The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Bible and Vegetarianism


Too much salad can drive people mad, especially young women. – Auberon Waugh


In this essay we shall be shining the light of Scriptural truth on the error known as vegetarianism.   It will be weighed in the balances and like the kingdom of Belshazzar shall be found to be wanting.   Let the Medes and the Persians have it, I say, at the risk of stretching the analogy to the point of being ludicrous.   Note that it is vegetarianism that is being scrutinized here not veganism.   Veganism is the contemporary fad, popular with the sort of empty-headed celebrities who like to signal all the wrong virtues, which takes vegetarianism to the extreme of rejecting not just the flesh of animals but any other food that is derived from animal sources such as milk and derived products and eggs as well.   Veganism we shall simply take as being self-evidently crazy.


Proponents of vegetarianism, by which I mean proselytizers, those who want you and I to become vegetarians as well rather than those who merely hurt themselves, in allusion to Sir Winston Churchill’s expression of his understanding of the difference between prohibitionism and teetotaling as the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker had explained it to him, rely upon several different sorts of arguments ranging from those based upon assertions about health to those that essentially raise animals to the level of human beings.   Few of these arguments purport to rest upon Scriptural authority.   For vegetarians who purport to be Christians and/or Christians who purport to be vegetarians, whatever the case might be, there are basically four passages to which they can point to claim some sort of Scriptural basis for their position.   Two of these are in the Old Testament and two in the New.   We shall look at the Old Testament first, then the New.


The first passage in the Old Testament that some might read as supporting vegetarianism is the account of primordial man in the first three chapters of Genesis.   The antelapsarian existence of our first parents seems clearly to have been an herbivore one.    In the general account of the Creation of the world in the first chapter, God, after creating man on the sixth day, says to him “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (v. 29).   In the second chapter in which a more focused account of the creation of man is presented we find God forming Adam out of the dust of the earth (v. 7), and then placing him in the Garden of Eden (v. 8) in which it is said “out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (v. 9).   God tells Adam “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat” (v. 16) with one single exception, that being the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   The chapter concludes with the creation of Eve and the chapter following tells of the temptation of Eve and the Fall of man, which occurs when Adam and Eve eat of the fruit that had been forbidden them.


The first thing to be observed about this passage is how Adam and Eve became herbivores in the Garden of Eden.   They became herbivores by being given the herbs of the earth and the fruit of the trees for food not by being forbidden to eat meat.   Indeed, the only food prohibition they were given pertained to a specific fruit.    Now, while it is probably accurate to say that a ban on eating animal flesh would have been unnecessary to limit man’s diet to the plant-based at this point in time as the thought of killing animals and eating them would not likely have popped into Adam and Eve’s heads out of nowhere, this does not mean that this distinction is trivial or irrelevant.   Remember that the Genesis account of Creation and the Fall is only the first part of the introductory section of the Book of Genesis which presents a pre-history of mankind as a whole before the book’s focus narrows onto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel.   Also included in this section is the account of God’s judgement in the form of the Great Flood, and His postdiluvian recreation of the world from Noah and his line.   One of the very first things God does in this re-creation of the world is to give the animals for food to mankind.    Here is the account of this:


And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.   Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. (Gen. 9:1-3) 


As with the giving of the herbs and fruits in the Garden of Eden, so with this addition of animal flesh to man’s diet, one simple restriction is given:


But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.


We will have more to say about this restriction at a later point when we look at the New Testament.    The most important point to be made here is that before Moses moves into the account of the Covenant People upon whom further restrictions, distinct to themselves, are placed, God has given both plants and animals to mankind as food, the former in the original Creation, the latter in the postdiluvian recreation.   The only argument this leaves our vegetarian friends with in regards to this passage is that what we are seeing here is something similar to what Jesus said about the provisions for divorce in the Mosaic Law, that is that it is something added even though it goes against the intentions of God in His order of Creation because of the sinfulness – “hardness” was the word Jesus used – of the human heart.   


While this interpretation is necessary for vegetarians to acknowledge what happened in Genesis 9 while continuing to pat themselves on the back and thank God that they are superior to all of us meat-eating sinners and tax collectors it is not an interpretation required by the book of Genesis itself and is not the best interpretation.     It is an interpretation that requires that on one level or another the interpreter assume that God created all things perfect and not just good.   Perfection, in this sense, speaks not merely of goodness but of full maturity, a state that requires no further development and admits of no possibility of improvement.   The implications of assuming that God created all things perfect in this sense are that a) any change in any direction from things as they were in Creation is a move away from perfection which must be attributed to sin and b) that the end of God’s work in redeeming fallen mankind through Jesus Christ is to restore man to the perfection he lost in the Fall.   This second implication reveals why the assumption is borne out by neither Scripture nor sound reasoning.


If God’s purpose in redemption is to restore mankind to the state from which he fell then redeemed man would be forever in danger of falling again.   Therefore, God’s purpose in redemption must be not just to restore mankind to his original unmarred goodness but to a superior state of goodness to that from which he fell.   This means that there is a difference between the goodness from which man fell in the Garden of Eden and the goodness which will be his final state in the Paradise described in the last chapters of Revelation.   Indeed, in theology we distinguish between these two states of goodness by use of the words innocence and perfection.   Innocence was the state of mankind in the Garden.   Perfection is the state of mankind in Paradise Future.   Innocence is an immature form of goodness, perfection is goodness in its mature, competed, form.   Regardless of how we understand the complex issue of how human freedom and the Fall and Redemption of man fit into God’s eternal design it should be apparent that God’s intention for man was not that he remain in a state of innocence forever but that he mature into perfection.   We have no good reason to think that this observation is true only of man’s moral condition.   Indeed, it would be extremely strange if that were the case.  


One could argue that God’s giving mankind animal flesh to eat in Genesis 9 is best interpreted not as His advancing mankind from a more immature to a more mature state but as His accommodating the fallen estate of man because it follows immediately after the Flood, a judgement upon human wickedness.   The problem with that reasoning is that the animals are given as food, not to the antediluvian wicked – these perished in the Flood – but to Noah, who had found grace in the eyes of the Lord and as a consequence was saved with his family from this judgement.   Immediately after giving them the animals for food He also gives them the responsibility of civil government (9:5-6).   While human sinfulness obviously created the need for the latter, God’s giving man that responsibility is equally obviously an advancing man to a state of greater maturity, even if the behaviour of the politicians, bureaucrats, and other bums, creeps and lowlifes who are currently abusing the responsibility they have been given to exercise the powers of Her Majesty’s civil government in the Dominion of Canada might suggest otherwise.   Since this bestowing of responsibility is itself followed by the establishing of a covenant in which God promises never to destroy the world by flood again (9:8-17) the advancement to maturity is the stronger of these themes in the passage.


