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#350930 - 08/06/10 06:29 AM Two radiances: 1945  
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sielos ilgesys Offline
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Perhaps we ought to remember today Aug. 6 the contrast between the light provided by the A-bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945 and the glorious light of the transfiguration of the Lord...and in so doing offer prayers for the repose of those who were killed in that bombing; the subsequent A-bomb attack on Nagasaki on Aug. 9; as well as all who have perished over the centuries in wars, natural desasters, forced deportations, gulags, persecutions and "ethnic cleansings".

#350947 - 08/06/10 04:06 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: sielos ilgesys]  
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Something interesting I had read some years ago:

(1.) The president, Harry Truman, who ordered the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was a Freemason.

(2.) Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the highest population of Catholics of all the cities in Japan.

Does one tie into the other? Guess we'll find out in eternity.

#350950 - 08/06/10 04:35 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens]  
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When my son was in college a few years ago, he had the priveledge to traveling to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan with his history class for a peace trip on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the bombing .

The Catholic priest of--if memory serves correctly-- Hiroshima, showed them a statue of the Virgin Mary which was found unscathed amid the devastation. My son was very moved. He was equally moved by the forgiving spirit of those Japanese survivors he and his classmates spoke to. One saw her mother's figure completely turn into a figure of ashes before her eyes. Kyrie Eleison!

#350951 - 08/06/10 04:37 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens]  
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Originally Posted by Deacon Robert Behrens

(2.) Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the highest population of Catholics of all the cities in Japan.


Indeed, the Nagasaki community was founded by Paul Miki, who with his companion Martyrs are Commemorated in the West on February 6.

The cruciform shape of the Cathedral of Hiroshima made it very visible from the air and so it was the actual target for the first bomb.

Kyrie Eleison.

I write with the mixed heavy heart of the son a Pacific Theatre WWII Navy Veteran. My Dad was just the Navigation Officer on the type of supply ship immortalized by "Mr. Roberts" and hardly on the front lines. Those closer might well be able so say "I owe my life to that Bomb" but to me those words border on Idolatry.


#350954 - 08/06/10 08:05 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Thomas the Seeker]  
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Christ is in our midst!! He is and always will be!!

Please forgive me for two things. First of all, this is not a request for prayer and should be in Town Hall.

Second, my father served as an officer in the infantry that made its way from island to island toward the Japanese home islands in that war. He rarely spoke of his experiences on Saipan and Okinawa along the way and, when he did, it was about hair-raising experiences fighting the Japanese army. They didn't seem to have the same value on life that he, with his Christian upbringing did. He always stressed that his unit was in the forward group preparing for that invasion and that they'd been told that the army could expect one million casualties as the Japanese fought for every square inch of their home islands. Banzai attacks where the man charging had already given up his own hope for life only to take out as many Allies as possible seemed to be a daily part of this endeavor. He told me I owed my life and the lives of my two siblings to the fact the bomb, though terrible, ended a war very much unlike that fought in Europe against Germany and Italy.

My great uncle served with the unit that mapped the terrain for the armies, beginning in North Africa, then Europe, and finally the Pacific. He remarked about the tough terrain of the islands and the fact that the fighting was much more difficult as a result of both terrain and the way in which the Japanese fought.

I don't think the horror of the atomic bomb should be repeated, but I do take strong exception to those who want to rewrite history not knowing the on-the-ground reality of the Pacific war.

In Christ,

Bob

Last edited by theophan; 08/06/10 08:07 PM.
#350956 - 08/06/10 09:44 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: theophan]  
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Before anyone goes into revisionist history, please know that I'm a military historian, I've gone around the block on this one more times than I care to imagine, and I will just say if you can think of a better solution, one which would end the war with less loss of life all around, please do let me know what it is. I've looked at them all--blockade, conventional bombardment, and ultimately, invasion. In every scenario, many hundreds of thousands--possibly millions more--would have died than died in the two nuclear bombings, most of them Japanese civilians, but possibly as many as 100-200,000 American soldiers and sailors.

