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Patriotism a Christian value?

Discussion in 'OBOB General Politics Forum' started by TheOtherHockeyMom, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. TheOtherHockeyMom

    TheOtherHockeyMom Contributor

    Here's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

    When topics of war, just war, pacifism, etc...come up, one thing that usually follows is a reminder of why it was so important for the US and other allied nations to fight WW2. I think that the argument that WW2 was a case of a just and necessary war for the allies to fight is a sound one, although one can argue that there were some unjust actions taken in the course of fighting the war.

    What I don't get is how can you look at it from the other side? Countries like Germany, Italy and Spain must have had a majority of Christians among the rank and file, despite what one might argue about the leaders. The demographics of the countries supports that. How did an average soldier fighting for that side justify their actions in supporting the war while also maintaining a belief in the teachings of Christ?

    I think patriotism is the conditioning that allows one to stop listening to their conscience and follow their leaders into battle knowing that the cause is unjust and the actions immoral. If people on the other side of WW2, those who professed a faith in Christ especially, refused to fight, then the allies wouldn't have a war at all.

    So, if I'm right, and patriotism is what keeps us from throwing down our arms when we know that Christ teaches us what is wrong...how can we celebrate it as a Christian value?
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  2. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

    C.S. Lewis talks about patriotism at some length, I think in Mere Christianity and in other places as well.

    He says, among other things, that rejecting patriosm, which has some bad fruits, can seem like a good idea. But he points out that it would also mean rejecting some of the good fruits of it - like bravery when the country is really under threat.

    He sees the roots of patriotism in love of place, of our particular home, its foods, people, weird customs, etc, and that any thoughtful person will realize that other people feel precisely the same way about their own homes. He sees this as really an altogether good form of patriotism.

    He also says that patriotism can help us rise to the occasion when we are called to do so, by remembering that our forefathers managed to do great things, and wanting to live up to that. It can also comfort us that such things are possible.

    But at the same time this must not fall into the error of blinding us to the real failures of our nation or our real history, and he does not seem to think that will inevitably happen, or worse have us rewriting history.

    This article is interesting - it discussed Lewis and also Wendell Berry's ideas on patriotism. Interestingly, Berry sees the abstraction required to be patriotic about a nation as potentially leading to war-like behavior. Because we often cannot feel affectionate about a whole nation, other, less healthy desires become characteristic - like the desire to dominate.
  3. TheOtherHockeyMom

    TheOtherHockeyMom Contributor

    Thanks for the article!

    I see value in some of what Lewis says, but even in this good form of patriotism, I see some problems...like those who are so enamored of their culture, foods, customs and people that they get up in arms when immigration and demographic changes cause their neighborhoods to look different.
  4. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

    Yes, that is something he dis not, as far as I know, talk about, or at least not directly in relation to patriotism.

    I think though what he was getting at is that like many things, it is a mixed bag. Lewis always emphasized that vices are virtues that are being used in the wrong way, or misunderstood or taken too far. The devil cannot create a really original vice, only take a positive and try and corrupt or twist it.

    What that means here is that patriotism in its bad forms are the other side of some virtue or virtues. Being in a fallen world, if we have the virtue we will always see evidence of the vice. The goal should not be to get rid of the virtue along with the vice - which sometimes people try to do and they end up with something else not very nice - it should be to retain the virtue while minimizing the vice.
  5. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member Supporter

    The problem, as a great poet once said, is that all sides believe that they have God on their side.



    This individual skirmish can be avoided. All Obama needs to do is have the proof of chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime publicly brought to the UN (they probably have it) as we did during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    That is not the issue before us. Are we ready for world government? Are we ready to unilaterally withdraw and allow carnage to happen through the world? Perhaps the time to lay down arms will come. One first step is to stop the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons. So, here we are considering intervening in a war with Hezbollah, Iran and the Shia on one side and Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and the Sunnis on the other. The reality is that US doesn't want the war to end (as was the case for the 10 years of the last Shia-Sunni War between Iraq and Iran. Congress is insisting that we do a much better of arming the rebels if we will not commit to toppling the regime. If we do have a side in this war, then it is clear that it is in backing the rebels (but that should have happened at least a year ago).
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  6. WarriorAngel

    WarriorAngel I close my eyes and see you smile Supporter

    Let's break it down to a simple factor.
    BTW - love Lewis.

    Ok, we love ourselves. We have a need to survive. We Try to survive - as is innate to every human being.
    We get married and love our spouse as ourselves. or should anyway.
    Then we have children - they are our extension of ourselves and the blessings from God. We have a unique bond with our children.
    We would even give up our lives for them. One would hope anyway.

    Then we have family - immediate loved ones. Moms and dads and brothers and sisters.

    Then we have extended families whom we love.

    Then we have friends who are our loved ones too, then their families.
    We have our Churches - also an extended family.

    We have communities.
    Ever go to a school 'football game'? You have a sense of happiness in defeating the other team. But you dont wish personal harm, just friendly sportsmanship.

    You have your city as an outgrown from the inner community you live in.
    So you get this 'city' pride in whatever sports team or what have you from being part of that community.

    Then you have state pride. You like your state you live in. You like the flowers, trees, and whatever it is that keeps you there. You hope to avoid a natural disaster.

