Neo-Pacifism and the Catholic Church

Monday, November 30, AD 2015


One of the many maladies afflicting the Church since Vatican II has been neo-pacifism.  Violence is denounced as if it is the problem rather than a manifestation of conflicts that arise from many different causes.  That is why while Jihadis compile an impressive body toll, the reaction of the leaders of the Catholic Church is to cluck non-violence at all and sundry as if that is a reaction that solves anything.  Traditionally the Church has often taken a much more robust attitude towards combating evil, not shying away from armed force when necessary.  That tradition in the Church is as dead as full pews at Mass and full confessionals prior to Mass.  Oakes Spalding at Mahound’s Paradise takes Bishop Barron to task for his embrace of non-violence in the wake of the Paris Massacres:

Now, anyone familiar with Catholic history or Biblical exegesis would realize that Barron’s description of the traditional Christian response to violence and war–while superficially plausible to those with, say, a Cliff Notes exposure to the Bible–is false. The tradition is not pacifist or even “non-violent” when it comes to resisting aggression. In a sense Barron is sketching out a new interpretation of Christian tradition (after 2,000 years)–some sort of out of context melding of the thoughts of the quasi-Baptist Martin Luther King and the quasi-Hindu Mahatma Gandhi (as Mullarkey earlier suggested). In addition casually interchanging the concepts of sin, violence and “dysfunction” (whatever that is) is dangerously misleading, even (dare I say it) heretical.

But let’s leave those precise considerations aside and instead ask these questions: are Bishop Barron’s views on Christianity and violence attractive? Are they persuasive? Do they make, say, a non-Catholic want to become a Catholic? After all, presumably we want to reverse that 6.5:1 statistic. Don’t we?

Bishop Barron wants to be liked by the secular world. Indeed, I would say that is the driving force behind his own apparent intellectual dysfunctions. And if you put it to him politely, I think he might even sort of agree. “But that’s how you evangelize,” you can imagine him saying. “Talk to them on their own terms, without finger wagging.”

Of course, many non-Catholics will applaud. Finally (so goes the response of the applauders), here’s a Catholic who admits it’s all a bit too much to fight for the Catholic faith (or even to non-physically defend it). See, in doing so, he’s admitting what we have said all along, that much of what the Catholic Church has stood for and done over the last 2,000 years has been wrong.

They will applaud. But they won’t become converts. They will patronize Bishop Barron as they would the dim Anglican vicar. But in the end they won’t take him seriously.

If this is evangelism, it’s for those who have an IQ below 80.

Christ took on violence and swallowed it up with his mercy.

If that’s the best argument for Christianity, then Christianity is obviously false. There’s at least as much violence in the world now as there was 2,000 years ago. Christ didn’t vanquish it. Unless the Bishop means, metaphorically or whatever or, you know, in some deeper sense. If that’s the case, then applause. Finally (according to the applauders) Catholicism has been denuded into just another silly and harmless religious affectation.

(Correct answer: Christ vanquished sin, or at least the eternal consequences of sin for those who honestly repent and ask Him to forgive them.)

Respond to violence with non-violence. Violence tends not to work.

Now, again, this is calculated to get applause. But it is also imbecilic. And as much as some will say they believe it, almost no one actually does. Tell it, by the way, to the Holocaust survivors who were liberated by troops and tanks, not Buddhist floral arrangements.  I suppose it might get some of the New Age crowd. Then again, why should the New Age crowd become Catholic when they’re already getting their oatmeal somewhere else?

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26 Responses to Neo-Pacifism and the Catholic Church

  • It was poignant for him because he recognized the buildings?

    What an arrogant guy. He wants us to know he studied in Paris.

    In the old testament they say.. they (others) worship “no-gods”
    We have “no-leaders”


  • I have come to believe that it is not war we should fear, but that which makes war necessary.

  • I admired St. John Paul II, but not everything he said or did. He was a pacifist, which is ironic, given that Poland never failed to fight for her faith or her people.
    Much of this pacifism comes from the Latin American clergy, whose experience with war is minimal compared to the rest of the world.
    Until the insipid V2 document about Muslims the Church saw Islam as a heresy – an evil one. No V2 document can change Islam and I hold that it is a heresy.

  • Part of the eagerness of Catholic clerics to embrace pacifism over the past half century is that it has largely been cost free for them and their flocks.  They could call for non-violence, get good coverage from the liberal media, and someone else would pick up the tab.  (That is your cue boat people.)

    Perfect summary

  • This observer is quite pleased that our years of crusades against Islamist hordes were so passive. Then there was that “bushido” crowd in the orient that we handled by bowing peacefully, and that European peacemaking handshaking with the Nazis and fascists….