Those who seriously wish to consider the situation should read the following books, which make use of both U.S. and Japanese records:

Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar, Code Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan--and why Truman Dropped the Bomb, Simon & Schuster (New York) 1995

D.M. Giangreco, Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis), 2009

Max Hastings, Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45, Alfed A. Knopf (New York), 2008

For the record, though:

The Christian population of Nagasaki was infinitesimal, the Christians having been utterly suppressed by Hideyoshi and Tokogawa in the 16th-17th centuries.

Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were were legitimate military targets, with extensive military facilities as well as defense industries (most of the latter dispersed into residential neighborhood.

Nagasaki was not even the primary target for the second bomb. Kokura, the intended target, was covered by clouds, so Major Charles Sweeney, commanding the B-29 "Bock's Car" diverted to Nagasaki, only to find it also covered with cloud. At the last possible moment before he would have had to abort the mission for lack of fuel, a small hole opened in the clouds, allowing the bombardier to make a hasty attack (that missed the aim point by half a mile).

Therefore, all notions of some sort of anti-Catholic or Masonic motivation behind attacking Nagasaki are the stuff of pure fantasy. From the perspective of American war planners, there were no Catholic Japanese, Shinto Japanese, or Buddhist Japanese--there were just Japanese, a ruthless enemy who needed to be defeated as quickly as possible.

Finally, given the alternatives for bringing about the surrender of Japan, as well as the history of the post-war world, I find myself in full agreement with writer Paul Fussell, who, at the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was an infantryman awaiting the invasion of Japan--in which he, and all his comrades, fully expected to die. Around the time of the fortieth anniversary in 1985, he wrote a trenchant essay that cut through the cloud of sanctimony surrounding the event. It's title: "Thank God for the Atomic Bomb". Extracts from it can be found here: Thank God for the Atomic Bomb

If you think about it rationally, for all its destructive power, the bomb was probably the only thing that prevented the Cold War from becoming very hot. The bomb probably prevented a major war between India and Pakistan, and several potential wars between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Back in the days of the ill-advised nuclear freeze and total disarmament movement, I used to hand out buttons that said,

BAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS
(make the world safe for conventional war)

To those of you who still envision a world without the bomb, I caution: be careful what you wish for--you might not be pleased when you get it.

#350957 - 08/06/10 10:20 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: StuartK]  
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It brought the war in the Pacific to an end. Thats the way people who found themselves on the frontline of that war in this country say when they think back on those years.

cool

#350959 - 08/06/10 10:51 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Pavel Ivanovich]  
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This conversation has been very rational and respectful--I appreciate all the contributions.

#350967 - 08/07/10 07:28 AM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Thomas the Seeker]  
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Quote
The cruciform shape of the Cathedral of Hiroshima made it very visible from the air and so it was the actual target for the first bomb.


I don't know where this comes from, since the aim point for the bomb was the T-shaped Aioi Bridge that spanned the river running through the city and connected to an island in the river. It missed the aimpoint by about 800 feet (outstanding bombing accuracy for the time) and exploded over the Shima Clinic, a medical building run by Dr. Shima Kaoro.

#350969 - 08/07/10 09:46 AM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: StuartK]  
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Originally Posted by StuartK
Quote
The cruciform shape of the Cathedral of Hiroshima made it very visible from the air and so it was the actual target for the first bomb.


I don't know where this comes from, since the aim point for the bomb was the T-shaped Aioi Bridge that spanned the river running through the city and connected to an island in the river. It missed the aimpoint by about 800 feet (outstanding bombing accuracy for the time) and exploded over the Shima Clinic, a medical building run by Dr. Shima Kaoro.


I certainly defer to the military historian. I never researched the target but simply accepted on face value what had been written by another (who had an agenda, to be certain).

My hazy recollection is that the "cathedral as target" notion appeared in something written decades ago by Jim Wallis of the Sojourners.

Your information causes me great relief. There are strategic necessities in wartime and battle that lead to collateral damage; but the deliberate targeting of a Christian house of worship was not what I would expect from the land I love. Germany, certainly, targeted Coventry. But we were and are not Germany.

#350970 - 08/07/10 10:06 AM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Thomas the Seeker]  
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Jim Wallis would.