    Then you come to the whole nation.... a united states. A place where we share a common goal. To remain united and safe.
    Security is very important to everyone. We have a sense of extended 'family' as the whole community is the country.
    We have a united goal - and hopefully loving others.

    Finally we love our world. And hope for world peace.

    Patriotism means wanting security and safety in the country you were born in. Note how i stated born in.

    For even Americans over seas have hope their loved ones in the US remain safe and secure as well as they hope for themselves. But their heart remains undivided in where they were raised. Their friends, loved ones, family. A heart never wavers from the sense of desire of wanting continued security in their home land.

    Patriotism is the bond one has for their country as an extended and outward community of ppl with a common goal and understanding of one another.

    Without patriotism - one might have apathy to the protections and security they feel for their country [which is an extension of their loved ones] - in which case is rare.
    But overall - patriotism is loving those whom you have a more common invested interest in. Mainly due to loving the ppl more than just the hills., grass and forests.
    Its the experience one has in their home land and the nurturing they gained thru living there.

    To wish to see it fall, be destroyed or otherwise be overcome by enemies is a very rare fault.

    Patriotism - wants a common good for all.
    And the Catechism teaches us Patriotism is a good thing.
    It means you have a desire to see your own country thrive - and the ppl to be ok.

    If this makes sense?
    Its easier to speak these things than type. I could have missed a point. :)
  7. TheOtherHockeyMom

    TheOtherHockeyMom Contributor

    But how does all this address the original question...what made it impossible for Christ following soldiers on the Axis side of WW2 to not throw down their arms and refuse to fight?
  8. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member Supporter

    We cannot understand why the Japanese, Italians and even Germans believed that they had God on their side.

    Surely, it is easier to under stand how those of both sides in the India-Pakistan struggles, in the Middle Eastern struggles, in Ireland, and in Africa all think that they have God on their side.

    Are we so far from England and its white man's burden and empire?

    We did not attack the Nazis in France out of some good Christian conscience. The people of the US did not want to enter the war.

    Almost everyone understands that the US must defend itself, given that we are still in a fallen world. That principle was set forth by Monroe. Only the most extreme of pacifists don't believe that we should defend our country when foreign ships and planes (and terrorists) attack within and close to our borders.
    We can quibble, but as Americans and Christians, we believe in defending our homes and those of our neighbors. Most can even understand the US considering terrorist or foreign activities in Central America, Cuba, or Canada as being a potential direct threat to the our homes.

    The policy of defending our people is but a small part of our foreign policy.

    Yes, we have drones and special forces to take out Al Qaeda leaders or facilities because Al Qaeda has attacked US soil. Yes, we work with the Russians and others to work for non-proliferation of WMD that could be used against the US. And yes, we work with the Russians to decrease the numbers of long-range missiles. These are very limited matters. And yes, we help support the UN and its peacekeepers, sometimes helpful. And, we maintain a strong navy and air force throughout the world (as well as a missile defense system) to prevent future attacks on the US and to facilitate attacks against those who attack us.

    If we stopped here, this would be consistent with a defensive military policy.

    We go further and then we reasonably begin to argue. There is no NEED for further entanglements. Some would argue that we should SUPPORT some countries with military and humanitarian aid. The Reagan doctrine is that in this way we do not have to fight the same enemies ourselves, on our soil. So, since WWII, we have chosen sides.

    This gets difficult. We would like to support those that wish for our type of democracy and freedoms. In the 50's, we decided to back Iran. We switched alliances to the Sunnis when the Shah fell. Now, we cannot choose between the shia (and Iran and Hezbollah) and the sunnis (and Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda). Not to choose is to choose through inaction, surely just as culpable.

    IMHO, we made a HUGE mistake in building up Iran through the weakening of Iraq and the fact that US attacks have been the best recruiting tool ever for the shia Islamists.

    We now have no good options available, other than a withdrawal of troops (which we have done) and the support of those who we choose to support. To slap Assad on the hands and to not give real support for his opposition seems very very wrong. Personally, I think that we should make a significant attack, but only if authorized by Congress. In any case, we should strongly arm the rebels (understanding that, as in Afghanistan against the Russians, many weapons will get in to the hands of those who would oppose freedom. Eventually we may be helping rebels against Al Qaeda, so be it. Right now, the clear and present danger is Assad.

    If there is a good thing to come out of Obama's misguided policy over the past months, it is that we are withdrawing troops, using drones instead of troops, and are NOT supporting the dictators in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. In a couple of decades, perhaps the result will be governments that are much more responsive to the needs of the peoples of the Middle East. The answer is not to continue to fight on the side of the despots. And before we discuss the sheiks, we should understand that, for the most part, they too have supported the overthrow of the dictators. After all, they have supported Al Qaeda for decades. The other choice of Iran and its allies is simply a much worse veil for them (and for us).


    Some cannot understand how killing can ever be humanitarian. Well, welcome to the real, fallen, world.

    IMHO, it was right to intervene in Bosnia, Kosovo and in Libya. We should have intervened in Rwanda. Unfortunately, we had no partners with regard to Rwanda intervention.

    IMHO, it now right to act in a way so as not to completely destroy the regime, and then to bring Russia and Syria to the bargaining table.