions, or to settle quarrels. They were to inflict national punishment, and were intended, as are pestilence and famine, to chastise guilty nations.

As to the New Testament, a multitude of its precepts might be quoted, expressly against all fighting. "Ye have heard, &c., an eye for an eye, but I say unto you resist not evil." "Follow peace with all men." "Love one another." "Do justice, love mercy." "Love your enemies." "Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace." "Return good for evil." "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, and ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight," etc. "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither," &c. "Be ye not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." "If thine enemy hunger, feed him, if he thirst, give him drink." "Render not evil for evil, but contrariwise blessing." Such passages might be indefinitely multiplied. They abound in the New Testament. How shall they be disposed of? No interpretation can nullify their force, or change their application. Take any sense the words will bear, and they forbid war. They especially forbid retaliation, which is always advanced as the best pretext for war.

Such texts as have been just quoted, relate to the single matter of retaliation and fighting. But belligerent nations violate every precept of the gospel. It enjoins every man to be meek, lowly, peaceable, easy to be entreated, gentle, thinking no evil, merciful, slow to anger, quiet, studious, patient, temperate, &c. Let a man rehearse, one by one, the whole catalogue of Christian graces, and he will see that war repudiates them all.

Examine that superlative epitome of Christianity, our Lord’s sermon on the mount. Its nine benedictions are upon so many classes of persons; the poor in spirit, mourners, the meek, the merciful, the peace-makers, the persecuted, the reviled, those who hunger after righteousness, and the pure in heart. In which of these classes can the professed warrior place himself? Alas, he shuts himself out from all the benedictions of heaven.

The discourse proceeds to teach, not only killing, but anger is murder. It expressly rebukes the law of retaliation; and exploding the traditionary rule of loving our neighbor, and hating our enemy, it requires us to love our enemies, and do good to those that despitefully use us. Afterward, in presenting a form of prayer, it not only teaches us to say, "Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us," but adds, "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you." What a peace sermon is here! What modern peace society goes further, or could be more explicit?

But let us take a few of the Christian graces more in detail. The Christian is required to cherish a sense of direct and supreme responsibility to God. The irresponsible feelings of a soldier are a necessary part of his profession, as Lord Wellington said recently, ‘A man who has a nice sense of religion, should not be a soldier.’ The soldier makes war a profession, and must be ready to fight any nation, or any part of his own nation, as he is ordered. He must have no mind of his own. He must march, wheel, load, fire, charge, or retreat, as he is bidden, and because he is bidden. In the language of THOMAS JEFFERSON, "The breaking of men to military discipline, is breaking their spirits to principles of passive obedience." The nearer a soldier comes to a mere machine, the better soldier he makes. Is this right for a Christian? Is it compatible with his duty to "examine all things, and hold fast that which is good?"

The contempt of life which is so necessary in a soldier, is a sin. He must walk up to the deadly breach, and maintain ground before the cannon’s mouth. But life is inestimable, and belongs to God. He who masters the fear of death, does it either by religious influence, or quenching the fear of God, and all concern about a future state. There is not a gospel precept, which he who makes arms a profession, is not at times compelled to violate.

Nor is there a Christian grace which does not tend to diminish the value of a professed soldier. Some graces are, it is true, useful in camp; where a man may be called to act as a servant, or laborer. It is then desirable that he be honest, meek, faithful, that he may properly attend to a horse, or a wardrobe. But such qualities spoil him for the field. He must there cast away meekness, and fight; he must cast away honesty, and forage; he must cast away forgiveness, and revenge his country; he must not return good for evil, but two blows for one.

Survey an army prepared for battle; see a throng, busy with cannons, muskets, mortars, swords, drums, trumpets, and banners. Do these men look like Christians? Do they talk like followers of the meek and lowly Jesus? Do they act like friends and benefactors of the whole human race? Are the lessons they learn in daily drill, such as will help them in a life of faith?

Mark this army in the hour of battle. See attacks and retreats, battalions annihilated, commanders falling, shouts of onset, groans of death, horses trampling the fallen, limbs flying in the air, suffocating smoke, and thousands smarting in the agony of death, without a cup of water to quench their intolerable thirst! Do the principles of Christianity authorize such a scene? Are such horrors its fruits?

