From the Pages of History

Stories, Pictures, Quotes & Trivia (and more) that tell the story of the world.

Archive for the tag “war”

War is good for…


Soldier in war

Via Pixabay

I heard someone say the following the other day and wanted to do up a post in response to this common thought.

“War is good for absolutely nothing!”

[…minutes later…]

“Thank You, God, for the freedoms we have and the men and women in our military who protect them.”

…I guess war is good for something, then. Otherwise we’d all be Roman Catholic, saluting the swastika, worshipping the Emperor of the Rising Sun, or some such thing.

It was a Christian leader who said the above quote and it’s crazy because first of all he’s quoting an anti-Vietnam War song that goes hand-in-hand with draft dodging and secular hippies, and then going on to laud the work of American soldiers. It’s an irony that says a lot about the whole issue. You can’t sit in the USA, your freedoms protected by the sacrifices of countless soldiers fighting in wars, and justifiably argue against war. Seriously, you look like a jerk. If you yourself don’t want to fight, that’s understandable and perfectly fine, but don’t go off against war in general. It disrespects those who fought and achieved much good in the world. 

God understands we live in a fallen world full of fallen people because of the innate sinfulness of every human being. He is not against war, or even Christians participating in it. In Heaven everything WILL be perfect; on Earth it’s not. Strife and war have always been a part of our world since Cain killed Abel. While death was never God’s original plan, God gives His servants principles to live by and tells us what to do in the midst of the sin and war that surrounds us in our world.  Sometimes that includes going to war to prevent greater loss.

In the Old Testament, Israel lived in a hostile time and God guided them though many battles. They defended, retreated, attacked, defeated–all under His direction. Yahweh helped Israel win wars, carry out rescue missions, assassinate an overlord, crush hostile enemy nations, decimate heathen populations, and become a formidable force as they walked with Him. (When they didn’t, it was a different story.) Much good comes from war fought God’s way. 

In the New Testament, soldiers came to John the Baptist, who “prepared the way for the Lord (Jesus)” and preached repentance and baptism, asking what they should do. These were average working people asking what God wants, and Luke 3 shows God’s answer proclaimed through John: 

Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.””

If God was unhappy with these men being soldiers, He could certainly have said so. On the contrary, men are encouraged in the Bible to be the physical defenders and protectors of their land and families. Biblical principles are given for all workers to adhere to, whatever their profession. Micah 6:8 teaches, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Now certainly nations go war for wrong reasons, warring over religion, land, or expansion of control. But other times there are clear cut good and bad sides. And whenever an aggressor rises, a defender is needed–someone willing to do battle for the innocent, for freedom, for justice, for peace. War has accomplished much that’s good. 

  • Birthing new nations like America, and freeing many others from their oppressive rulers.
  • Stopping atrocities like the Holocaust perpetuated by evil minds who cannot be reasoned with.
  • Breaking holds of dictators or religious groups like the Holy Roman Empire so citizens have more freedom.

So to those who were or are in the military, thank you. Thank you for all you do to keep our country safe. You are in a profession that God is deeply concerned about. Go to Him for counsel and comfort. He’ll always be there for you, as you are for us.

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Unexplained Mysteries of World War II


20150525-210929.jpg -on Amazon

This book is packed with stories of strange, coincidental, unexplained, miraculous happenings of World War II. Here are a few.

-A Pole (Roman Turski) just leaving a hotel concealed a fleeing Jewish man under his hotel bed, playing dumb about him to the Nazis who were on his tail. The Pole went to war against Germany and was wounded; the surgeon who saved his life was that Jew.

-During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, many lives were saved by 50 visiting civilian doctors who happened to be there that day to listen to a lecture.

-The reason Jimmy Doolittle’s 1943 air raid on Tokyo was so successful was that the Japanese had just finished a city-wide air raid drill in which they had put some of their own planes in the air as a protective shield. The Japanese citizens, gunners, and pilots mistook the US planes coming in to drop bombs for Japanese planes, so they weren’t fired on.

-A British spy (Henri A. E. Dericourt) who had just arrived in France wanted to locate a notorious German spy-catcher rumoured to be in the area. By happenstance, the Brit found he was that exact German’s new neighbor.

