World War I at 100: New books examine the battle of beliefs behind the ‘Great War’

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(RNS) “If you do not understand the messianic and apocalyptic imagery used by all sides, and how wide-ranging those images were among all classes, all groups, all nations, you cannot hope to understand the war," scholar Philip Jenkins says.

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  • Lles Nats

    Very nice article.

    I see so many direct parallels to today. Its really sorta sad. I wish we could do better.

  • Fran

    Jesus was a promoter of peace and love among humans, and not of hate and war. He instructed us to return the sword to its place and acknowledged that those who use the sword will perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52).

    Armageddon will be the war to end all wars on earth and leads to the millenial rule by God’s son, Jesus.

    As prophecied at Micah 4:3, “He (God) will render judgment among many peoples and set matters straight respecting many nations far away. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more.”

    What a grand blessing to look forward to!!!

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  • Frenelbus

    Fran -You may also look forward to Santa coming.

  • Wally Right

    “They did not repent of their murders”
    Revelation 9:21

    Another Yeshu`a from the one in the Bible is a false Christ and most people throughout history have worshipped one of these false images. Same today, perhaps even more so.

  • Fran

    There is no Santa, but there is Almighty God (Yahweh or Jehovah) and his son, Jesus. They will both make the earth the best place to live.

  • Tree

    Missing from this analysis are the reasons why WWI and WWII were so different: they were fought by different Generations. WWI was fought by the Lost Generation (with generational attitude similar to today’s Gen X). The social environment was similar to our 1980’s to 2000’s – social institutions unraveling, a turn for answers to Right Wing Authoritarian religion, stupid little wars that incinerate lives and treasure. WWII was fought by the GI Generation, who rejected authoritarian Fundamentalist dogmas of fear and hate in favor of secular idealism. No sky fairies on the battlefield for them. They saw too clearly the fruits of right wing authoritarian religion in every country where Fascism was embraced. The Gen Ys are similarly rejecting the Culture Wars in favor of secular solutions. History may not exactly repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.

  • JCF

    “Santa”: Bishop of Nicholas of Myra (in present day Turkey). He was a real person, Fran.

    “there is Almighty God (Yahweh or Jehovah) and his son, Jesus”

    What religion are you, Fran? Not Christian, obviously (or else you would believe that Jesus IS God: the Second Person of the Trinity).

  • Atheist Max


    “Armageddon will be the war to end all wars….”

    Thank You for displaying the depravity of Christianity at its core –
    The fundamental theory that one may be completely absolved of all responsibility for ones provocations.

    You are a slave to the sickest, most disgraceful theory ever invented by men;
    A God who will destroy – for your personal benefit – all non-Christians.

    You foolishly ignore that WWI was the war that ended ALL OF CHRISTENDOM!
    WWI was the war of Christians, For Christians, By Christians TO DESTROY ALL CHRISTIANS !!

    WWI proved that Christianity is COMPLETELY capable
    of blowing itself up!

    CHRISTIANITY has no need for non-Christians to threaten them at all!

  • Atheist Max


    “there is Almighty God (Yahweh or Jehovah) and his son, Jesus”

    Writing something as a fact, and actually having it exist in fact, are two different things.

    You have no evidence of a god or a jesus.

  • Atheist Max


    Religion must die in order for fascism to die.
    Authoritarian Fascism is Religion – and Religion is Authoritarian Fascism.

    The only hope for the world is the spread of humanism with its emphasis on the welfare of people and practical solutions for societies.

  • Jamie Townsend

    What about “I come not to bring Peace but a sword”?
    How do you turn that into a peacemaker?

  • luey

    Agree that religion is to blame for many problems in this world but silly to think we can trust in humans to make things better most with good intentions once with any kind of power turn corrupt

  • gilhcan

    Great observations about all wars, including WW I and all the wars since WW II, including the “Cold War,” Korea, Viet Nam, “9/11,” our invasion of Iraq based on the Bush/Cheney spread of lying “beliefs,” the Putin-led attempts to steal back part of Ukraine, and the Israeli invasion of the West Bank that is taking place right now.

    I do not think that the degree that other factors than religion are participant keeps wars from being wars of religion. It may be a matter of blunt degree, but when you consider masses of people large enough to be war combatants, I do not see how you can separate religious beliefs as if they had no participation.

    Even the presumed non-believer Adolph Hitler–and never allow the behavior of some non-believers to color the attitudes of all non-believers, any more than the behavior of some believers should color the attitudes of all believers–even the presumed non-believer Adolph Hitler was “religious” in the blind and passionate way he pursued his race convictions. Those beliefs/convictions were religious because they had no basis in fact.

    The same can be attributed to Ayn Rand and the selfish greed involved in her fictional, pseudo-philosophy of economics. Those were “religious” beliefs of a nature that did not involve any gods, just as were Hitler’s race convictions.

    When we consider the beliefs of people that have no basis in fact, everything is religious. That is a vital aspect of all the evil that has been part of religion and/or religious practice throughout history. Consider the cruel, ugly attitudes of the “religious right” in this country today. Consider the constant contention between Israel and it neighboring islamists ever since the State of Israel was instituted in the late 1940s.

    Belief is whatever cannot be substantiated in fact and replicated with the same results in practice. Until the time arrives for individuals or groups when they realize the difference between belief and fact and behave toward others based on fact, not personal beliefs, at least on beliefs that are informed by facts, we will have wars.

    Since we have always had wars, and wars have always been based on unsubstantiated beliefs by one side or the other of those at war, one wonders if there can ever be peace. Can there ever be a “Great War” except in the size of the atrocities? Can there ever be a “War to End All Wars?”

    War is not peace. Until we face the evil aspect of belief that leads to war, belief will be an intrinsic part of war.

  • gilhcan

    The horror of your error is considering ancient, mythological writings in the same vein as recorded historical facts, scientific facts that can be replicated, substantiated sociological facts, and the demonstrable realities of psychology.

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