Inspect the field when all is over. The fair harvest trampled and destroyed, houses and batteries smoking in ruin, the mangled and suffering strewed among dead comrades, and dead horses, and broken gun-carriages. Prowlers strip the booty even from the warm bodies of the dying, jackals howl around, and disgusting birds are wheeling in the air; while the miserable wife seeks her loved one among the general carnage. Does all this look as if Christians had been there, serving the God of mercy? Could such works grow out of the system, heralded as bringing "Peace on earth"?

Turn your eyes to the ocean. A huge ship, bristling with implements of death, glides quietly along. Presently "a sail!" is called from sentinel to sentinel. All on board catch the sound, and gaze on the dim and distant outline. At length she is discovered to be a ship of war, and all strain their eyes to see her flag. On that little token hangs the important issue; for no feud, no jealousy exists between the crews. They do not even know each other. At length the signal is discerned to be that of a foe. Immediately what a scene ensues! Decks cleared and sanded, ports opened, guns run out, matches lighted, and every preparation made for bloody work. While waiting for the moment to engage, the worst passions of the men are appealed to to make them fight with fury; and they are inspired with all possible pride, hatred, revenge or ambition.

The fight begins! Death flies with every shot. Blood and carnage cover the decks. The rigging is cut to pieces; the hull bored with hot shot. The smoke, the confusion, the orders of officers, the yells of the wounded, the crash of timbers, the horrors of the cockpit, make a scene at which infernal fiends feel their malignity sated. At length one party strikes, and the strife is stayed. The conquered ship, ere her wounded can be removed, sinks into the deep. The victor, herself almost a wreck, throws overboard the slain, washes her decks, and turns toward her port, carrying the crippled, the agonized, and the dying of both ships! What anguish is there in that ship! What empty berths, late filled with the gay-hearted and the profane! What tidings does she carry, to spread lamentation and misery over hundreds of families!

Yet in all this, there was no personal feud or malice, no private wrong or offence. All was the mere result of some cabinet council, some kingly caprice. Could any enormity be more cold blooded and diabolical?

But no where does war wear such horrors as in a siege. The inhabitants are shut up; business, pleasure, education, intercourse are all checked; sorrow, terror, and distress prevail. Bombs fall and explode in the streets; citizens are killed in their houses, and soldiers on the ramparts. Women and children retreat to the cellars, and live there cold, dark, comfortless, terrified. Day after day, and month after month, roll tediously on, while the gloom constantly thickens, and the only news is of houses crushed, acquaintances killed, prices raised, and scarcity increased. Gladly would the citizens surrender, but the governor is inexorable. At 1ength, to all the horrors famine is added. The poor man, out of employ, cannot purchase customary comforts at the increased prices. His poverty becomes deeper, his sacrifices greater. But the siege continues. The middle classes sink to beggary, the poorer class to starvation. Anon, breaches are made in the wall; and all must work amid galling fire to repair them. Mines are sprung, blowing houses and occupants into the air. Still no relief comes. Dead animals, offal, skins, the very carcass of the slain, are eaten. The lone widow, the bereft mother, the disappointed bride, the despairing father, and the tender babe, mourn continually. Then comes pestilence, the necessary consequence of unburied dead, and unwonted hardships, and intolerable wo. At length, the city yields; or is taken by storm, and scenes even more horrid ensue. A brutal soldiery give loose to lust, and rapine, and destruction; and the indescribable scene closes with deserted streets, general ruin, and lasting lamentation.

This picture is far from being overwrought. The history of sieges furnish realities of deeper horror. Take for instance the second siege of Saragossa in 1814, or almost any other.

Now is this Christianity? Is it like it? Christianity cannot alter. If it will necessarily abolish all war, when the millennium shall give it universal influence, then it will abolish war now, so far as it has influence; and every man who receives it fully will be a man of peace. If religious persons may make fighting a trade on earth, they may fight in heaven. If we may lawfully cherish a war spirit here, we may cherish it there!

I close by quoting the words of the great Jeremy Taylor. "As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, and tyranny to charity, so contrary is war to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion."


What has been said, has gone to show how inconsistent, in principle, are war and Christianity. A few considerations will now be offered, illustrative of the practices of war. We shall be thus led to see, not only that it contradicts the genius, and violates the precepts of Christianity, but that it does so in the most gross and gigantic manner.

