War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, y’all

Yesterday, Matthew posted a story about posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Michael Monsoor who sacrificed himself in order to save the lives of his brothers in arms. Matthew also says, correctly in my mind, that such self sacrifice and love transcend opinions about the war. It is a light in the darkness. Noble. Honorable.

Not so for the folks at Vox-Nova. For Morning’s Minion, the prosaic lyrics (above) from the well known anti-war song are gospel. Literally.

Mornings Minion writes that no good can ever come of war. NO good.

In the zeal for military force, they often forget that war is a last resort, and is therefore–by definition– a sign of failure. And, following from this, no good can come of something that derives from failure and defeat.

When I first read this I naturally presumed that this was rhetorical hyperbole designed to highlight the horrific nature of war. It turns out that the benefit of the doubt is not warranted in this case. No, he proposes that the Nothing in the Edwin Starr song is a literal nothing. There is no nobility in it.

In fact, not only is there no nobility in it, but he argues that the participation in the defense of your nation is such a grave sin that soldiers should be denied communion. Yes, let me say it again. Soldiers who participate in war should be denied communion.

To close, I would remind everybody of the wise counsel once given by St. Basil of Caesarea. In trying to square Christian teachings with the miltary profession, be noted that soliders who kill in war should not be treated in the same way as those guilty of homocide. But they are not off the book either: “it is well to counsel that those whose hands are not clean only abstain from communion for three years.” I think it would be a good idea to resurrect this teaching, so show that the Church must stand apart from a culture that glorifies military service.

This distorted perspective is a lot of things, but Catholic is certainly not one of them. Let us first look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2310 …Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.

Honorable. Contribute to the common good. This is what the Church teaches. Of course, the public authorities responsible for making or avoiding war have a very grave responsibility to avoid it wherever possible. But the soldiers who fight in our defense can do so with honor and very often do.

As to the notion that no good can derive from failure and defeat, this is decidedly un-Christian. I would remind the good folks over at Vox-Nova of something called the crucifixion. From this failure, from this defeat, from this intrinsically evil act, the Lord wrought our salvation.

War is most certainly a failure. But to deny soldiers who honorably carry out their duty in defense of their country communion would be an even greater failure.