  • If Bishop Barron wishes to pacify the situation he should advocate concealed carry laws everywhere in the world. This would surely give pause to the bad guys. But giving pause to the bad guys is not what Bishop Barron is all about telling folks they ought welcome becoming road kill for the terrorists.

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  • Assuming you listened to this full video … it is clear that the Fr. M does nothing more than provide a very intense, passionate appeal to the same plan made by B. Barron.
    Once again, TAC is so dang hell-bent on pointing on the sticks in others eyes …. it fails to see it’s own logs.

  • Gandhi’s and MLK’s pacifisms weren’t apathy, defeat, or surrender. They were sharp, successful struggles employing nonviolent/nonweaponized means.

    In the Gospels, St. John the Baptist did not advise the soldier to desert the army when asked what the soldier needed to do to prepare the way. And, late in the Gospels, Jesus advises us to sell our mantels and buy swords.
    One thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke.

  • Bishop Barron doesn’t have children and grandchildren in the line of advance of the coming Caliphate (as do I). Belgians appear to be getting the message (not their leaders yet, but that will change soon enough) and are arming-up, according to my well-placed sources. And thank God, we had a S John of Capistrano at the Siege of Belgrade (1456), and not yet another milquetoast Barron-type bishop.

    Bp. Barron and the rest, since you’ve shown you can’t lead, and that you doubtfully would follow, at least in a useful capacity, please just get out of our way.

  • And as for this pope, we needed a P S. Pius V, and so far we have a meddling, muddling Adrian VI. Expect Rome to be sacked and burned again.

  • It seems to me that there is something discordant in Christianity’s approach to violence. On the one hand, Christ’s statements and examples argue strongly against justifications. On the other, 2000 years of reasoning have led to a large number of plausable answers that leave us free to defend ourselves and protect others.

    The tie-breaker, if even there is a balance to the arguments, is the practical experience which makes plain that evil will not be turned aside by “mere” good. Something divine is required if Man refuses to fight, and miracles are often in short supply to our species, due to our lack of faith.

    Forgive me for saying so but I think the author gives short shrift to the noble tradition that pacifism represents. Indeed, I suggest there are few things more noble than the willing martyr.

    Our pacifist Christian brothers and sisters are often derided as living under the wings of men who are not similarly constrained by conscience. I admit to feeling that way myself. So too, there is something of the coward in many who reserve the right to defend themselves but decry society’s more general right.

    Still, do we doubt that a strict application of God’s words, during His time among us, is the more noble, right, and good choice, that the early Church was right to refuse to bear arms? I suspect not. I suspect that we recognize the practical realities and that our lack of faith necessitates our handling most adversity directly.

  • “Still, do we doubt that a strict application of God’s words, during His time among us, is the more noble, right, and good choice, that the early Church was right to refuse to bear arms?”

    I do so doubt. It is one thing for a man to undergo death due to an unwillingness to commit violence. It is quite another for a man to stand idly by while women and kids, perhaps his wife and child, are put to the sword. I have nothing but contempt for such a man.

    In regard to the Church and military service under Rome prior to Constantine, some Christians did serve. The main reason why Christians as a rule did not serve was because service in the Legions prior to Constantine usually involved sacrificing to idols. Christians certainly flocked to join the Legions once this was no longer the case. Saint Augustine’s comments on military service are instructive:

    “4. Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it;” and concerning whom the Lord said: “Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: “Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard,” Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: “Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist,” Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but “every one,” as the apostle says, “has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and “tried as gold in the furnace,” Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

  • Si vis pacem, para bellum.

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and references, Mr. McClarey. One undoubtably runs the risk of being thought a fool for challenging the Church in her teachings.

    I acknowledged the well-reasoned teaching of our faith through the ages. I am no pacifist myself for I lack the faith to move mountains. I rather think though that our Lord was speaking clearly when we were told that one with a faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains and I suspect that such a one would be impervious.

    I am not he.

    This conversation rather illustrates my point though: Christianity exists in this world and, as such, is adapted to practical considerations. I have forgotten where but Jesus, in explaining why Moses allowed for divorce, suggested that it was an accommodation, granted due to Man’s hard hearts. So too here I think.

    Peter, in his zeal, struck with a sword to save his master. He was upbraided for his efforts. Jesus affirmed that he was content to be a lamb led to slaughter, that he could call angels to his aid but chose not to.

    It seems to me that there was no cause greater, for which justice more demanded violence, than to save Jesus. Yet, Jesus Himself refused the aid that justice demanded.