The second of the Old Testament passages to which vegetarians might point is found in the first chapter of the book of Daniel.    The chapter and the book begin with Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim of Judah, the defeat of the latter, the spoiling of the Temple, and the carrying away to Babylon of the brightest and best of the children of the Jewish nobility.   The latter were to be given a Chaldean education and to be fed “with a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank” (v. 5).   Among those taken were Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mischael, and Azariah, who are given the new Babylonian names Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.   Daniel, we are told “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” and so requested of the chief eunuch who is in charge of them that they be excused from this diet.  When the chief eunuch protests that Nebuchadnezzar would be displeased if they ended up looking ill-nourished compared to the other children Daniel proposes a test.   “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.”  (v. 12).   Pulse is the food you get from the seeds of legumes.   Daniel was asking to be placed on a diet of beans.   Perhaps he intended to stink up Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.   At any rate, Melzar, as the chief of the eunuchs was named, agrees to this, and after the ten days, Daniel and friends appear “fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat” (v. 15).   Therefore “Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse”. (v. 16)


While it is easy to see why vegetarians would love this passage there are a few things that need to be noted.   First, the problem Daniel had with the diet he had been assigned was not that it was meat qua meat.    This is evident in the language used.   He “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat”.   His concern was with being defiled by the terms of the Mosaic Law.   There were a number of ways in which eating Nebuchadnezzar’s meat could have defiled him.   The first was if the meat came from an animal that the Law forbade the Israelites to eat.   The rules for this are found in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus and the fourteenth chapter of Deuteronomy.   Of land animals, the Israelites could only eat cloven-hoofed ruminants.  A ruminant without a cloven hoof, like a camel or a hare, was ritually unclean, so was a cloven-hoofed non-ruminant, like the pig.    Seafood could only be eaten if it had both fins and scales.   Lobsters, shrimp, and the like were out.   Since the entire purpose of the Ceremonial Law was to set Israel apart, to make her distinct from her idolatrous neighbours, it was highly unlikely that Nebuchadnezzar kept a kosher table.   Then there was the possibility that the meat, even if from an animal permitted by the Mosaic Law, would not have been drained of its blood in accordance with what Noah was told in Genesis.  There was also the likelihood of the meat having been sacrificed to a Babylonian idol, making the meal a part of the idolatrous sacrificial ritual.   This, and not some self-righteous, “I’m better than the Baylonians because I’m not going to cost some animal its life in order to eat” attitude is what was on Daniel’s mind here.  

Second, this chapter occurs at the beginning of a book in which Daniel’s three friends are delivered from being cast into fiery furnace (the third chapter), and in which Daniel himself is thrown into a lion’s den and survives.   Is there any good reason for attributing the success of Daniel’s test in the first chapter to some inherent superiority of a diet of beans than to the agency – the divine power of God – so clearly at work in these other instances?   The seventeenth verse of the chapter says of Daniel and his friends that “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams”.


Third, Daniel did not remain on a diet of musical fruit and dihydrogen monoxide for his entire life.   Perhaps one of the Chaldeans had informed him of the dangers associated with the latter, the cause of soil erosion and metal corrosion which causes severe burns in its gaseous state and death when inhaled.   In the tenth chapter, speaking in the first person, he says that in the third year of Cyrus of Persia, he had a mourning period of three weeks that involved the following “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled” (v. 3).  This was a fast, not a description of his regular lifestyle.   It indicates that outside of the three weeks in question he ate bread and meat and drank wine.   Incidentally, while the “Daniel Fast” is a popular diet fad in certain Christian circles, have you ever noticed nobody seems to be very keen on a “John the Baptist Fast”?


Fourth, the very thing which kept Daniel from partaking of Nebuchadnezzar’s meat, his pious adherence to the Mosaic Law, would have prevented him from being a vegetarian even for the three years before his presentation to the king (1:5, 18-20) had he not been taken away to Babylon.   The Mosaic Law required all faithful Israelites to eat meat at least once a year.   On the tenth day of the spring month of Aviv – renamed Nisan during the Babylonian Captivity – they were to take one young unblemished male lamb of the first year per household – or two neighbouring households if they were small – separate it from the rest of the flock, and keep it until the fourteenth day – the Ides – of the same month, upon which it was to be killed before the entire assembly of Israel, its blood taken and struck on the side posts and upper posts of the house(s) in which it was to be eaten, and then it was to be eaten, roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, with none of the lamb remaining until morning, anything left uneaten was to be burned.  (Ex. 12:1-14).   This was a divine commandment that did not come with a beans option.   This did not apply to Daniel, however, because he was in Babylon.  The Passover lamb is a sacrifice which, after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, could only be offered in Jerusalem.     Indeed, the offering of sacrifices elsewhere than the Temple in Jerusalem led to the apostasy that brought down first the Northern Kingdom, then Judah, bringing about the very Babylonian Captivity in which Daniel found himself. 


Someone might object to the previous paragraph by pointing out that there are plenty of Jewish vegetarians today – and Jewish vegans for that matter.   Now, in many cases this is because the Jews in question are trendy progressives who would follow the latest fad regardless of what they thought their religion said.   There are plenty of progressive “Christians” who do the same.   Think of the kind of “Jews” and “Christians” who get all of their religious teaching from a “rabbi” or “priest” who is a woman with an oddly-coloured buzzcut and the kind of tattoos that would put a biker to shame. Others, however, maintain that their vegetarianism – or veganism – is not only consistent with their Judaism, but that their religion is inclined towards vegetarianism.   I have heard some even go so far as to claim that their religion is uniquely inclined towards vegetarianism, which suggests that these individuals are not very familiar with Hinduism or Buddhism, let alone Jainism which actually requires it.  It is true, of course, as well as obvious, that it is much easier to keep kosher by avoiding meat altogether.   It is also the case that rabbinic Judaism permits vegetarianism (and veganism) as First and Second Temple Judaism could not.  Note, however, that the rabbinic texts relied upon to authorize vegetarianism among present day Jews base this on the absence of the Temple.   Consider, for example, the baraita of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira that can be found in the fifth paragraph of 109a of Pesachim, the third tractacte of Moed, the second order of the Mishnah in the Talmud.   First the Rabbi observes that “When the Temple is standing, rejoicing is only through the eating of sacrificial meat” and backs this up by quoting Deut.27:7.   Second he adds “And now that the Temple is not standing and one cannot eat sacrificial meat, he can fulfil the mitzvah of rejoicing on a Festival only by drinking wine”, quoting Psalm 104:15 as his Scriptural authority.


The final passages that vegetarians might point to in order to claim Scriptural backing for their position are found the New Testament.   In the fourteenth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans we read the following:


For meat destroy not the work of God.  All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.   It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.  (vv. 20-21)


In the eighth chapter of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians we find the following:


Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.  (v. 13)


These passages are very similar.    It is worth noting that the two epistles belong to the same subsection of Pauline literature, the epistles written during the Apostle’s third missionary journey which began in the eighteenth chapter of Acts and ended with his fateful arrival in Jerusalem in the twenty-first chapter.    The Corinthian epistles date to the earlier part of this journey, the first having been written during his two to three year stay in Ephesus, the second was written from Philippi shortly thereafter.  The epistle to the Romans was written in the last part of the journey after he had already determined to go to Jerusalem.   Both passages, and the larger context in which they are found in each epistle, address the same issue, demonstrating that it was a problem common to both of these churches and most likely to all of churches in Gentile cities.   In 1 Corinthians which was written first, St. Paul provides the most detailed account of the controversy.


The controversy is similar but not identical to one that had arisen earlier during St. Paul’s first missionary journey.   The tenth chapter of the book of Acts records how St. Peter was sent to Cornelius, a Roman centurion stationed in Caeserea Maritima.   Cornelius was a Gentile who worshipped the God of Israel but had not converted to Judaism.   St. Peter preaches the Gospel to him and his household, they believe and the Holy Spirit comes upon them, then St. Peter orders them to be baptized.   The precedent for Gentiles being baptized and brought into the church having been set by St. Peter, in the thirteenth chapter St. Paul is commissioned and sent on his first missionary journey with St. Barnabas by the church in Antioch.   While they begin their ministry in each city they visit in the synagogues, they find the Gentiles more receptive to the Gospel and large numbers of Gentile converts begin to join the churches.   By the end of the fourteenth chapter they have returned to Antioch and are rejoicing in how God “had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles”.  Then at the beginning of the fifteenth chapter the controversy begins when men from Judaea arrive who maintain that the Gentile converts must “be circumcised after the manner of Moses” in order to be saved.   They did not mean that they thought that circumcision was, out of all the requirements of the Mosaic Code, uniquely essential to salvation.   They meant that the Gentile converts would have to become Jews – be circumcised, keep the Jewish feasts and fasts, observe the dietary restrictions and the rest of the ceremonial and ritual commandments – in order to be Christians.  