1. It is the worst form of robbery.

Common robberies are induced by want: but war commits them by choice, and often robs only to ravage. A man who rushes to the highway to rob, maddened by the sight of a famished family, may plead powerful temptation. But armies rob, burn, and destroy, in the coolest malice. See a file of men, well fed and well clothed by a great and powerful nation, proceed on a foraging party. They enter a retired vale, where a peaceful old man by hard handed toil supports his humble family. The officer points with his sword to the few stacks of hay and grain, laid up for winter. Remonstrances are vain – tears are vain. They bear off his only supply, take his cow, his pet lamb; add insult to oppression, and leave the ruined family to an almshouse or starvation. Aye, but the poor old man was an enemy, as the war phrase is, and the haughty soldiery claim merit for forbearance, because they did not conclude with burning down his house.

The seizure or destruction of public stores, is not less robbery. A nation has no more right to steal from a nation, than an individual has to steal from an individual. In principle, the act is the same; in magnitude, the sin is greater. All the private robberies in a thousand years, are not a tithe of the robberies of one war. Next to killing, it is the very object of each party to burn and destroy by sea, and ravage and lay waste on land. It is a malign and inexcusable barbarity, and constitutes a stupendous mass of theft.

In one of the Punic wars, Carthage, with 100,000 houses, was burnt and destroyed, so that not a house remained. The plunder carried away by the Romans, in precious metals and jewels alone, is reported to have been equal to five millions of pounds of silver. Who can compute the number of similar events, from the destruction of Jerusalem to that of Moscow? Arson, that is, the setting fire to an inhabited dwelling, is, in most countries, punishable by death. But more of this has been done in some single wars, than has been committed privately, since the world began. When some villain sets fire to a house and consumes it, what public indignation! What zeal to bring to justice! If, for a succession of nights, buildings are fired, what general panic! Yet how small the distress, compared to that which follows the burning of an entire city. In one case, the houseless still find shelter, the laborer obtains work, the children have food. But oh, the horrors of a general ruin! Earthquake is no worse.

It should not be overlooked, that a great part of the private robberies in Christendom, may be traced to the deterioration of morals, caused by war. Thousands of pirates, received their infamous education in national ships. Thousands of thieves, were disbanded soldiers. War taught these men to disregard the rights of property, to trample upon justice, and refuse mercy. Even if disposed to honest labor, which a militarv life always tends to render unpalatable, the disbanded soldier often finds himself unable to obtain employment. The industry of his country has been paralysed by the war; and the demand for labor slowly recurs. The discharged veteran therefore is often compelled to steal or starve. Thus war, by its own operations, involves continual and stupendous thefts, and by its unavoidable tendencies, multiplies offenders, who in time of peace prey upon community.

2. It involves the most enormous Sabbath breaking.

The Sabbath cannot be observed by armies. Common camp duty forbids it. Extra duties are assigned to Sunday – such as parades, drill, inspections, and reviews. Seldom is any effort made to avoid marches, or even battles, on Sunday. I have been able to find, in all history, but one battle postponed on account of the Sabbath. In thousands of instances, as in the case of Waterloo, it has been the chosen day for conflict.

War tends to abolish the Sabbath, even when the army is not present. The heavy trains of the commissary must move on. The arsenal and the ship yard must maintain their activity. Innumerable mechanics, watermen, and laborers, must be kept busy. During our late war with England, who did not witness on all our frontiers, even in the States of New England, the general desecration of the holy day? Men swarmed like ants on a mole hill, to throw up entrenchments; the wharves resounded with din of business; and idlers forsook the house of God to gaze upon the scenes of preparation.

Do Christians consider these unavoidable results, when they give their voice for war? No. The calm consideration of such concomitants, would make it impossible for them to advise or sanction the profane and abominable thing.

3. War produces a wicked waste of national wealth.

The disbursements of a belligerent government, drawn of course by taxation from the laboring community, form an incalculable amount. Our last war with England cost us more than a hundred millions of dollars per annum. During the last 175 years, ENGLAND has had twenty-four wars with France, twelve with Scotland, eight with Spain, and two with America, besides all her other wars in India and elsewhere. These have cost her government, according to official returns, three thousand millions of pounds sterling, or FIFTEEN THOUSAND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! The war which ended at Waterloo, cost France £700,000,000, and Austria £300,000,000, or five thousand millions of dollars! How much it cost Spain, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Prussia and Russia, I have no means of knowing, but at least an equal sum. Thus one long war cost Europe at least forty thousand millions! The annual interest of this sum, at five per cent., is two thousand millions of dol1ars, – enough almost to banish suffering poverty from Europe! For all this, NOTHING has been gained. Nay, the spending of it thus has produced an aggregate of vice and poverty, pain and bereavement, more than, without war, would have come upon the whole human family since the flood! Who then can begin to compute the cost of all the wars even in Europe alone?