    The world is imperfect and, so, Christianity accommodates that reality. Had we the faith, we would have no need to defend ourselves or protect others. Christian teaching is merely accommodating our faithless need to do so.

  • “Yet, Jesus Himself refused the aid that justice demanded.”

    Yep, because His death was necessary for the atonement of sins. Before Pilate He noted that His kingdom was not of this Earth, but if it were His subjects would fight for Him so that He would not be handed over for crucifixion. (John 18: 36).

    Saint Remigius, the Apostle to the Franks, was instructing King Clovis of the Franks prior to his baptism about the Faith. He had just described the crucifixion. Clovis was greatly affected by this. Clutching his battle ax, he said, “If only my Franks and I could have been there! We would have avenged the wrongs done to our God!”

  • Some good points here but the tone of the article was snotty and condescending. Cheap shots like, “whatever that is” with regard to dysfunction are just too snarky. Yet the author himself uses the term “dysfunction” later in the piece. I’ll choose different content next time.

  • “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” USAF/SAC motto, “Peace is our profession.” One could conclude they were successful. After Nagasaki, there never was a nucular war.
    Speak softly and carry a big stick. TR built a fleet and sailed it around the World.
    “Yet, Jesus Himself refused the aid that justice demanded.” A meditation on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion, Think of the love that filled Our Lord’s Sacred Heart during the three hours agony on the Holy Cross, and ask Him to be with you at the hour of death.
    I often meditate on the fact that Christ voluntarily consigned himself to ignominious agony and death on the Holy Cross. It is mankind’s most unjust, evil, and disobedient act in history since Creation.
    My thoughts are that if Christ had resorted to saving Himself. He, I think, would have consigned mankind to universal damnation. But, He obeyed God’s will and in HIs love for us saved us by His courage, forgiveness, mercy, and obedience. HIs sacrificial act is the greatest in the history of Creation. I believe that Christ is the bravest man that ever lived.

  • T. Shaw, My thoughts have often run parallel.

    Did Jesus have foreknowledge? Scripture suggests to me that He did. If so, what man would choose that death? What man, knowing the specific violence and feelings that death entailed, would choose that death?

    Alike us except for sin?

    Indeed He was the most courageous man to have lived.

  • As Donald points out, it is one thing to refrain from violence even if necessary to defend oneself. It is quite another to do so when necessary to defend the weak from predators. One cannot imagine Jesus Christ observing a violent rape and responding by holding a sign and candle.

  • If that’s the best argument for Christianity, then Christianity is obviously false. There’s at least as much violence in the world now as there was 2,000 years ago.

    Not actually so. Could be argued, depending on how you’re measuring the amount of violence, but far from “obvious.”

    MLK and Ghandi wouldn’t have been possible pre-Christ world; their pacifism only works on Christian (maybe Jewish) groups, where the response to “I’m going to sit here and shame you” is not “Hey, you’re really easy to behead that way!”
    I figure the ‘neopacifism’ is a product of people not realizing that a lot of Christian assumptions are not baselines– the world wars kind of rubbed the noses of Europe in the fact that humans aren’t easily Christian, when (as I understand the philosophy) they’d spent the last century or three trying to find ways to ignore that their culture was rooted in Christianity.
    Yeah, natural law is natural– but that means that there are consequences to not following it, not that everyone follows it as a matter of course, and a lot of Christian morality isn’t natural law.
    Europe is decently sized, loud, and has(had) a lot of money to spend. Of course their mental quirks are going to be over-represented in the world.

  • MLK and Ghandi wouldn’t have been possible pre-Christ world; their pacifism only works on Christian (maybe Jewish) groups, where the response to “’I’m going to sit here and shame you’ is not ‘Hey, you’re really easy to behead that way!'”

    Heh… 🙂

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  • Sorry, I guess this would be a better post under which to leave this comment. I find this quotation helpful in light of the discussion above. I also like Google.

    “I am not a pacifist. I do think that sometimes, in our finite and conflictual world, violence has to be used in defense of certain basic goods.” –Bishop Robert Barron

  • Pelayo, Charles Martel, Queen Isabel the Catholic, Don Juan of Austria, John Sobieski and the Winged Hussars were NOT pacifists.

    Oh, yeah, they never dealt with the Second Vatican Council either.

Dedicated to the Fighting Patriots of Goshen College

Sunday, August 28, AD 2011

“Pacifists are the last and least excusable on the list of the  enemies of society. They preach that if you see a man flogging a woman  to death you must not hit him. I would much sooner let a leper come near  a little boy than a man who preached such a thing.”