The Germans never aimed at Coventry Cathedral. They were aiming at the aircraft factories in the city. However, one has to realize that bombing in World War II was an inexact science. For the first three years of the War, only 10% of British bombers were dropping their bombs within five miles of their target. This was due to the primitive nature of night navigation, the predominance of cloud cover over Europe, and the effects of German defenses. Basically, the bombers flew until the navigator thought they were over the target, and then the bombardier let fly. Later in the war, blind bombing aids greatly improved accuracy, but that's a relative measure.

The Americans followed a doctrine of daylight "precision" bombing against purely military facilities. The fabled Norden bombsight was said to be capable of placing a bomb in a pickle barrel from 20,000 feet. The truth was more prosaic: the circular error probability (CEP)--a circle within which half of all bombs dropped will fall--for U.S. bombers was roughly 1000 meters; in the presence of cloud cover or heavy anti-aircraft fire, that error doubled. Unfortunately, factories in Europe tended to be surrounded by worker housing, so to miss by a kilometer or two put the bombs square in the civilian quarters.

A British bomber pilot summed it up nicely in a conversation with an American bomber pilot shortly after the war: "We area bombed area targets, and you area bombed point targets". That is, the British targeted cities, and the Americans targeted specific factories, but the end result was exactly the same.

#351026 - 08/08/10 10:44 PM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens]  
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I honestly don't even remember where I read what I had posted above. I have heard and read much of what Stuart K has posted, and I am generally supportive of his position, and can see the logic involved. I'm also politically conservative, and very military-friendly. With that being said, we have to keep in mind that Catholic moral teaching holds that it is never permissable to directly take the life of an INNOCENT human being. In warfare, it is never permissable to directly target civilians. We are taught that, for example, in the case of a bomber pilot who aims to take out an enemy military target, and has no intention of hurting civilians, that he is not morally culpable before God if he unintentionally kills civilians who happen to be near the target. I'm no expert on warfare and weapons, but I have a hard time conceiving of a situation where nuclear weapons can be used to "surgically" take out enemy targets without hurting masses of civilians. The memory is foggy, but I remember reading, back in the 80's, that the "neutron bomb" was actually more capable of precision in taking out military targets, with much less danger to civilians. Some input from Stuart K on this would be of interest.

Dn. Robert

#351033 - 08/09/10 07:39 AM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: Deacon Robert Behrens]  
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Ah, Father Deacon, this is why the entire Catholic just war doctrine is ridiculous in the context of modern war, and why I much prefer the Eastern Christian position that no war is just. I will post an article by Father Maximos of Holy Resurrection separately.

Some things to remember about the bombing of Japan.

First, in war, one is limited by the tools at one's disposal. As I noted, it was generally impossible to perform "surgical" bombing in World War II. Over Japan, the discovery of the jet stream further complicated matters: the head winds of more than 200 mph exceeded the capability of the Norden bomb sight, and attempts at point bombing factors were ineffective--the bombs went everywhere. This caused Curtis LeMay to look for an alternative approach.

Second, Japan had deliberately dispersed its defense industries into residential areas. Most component manufacturing was done in "home factories", with one or two machine tools turning out one particular piece part, which would then be shipped to another home factory for assembly into a subsystem, which would then be shipped to a dispersed factory for final assembly. This turned whole cities into legitimate military targets. And, since every family was involved in the war effort in some manner, almost every Japanese from the age of eight to eighty was, in some manner, part of the war effort.

Third, Japanese cities, being built largely of wood and paper (literally), were particularly vulnerable to fire. Knowing this, and recognizing the ineffectiveness of high altitude precision bombing attacks, LeMay ordered low altitude incendiary attacks, beginning with a small scale raid on the night of 23-24 February 1945 that burned out 1 square mile of the city. A follow-up raid on the night of 9-10 March by 335 B-29s destroyed 16 square miles of Tokyo and created a conflagration that killed in excess of 100,000 people (30,000 more than the Hiroshima bomb). Follow-up raids on other Japanese cities, while not causing as many deaths, succeeded in crushing Japan's military production. One thing it did not do is convince the Japanese military to end the war.

Fourth, four cities had been spared air attacks by the Targeting Committee, because it was considered necessary to use the atomic bombs on a pristine target in order to measure its effectiveness; these were Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama and Kokura, though Kyoto was later omitted from the list because of its cultural significance and replaced by Nagasaki. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were significant military targets. Aside from being industrial centers, they contained arsenals, shipyards, military headquarters and rail hubs. If not reserved for the atomic bombs, they would have been subjected to conventional incendiary attack.