We often hear much railing against useless expenditure, and proposals for economy in dress, furniture, &c., and it is well. But those who insist on these modes of frugality should be consistent. Let them remember that all the retrenchments they recommend are but as the dust of the balance compared to the expenditures of a war. But vast as are the expenses of belligerent governments, they do not constitute a tenth of the true expenses of war! We must reckon the destruction of property, private and public – the ruin of trade and commerce – the suspension of manufactories – the loss of the productive labor of soldiers and camp followers. But who can reckon such amounts?

Further, let it be considered that all these items must be doubled and trebled in cases of civil wars, and that such form a large part of the catalogue.

Further still, war causes the great bulk of taxation even in time of peace! Witness the annual appropriations for fleets and standing armies, forts, arsenal, weapons, pensions, &c. Even since our last war with England, we have been paying annually, for the above objects, about ten times us much as for the support of our civil government!! "The war spirit" is taxing our people to the amount of unnumbered millions, now in time of profound peace. A single 74 gun ship, beside all her cost of construction and equipment, costs in time of peace, while afloat, $200,000 per annum – eight times the salary of the President of the United States. Nearly all the taxes paid by civilized nations, go in some form or other to the support of war! All the British debt which is grinding her people into the dust, was created by war. The cost of the wars of Europe alone, in only the last century, would have built all the canals, railroads, and churches, and established all the schools, colleges, and hospitals, wanted on the whole globe!

4. War is the grossest form of murder.

Private murders are atrocious – those of war far more so. But the contrary opinion prevails; and we adduce proofs. War enhances the crime of murder on the following accounts:

(1.) It is more cold-blooded and cruel.

Malice prompts private murder, and the proof of it is necessary to conviction by a jury; and the more cool and calculating, the more guilt. But murder in war is more cool and calculating, than even in a duel. The question of war or peace is calmly debated, deliberately resolved upon, and proclaimed in form. Armies are raised, and drilled, and marched, and engaged, with all coolness and calculation. The contending hosts know not each other, cherish no personal hate, and seldom know the true grounds of the contest. All is done with whatever of aggravation attends deliberate homicide.

(2.) It is more vast in amount.

Computation falters when we estimate the numbers slain in war or by reason of it. Three hundred thousand men fell in one battle, when Attila, king of the Huns, was defeated at Chalons. Nearly the entire army of Xerxes, consisting of four millions of persons, perished. Julius Caesar, in one campaign in Germany, destroyed half a million. More than half a million perished in one campaign of Napoleon, averaging 3000 men a day. Paying no attention to the innumerable wars among Pagans before and since the birth of Christ, nor to all the wasting wars of the past seventeen centuries, it is matter of distinct calculation that about five millions of nominal Christians have been butchered by nominal Christians, within the last half century! What then has been the total of war-murders since creation?

Nor is the number of the slain the real total. Multitudes of "the wounded and missing" die; multitudes perish out of armies and fleets without battle, by hardships, exposure, vice, contagion, and climate. We ought, therefore, at least to double the number slain in engagements, to arrive at true sum; and make ten millions of men destroyed within half a century by Christian nations’ quarrels!

(3.) Deaths caused by war, are accompanied by horrid aggravations of suffering.

The wretches die, not on beds of down, surrounded by all that can relieve or palliate suffering. No soft hand smooths the couch, or wipes the brow. No skilful physician stands watching every symptom. The silence, the quiet, the cleanliness, the sympathy, the love, the skill, that divest the chamber of death of all its horror, and half its anguish, are not for the poor soldier. Private murder is always done in haste, and the sufferer is often dismissed from life in a moment. Not so in war. Few are killed outright. The victim dies slowly of unmedicated wounds. Prostrate amid the trampling of columns and of horses which have lost their riders, or in a trench, amid heaps of killed and wounded, he dies a hundred deaths. If, mangled and miserable, he finds himself still alive, when the tide of battle has passed, how forlorn his condition! Unable to drag himself from the ghastly scene, his gory limbs chilled with the damps of night, tortured with thirst, and quivering with pain, his heart siekened with the remembrance of home, and his soul dismayed at the approach of eternal retributions, he meets death with all that can make it terrific.