The controversy grew so extreme that the church of Antioch sent a delegation led by SS Paul and Barnabas to the mother church in Jerusalem, which convened a council of the Apostles and presbyters to hear and decide on the matter.   St. Peter spoke up and testified against requiring Gentile converts to become Jews in order to join the church.   He described the Mosaic Law as a “yoke…which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” and declared his belief that they, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, were saved by the grace – freely given favour – of God, in the same way as the Gentiles.   In other words, the Mosaic rituals were not necessary for the salvation even of Jewish Christians.   It is no wonder that St. Peter was of this mind.   Earlier, when God had send him to Cornelius, it was by means of a vision in which three times a great sheet containing all animals, including those forbidden by the kosher restrictions, had descended from heaven with the commandment “Rise, Peter, kill and eat”, to which he had replied by protesting that he had never eaten that which is common or unclean and received the response “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”     Now that St. Peter was finally free to enjoy a breakfast of ham and eggs before going down to Ben-Donalds and ordering a bacon double cheeseburger with a side order of shrimp for lunch he was not about to surrender to legalists who wished to take this liberty away from those who had always enjoyed it!


In the end, the Jerusalem Council, presided over by the first bishop of Jerusalem, St. James the Just, ruled that the burden of the Mosaic Law NOT be placed upon the Gentile converts.   Letters were to be sent to the Gentile Christians of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, telling them that the commandment to be circumcised and keep the law came not from them, and that they would lay no greater burden on them than that they “abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication”.


The first and last of these four items are representative of what is often called the Moral Law, that is to say, the parts of the Mosaic Law that God would be displeased with anyone, anywhere at any time breaking as opposed to the parts that He imposed only upon the ancient Israelites and which helped establish their national identity.   Eating the offering is the final part of a sacrifice, the part in which the deity and worshippers enjoy the communion or fellowship of partaking of a meal together.   This was true of idolatrous pagan sacrifices.   It was true of Old Testament sacrifices.   It is true of the One True Christian sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, which are offered as a meal to the faithful in the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.   Telling the Gentile converts to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, therefore, is the same thing as telling them not to partake of idolatry, not to worship any God but the True and Living God.   Fornication is representative of the sort of thing prohibited in the second half of the Ten Commandments – murder, adultery, theft – things that are always wrong in all places, by all people, in all times, and was probably made the representative of these things because it is more common than the others.   The inclusion of these two items in the list was to show that while the Mosaic Law was not being imposed on the converts, this was not to be interpreted as license to do things proscribed by that Law which are mala in se.


The other two items are in fact the same item stated differently.   Abstaining from blood points back to the Noachic Covenant of Genesis 9 which predated the Mosaic Covenant and, unlike the latter which was made with only one nation Israel, was made with postdiluvian mankind as a whole.     An animal that killed by strangling has not had the blood drained from its meat so abstaining from “things strangled” is the same thing as abstaining from blood.   What the inclusion of these items tells us is that the Apostles saw the Noachic Covenant as still being binding upon all mankind.


The theology behind this ruling is fully explained by St. Paul over the course of his entire epistolary corpus.   The Mosaic Law – the Covenant established with Israel at Mt. Sinai – separated Israel from the nations and made her distinct.   In the New Covenant, promised by God in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament, and established by the events of the Gospel – the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – this separation is abolished and Jew and Gentile are brought together as one in the church.   Salvation is not by law at all, but by grace through faith.   As Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness long before the Mosaic Law was given, so Jewish and Gentile believers today are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham.   The believers, Jewish and Gentile, united in the faith through which they are justified, are in a state of liberty.   This liberty is not permission to sin, however.   If something was forbidden in the Law because it was sinful in itself, like murder and adultery, rather than sinful for the Israelites because it was forbidden in the Law, like eating pork, it remains forbidden under the New Covenant, because that which is sinful in itself, is universally sinful.   The Noachic obligations are classified with the commandments against idolatry and fornication in the Apostolic ruling because they too were universal.


What St. Paul addresses in the Corinthian and Roman churches is a secondary controversy that arose out of the one settled by the Jerusalem Council.   Believers were not to eat meat sacrificed to idols.   What are they to do in a situation where they do not know if it has been sacrificed to idols or not?


In I Corinthians, St. Paul addresses this over the course of three chapters, beginning with the eighth chapter.   To consciously and deliberately partake of meat sacrificed to idols is to have fellowship with devils, he says, and this is forbidden them because “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (10:21).   However, an idol, being “nothing”, i.e., an inanimate object made by man rather than the deity that an idolater supposes it to be, it has no power to permanently taint the meat offered to it (8;4-6, 10:19).   The sin in the act of eating meat sacrificed to idols prohibited by the Jerusalem Council is in the act of consciously participating in idolatry not in the meat and since the meat does not pass on the guilt of devil worship to those who partake of it unknowingly therefore the Christians should not ask questions of those who sell them meat in the market or put it on the table before them (10:25).   If, however, someone volunteers the information that it is offered in sacrifice to idols, the Christian is to abstain (10:28).  


St. Paul’s real point in this entire discussion, however, is not about devils, idols, or meat.   In elaborating on why Christians should abstain from meat that they have been told is sacrificed to idols he explains that it is for “conscience sake” but not their own conscience but that of the other person (10:28-29).   Not everybody has the knowledge (I Corinthians) or faith (Romans) to exercise his Christian liberty in eating meat, confident that the question of whether it has been sacrificed or not is rendered moot by the nothingness of the idol.   Someone lacking that knowledge or faith, who eats meat sacrificed to idols conscious that it has been so sacrificed, defiles his own conscience (8:7), for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).   It is for his sake that those who do have the knowledge and faith to exercise their Christian liberty in this way should abstain when told that the meat has been sacrificed. 


 It is important to understand that the Apostle is not concerned here with giving this brother “offence” as that word is understood in our own day.  He is not telling the Corinthians and the Romans to refrain from eating meat that their brother has told them is sacrificed to idols because if they do he will get offended in the sense of resenting their action, judging them for it, and seeking to get them “cancelled”.   He is rather concerned that their actions might cause their brother to offend in the sense of doing something that he does not have the faith to believe he is at liberty to do.   In other words, when Joe Corinthian is sitting down at the table and is about to dig in to a big slab of roast, and Bob Roman points out to him “Hey Joe, you know that meat was offered in the temple of Apollo earlier today right” the reason that Joe should listen to the guy in white, strumming the harp, and reminding him of St. Paul’s words, rather than the guy in red pajamas with a pitchfork telling him to dig in, is not because Bob might get all disgusted with him, unfriend him on social media, and tell everyone he knows to avoid Joe, but rather because Bob might be led by him into following his example and eating the meat, thinking that he is being bad and a rebel and indulging his dark side by doing so.