Fifth, alternative ideas for employment of the bomb, including a "demonstration" on a deserted island for Japanese observers, were not realistic. First, there were only two bombs in existence, and wasting one on a test was not logical. Second, if the bomb failed to explode (there had been only one test), the threat would lose credibility. Third, even if it worked, the Japanese observers might not be convinced (their response to the bombing of Hiroshima makes this likely).

Sixth, on 26 July, President Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration setting the terms for Japan's surrender. These the Japanese rejected out of hand. Truman therefore authorized the use of the bombs beginning in the first week of August.

Seventh, the attack on Hiroshima did not alter the position of the Japanese military; rather, it hardened its position--having withstood the atomic bomb, Japan could withstand anything (besides, how many bombs could the Americans have?). Even after the second bomb, the Japanese military were resolved to fight to the death--not just theirs, but that of every last Japanese subject. Only the intervention of Emperor Hirohito ended the fighting--and the Japanese military attempted a last minute coup to prevent his surrender announcement from being broadcast. The only reason no additional atomic bombs were dropped between 9 and 13 August was our lack of additional bombs (the third one would have arrived on Tinian by the end of August).

While all this was going on, the Allies were still planning for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan. The first phase, Operation Olympic, would have invaded the southern island of Kyushu in September or October, followed by Operation Coronet, landings on the Kwanto Plain near Tokyo, in November. Japan is a mountainous island, with limited numbers of suitable landing beaches. The Japanese high command had deduced U.S. plans, and was moving troops behind the places we had selected for invasion, most of them from the Kwantung Army in China (which is why the Soviet invasion of China was a walkover). We monitored the Japanese buildup through Magic communications intercepts (we had cracked Japanese codes in 1941), and it was estimated by X-Day the Japanese would actually have numerical superiority on the landing beaches. Consider the slaughter on Omaha Beach on D-Day, where U.S. forces outnumbered the German defenders by five to one; now imagine what would have happened if there had actually been more Germans than Americans.

Casualty estimates for the invasion began escalating alarmingly. Operations on Okinawa were used as a model, which led to predictions of 1.2 million U.S. casualties (25% fatalities). Japanese casualties, based on Okinawa, would have been several times higher, and included a much higher proportion of fatalities.

To minimize losses, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff devised a plan to drop nine (9) atomic bombs on the Japanese defenses on and behind the beaches of Kyushu, followed by landings seventy two hours later. Given the high population density of Kyushu, direct civilian casualties would have been several times higher than Hiroshima, and long-term casualties from fallout would also have been very high. Since we knew little of radiation effects, most of our troops probably would have succumbed to radiation poisoning as a result of moving across contaminated ground.

So, in the end, we dropped two atomic bombs that killed roughly 110,000 Japanese, mostly civilians (there were a lot of Japanese troops in both cities), many of whom were defense industrial workers (who wasn't?) and ostensible members of a civilian militia (all Japanese would have been mobilized in the event of invasion).

The first alternative to the atomic bombing--the continued fire bombing of Japanese cities--was reaching the point of diminishing returns (we were running out of cities), and the Japanese high command was not affected by by it. We can estimate that perhaps twice as many Japanese would have died if we had pursued this course, with no guarantee that Japan would have surrendered.

The second alternative, invasion, would have resulted in more than a million Allied casualties and certainly several million Japanese casualties at least--most of them civilians. The use of atomic bombs as tactical weapons would have left much of Japan contaminated with high levels of radiation.

The third alternative, close blockade of the islands, would have exposed Allied naval and air forces to continued attack by Japanese kamikaze forces, resulting in several tens of thousands of deaths (not counting the Kamikazes). The effects on Japanese civilians would have been devastating. Already on the verge of starvation, Japanese would have begun dying of hunger and disease in huge numbers. The Japanese military had anticipated this and was ready to order the elimination of "useless mouths"; i.e., the very old, the very young, the weak, the sick and the handicapped, as well as all Allied prisoners of war. All remaining food would be directed to the troops and key civilian workers. In any siege, the soldiers starve last. Again, Japanese casualties, almost all deaths, would have been counted in the millions--perhaps the tens of millions--and the war certainly would have dragged on into 1946.