(4.) The multitudes murdered in war, are generally sent to hell.

The thought is too horrible for steady contemplation; but we are bound to consider it. "No murderer hath eternal life." Soldiers are murderers in intent and profession, and die in the act of killing others, and with imp1ements of murder in their hands. Without space for repentance, they are hurried to the bar of God. On what grounds may we affirm their sa1vation? O that those that know the worth of souls, would dwell on this feature of the dreadful custom!

(5.) War first corrupts those whom it destroys, and thus aggravates damnation itself.

Bad as are most men who enlist in standing armies, war makes them worse. They might at any rate be lost, but their vocation sends them to a more dreadful doom. The recruit begins his degradation, even in the rendezvous, ere he has lodged a week within its walls. He grows still worse in camp.
In the army, vice becomes his occupation. His worst passions are fostered. His Sabbaths are necessarily profaned. He becomes ashamed of tender feelings, and conscientious scrup1es. Thus an old soldier is generally a hardened offender; and the shot that terminates his life, consigns him to a death rendered more terrible by his profession. Had the money and time, which has been lavished to equip and drill and support him as a soldier, been spent for his intellectual and moral improvement, he might have been an ornament to society, and a pillar in the church.

Mark his grim corpse as men bear it to the gaping pit into which whole cart-loads of bodies are thrown. The property, nay the liberty of a whole nation is not a price for his soul! How then can Christians with one hand give to the support of missions, and with the other uphold a custom which counteracts every good enterprise?


How strange, how awful, that to such a trade as war, mankind has, in all ages, lifted up its admiration! Poetry lends its fascinations, and philosophy its inventions. Eloquence, in forum and field, has wrought up the war spirit to fanaticism and frenzy. Even the pulpit, whose legitimate and glorious theme is "PEACE ON EARTH," has not withheld its solemn sanctions. The tender sex, with strange infatuation, have admired the tinselled trappings of him whose trade is to make widows and orphans. Their hands have been withdrawn from the distaff, to embroider warrior’s ensigns. T'he young mother has arrayed her proud boy with cap and feather, toyed him with drum and sword, and trained him, unconsciously, to love and admire the profession of a man-killer.

The universal maxim has been, "in peace prepare for war;" and men are all their days contributing and taxing themselves to defray the expenses of killing each other. Scarcely has a voice been lifted up to spread the principles of peace. Every other principle of Christianity has had its apostles. Howard reformed prisons; Sharp, and Clarkson, and Wilberforce arrested the s1ave-trade. Carey carried the gospel to India. Every form of vice has its antagonists, and every class of sufferers find philanthropists. But who stands forth to urge the law of love? Who attacks this monster WAR? We have not waited for the millennium to abolish intemperance, or Sabbath breaking; but we wait for it to abolish war. It is certain that the millennium cannot come, till war expires.

Shall it so remain? Shall this gorgon of pride, corruption, destructiveness, misery and murder, be still admired and fed, while it is turning men’s hearts to stone, and the garden of the Lord into the desolation of death? Let every heart say no. Let Christians shine before men as sons of peace, not less than as sons of justice and truth. If wars and rumors of wars continue, let the church stand aloof. It is time she was purged of this stain. Her brotherhood embraces all nations. Earth1y rulers may tell us we have enemies; but our heavenly King commands us to return them good for evil; if they hunger, to feed them; if they thirst, to give them drink.

Rise then, Christians, to noble resolution and vigorous endeavors! Retire from military trainings, and spurn the thought of being hired by the month to rob and kill. Refuse to study the tactics, or practice the handicraft of death; and with "a hope that maketh not ashamed," proclaim the principles of universal peace, as part and parcel of eternal truth.

A portion of our missionary spirit should be expended in this department. Shall we pour out our money and our prayers, when we hear of a widow burnt on her husband’s funeral pile, or deluded wretches crushed beneath the wheels of Juggernaut, but do nothing to dethrone this Moloch to whom hundreds of millions of Christians have been sacrificed? Among the fifty millions of the Presidency of Bengal, the average number of suttees (widows burned, &c.) has for twenty years been less than 500, or in the proportion of one death in a year for such a population as Philadelphia. What is this to war? Every day of some campaigns has cost more lives!

