Let’s apply Just War Theory

As Congress and the nation as a whole decide on whether to attack Syria, let us take up the exercise of applying the guidelines for starting a “Just War,” according to Christian ethicists going back to St. Augustine.

The criteria are listed after the jump.  How would they apply to the current proposal to use cruise missiles to punish Syria for using chemical weapons?

Even if a war would be just by these criteria doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea, but let’s see to what extent these ancient principles can offer guidance in a contemporary problem. [Read more…]

America’s wars are for virtue

Inconvenient truths from Henry Allen:

The United States doesn’t fight for land, resources, hatred, revenge, tribute, religious conversion — the usual stuff. Along with the occasional barrel of oil, we fight for virtue. [Read more…]

The Protestant work ethic

Our post in honor of Vocation Day, which used to be called Labor Day. . . .

Max Weber, one of the founders of modern sociology, credited the doctrine of vocation for the rise of  the modern economy in his 1920 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Now, there are  problems with Weber’s thesis and his approach, as scholars have been noting.  Theologically, he emphasizes Calvin’s doctrine of vocation, which stresses your job, rather than Luther’s, which includes how you make your living but also covers marriage, parenthood, and citizenship.  Weber also says that success at your work was seen as a way to convince yourself of your election (which I’m not sure Calvinists actually believed), while Luther sees the purpose of all vocations as love and service to one’s neighbor.  Luther sees vocation in light of the Gospel, so that such love is a fruit of faith.  Vocation isn’t about the value of your own works, since God is working through you in your calling.

Anyway, Weber popularized the notion of the “Protestant work ethic.” [Read more…]

Triumph of the Will

In my book Postmodern Times, I write about how the will has replaced reason in contemporary thought.  In my book Modern Fascism, I discuss  the great filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s celebration of Hitler, The Triumph of the Will, and argue that the phrase encapsulates the philosophy of Fascism. I also contrasted this worldview with that of Luther, who wrote The Bondage of the Will.

I am pleased to see R. R. Reno discussing the same topic, how today the will–what I want, what I desire–trumps everything. [Read more…]

“The least untruthful manner”

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, had been asked in a Congressional committee if the U.S. government was collecting data on millions of Americans.  He said, no.  But now with news about PRISM and other data mining programs, he is being accused of perjury.  But what I want to draw attention to is his defense and a great phrase he has entered into the English lexicon:

“I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying no.”

[Read more…]

A Patriot or a Traitor?

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who has been working with an intelligence contractor, revealed himself to be the source of reports about the government’s mass monitoring of telephones and the internet. After the jump, read about the cloak-and-dagger details from the perspective of the reporter to whom he leaked the classified information.

Do you consider him to be a traitor for giving aid and comfort to the enemy by disrupting a major anti-terrorism program?  Or do you consider him to be a patriot for exposing major threats to constitutional principles and American liberties? [Read more…]