Déjà Vu: 1914 or 2017?


I’m reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte. It is one of several books I’ve read about WWI and its origins over the past couple of years. Some of what I’m reading about the spiritual conditions leading into (and through) the First World War seem disturbingly familiar. Some of the specifics may have changed, but the general spirit of those conditions is unmistakably in the world again today; disguised to a degree – but with a flimsy mask.

The alliance of church and state allowed the secular goals of government to get mixed up with the spiritual goals of Christianity.

Add to this the rise of the most potent political ideology of the hour: nationalism. The nation-state was replacing religion as a powerful source of meaning and identity in people’s lives…
…For devoted nationalists, their patriotic faith was equivalent to membership in an alternative church. For religious believers, nationalism offered a grandiose political outlet for their faith commitments. The result was the birth of Christian nationalism , the near sanctification of the modern state.

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6 thoughts on “Déjà Vu: 1914 or 2017?

  1. The book looks at the effect that WWI had on religious belief within society and how many people abandoned religion because of the war, but Tolkien and Lewis went against that trend; the latter actually abandoning atheism. The book also looks at examples of the work of those authors to show how their experiences of life in the trenches influenced their work.

  2. Well, thank you. And I now see the two are named on the cover, at the bottom.

    Your description sounds like I might find the book interesting.

    I have enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis, and about him (and his friend)…
    and seeing movies based on books by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve
    enjoyed a variety of films based on C.S. Lewis’
    books, as well (but never did get into
    reading his friend’s books when I was a
    child). Have read a few of Lewis’ books for adults, too.

    At the same time, I’ve been wondering why people old enough to remember the lessons of at least WWII and it’s aftermath, even if not WWI, have been heading in similar directions as if they didn’t remember (or care, maybe). Just being old enough to read about WWII seems instruction enough to be somewhat humble on a few things… and relatively satisfied (for the time being, as in until we see Y’shua return) with a functioning secular government (one here, one there, etc.; one of the useful rules was determined to be respecting borders).

    It does appear someone like Putin has always had some different set of lessons and goals from the rest of what is taken as the civilized world. As for the rest of us, I’m guessing there’s a sizable cohort of the population born right around (before, during, and right after) the Second World War, say nineteen-thirty-eight to nineteen-forty-six, who didn’t really learn much or read much about what had just happened. Add to that the people who paid some attention but got and passed on largely the wrong moral of the story.

    But it’d probably do me good to learn a little more about the First Word War in the context of these two influential authors who could spark my interest in a conflagration set off by immaturity.

    I wanted to find the year when Joseph Loconte was born; didn’t accomplish that.
    But I found this article by him:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/where-the-european-union-was-born/article/2004723

    Of some interest is the fact Theresa May leads a country amidst “Brexit” — but she’s not anti-EU.

  3. I wrote my original post while I was about a quarter of the way into the book. Now that I’ve finished the book I’m writing a longer piece for my other blog, but I’m not sure when it will be ready.

    From my reading about WWI, it seems like there is no simple reason, no single incident that led to the start of the war. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is often cited as the starting point, but it was merely one of many dominos being pushed over around the same time. But none of those things would have contributed to starting such a devastating conflict without a significant spirit of the age: the spirit of nationalism backed by a belief of God being on “our side”, and the assumption of entitlement that God’s perceived favour inspired.

  4. Yes, entitlement. I’m going to get more specific than I allowed myself in the last post.
    We’ve selected a president thinking and saying we should go “take the oil.”

    This musing has the effect of discomfiting our partners in Iraq.

    And then he has additional ways of making them (and us) all ill at ease (to put it quite mildly).

  5. It sounds like that same old mindset of previous centuries, where the riches of other nations were ripe to be picked by their “more deserving” Imperial masters. Usually by the bullying tactics of violence or the threat of it.

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