It is in only in this kind of situation, where you eating meat which is not wrong in itself might lead someone else who should not be eating it to eat it, that the Apostle’s instruction to voluntarily curtail one’s Christian liberty out of love and refrain from eating meat for one’s brother’s sake applies.   These verses have nothing to do with vegetarianism as we know it today.    Nor, although this has nothing to do with our topic, do they tell us that we need to allow petty tyrants and bullies to boss us around about wearing masks, taking injections the safety of which they are unable to persuade us, and sacrificing all of our and our neighbour’s civil liberties in the name of fighting a respiratory virus, as the nincompoop element of church leadership, which, sadly, is almost all of it these days, have been twisting these passages to mean for the last two years. Christian liberty, of course, allows for believers to be vegetarians or even, perish the thought, vegans, but the verses instructing us to allow love to control how we use our liberty do not require us to be those things and the larger contexts in which they are found certainly do not lend support to the idea that vegetarianism is a morally superior stance.


So the next time someone sticks his nose in the air, pats himself on the back, and calls you a murderer for eating meat, remember these arguments.   Christian liberty may permit vegetarianism, and in certain very limited circumstances voluntarily abstaining from meat may be an expression of Christian love, but if someone tries to impose vegetarianism on you he is teaching the “doctrine of devils” (I Tim. 4:1-4).



Thursday, March 24, 2022

Captain Airhead and Jimmy Dhaliwal Get Hitched

Just in time for the beginning of spring, Jimmy Dhaliwal, the clown in charge of Canada’s official socialist party – the others are the unofficial socialist parties – who looks and, more importantly, acts like he is playing the role of evil Grand Vizier in a cheap, third-rate melodrama adapted from one of Scheherazade’s tales, came out from his hole, looked around, saw his shadow and gave us a truly terrifying forecast – three more years of Captain Airhead.    He had agreed to prop up the Liberal minority government until the next Dominion election in return for….what exactly?   It is rather difficult to conceive of any concession the Grits could have made to him considering they have been stealing his clothes and his platform since pretty much the moment Captain Airhead became Prime Minister.   Perhaps all that is really going on is an attempt to remain relevant after having been rendered redundant.   Perhaps I threw that option out merely to see how many words beginning with re- I could fit in a single sentence.   Whatever the case may be, he then proceeded to pat himself on the back and compare himself to Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton.


In considering what this unholy marriage means for the country it would be helpful first to review how each of the partners currently stands in Parliament.


In the last Dominion election which took place last fall, Captain Airhead’s Grits increased their seats in the House of Commons by three from the previous Dominion election in 2019.   In that latter election they had been reduced from the majority government they had won in 2015 to a small minority government.   In both elections they won the plurality of seats while losing the plurality in the popular vote which was won by the Conservatives who have been Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition since 2015.   Indeed, despite their gain of three seats, their percentage of the popular vote dropped to the lowest a party that went on to form government has ever received.   Captain Airhead has, nevertheless, governed since 2019 as if he commanded a solid majority in the House.   Moreover, after last year’s election he claimed that he had received a clear mandate from the Canadian public.   This is a nonsensical claim for anybody in a minority government, let alone a minority government that won only a plurality of seats not a plurality of the popular vote to make, but he repeated it again when grilled by Opposition leader Candice Bergen in the House after the coalition was announced.


As for Jimmy Dhaliwal’s party, they did terrible in both elections as well.   In 2019, the first election in which Dhaliwal led the NDP, they dropped from the thirty-nine seats they had previously held to twenty-four.   Their percentage of the popular vote dropped by almost four percent.   They improved only slightly on this last year, gaining one seat.   To put a bit of context to this, remember that this was only eight years after the late Honourable Jack Layton had led the socialists into the 2011 Dominion election increasing their seats from thirty-six to one-hundred and three and increasing their percentage of the popular vote by twelve and a half percent.   Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority government in that election and the NDP became Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition at the Dominion level for the first and only time in Canadian history.    This was called the “Orange Wave” at the time.   It is not merely in contrast to Layton’s popularity of eight years previously that Dhaliwal’s dismal performance needs to be understood.  2019 was the year that Captain Airhead was reduced from a majority to a small minority.   The government had been shaken by the SNC-Lavalin scandal earlier in the year before the election was called then, during the election campaign, all those chickens from Captain Airhead’s past as a blackface performer came home to roost in a personal scandal.   Ordinarily, when a Liberal leader loses voters and seats en masse in a disgrace like this, one expects the NDP to gain.   Those voters all jumped to the Lower Canadian separatists instead and the socialists lost ground too.


My point in going into all of this is that neither the Liberals nor the NDP under either party’s current leadership is very appealing to Canadians.   Far more Canadians voted against the Liberals than voted for them in the last two Dominion elections and that is true of the socialists as well.   Nor can you just add those who voted Liberal to those who voted NDP to get the popular support for the “clear mandate” now claimed by this unholy coalition.   No Canadians voted for a Liberal-NDP or NDP-Liberal coalition government.   Some, understandably including many of the Conservatives, would maintain that this in itself is the problem with what has just been done.   I disagree because this merely offends against the ideal of democracy of which idol my opinion is far closer to the ancients’ disdain and contempt than the Moderns’ infatuation.   It is technically permitted by the rules of that time-tested and honoured governing institution of Parliament although it seems fairly obvious that both leaders are acting by the letter of what is permitted rather than the spirit.    Promising to prop up a minority government in this way circumvents Parliament’s power to hold the government accountable.    What I wish to stress here is the reason why both of these parties have lost so much of their appeal under their present leaders.


While personal defects on the part of the leaders undoubtedly played a part in this, especially with regards to Captain Airhead who combines a staggering level of brazen hypocrisy with enough hubris to have brought Nemesis down on the heads of the entire pantheon of Greek heroes, both parties have under their current leaders adopted the same narrow, extremist, and utterly insane ideology.   Most people would probably describe this ideological shift as a move to the far left but this does not really do justice to what has happened.    Indeed, it is potentially misleading because “far left” is usually understood to mean “Communist” and what we are talking about is an ideology that would have been considered way out in the left field of Cloud Cuckoo Land by the old Marxist-Leninist Commies of the Cold War era.   Imagine what V. I. Lenin or Joseph Stalin would have done to someone who suggested to them that the Bolshevik regime should make it a priority to stomp out all usage of masculine pronouns for men who consider themselves to be women or of feminine pronouns for women who consider themselves to be men.  


An illustration of how thinking of the new Grit-NDP ideology simply as something further to the left can be misleading is provided by the Conservative response to the announced alliance.   It has been good insofar as it goes but it has gone no further than the economy.   Candice Bergen et al. are certainly right to say that this deal between the Grits and the socialists means that life will become even less affordable for ordinary Canadians as taxes are raised, grocery prices rise even higher due to the inflationary effect of all the “free” goodies everyone will be bribed with, while the energy sector, so important to a part of the country that not-coincidentally tends not to support either the Grits or the socialists, comes further under attack and efforts to develop other natural resources are hindered and thwarted.   As bad as all this is, it is only a small part of the woe that these deranged ideologues wish to unleash upon Canada.


I use the term ideology, by the way, for the sort of thinking that the Grits and the socialists share today even though that thinking does not come close to being as systematic and coherent as the word ideology usually implies because it is as rigid and dogmatic as any ideology and no better word suggests itself.


