Saturday, February 24, 2007

Quotation I'm Currently Thinking About, 2/24/07

"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than about peace, more about killing than we know about living."

The great American and great Missourian Omar Bradley

24 Comments:

Blogger Jim said...

That rocks.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Quite a good sentiment for 1948. There had just been two world wars in which scores of millions died, and the Soviets had just months before blockaded Berlin, creating yet another world crisis.

By 2007, the west had somehow made it through its age of nuclear brinksmanship, done a lot of living and not nearly as much killing or dying, but a culture that places martyrdom above life itself is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons.

Bradley's words should be sent immediately to Teheran, as well as the UN. Somebody's not with the plan.

(The part about God in Bradley's original remarks is discarded as unuseful today, and perhaps it is, things being what they are and Iran being what it is. However, they are, ironically, also an attack on the modernity that discards that God by cherrypicking his quote.)

"With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents. Our knowledge of science has clearly outstripped our capacity to control it. We have many men of science, but too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon On The Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death.

The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. This is our twentieth century's claim to distinction and to progress."

-- General Omar Bradley, November 10, 1948

3:29 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Omar Bradley:
"We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon On The Mount."

Jesus Christ (in the Sermon on the Mount)
"I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Those who embrace "pre-emptive" war (much less "preventive war") have clearly rejected Christ's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.

Heck of a thing to do to one's favorite philosopher!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Hey, I hearya, man. Very complicated. My post was to open braindoors, not to close them.

But Jesus was also talking about you yourself in terms of He Himself. He let the bastards kill him and prohibited Peter from lifting his sword in defense.

Is that you? If mugged, would you tell me not to get your back? Let them kill you?

If so, that's cool (although I'd jump in anyway, sorry).

But more importantly, if you judge others by standards you don't hold yourself, such a charge of hypocrisy is also a hypocrisy in itself, the backswing of a double-edged sword.

The Torah had no problem with defending one's kith and kin, nor did it say the wicked should be spared from their justice. And Jesus also said He came to fulfill the law (meaning the Old Testament), not abolish it. When the Good Thief got crucified next to Christ, Jesus forgave him his sins, but never said it was a bum rap.

So, I understand the temptation to cherrypick bible quotes the same as they have cherrypicked Bradley's. It can win a debate on points, I suppose, but doesn't serve the dig for truth, which lies at least one layer below the surface.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, there's a sense in which I admire your consistency, Tom... I can usually expect that you'll turn even generic points to ponder to the service of a conservative political agenda...

Good point about Christianity and pacifism, Jim. Seems like the Big Man has spoken, but conservatives ain't listening.

In this, case, though, their failure to heed the word is justified, as pacifism is immoral.

Though one would think that they'd have taken at least something vaguely like an anti-gratuitous-war message from it...

But imagine how Jesus would be treated by the right if he were to show up in a different guise today. He'd just be another hippie pinko moonbat.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Oh, also:

Being right about the latter part doesn't mean he's right about the former part. That is, it's fairly obvious that we don't have "too few men of god."

Cripes, we'd be way better off with a lot fewer. Get rid of the Falwells and the OBLs and we'd be taking a big step in the right direction.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Myca said...

And Jesus also said He came to fulfill the law (meaning the Old Testament), not abolish it.

. . . which is why you keep kosher, refuse to shave your beard, and don't wear clothing made from mixed fabrics, right Tom?

See, it's not that I object to a particular interpretation of the Bible, it's just that when the interpretation is so obviously self-serving and hypocritical that I have a problem.

Did Jesus come to change the law or to fulfill it? "Well, It really depends on what I was feeling like doing anyhow."

---The former Myca

11:49 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The answer to your challenge is found in Acts 9:10 and Acts 10:9, Joshua. I don't mind discussing these things, but accusing me of being self-serving and hypocritical when it's you who don't have a clue is over the line, man.

And WS, I quite explained that Jesus' pacificism does not scriptually extend to letting bad guys kill your family. In fact, Omar Bradley killed bad guys for a living, so let's not get carried away here.

I was more thinking of Iran, and how Bradley might amend his 1948 remarks in context of today. For example, he was (reluctantly) in favor of going on to develop the H-bomb.

Quite relevant, WS, as was revisiting Bradley's entire quote. I don't think your charges against me are called for.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

TVD posts:
if you judge others by standards you don't hold yourself, such a charge of hypocrisy is also a hypocrisy in itself

In other words, TVD believes that if I don't share Mr. Bush's beliefs, then it is hypocrisy for me to tell others that the President's actions conflict with his stated believes. Only if I *do* share Mr. Bush's belief can I un-hypocritically point out his hypocrisy.

Or, hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, that's precisely what I meant, Jim. Just because Al Gore is a fat pig who burns energy in his home at 10 times the rate of normal people means zilch in the question of global warming.

As for the bible, as we have seen here, many of those who charge hypocrisy on the part of its adherents don't know the first damn thing about it. I wish they'd stop.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Tom, you're off base man.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The key word is "judge."

Looking forward to your Al Gore hypocrisy post.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.......

8:40 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Exactly.