So, examining all of the reasonable options--a key word, reasonable, for so many of the proposed alternatives take little cognizance of reality, or presume facts and knowledge not available in 1945--the inescapable conclusion is, as horrible as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, it was still the most humane and moral way to end the war, the one that saved the most lives--mainly Japanese lives. We may not have acted with that intention, but that was the result, and in so doing, proved ourselves to be far more humane than the Japanese military and government that was willing to sacrifice every last Japanese on an altar of national immolation.

I shed no tears for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nor do I think any apology is owed to anybody. As Sherman said, "War is cruelty, you cannot refine it. The more cruel it is, the faster it will be over". And that is why the concept of "just war" to me is oxymoronic. If the taking of any life, no matter how reasonable, is the destruction of the image and likeness of God, then how can mass slaughter, regardless of the cause, be "just"? The Byzantines were more honest with themselves: war is always sinful, but sometimes it is necessary for the defense of the Empire and the Church. Perhaps the difference between the Eastern and Western understandings of sin had something to do with the Western development of the concept of "just war"; perhaps it was the Western Church's reaction to the collapse of central secular authority and endemic "private" warfare. Either way, the notion that meeting a series of objective criteria and preconditions (premised on forms of warfare that no longer pertain) somehow makes war "right" seems to me the height of folly.

#351034 - 08/09/10 07:46 AM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: StuartK]  
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On the "neutron bomb", more properly called an "enhanced radiation weapon", it is nothing more than a fission-fusion device intended to minimize blast effects while generating more "prompt radiation" (high energy neutrons and gamma rays) than a weapon of comparable explosive yield. Thus, a 10 kT neutron bomb would generate as much prompt radiation as a 100 kT weapon. This would minimize blast damage to towns and cities (assuming the target wasn't actually a town or city), and would not effect civilians in deep shelters, but would have the same effect on exposed troops as a much larger bomb. Hence the facile description of it as a weapon that "kills people but leaves the buildings intact".

In the context of a Soviet invasion of Germany, neutron weapons made some sense. We would be fighting on our own soil, and so the civilian population could take cover underground. Soviet troops advancing in tanks and personnel carriers would not have nearly as much protection. Used on second echelon Soviet forces, they would have the effect of incapacitating the troops who would reinforce the first line of attackers, who, it was assumed, we would be able to defeat with conventional weapons.

Thanks be to God, this never had to be put to the test. For which, we must also thank the existence of the atomic bomb, and the taboo about its use resulting from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

#351035 - 08/09/10 09:45 AM Re: Two radiances: 1945 [Re: StuartK]  
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Here is that essay by Father Maximos; it is worth pondering:


Quote
A Just War
Stavrophore Maximos

Around 1537, the Moldavian prince, Petru Rares, an important figure in Romanian history, commissioned the painting of holy icons on the exterior of the man church of the monastery of Moldovitsa. Among the icons he had painted, one in particular stands out: a depiction of the seige of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. The painting retains to this day much of its vividness. Nothing of the horror is left out. Cannons boom. Missiles fly. The massed ranks of the invaders stretch into the distance, while within the city the doomed people take up their holy icons along the walls to beg for a miracle of deliverance. A miracle that never came.

Why is this picture on the wall of an Orthodox church? Surely it is there as catechesis. A common view among Orthodox monks was that Constantinople fell to the Turks because of the sins of the Orthodox people. Petru Rares was engaged in a struggle against the Ottoman Turks. His monastic painters were warning the people about the danger of sin.

The idea that sin leads to war, and even to defeat, is an important one in the tradition of Eastern Christianity. In a prayer service of the Slavonic tradition, the first troparion of the canon puts it clearly: “On account of our sins and transgressions, O Righteous Judge, You have permitted our enemies to oppress us”.

It is important for us as Byzantine Christians, in this time of war, to be aware of this theme in our Tradition. But it is also important to understand the subtlety of the teaching. We cannot support the view put forth in the immediate aftermath of 11 September by some conservative Protestant figures that God had “withdrawn his hand” from America due to the specific failings of named groups. This idea sits very ill with orthodox Christianity.