This ideology is based upon dividing Canadians according to race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. – the list of categories is ever expanding – then assigning “victim” and “villain” status to the groups formed by these divisions.   Whites, for example, are the designated villain for the race category, and all others are the designated victims.   These statuses can be combined to create “supervictim” and “supervillain” statuses.   A woman, for example, of a race other than white who belongs to a non-Christian religion, is a member of three different victim groups and in accordance with the crackpot dogma of intersectionality that is the rationale behind all of this these victim statuses are multiplied rather than merely added to each other.   At the same time someone who is a white, Christian, male is that much more of a villain than the person who is only one of these things.   The ultimate bad guy in this warped worldview, however, is not merely the person who belongs to all of the villain groups.   Indeed, someone can belong to each and every one of them and still be regarded as one of the “good guys” by the woke provided that he is willing to make groveling apologies to each of the designated victim groups for each of the villain groups to which he belongs.   Captain Airhead himself is the obvious example of this.   He is white, male, and nominally at least cisgender, heterosexual and Roman Catholic, but is constantly weeping crocodile tears over all of this.   The ultimate bad guy for the new, woke, Canadian left is Canada herself, or at least a Canada that would still be recognizable as such to pre-1963 Canadians, and the larger Christian/Western civilization of which she is a part.   Each of the designated victim groups are encouraged by the woke left to air their grievances, not just against their corresponding villain group, but also and primarily against the historical Canada.   The woke left then pleads guilty on behalf of Canada regardless of whether the grievances are legitimate and have any substance to them or not.    Just as woke feminism insists that a woman must always be believed when she accuses a man of some sort of sexual crime so woke leftism in general insists that all accusations against the country made by designated victim groups be believed.   That this is the opposite of the old notion of innocent until proven guilty does not faze the woke left.   That notion came to us from the patriarchal, white supremacist, heteronormative, Christian past and so they consider it to be tainted.   The goal of all of this is power – gaining power by bringing all of these different identity groups, even if their interests are mutually exclusive, behind the woke left – then using that power to stomp out everything in the country that they don’t like and justifying this by associating it with all the “isms” and “phobias” of the past.  


Unfortunately, many Canadians tend to think of the woke ideology that has captured both the Liberal Party and the NDP in terms of meaningless apologies and other empty, symbolic gestures.   The problem is a lot more serious than this however.   For most of Canadian history, Conservatives, Liberals, and socialists believed that Canadians, regardless of race, sex, etc., each possessed as their property as subjects of the Crown, certain rights and freedoms that protected them from the abuse of government power.   The only rights that the woke Liberals and NDP seem to recognize as actually binding the hands of government, however, are newer “rights” that belong not to each Canadian but to members of designed victim groups protecting them against “isms” and “phobias” on the part of designated villain groups.   As for all those older rights and freedoms that we traditionally regarded as the property of all Canadians under Common Law, including the freedoms identified as “fundamental” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, these the woke Liberals and NDP see as privileges, that is, things that we get to enjoy if the government decides to permit it.   As has increasingly become apparent the woke Liberals and NDP want that permission to be granted or denied on the basis of a social credit system.   That is social credit in the Chinese Communist sense of the term – the government keeps tabs on everything you say and do and awards you more or less freedom based upon whether it approves of what you have been saying and doing – rather than in the sense of the economic and monetary theories of Major C. H. Douglas from which all the now defunct Social Credit parties in Canada were named.


We don’t have to look far for an illustration of this.   Take the right to peacefully assemble to express disagreement with and make demands of the government.   This right has never included the right to commit acts of violence against others, to damage or destroy public or private property, or to commit actual sedition or insurrection.   It has, however, traditionally been regarded as belonging to all Canadian subjects of the Crown.   Captain Airhead’s Liberals, however, with the support of Jimmy Dhaliwal’s NDP even before the formal announcement of their nuptials, have treated this as a right that belongs only to those Canadians with whose causes they agree.   If there is a demonstration or protest with whose woke cause they agree, such as the environmentalist protests against Canada’s energy sector and especially the pipelines, the BLM demonstrations of the summer of 2020, or the residential school protests of last summer, the Liberals and NDP do not seem to care if the protests are paid for by foreign interests and the protestors commit acts of violence and destruction.   When, however, a group of working class Canadians objected to government rules and restrictions that were adversely affecting them just last month, even though this group committed no such acts of violence and destruction, nor, despite leftist claims to the contrary, were they funded by foreigners, the NDP-backed Liberals went all ballistic on them, evoked the Emergency Measures Act for the first time in Canadian history, froze their bank accounts, arrested their leaders, and sent the police in to brutalize them.   The summer before, the residential school protestors hijacked Canada’s anniversary holiday and, here in Winnipeg, toppled the statues on the grounds of the provincial legislature of Queen Victoria, who presided over Confederation, and Queen Elizabeth II our reigning Sovereign.  That is what sedition and insurrection look like.   By contrast, the truckers’ demonstration earlier this year was a display of patriotic love – Canada’s largest ever block party, with people cheering and greeting each other, enjoying food and games and hot tubs, and waving Canadian flags.   This is what Captain Airhead and Jimmy Dhaliwal decided needed to be crushed with the maximum force available to the government.   As this was going on the perpetrators of last year’s assault on Canada’ history and institutions were allowed to walk without penalty.


Never before in Canadian history has there been a Prime Minister less willing to tolerate those who disagree with him than Captain Airhead.   Since last summer he has spoken several times of those who wish to make their own choices about whether to have man-made foreign substances injected into their bodies rather than have such decisions dictated by government in the most dehumanizing of terms.   He has declared the views of those who disagree with him “unacceptable”.   He has said that we as Canadians need to ask ourselves whether we are willing to tolerate having those who disagree with him about this in our midst.   In the actions described in the previous paragraph he proved himself willing to act on this kind of language.   Even though he is brazenly hypocritical enough to lecture other countries about the need to listen to those with whom they disagree at home he practices the exact opposite of this.   It is like he took William F. Buckley’s famous line about how liberals loudly proclaim their willingness to listen to other ideas but are then shocked and offended to discover that there are any as a “how to” statement.   Having Jimmy Dhaliwal as a partner will only make this problem worse. 


In 1970 Parliament, dominated by a Liberal party led by Captain Airhead’s father, passed a bill amending the Criminal Code to include three sections against “hate propaganda”.   Since to qualify as “hate propaganda” by the terms of these sections incitement to violence, which was already against the law, had to be included, this was redundant and unnecessary and did nothing but start the process of conditioning Canadians to accept the government telling them what they can and cannot think and say.   Seven years later, Parliament, still led by the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau, passed the Canadian Human Rights Act, which took government policing of Canadians’ thoughts to a whole new level.   The entire Act was bad but the worst part of it was Section 13 which forbade the telephonic communication of material “likely to” expose designated victim groups to “hatred or contempt” as an act of discrimination.   In 2001 Jean Chretien’s Liberals amended this provision to cover the internet as well.   In 2014 these efforts to bring Canadians’ thoughts and words under government control met a setback when Section 13 was removed from the CHRA, one year after a private member’s bill revoking it had passed Parliament and received royal assent.   This bill had only passed through the cooperation of Conservative and dissenting Liberal members.   The current leader of the Liberals tolerates far less dissent among his caucus than was the case in 2013 and the Liberals have just reintroduced a bill that they had first introduced before the last Parliament was dissolved last year.   This bill would re-introduce something similar to Section 13 but far worse in that it would allow for peace bonds to be issued against people on the grounds of what it is feared they might say rather than something they have already said.   With Jimmy Dhaliwal’s pledge to Captain Airhead, this bill is now sure to pass the House, unless both caucuses are somehow able to muster up enough dissenting voices with the integrity to break with their leaders on this.