But to clarify my point, based on our shoddy knowledge of Judaism, shall we condemn Joshua for not keeping kosher?

1:42 PM  
Blogger Myca said...

Tom, you're actually making my point. Yes, there are several things said in the New Testament that contradict things said in the Old Testament.

Jesus' extremely straightforward 'if someone hits you on one cheek, don't punch him in the nose, instead offer him the other cheek to hit' is one. 'It's cool to eat lobster' is another.

When a self-proclaimed Christian reviews these two incidents, and sees one as a reason to change OT law, and another as, "well, he didn't really mean it, and besides, he didn't come to change any of the laws," I see that at typical right wing hypocrisy.

A similar case could (and should) be made for the lack of Christian political focus on issues of caring for the poor, and the general Christian affection for those who show their piety off in public, both of which Jesus spoke out about specifically.

Of course, I can understand that there are people who would feel more compelled to vote against gay marriage than for a handout to the poor, but they shouldn't pretend that that makes them 'Christian.'

5:23 PM  
Blogger Myca said...

Jim said:

In other words, TVD believes that if I don't share Mr. Bush's beliefs, then it is hypocrisy for me to tell others that the President's actions conflict with his stated believes. Only if I *do* share Mr. Bush's belief can I un-hypocritically point out his hypocrisy.

It's weird, but I've seen this claim from other folks, and more than once.

Tom's right in that it's invalid as an attack on the underlying philosophy (I mean, that would just be an ad hom anyway, right?) but as a specific criticism, "you are not living up to your professed ethical system," can be valid whether I share that system or not.

Now, the charge itself might be invalid (maybe you DO live up to your professed ethical system), but I don't see any reason that there's a problem with the form.

Of course, I can understand why those who do not live up to their professed ethical systems would rather you did not point it out, too.

Yes, that's precisely what I meant, Jim. Just because Al Gore is a fat pig who burns energy in his home at 10 times the rate of normal people means zilch in the question of global warming.

That's true. It means zilch to the question of global warming.

It's not true that you can only criticize Al Gore for this if you are a strong believer in global warming.

---Josh

5:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Sean Hannity is making great hay over Al Gore's (to my mind indisputable) hypocrisy lately. A Democrat called Hannity's radio show and made some of the same points I'm making. If charging hypocrisy is your bag, go for it, if it's a sin in itself. wake me for it, though.

Not really my thing altho it's a great gotcha, and you seem to agree it's a sterile enterprise, ad hom at best. And morally speaking, judge not lest ye be judged, said Jesus, so neither is it my place to judge you for not keeping kosher, even if I knew much about Judaism, which I don't.

As for what "fulfilling" the Law means, this isn't the time or place, Josh, per Matthew 7:6, in, yes, the Sermon on the Mount of all places. ;)

To the issue of the poor, who will always be with us, Christian charity is boring, dog-bites-man, and doesn't make the news much. It's not all about plotting against gay marriage, and even if it were, Jesus would say that doesn't make anyone a better Christian.

(My own Philosraptor-inspired softer and more sincere side can be found here: "A Liberal Against Leftism, or: I am a scumbag.")

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course that hypocrisy is *indisputable* to your mind ONLY. Read this post, including comments by the familiar-to-this-blog Matt Weiner, and see if you still agree:

http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2007/02/26/6015

11:37 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, before Tom turned this into yet another liberal-vs.-conservative thing, I was merely saying that I thought this was a quote worth reflecting on. For everybody.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

So is the full context, which you inspired me to look up, WS.

If concern over Iran getting nukes is "conservative," perhaps you're right, sadly. In Omar Bradley's day, such concerns weren't.

As to the misrepresentations of the bible to make partisan points, I didn't start that, as the record shows.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Myca said...

As to the misrepresentations of the bible to make partisan points, I didn't start that, as the record shows.

Misrepresentations? Dude, the way you twist his words, you must really, really freaking hate Jesus. I don't even believe in him, and I try to at least get an accurate sense of what he says.

2:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I wasn't really referring to you, Joshua, but apparently, no, you don't. You use Jesus as a bludgeon, the same thing you criticize others for.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Myca said...

You use Jesus as a bludgeon, the same thing you criticize others for.

Not really, no.

There are plenty of situations (like, say, issues of sexual prohibition) where I think disobeying the Bible's take on a topic is the right and moral thing to do. I'm not saying that anyone's a bad person for doing so.

I'm just saying that if the Bible tells you to DO X, and you claim to base your life on the Bible, but you're consistently refusing to DO X because it doesn't fit with your political preferences, well there's a disconnect there.

It's no more or less a disconnect to be a pro-war Christian than it is to be a pro-choice Catholic. I agree with one point of view and disagree with another, but I'm not arguing the morality of it, just the consistency.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Joshua, it's that I think your objections aren't founded on actual Christian theology, but on the secular (and surface) representations of it that have crossed your transom. Much of what you view as inconsistency is only apparent inconsistency.

Much like as I learn about rabbinnical Judaism. What seems to be a rather simple and moralistic system has stood up to millennia of inquiry by the greatest minds in human history.

Hume and Kant are OK, but they couldn't wash Maimonides' feet.

9:17 PM  

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