-After several foiled escape attempts from a German camp, captured French official (Lt. Pierre Lebrun) succeeded and made it to Switzerland. He’d left a forwarding address on his belongings in the camp, and astoundingly, the camp Kommandant shipped his things to him.

-Shortly after the Italian surrender, some angry Germans entered a small Italian city and started harassing the citizens. Timely American artillery shells chased the Nazis away and killed a drunk German soldier who was about to murder several Italian civilians.

-An American sailor (Joseph Kline, Jr.) wanted to accompany a chase after a Japanese sub, but he had guard duty that none of his friends would cover for him. His anger was transformed into gratitude, however, as the boats chasing the sub got into trouble and were blown up.

-During the London Blitz, Prime Minister Churchill, on the way back from inspecting anti-aircraft stations, sat in the left-hand side of his car instead of in his customary place on the right. A sudden bomb going off on the left side of the car almost tipped it over on its right side, but Churchill’s weight on the left side prevented that. He credited “a feeling of interference” and “some guiding Hand.”

-A sudden, unexplainable impulse to change seats saved not a few lives, including Lt. Gen. Mark Clark from friendly fire, and a visiting Ernest Hemingway from a German shell on the Siegfried Line. And during the Battle of the Bulge, General Patton’s “sudden inspiration” in the middle of one night, that the Germans were going to attack, led to his ordering a pre-emptive strike, which stopped a German attack that was actually coming right then.

-A newspaper executive (Amon Carter, Sr.) was part of a group brought to Germany to see the Nazi concentration camps; while there, he was reunited with a very special recently liberated POW, his son who had been captured by the Germans 2 years earlier.

God certainly does work in mysterious ways!

War, peace, and Ender’s Game


This is a post that has been in the works for a while. It concerns the movie Ender’s Game. Besides being a cool sci-fi film, I thought it raised some interesting ideas. In college, I took a course on international relations. When we watched the movie, the course was fresh in my mind, and I got to thinking about elements of IR in the movie. Here are some of my thoughts 🙂

20141230-182631.jpg ~ a pic I found online

To start, Ender’s Game is set in a futuristic world in which there has recently been a battle between the Humans and the (intelligent) Bugs. The ever-expanding Bug colony wanted to take over the Humans’ world but the Humans beat the Bugs back, at great cost. The movie opens with a conundrum on how to deal with the factions of Humans vs. Bugs, as the former suspect the latter of an uprising.

There are a few main ways to look at the international system and what goes on in it, whether it be wars, trade, treaties, or the Olympics—two of the most famous are realism and liberalism. Realism sees each nation in the world system as looking out for its own interests first. This can include wars but does not have to; whatever best helps the country will be pursued. Liberalism would like the nations of the world to work together. Cooperation and not war is its preference.

There are elements of both realism and liberalism in “Ender’s Game.” The two extremes are demonstrated in Ender’s siblings. His older brother Peter is aggressive and mean, and his younger sister Valentine is loving and peaceful. Neither is accepted into the training academy. When it is Ender’s turn to go the academy, he must find a balance between these two extremes.

Ender has a good character; he does not seek fights but looks for the diplomatic or peaceful solution. He tries to find win-win situations. However, when forced into fights, he will fight back. When attacked by a gang of bitter boys at the academy, Ender tries to walk away at first, but the leader forces him to fight. When he gets the upper hand, he kicks the leader repeatedly, hoping to beat him so badly he will lose the desire to bully him, thus preventing any future attacks. However, Ender does not enjoy doing this. I like how this illustrates the Proverb “answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:5). If all they understand is violence, a lesson must be taught that they will actually learn.

There is also a bit on leading by love vs. fear, another issue in IR. The kids are arranged into squads. Because of Ender’s goodness, fairness, strength of character, and likability, he becomes popular with most of the other trainees, but there’s one squad leader, Bonzo, who prefers to rule by fear. Bonzo quickly drops in popularity and seeks to hurt Ender. When Ender acts in self-defense, Bonzo is badly hurt, and Ender is devastated for what he unintentionally did. Even though I think Ender didn’t have to be so upset over the situation that wasn’t his fault, this further demonstrates his gentle character and raises him in favor with the other trainees.