“You came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first”. Echoing the worlds of St. Paul (1 Tim 1:15), we remember the truth at every Divine Liturgy in the prayer before Communion. Petru Rares did not show his people the fall of Constantinople to remind them of the sins of the Greeks a century before. He did it to remind them of their own sins in their own time.

There is a great mystery here. It is too simplistic to think that divine justice functions according to the laws of Newtonian physics. Every action does not have an equal and opposite reaction. The guilty are not always punished in proportion to their wrongdoing, and the innocent are certainly not spared according to the measure of their purity.

“Why do the wicked prosper?” asks the prophet Jeremiah (12:1). Our faith teaches us that all evils in the world—natural and man-made—are the result of sin. If 11 September teaches us anything, it is that the geometry of evil is of a kind to ghastly for comprehension. “Between the Holy Trinity and hell there is no other choice” says Father Pavel Florenksy. We can live either within the perfect order and harmony of God’s life, or we can exist amid the chaos that is outside of Him. Through sin, we choose chaos. Fallen with the rest of creation, the laws of cause and effect have themselves been corrupted. A single evil can produce untold and unpredictable consequences. How apt, for once, is the jargon of military analysis, which describes terrorist attacks as “asymmetrical”.

Perhaps this is why Byzantine theology has never attempted to devise a theory of “just war” as has been done in the West. The East has seen no point in trying to make a system of what is essentially the antithesis of system. You cannot herd cats, and you cannot make chaos neat. The East has not sought to open up the ethics of war to dialectical analysis. War is not an intellectual problem to be solved so much as it is an existential fact, or rather, an existential disaster. Reflecting on the asymmetry of the fallen world, war must be endured as a necessary evil—but with the emphasis on evil.

Even when we must take up arms for protection (as is surely the case in the present conflict), we must never forget that to fight a war is to participate in evil. God ordered His world out of chaos and called it “good”. Wars are the eruption in creation of that same chaos. How can this ever be called “good” or “just”?

“Save your people O Lord, and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to the emperors over the barbarians. . . “ So goes the Troparion of the Cross in its original Greek, pronouncing as best it can, a blessing on the warfare of Christians. But it immediately adds: “and protect your city by your Cross”. Ultimately, it is the Cross which is our true salvation. Caesar must fight, of course, and we must support him. Our sin has made such warfare inevitable. But we must never forget that true victory is not to be found in superficial things. No “system”, be it military, political, economic or even theological, can ever succeed against the chaotic asymmetry of evil that my own sin has unleashed on creation. No system can succeed, but only a Person, and a Cross.

Which brings me back to the painted siege on the wall of Moldovitsa. The ultimate collapse of the entire Byzantine political system is depicted here. A little further along the wall, the onlooker will see revealed an even more profound collapse: the end of time, and the Last Judgement. The artists’ aim was to put into perspective all our attempts to improve the world by means of politics, social action and war. The catechesis is this: do not fear the dissolution of human systems. Do not fear and do not despair. Work to make these systems bear fruit by uniting them more completely with the One who alone can order eternal life beyond the collapse of earthly existence.

Looked at in the light of the end of all things, the eschaton, all our human activities show up their myriad imperfections and corruption. Christian life is seen in the East as an ascesis, as the process of purifying our lives and actions by careful exposure of all that we do and think to the cathartic light of Christ’s judgement. War is no exception. For Eastern Christians there is something utterly stupid about debates between warmongers and peaceniks. In the light of Christ, we see that there is rarely an “either/or” when it comes to war. What matters is that the choices we make be examined constantly in that same penetrating spiritual Light. We must seek out evil wherever the Light reveals it to be: in our enemy, in our national and international policies, and above all, in our own hearts. There is no room for the sentimentality either of either the jingoist or the pacifist. There is room only for the intellectual and spiritual honesty of ascesis, as individuals and as a nation,

Eastern Christians can wholeheartedly embrace the following statement of Vatican II, quoted in the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that deals with War. “insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them, and will continue to do so until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words shall be fulfilled: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Gaudium et Spes, 6, quoting Isaiah 2:4)

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