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I appreciate Ross’ comments about war , as well as Robert’s , that love of enemies, and being your brother’s keeper, means setting limits, and that those limits have to, at some point or another, be backed with force. I think that’s the part of the argument that people instinctively get and respond to whole-heartedly.

But there is this other side of “do not resist one who is evil” (Matt. 5:39), and I frankly don’t know how the two are supposed to fit together. (I’m not a fan of just war, for reasons too time-consuming to get into.) Since my side of the street is virtually deserted, and there’s very little danger that President Bush is going to slap his forehead and say “She’s right!”, I keep trying to hold up these clues and reminders from the scriptural and early Christian witness on these issues. I think it’s not just a matter of shrewdly calculating whether you have the strength to win the fight (as the Jews and martyrs did not), but that war is inherently hellish, bad for the heart and spirit, even when the cause is considered noble.

One way that war is hell, and something that may be a clue to some mysterious spiritual truth, is that soldiers who kill are much more traumatized by that than by any injuries they sustain. God has put something in us that revolts at killing, even in a cause we believe is just.

Rachel MacNair, quoted in this New Yorker article , has written a fascinating and scholarly book, Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress , on the trauma experienced by those who do violence, even when it is what they have been trained and praised for doing. She examines not just soldiers and police officers, but also abortion practitioners.

Joseph, good to hear these sentiments from John Rhys-Davies. I was able to be in a small-group interview with him, during publicity for The Two Towers . I was impressed by his, for want of a better word, sobriety. He told us he learned that on every movie he needed to devote all his spare time to a hobby, because otherwise it was too easy to fall into the party life every night after shooting. On LOTR, he had concentrated on boating and purchased a boat.

Of course, the threat of being out-bred is least likely among serious Christians. I was delighted to learn last week that my eighth grandchild is on the way. What an enjoyable way to wage a (culture) war.

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