We must not abstain from effort, because of apparent obstacles. What great reform does not meet obstructions? .... [T]he temperance movement, and a host of similar historic facts, show that truth is mighty, and when fairly and perseveringly exhibited, will prevail. It can be shown, that in attempting to abolish all war, we encounter fewer impediments than have attended various other great changes. Even if it were not so, we have a duty to discharge whether we prevail or not. Moral obligation does not rest on the chance of success.

Our obstacle are neither numerous nor formidable. No classes of men love war for its own sake. If it were abolished, those who now make it a profession, could all find profitable and pleasanter employment in peaceful pursuits. Men’s interests are not against us; but the contrary. The people are not blood-thirsty. What serious impediment is there to obstruct the diffusion of peace principles? None more than beset even the most popular enterprise of literature or benevolence. Our only obstruction is apathy, and the unfortunate sentiment that the millennium is to do it away, we know not how. But we might as well do nothing against intemperance, or Sabbath-breaking, or heresy; and wait for the millennium to do them away. Nothing will be done in this world without means, even when the millennium shall have come.

Do you ask what you can do? Much, very much, whoever you are. Cherish in yourself the true peace-spirit. Try to diffuse it. Assist in enlightening your neighbors. Talk of the horrors of war, its impolicy, its cost, its depravity, its utter uselessness in adjusting national disputes. Teach children correctly on this point, and show them the true character of war, stripped of its music and mock splendor. Banish drums and swords from among their toys. Proclaim aloud the Divine government, and teach men how vain it is, even in a righteous cause, to trust an arm of flesh. Insist that patriotism, in its common acceptation, is not a virtue; for it limits us to love our country, and allows us to hate and injure other nations. Thus if Canada were annexed to our Union, we must, on that account, love Canadians. But if South Carolina should secede, we must withdraw part of our love, or perhaps go to war and kill as many as possible. O how absurd to act thus, as though God’s immutable law of love was to be obeyed or not as our boundaries may be.

"Lands intersected by a narrow sea,
Abhor each other. Mountains interposed,
Make enemies of nations who had else,
Like kindred drops, been mingled into one."

Let us feel and disseminate the sentiment that true patriotism is shown only by the good. A man may claim to be a patriot, and love "his country," whose feelings are so vague and worthless that he loves no one in it! He loves a mere name! or rather, his patriotism is a mere name. Whole classes of his fellow-citizens may remain in vice, ignorance, slavery, poverty, and yet he feels no sympathy, offers no aid. Sodom would have been saved, had there been in it ten righteous. These then would have been patriots. These would have saved their country. We have in our land many righteous. These are our security. These save the land from a curse. These therefore are the only true patriots.

Let us unite in "showing up" military glory. What is it? Grant that it is all that it has ever passed for, and it still seems superlatively worthless. The wreaths of conquerors fade daily. We give their names to dogs and slaves. The smallest useful volume guides its author a better and more lasting name. And how absurd, too, is it to talk to common soldiers and under officers about military glory! Among the many millions who have toiled and died for love of glory, scarce1y a score are remembered among men! Who of our revolutionary heroes but Washington and Lafayette are known in the opposite hemisphere? Who of our own citizens can tell over a half dozen distinguished soldiers in our struggle for independence? Yet that war is of late date. Of the men of former wars we know almost nothing. Essential1y stupid then is the love of military renown in petty officers and the common private. They stake their lives in a lottery where there is hardly a prize in five hundred years!

Let us print and propagate peace principles. Public opinion has been changed on many points by a few resolute men. Let us keep the subject before the people till every man forms a deliberate opinion, whether Christianity allows or forbids war. Let us at least do so much that if ever our country engages in another war, we shall feel no share of the guilt. Let us each do so much that if we should ever walk over a battle-field, stunned with the groans and curses of the wounded, and horror-struck at the infernal spectacle, we can feel that we aid all we could to avert such an evil. Let us clear ourselves of blame. No one of us can put a stop to war. But we can help stop it – and combined and persevering effort will stop it.

Originally posted April 13, 2011
Laurence M. Vance writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking the Good War. His latest book is The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible.

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