Up on the Downs

I have been posting about the creation of modern myths about paganism, human sacrifice and other dark rural deeds in twentieth century Britain. Throughout, I have emphasized how artificial these ideas are, in the sense of being literary or artistic creations, commonly reinforced by the growth of sensationalist tabloid media. Many of the works in [Read More…]

1916 and Jewish History

The centennial of the First World War means that we have plenty of grim events to commemorate, and none more so than in this present year. 1916 was the point at which the war moved into the full-scale industrial mass production of death. We are already reading the accounts of the horrors of Verdun and [Read More…]

War, Faith and Superstition

This year, we are of course commemorating the centennial of the First World War, and specifically the titanic battles of Verdun and the Somme. My 2014 book The Great and Holy War discusses the religious aspects of the war, but one thing that really struck me about that theme was the very large range of [Read More…]

Under God

Don’t blame the book, blame the reviewer. Kevin M. Kruse has a new book called One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, 2015). It’s a scholarly and well-researched work, on a significant topic. Kruse’s argument is that much of what we think of today as the fundamental institutions and ideologies [Read More…]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR: A WORLD ON THE CROSS

In my book The Great and Holy War, I write at some length about the propaganda imagery of the war, and how thoroughly it drew on Christian imagery, especially Christ himself, and the Crucifixion. Posters and cartoons depicted whole nations as the victims of crucifixion. Usually they were depicted in the form of women, and [Read More…]

WARS HOLY AND UNHOLY

I have been posting a lot recently on the topic of holy war and crusade in the context of the First World War. In that context, I read a piece by Donald R. McClarey posted at the American Catholic. It includes a quote that demands a “discuss!” following it. The piece is called “Benedict XV, [Read More…]

BUCHAN’S POWER HOUSE

I have been posting on some books that appeared during the First World War – books by Wells, Moore, and Machen – but one contribution from that time was one of the most daring and, we might even say, prophetic. Amazingly in light of his later reputation, the author in question was John Buchan. His [Read More…]

THE GHOSTS OF WARS TO COME

As we commemorate the First World War in coming months, we are going to hear a great many myths and mis-statements. Although it certainly is not the most pernicious, let me just correct one of the more persistent. Recently, the Weekly Standard presented an interesting review by J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who began, “Back then, [Read More…]

MACHEN’S TERROR

I recently published the book The Great and Holy War, about the supernatural dimensions of the First World War. In connection with that project, I have posted on some of the major books of that era, including works by George Moore and H. G. Wells. I am arguing that the war’s astonishing violence inspired both [Read More…]

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

Following on from my book The Great and Holy War, I have been working on the religious and apocalyptic aspects of the First World War, and have recently posted on some major popular culture items from that time. I find myself concentrating on 1916, the year of Mr Britling Sees It Through and The Brook [Read More…]