                                                     G.K. Chesterton

I just hope the version with lyrics below will not be deemed too militaristic:

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21 Responses to Dedicated to the Fighting Patriots of Goshen College

  • I will not defend the Goshenites on moral or political grounds but they are right that “The Star Spangled Banner” is a horrible song and “America the Beautiful” is far superior. It is unsingable and if you put a gun to the average American’s head I doubt he could explain what the lyrics refer to.

    If we had no anthem and we taking nominations I doubt the “Star Spangled Banner” would even occur to anyone. I would go for “God Bless America” (shot down by the deophobes), “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (unacceptable to Southerners) or “America the Beautiful”.
    I hadn’t thought of “Ain’t that America” — it does seem a bit informal but it would be cool to her it sung at the Olympics!

  • The unofficial anthem of the country was the forgettable tune Hail Columbia until 1931, and is now used when the Vice President stumbles into view.

    If the Star Spangle Banner could not be our national anthem, I would stump for some variant of the moving hymn Eternal Father:

    In regard to the Star Spangled Banner your critque Thomas is not an uncommon one. For myself, when I hear it I get goose bumps and when I attempt to sing it, and it is a difficult song to sing, I have a grand time. Time for an encore of the Cactus Cuties:

  • “America the Beautiful” is far superior.

    Often there is no accounting for taste.

    The best:

  • Don:

    With all do due respect have you examined the Mennonite’s rational for this refusal to play the national anthem beyond what the talking heads on Fox News may have said.
    I found the following article from a Mennonite minister and found it very compelling:

    The minister states:

    “Because they understood the exercise of state power to be inconsistent with the church’s identity and mission, Anabaptists also advocated for the strict separation of church and state. This then-radical stance was prompted by both theology and necessity: Anabaptists had the distinct notoriety of being tortured and killed by both Catholics and Protestants wielding the power of the state against them.

    “Instead of compromising their core convictions about what it means to follow Jesus, thousands of Anabaptist men and women adhered to their freedom of conscience even as they were mocked by neighbors, burned at stakes and drowned in rivers.
    “Although there certainly are diverse viewpoints among individual Mennonites today, we continue to advocate for the strict separation of church and state. Most Mennonite churches do not have flags inside them, and many Mennonites are uncomfortable with the ritual embedded in the singing of the national anthem.

    “That’s because we recognize only one Christian nation, the church, the holy nation that is bound together by a living faith in Jesus rather than by man-made, blood-soaked borders.

    “To Mennonites, a living faith in Jesus means faithfully living the way of Jesus. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies and he loved his enemies all the way to the cross and beyond. Following Jesus and the martyrs before us, we testify with our lives that freedom is not a right that is granted or defended with rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. True freedom is given by God, and it is indeed not free. It comes with a cost, and it looks like a cross.”

    There is nothing in their rational that contradicts Catholic teaching or is not consistent with Catholic teachings. It is not inconsistent with the Church where there are not U.S. flags in the sanctuary or where secular patriotic songs are not sung during a Mass. It is not inconsistent with the Church which made Saint Maria Goretti, the patron saint of forgiveness, one of the most important saints after WWII. It is not inconsistent with the Church in which Pope Pius XI when proclaiming the Feast of Christ the King said:

    “ The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God’s religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences. We lamented these in the Encyclical Ubi arcano; we lament them today: the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result.”

  • I vote for the Star Spangled Banner, girls.

  • Oh, I am quite familiar with the pacificism of the Mennonites and other minor Protestant sects Eva. They enjoy freedom and peace here in the United States due to others throughout our history paying with their blood. Other than those who are willing to risk their lives as medics in a non-combatant role, Seventh Day Adventist Desmond T. Doss, awarded the medal of honor, is a shining example, I share Chesterton’s contempt for their doctrine.

    I believe that the Catechism amply demonstrates that pacificism is a doctrine foreign to Catholicism:

    “2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. To this end, those holding legitimate authority have the right to repel by armed force aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their charge.”

  • “It is not inconsistent with the Church where there are not U.S. flags in the sanctuary or where secular patriotic songs are not sung during a Mass.”

    Actually I have never lived in a parish where patriotic songs such as America the Beautiful, the Battle Hymn of the Republic and others were not sung on occasion during Mass. When I was a boy it was the custom in most parishes to have the US flag and the Vatican flag in the sanctuary, and some still do this.

  • The practice is very common hereabouts. There is a variation of it in Anglican parishes as well. I have never cared for it.