Not only have Captain Airhead’s woke Liberals and Jimmy Dhaliwal’s woke NDP expanded what they wish to see prohibited as “hate speech” to include much that was not covered by previous “hate speech” laws, even words not yet spoken, they have also clearly expressed their wish to suppress dissent in all sorts of other areas as well.   This is why they are always talking about “misinformation” and “disinformation”.   On matters as various as climate change, the bat flu, abortion, the last American election and the Russia-Ukraine conflict they claim that “misinformation” and “disinformation” are endangering the public good and so the government needs to step in to control these.   Of course, “misinformation” and “disinformation” do not mean to them what these words mean to normal people.   To you, I, the average Joe on the street, his brother Bob, and basically anyone with an ounce of horse sense, “misinformation” and “disinformation” are identified as such by being false.   They are held up to the yard stick of Truth and found to fall short.   To Captain Airhead and Jimmy Dhaliwal, however, neither of whom care a lick about Goodness or Beauty, much less Truth, “misinformation” and “disinformation” are anything that disagrees with what they say.   This is why it was so chilling to see that smug, soulless, smile come into Captain Airhead’s eyes the other day in Question Period when he responded to something Candice Bergen said about his new partnership with Dhaliwal with a remark about “misinformation” and “disinformation”.


Captain Airhead and Jimmy Dhaliwal have gotten hitched in a manner of speaking.   Now they are about to drag the entire country with them to their honeymoon in hell.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Neo-Manichaeism, Technological “Progress” and the Ethics of War


“It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”  -  Robert E. Lee


Suppose that you were addressing an academic symposium on the subject of the ethics of war and you opened with the above quotation.   Further suppose that immediately after doing so you invited your audience for their thoughts on these famous words.


In all likelihood what you would get, would not be insightful reflection upon what the Confederate general-in-chief had actually said, either in agreement or disagreement, but a round of vitriolic denunciation of the man who said it.    It would begin with the small handful in the room who were informed enough to recognize who Robert E. Lee was, but would quickly spread to the rest as everyone present, whether they be faculty, administration, student or alumnus, began to compete with everyone else to demonstrate their woke, anti-racist, bona fides by being the loudest to express their opinion about  just what a horrible person you had just quoted.   You would be told that you should not have quoted him, because he led the South which fought for slavery which was racist and that therefore he must be condemned and cancelled.   


Should you be so suicidal as to attempt to correct the mob you had incited, by informing them that their knowledge was woefully inadequate and that the real story of man they were subjecting to a “Two-Minute Hate” was far more nuanced and interesting than they thought, explaining how he was the career military officer to whom Abraham Lincoln had offered command of the Union forces at the onset of the American republic’s great internecine bloodbath, but who turned it down and resigned rather than raise his sword against his own home state, to which he then offered his services, consequently becoming the strategist who delayed the defeat of the Southern states’ attempt to break away from the American union for complex reasons of which slavery was only one for longer than would have been possible under any other general and you yourself will be condemned as a racist, bigot, white supremacist and all sorts of other nasty names that have long ago been detached from any essential relationship with their lexical meaning and turned into verbal weapons.


Now, it may have occurred to you that in the preceding paragraphs I have myself done one of the things I have been mocking the academic woke for doing, that is, sidetracked what was supposed to be a discussion of the ethics of war, the topic of both your academic presentation in the above hypothetical scenario and of this essay, by going on about something else entirely.    The similarity is superficial, I assure you, and, oddly enough, you will find that the scenario is actually more relevant to our topic than the quotation itself.    


Indeed, as far as the words themselves go, General Lee’s remark does not contribute much to the discussion of the ethics of war.   The first clause can be taken as support for the assertion that war is an evil.   This, however, is neither a controversial assertion nor an ethical one.   It would be the latter if the indefinite article had been omitted before “evil”, but “an evil” is not the same thing as “evil”.  Evil, sans article, can be used as either an adjective or a noun.   If used as the former it expresses an ethical judgement on that to which the adjective applied.   If used as the latter, it expresses the idea of that which is the opposite of goodness, or, in terms more acceptable to orthodox Christianity, the defect that occurs when the goodness of creation is damaged.   When used with the indefinite article, however, it does not necessarily have these moral and metaphysical connotations but means merely something that is undesirable to those who experience it and its consequences.   Earthquakes, floods, fires, etc., are all “evils” in this sense.   In this sense, saying that war is an evil is stating the obvious.   


For the purposes of this essay the most important thing about the general’s saying is when he said it.   I don’t mean that the date – the thirteenth of December, 1862 – or the occasion – the Battle of Fredericksburg – are particularly significant, just the war.


Was the War between the American States the last pre-modern war or the first modern war?


If you ask historians that question you will find that they are divided on the answer.   If it is not obvious enough already, note that “modern” here is the designation of a kind of warfare not of the age in which a war took place.   1861-1865 was far closer to the end of the Modern Age than the beginning and so it would be absurd to even ask the question with the chronological sense of the term in mind.   The case for the war being the first modern war rests upon it having been fought with more technologically complex arms and means of communication and transportation than previous wars.   The case against it rests upon the even greater gap in technological complexity that exists between this war and the earliest wars of the twentieth century – World War I saw the first use of armoured motorized land vehicles, i.e., tanks, the Italo-Turkish War which preceded World War I by three years was the first war to employ airplanes, etc.


Regardless of the answer to the question, it is apparent that General Lee’s words were stated during a war that was transitional between the old kind of horses and swords warfare that had been a part of human life since ancient times and the high tech warfare of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.    Now think about what that means with regards to the quotation.    If General Lee was right to say “war is so terrible” in 1862, how much more true is this in the world of 2022 in which devices that can kill thousands of people at once can be dropped for airborne vehicles or shot from launchers a continent away?


Twentieth century technological development by making war so much more of an evil than ever before made the ethics of war more necessary than before.   Ethics is serious thought and discussion about human acts and habitual behaviour considered with regards to their rightness and wrongness.   Every aspect of war has been examined over the course of the long historical ethical discussion of war but it has long been apparent that the chief questions to be considered are two, the question of rightness as it pertains to going to war and the question of rightness as it pertains to conducting warfare.   These are the questions expressed in Latin by the phrases jus ad bellum and jus in bello respectively.   Perversely, at the same time that the development of weapons of mass destruction, rapid delivery systems, and everything that makes it now possible to wipe out entire populations from across the world with the push of a button made the ethics restraining and limiting war more important, these ethics were being subverted.


Essentially the complex ethical questions of jus ad bellum and jus in bello have been displaced by an over simplistic question of good and evil.   Not the metaphysical and theological question of good and evil.   It is an ontological question – an ontological question, not the ontological question of good and evil, although those asking it demonstrate by doing so that they have much in common with an ancient sect that answered the latter in a way that would be considered heretical by the standards of orthodox Christianity.  It is the question of who the good guys and who the bad guys are.   Or, more precisely, just the question of who the bad guys are because the sort of people who ask this question always assume that they themselves are the good guys.  Again, the way this question is asked it is a matter of ontology rather than ethics.   The good guys are not judged to be the good guys because of the rightness of the actions, the bad guys are not judged to be the bad guys because of the wrongness of their actions.   The good guys are the good guys because that is who they are.   The bad guys are the bad guys because that is who they are.   Identify the good guys and the bad guys and you don’t have to trouble yourself with the question of whether you are justified in going to war with X.    Of course you are.   You are the good guy, X is the bad guy, therefore you are always right to go to war with X, just as he is always wrong to go to war with you or anyone else.   Similarly, you need not be bothered with the question of how you are to rightly conduct war with X.   Since he is the bad guy, you as the good guy, are justified in taking whatever means are necessary to destroy him, whereas everything he does is by definition a war crime.


