WWI Then and Now

WWI Then and Now September 13, 2014

A really stunning collection of photos that show scenes from WWI and what those places look like today. Here’s 1914-1917 and 1917-1918.

WWI was the first act of a massive two act drama of civilizational suicide by a formerly Christian culture. WWII was the second act. Post-Christian Europe is a culture that has never really gotten over what it did to itself. I sometimes wonder if we, who are rapidly de-Christianizing, will be the center of some future act of civilizational suicide and the center of the gravity for Christianity will move decisively to China or the global south. One thing I know: when a nation rejects the God of life it chooses the prince of death.

But I also know that God is merciful and repentance is always an option.

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  • Elmwood

    didja know that his Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons–who wielded much power in the American church–supported Americas fight in WWI, against the wishes of Pope Benedict XV?

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    The suicide of the Modern West began before 1914; or at least, it began to surface in the arts about twenty years prior.

    • kenofken

      I’m a post-Christian myself, so I don’t bear the angst Mark and others do, but the historian in me says you’d probably have to move the beginning of the end back to the Enlightenment, or even the Reformation.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        No, both of those were episodes within the Modern Ages. For example: one of the markers of the Modern Ages was the rise of the nation-state and one of the tools in this rise was the Reformation, which broke the Church up into national churches controlled by the kings and dukes. Henry VIII outright nationalized the Church within his borders, while the French and Spanish pushed Concordats by which their kings arrogated the power to appoint bishops and to censor encyclicals. Others, like the Duke of Saxony, sponsored one or another sectarian. The end result was “Established Churches” within each nation-state.

        But the Nation-State has been fading in the face of the People or the Folk as well as in the face of supra-national organizations.

  • Mark R

    The various churches brought discredit upon themselves, especially Protestant bodies, in being tools of their home governments — the Orthodox (to which I am normally well-disposed) as well, who replicated in Southern and Eastern Europe the sort of crown and throne arrangement in Protestant countries — quite unlike their status in the Ottoman Empire. In Catholic majority states, the Catholic Church was at outs with their governments, like Italy and France. In mixed Protestant/Catholic Germany the fact that nationalism was played up so much attests to the fact the faith was a weaker element in unifying populations (who were never that unified really).
    I don’t know how you can lay the ultimate blame at the Enlightenment or the Reformation, since the causes of this war involved an area outside of their influence for cenuries, the former Ottoman Balkans, other than that Austrian monarchs and administrators were just bad rulers. Alliances cut across religious differences, yet monarchs who were, what, first cousins were at enmity with each other.Pinning evil on mere ideas pays a disservice to the complexities of reality, the mixed motivations of human agents and lets the Evil One off the hook.

    • Joseph

      Because the Enlightenment and Reformation legitimised unjust revolution and warfare. It made narcissism acceptable. The world wars were simply a manifestation of the cultures that had been infected with that way of thinking.
      But ultimately it boils down to a common maxim that Mark Shea uses repeatedly: “Sin makes you stupid”. If it wasn’t the Enlightenment and the Reformation, man’s sinful nature after the Fall would’ve found another catalyst for human misery and slavery.

  • Mark R

    It is amazing how so many Catholics are Whig theory historians in reverse.