    And I think your ‘contempt’ is overdone. Mennonites and Amish make a point of living very much apart from the larger society and partake of it as little as they can manage to earn a living. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not abstain to that degree, but they very seldom manifest much in the way of personal ambition. I think the question you have to ask is the degree to which they are truly detached from their lives when push comes to shove. It is difficult to know that in advance. (I think with politically-engaged Quakers, you are on firmer ground).

  • “Mennonites and Amish make a point of living very much apart from the larger society and partake of it as little as they can manage to earn a living. ”

    The Amish I grant you Art, but much less so the Mennonites. My point still stands however that their lives here would be impossible but for others shouldering the burden they are unwilling to shoulder.

  • I like “Hail Columbia”. I, for one, am sorry to see it relegated to such a state in which it currently suffers.

    That said, my preference for the National Anthem would definitely be “America the Beautiful” …

    … but only if they always played THIS version of it:

    “…and y’all? ought to love Him for it…”

    (While I do appreciate the “Star-Spangled Banner” for what it is, the melody is a too-difficult-to-sing drinking song titled “To Anachreon in Heaven”, and the subject matter is rather limited to the flag as opposed to the Nation the flag represents. “America the Beautiful” – listen to ALL the verses – captures the essence of this Nation.)

  • I would have to vote for “America the Beautiful” also, not only for the elegant simplicity of its melody but also its better lyrics — for example, contrast Verse 3 of Star Spangled Banner:

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
    A home and a country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    with Verse 3 of America the Beautiful:

    O beautiful for heroes proved
    In liberating strife.
    Who more than self their country loved
    And mercy more than life!
    America! America!
    May God thy gold refine
    Till all success be nobleness
    And every gain divine!

  • Aw, how can you not love “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution”? When else do you get to sing that?

  • The fourth stanza Elaine of the Star Spangled Banner I have always found very moving:

    O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
    Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
    Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
    Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  • I might add that the third stanza has always warmed the cockles of my Irish heart!

  • Then again, after 9-11 Queen Elizabeth order the Coldstream Guards to play the Star-Spangled Banner at Buckingham Palace, something which had never occurred before:

  • My favorite verse of America the Beautiful, until Dan Rather ruined it for me, was always this one:

    O beautiful for patriot dream
    That sees beyond the years
    Thine alabaster cities gleam
    Undimmed by human tears.
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee,
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea.

  • Love this verse, too (in fact, the entire song is just a wonderful reflection on the Nation and really should be our National Anthem):

    O beautiful for pilgrim feet
    Whose stern impassion’d stress
    A thoroughfare for freedom beat
    Across the wilderness.
    America! America!
    God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
    Confirm thy soul in self-control,
    Thy liberty in law.

  • Agree with Chesterton – he certainly knew how to put things.
    Pacifism – the last retreat for the coward. Afraid they don’t get any sympathy from me. I get annoyed by people who try to say , “Jesus was a pacifist.” (gag) One does not need to be a pacifist to promote and love peace, but one has to have a sacrificial heart to live Peace.

    I think “The Star Spangled Banner” is a tremendously stirring song. That is what national anthems should do – inspire patriotism and pride in one’s country – prepared to defend the country and all its people from agressors etc. etc.

    “I vow to Thee my Country” was actually taken from the 1999 Rugy World Cup theme song in Wales, wasn’t it? 😉
    A local musician has used the tune to a beautiful hymn to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Its a great piece of music.
    Actually, our own “God Defend New Zealand” isn’t too sketchy either. Trouble is, nowadays, everyone has a version of it, and even though it was written in English back around 1860 by a Catholic migrant to NZ, our P C society has allowed it to be hi-jacked by a maori language version in the last 10 years, which is played in tandem with, but in front of the english lyrics, and which to 80% of the country becomes a bit trite.

  • As for pacifism as a Christian belief, I am more in agreement with C.S. Lewis’ view of pacifism as expressed in Mere Christianity: “War is a dreadful thing, and I can respect an honest pacifist, though I believe he is entirely mistaken. What I do not understand is this sort of semipacifism you see nowadays that says that while you have to fight, you must do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it.”

  • I have no beef with what the Mennonites are doing, but that probably stems from knowing a lot of them in central lower Michigan while growing up. Good folks, and scrupulously honest–a young Mennonite lady smacked into my car while it was parked while I was at work back in high school. She immediately sought me out and told me about it. Hardly a given, even back then. Let alone now.

    I prefer TSSB, but have to admit AtB has been growing on me over the years. “Battle Hymn” is perfect for the sword-sharpening moments we sometimes find ourselves in. Real or figurative.