The sort of thinking described in the above paragraph has been prominently on display in the rhetoric of war promoters in every conflict that Western governments have been involved in since the end of the Cold War.    Think about the terms in which Saddam Hussein was discussed in 1991 and again in 2003.   Or Slobodon Milošević from 1993 to 1999.   Or the Taliban in 2001.   Or Vladimir Putin for the last twenty years but especially at the present moment.   It was never enough to say that we had such and such a grievance against these and were prepared to go to war to obtain redress of that grievance.   In each case the foe was depicted as an avatar – avatar in the Hindu sense of the word, i.e., a manifestation of a divine being rather than the gaming sense of a picture accompanying a profile – of evil.   Only so could we justify to ourselves doing everything in our power to destroy them.   The same sort of thinking was evident in the rhetoric of both sides during the Cold War.   Before that the Allies engaged in this sort of thinking in World War II, at least after the Americans joined.  


World War II seems to be where it all began.   Germany at the time was under the control of a man who was undoubtedly evil in the adjectival sense of the word described in the fifth paragraph of this essay.   This made it easier for our leaders to paint him as the avatar, the embodiment, the incarnation of evil, even though one of the Big Three, Joseph Stalin was just as evil and the same kind of evil as Hitler.    The fact that this depiction of our wartime nemesis persists to this day, almost eighty years after his defeat, itself shows that a major change in thinking had taken place from one World War to the next.   Sure, there had been plenty of propagandistic atrocity stories told about the Germans in World War I but people knew better then than to take these as Gospel truth and most of them were debunked soon after the war ended.   By contrast, to this day questioning elements of the accounts of what went on in German-occupied Poland during World War II can land one with a hefty gaol sentence in Europe and potentially destroy one’s career, reputation, and life in general in North America.    The contrast is that much stronger when we take into consideration the facts that it was the Soviets who drove the Nazis out of Poland, Poland remained a Soviet puppet state until late in the 1980s, until then we had to rely to a large extent upon the Soviets or Soviet-controlled sources for much of our information about what had happened in Poland, that the Soviets were never known for their trustworthiness and that the Cold War which began almost immediately after World War II ended hardly provided them with an incentive to be more truthful.   Even more to the point, however, was the fact that after the Casablanca Conference in 1943 the American president at the time, who was even more crippled morally and intellectually than he was physically, announced that the Allies would be seeking “unconditional surrender”.   From a strategic point of view this was a particularly idiotic thing to do as Sir Winston Churchill, whom FDR had not consulted before making this announcement and was forced to go along with it or present the world with the image of a divided alliance, knew full well, because it sent the message to the enemy that he must dig in and fight to the very last because he can expect nothing in the way of mercy if he loses.   From the ethical point of view that concerns us here, it is the sort of demand that one would only make if he saw him and his enemy as fighting not a traditional war but a cosmic and apocalyptic one between good and evil, which is precisely how that maniac with a Messiah complex saw it.   How Sir Winston was able to stomach being forced to cooperate with this man and Stalin for so long is one of the great mysteries of the Second World War. 


In one last detail of the Second World War we find the technological transformation of warfare itself into an evil of exponentially greater magnitude and the subversion of the traditional ethics of war by the Hollywood formula of good guys versus bad guys coinciding into one.   By the end of the war the Americans had found a way to harness the power of the atom to develop bombs with destructive power that had to be measured in kilotons each of which is the equivalent of a thousand tons of TNT.   Then they used two of them, one on Hiroshima, Japan and the other on Nagasaki, Japan, in August of 1945.   The death toll, almost entirely civilian, was somewhere between one and three hundred thousand.   To date this is the only time nuclear weapons have been used in war.   While some continue to repeat the claim that the death toll would have been higher had they not been used, this is utter nonsense.   After the defeat of Germany Japan began reaching out to General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Allied forces in the Pacific Theatre, indicating their willingness to surrender and asking no concessions other than the ones they were eventually granted.   Had Roosevelt’s successor Truman followed the advice given him by former American president Herbert Hoover – drop “unconditional surrender”, promise that Emperor Hirohito could keep his throne and would not be dragged before the kind of Soviet-style kangaroo court that the Allies had in mind for the German leaders (see the eighth and final profile in John F. Kennedy and Ted Sorenson’s Profiles in Courage, 1956, for an account of Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft’s brave and lonely opposition to the Nuremberg Trials on the grounds that they abandoned the principles of justice long accepted in the English speaking world, even the United States, for those of the Soviet regime) they could have negotiated peace without becoming the only country to have ever committed the barbarous act of dropping nuclear bombs on cities (see Freedom Betrayed by Herbert Hoover, edited by George H. Nash and published in 2011, long after Hoover’s death).


Could this ugly episode have taken place had the development of weapons that could wipe out entire civilian populations not occurred at precisely the moment that those who had developed these weapons had thrown out traditional thinking on the ethics of war and adopted the insane notion, evident in their “unconditional surrender” policy, that because they were the “good guys” they could do whatever they wanted to the “bad guys”?


Indeed, it is possible that the development of these weapons is itself the explanation of the abandonment of serious thought about the ethics of war for such a shallow, clownish, Hollywood substitute.   Discussion of the weaponizing of atomic energy had begun before the Manhattan Project or, for that matter, World War II itself and was perhaps the inevitable consequence of atomic research.   It might be worth noting, in this context, the famous 1869 conversation between Marcellin Berthelot, Claude Bernard, and the Goncourt brothers, Edmond and Jules, that the latter recorded in their Journal, in which it was predicted that a century of research in physical and chemical science would bring man to a knowledge of the atom at which point God would come down from heaven, swinging His big set of keys, and telling mankind it is “closing time”.  Modern science had placed mankind on a course that led to the development of weapons of such destructive potential that could not possibly be used in accordance with traditional concepts of justice in war.   Therefore those intent on using them had to replace the latter with something else.  


Think about how the World War II paradigm has been applied to all subsequent conflicts.  Adolf Hitler continues to be described in terms similar to those that in traditional Christian eschatology are applied to the Antichrist.   In traditional Christian eschatology, however, the Antichrist, singular, is the final antichrist and the final tyrant, the most evil man to ever walk the face of the earth, a man so fully possessed by the devil that he is basically the incarnation of Satan.   In traditional Christian eschatology there is only one Antichrist, capital A.   His defeat marks the end of history and the Second Coming of Christ.   The point is that if Hitler, evil as he was, was so bad as to warrant this kind of description not only in the propaganda of the day but long after he was gone he would be a historical anomaly.   Yet every foe we have fought since him has been depicted as the “new Hitler”.   Could this be explained by the fact that the genie of nuclear weaponry cannot be put back into its bottle and so this sort of rhetoric has constantly been repeated just in case a “justification” for using it is needed?