The mantra of the adult in charge of the training academy, Colonel Graff, is realism. His goal is to protect the world from the bugs at all costs. It’s “us vs. them” and he’s determined to win. He sees potential in Ender and wants to develop him into a decisive, skilled leader. He has no problems playing games to do that. He puts Ender in situations to see how he’ll react. He observes Ender’s way of either beating up bullies or cleverly turning them to his side with great interest and approval. Unfortunately Col. Graff also has no problems with lying to Ender and keeping secrets from him in order to make Ender behave the way he wants, all the while showering him with praise. Ender does not appreciate the way the system is set up to mold these kids into military leaders. He also does not like the secrecy and lies that permeate the academy. But who would? Col. Graff wants to make Ender a great military leader, but doesn’t trust him enough to tell him the whole truth of the situation and let him figure it out. Graff still wants to be in control.

There is also a mystery that surrounds the Bugs themselves. They are the enemy, obviously. But most in the leadership of the training academy leave it at that. It’s “us vs. them.” Ender prefers to understand his enemy. He does this in simulations as he returns to the games and analyzes them, wanting to go deeper than just what appears on the surface. Then, once he understands the opposition, he usually ends up sympathizing with them. “When you really know your enemy, then you love him” he says. This is generally a good principle, but we must be careful not to go too far or act unwisely.

Ender’s final test is a battle simulation. He comes on the enemy and sees they are just sitting there, waiting. Wondering at this, but wanting to gain victory, he and his team strike first and destroy the enemy, though at a great cost to his own fleet. However, the situation turns out to not be a simulation—that is, or was, the entire enemy fleet, and Ender has just decimated them. He is hailed a hero, but instead of celebrating he is crushed, exclaiming, “I will bear the shame of this genocide forever!” Through visions, he finds the lair of the Queen bug, and finds her sick and weak and only wanting to care for her baby. The movie ends with him going to find a new home for the bugs, who were not planning to wipe out humanity after all.

Ender was firm that the liberalist way was best in this case. And I agree with him there. The enemy turned out to NOT be all ready to attack, as Col. Graff and the top brass kept insisting. And if Ender had been told the truth at that point about that situation, he would have sent people to reconnoiter and see what the enemy was doing. Once it was ascertained that an invasion was not imminent, parleys could be held, and/or peace terms could have been worked out. This is the liberalist way of doing things. Not that avoiding war at all costs is smart. But “if it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). If there are alternatives to war, it’s best to take them. These are real human lives that are being dealt with. Also, you have to look at the big picture—the long term impacts. And, the fleet’s avoidance or at least postponement of attacking the bugs in this instance would have been a smart thing to do. The enemy’s off-guard position should have been noted, and more effort should have been put out to find out what they were actually doing. Lives on both sides would have been saved.

Demonstrated are interesting cases where a strong stand is better, and the ending demonstrates that war isn’t always the best solution.

So, those are some thoughts of mine on the movie Ender’s Game. I really liked it, not only as a cool sci-fi film, but also for the thought-provoking issues it raised. Have you seen the movie? What do you think?

Times Square and Lt. Col. Francis Duffy


On my awesome trip to New York, which I’ve been blogging about here and here, I got to visit Times Square!IMG_1058
I saw a very interesting thing there—this Cross.IMG_1093
This Cross commemorates Lt. Col. Francis Duffy, the most decorated chaplain in US military history. Lt. Col. Duffy, an Irish Catholic, served with the 69th Infantry/165th Infantry in the Spanish-American War, and in Europe during World War I. IMG_1102
The following is from SixtyNinth.net:

He was most often found along the front lines hearing confessions and saying Mass, as well as visiting and counseling the soldiers. It was by his “ministry of presence” that he had his greatest influence and became an almost a legendary figure. Once the fighting began, he often traveled with a unit first-aid station, providing physical and spiritual care to the wounded and the dying. His presence on the battlefield was inspirational. Duffy was always near the heaviest fighting, exposing himself to constant danger as he moved from unit to unit. His decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal.

Closer up.IMG_1105 IMG_1106
And there’s a statue of Lt. Col. Duffy on the other side.IMG_1107 IMG_1108
Holding a Bible.
IMG_1113
It’s so neat that this brave man of God is commemorated in this special, public way!

Read more about Lt. Col. Duffy at NYC Parks and SixtyNinth.

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