Today, the Hollywood paradigm of these are the “good guys”, these are the “bad guys”, whatever the former do is right, whatever the latter do is wrong, has been projected even onto conflicts of the past which predated it.    Think about the predictable response of the academic woke to the quotation from Robert E. Lee discussed at the beginning of this essay.   The woke look at the War Between the States from 1861 to 1865 as a war between the “good” North and the “bad” South, basing this entirely upon what they think they know about the aspect of the conflict that pertained to slavery and race.   This was certainly not how the war was viewed at the time, even by the most self-righteous of abolitionists on the Union side.   Nor is this how the conflict was viewed in the period of the generation or so after in which one of the most admirable acts of reconciling a deep societal divide took place as all Americans came to a tacit agreement to honour the heroes of both sides of that war.  That the woke who spend so much of their time in fomenting division between people of different skin colours and ethnic backgrounds see nothing but “racism” and “white supremacy” in such a healing compromise speaks volumes about themselves.


How contrary the Hollywood paradigm is to the attitude of the ancients!   Homer’s epic poem the Iliad, composed in the eight century BC, is primarily the story of a falling out that occurred between Agamemnon and Achilles towards the end of the Trojan War.   The Trojan War was the ten year siege of Troy, the capital of the kingdom of Ilium in what is now Turkey, by the Mycenean Greek alliance, that resulted in the total destruction of the city.   Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, was the leader of the Greek side, and Achilles, prince of the Myrmidons, was its greatest hero.  The Ionian poet Homer was himself Greek.   Homer’s poetry was instrumental in shaping the idea of a “Greek” identity that transcended that of the Athenian, Spartan, Cretan, or any of the countless other political identities of the autonomous city-states of which Greece then and for centuries after consisted.   The individual that he most consistently depicts as admirable in his Iliad, however, was not a Greek at all but a Trojan, Hector, the son of Troy’s king Priam, and brother of the far less commendable Paris whose behaviour started the conflict in the first place.   Hector is depicted as the model whom every would-be hero should aspire to emulate.   By contrast Achilles, the protagonist of the story, sits out half of it in a sulky fit then, when he re-enters the battle in a fit of rage over the death of Patrocles, proceeds to desecrate the body of the fallen Hector in a way that brings him a swift rebuke from the gods.   Homer shows him at his best at the very end of the story when he shows clemency to Priam, allows the Trojan king to reclaim the body of his son, and promises to hold back the Greeks until the Trojans have had the time to conduct a proper burial.    Herodotus of Halicarnassus, a fifth century BC Greek who was born and raised in the Persian Empire and became the “Father of History” by writing the account of the wars between the Greeks and the Persians saw no need to demonize the kings of Persia in his history.   Thucydides, who wrote the history of the Peloponnesian War fought between Athens and Sparta later in that same century, a war in which he had been an Athenian general, was more sympathetic to Sparta than his own city.  So was Xenophon, the friend and disciple of Socrates – the only one of these other than Plato whose accounts of their master remain extant – best remembered for his account of his mercenary service under Persian prince Cyrus the Younger, who picked up the history where Thucydides left off.   The Romans were far less generous to their enemies than the Greeks were but they did not demonize them the way the Hollywood-fed West now does.   The greatest enemy that ancient Rome faced in her long rise to empire was Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who from his base in Carthagian-controlled Hispania, marched his massive army of infantry, cavalry, and battle elephants – the pre-modern version of tanks – north to the Rhône valley, before moving south through the Alps to invade Italy where he defeated Rome and her allies in a series of battles taking much of Italy, although ultimately failing to take Rome herself.   Hannibal was the son of Hamilcar Barca, the Carthaginian general Rome had defeated in the first of the Punic Wars.  When Hannibal was nine Hamilcar Barca took him to the temple of Moloch and holding him over the fire made him swear eternal hatred and enmity to Rome.   Yet even he is not depicted by Livy or Polybius in the sort of terms with which we speak of Hitler but was rather spoken of respectfully as a worthy, if mercifully defeated, foe.


Some might point to the Old Testament as a counterexample to the above.   While it is true that the Old Testament repeatedly speaks of military defeat as punishment for wickedness this wickedness is understood in terms of the actions of those so punished not the fundamental nature of their being.   This can be seen in the fact that far more often than not it is God’s own people who are on the receiving end of this punishment.   In their initial conquest of the Promised Land, it is true, they are commanded to utterly destroy the seven nations of Canaan and to show no mercy in doing so and this is explicitly tied to specific sins of those nations.   Pretty much everyone else in the region was guilty of these same sins, however, and there was no license given to Old Testament Israel to conquer all of these and similarly wipe them out.   It was not merely a matter of punishing sin.   God did not want His own covenant people to be led away into idolatry, child-sacrifice, and the other abominations of Canaan.   They, of course, failed to follow His instructions and very quickly fell into just these sins leading to the cycle that repeated itself over and over through their history – they fall into idolatry, etc., God raises up a scourge to punish them by military conquest, they repent, God sends them a deliverer, repeat, with the whole process intensifying until the Assyrians and Babylonians not only conquer the Northern and Southern kingdoms respectively, but carry them away out of the land as well.   There is nothing in this that would support God’s people holding the view that the world is divided into “good guys” and “bad guys” with they themselves as God’s people being the “good guys” and everyone else, the nations that they conquered and the nations that conquered them, being the “bad guys”.  


When we look at the long ethical discussion of justice as it relates to war from its beginnings in the ancient times just considered through medieval Christian theology right up to the early twentieth century it is apparent that the goal of those engaged in this discussion and hence the purpose of the discussion itself has been to place limits on war so as to minimize the death and destruction it causes.   It is equally apparent that substituting puerile “good guys” versus “bad guys” talk for this discussion has as its purpose the opposite end – that of the removal of such limits as impediments to the use of the new technology of war that makes it easier to wreak more destruction and death from further away.


It is difficult to think of anything that more completely puts the lie to the Modern doctrine of progress than this.   What we call “advancement” and “progress” in the technology of war all consists of making war more lethal and destructive while removing those who wreak this death and destruction further from it.   When wars were fought with swords you had to kill your enemy from within the reach of his own sword.   The fighting therefore was much more fair in the pre-woke sense of the word and the virtues traditionally associated with warfare, most especially courage and strength, were indispensable.   Fighting in such a war was a way to test and prove these virtues in oneself and this is probably what inspired the second part of General Lee’s quotation, the part about us growing too fond of war.   If the terribleness of war from the first part of the quotation means that war is an evil, its value in testing courage, strength, and what used to be called manliness before toxic femininity outlawed that concept which drew so many to it meant that it was not an unmixed evil.   When guns were introduced men could kill their enemies from a distance.   There was still a testing of skill – who had the better aim, who could shoot faster – and courage involved.   It was a step that increased the distance between the soldier and the death he wreaked but two soldiers aiming rifles at each other from across a contested field are still a lot closer to two knights fighting with swords and lances than someone sitting behind a computer somewhere miles away, perhaps half the world away, from the buildings he destroys and the hundreds or potentially thousands of people he kills by the press of a button.   That is the generic “he” by the way.   I have seen those who regard this as “progress” celebrate the fact that it eliminates the “sexism” of war because women are just as capable of sitting behind computer consoles and pressing buttons as men.    That puts a whole new spin on Rudyard Kipling’s “the female of the species is more deadly than the male”.    


By making war so much more deadly and destructive and so much more remote from those who start it, technological “progress” has made it virtually impossible to adhere to traditional jus in bello standards, such as minimizing harm to non-combatants.  These are sometimes still offered lip service, of course, but this has increasingly become a joke.   Paradoxically, the very thing that makes it so hard to adhere to these standards also makes it all the more necessary that we do so.   This means that it is that much more important to follow jus ad bellum standards.   We cannot do this so long as we continue to follow the Hollywood neo-Manichaeism that has prevailed since World War II.   The sooner we abandon this modern take on an ancient heresy the better.