A while ago I came across a guarded interpretation of John McCrae’s “IN FLANDERS FIELDS” in which the writer carefully insinuated that this example of “war poetry” was typical of the patriotic, nationalistic attitude that actually caused the two World Wars. In other words, McCrae and his poem, and all these “Remembrance Day” ceremonies , are militaristic propaganda that glorifies and encourages armed conflict. For instance, in the book The Great War and Modern Memory (1975), Paul Fussell writes that “words like vicious and stupid would not seem to go too far” to describe the final stanza of the poem, which calls for its readers to “take up our quarrel with the foe.”
Do modern students of history have any idea what was meant by McCrae and why his challenge was taken up by a whole generation of young men and women willing to fight? Have we all managed to revise history to the point where the past has become meaningless?
Certainly there were many instances in the past where men went mindlessly to war, but not all wars were fought by jarheads.
What seems to have been forgotten is that some men rallied to the defence of freedom. While some wars were started by nationalistic sabre-rattling ( for instance North Korea and Iran are now itching for a fight) and supposedly fought by ignorant stooges willing to fight and die to prove their country’s military superiority, some wars were actually fought to prevent dictators and despots from ruling the world. Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, were all ruthless dictators bent on bringing all men into submission to their psychotic schemes. The current example of ISIS and radical Islam is a case in point. Will these sadists be mollified by peace treaties? Their whole stated purpose is world domination.
J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings Saga was a fictionalized account of the driving force behind humanity’s history of warfare:
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
Only those ignorant of history believe the myth that all war is unnecessary and unjustifiable. They seem to be unaware of the fact that ruthless men armed to the teeth and bent to conquer, rule, and enslave, cannot be turned aside by reason. If only this were possible! If reason could have rid the world of tyrants, surely Jesus Christ could have ended war altogether 2000 years ago.
Which brings me to my point. Here in the West we are the inheritors of a freedom won for us by men and women who still understood the Judeo-Christian world view. (Watch the video, THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE.) And in that view, there will be no end to war, suffering, and death until the instigator is defeated. Who is this instigator? Only the Bible exposes him and his desire to dominate, in such suppressed and almost forgotten passages as 1 Peter 5:8 : “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
So when McCrae (who was a Christian) said, “take up our quarrel with the foe” he didn’t mean the Germans, he meant the REAL FOE, the real enemy of the whole human race, which Martin Luther so eloquently described in his magnificent hymn, A MIGHT FORTRESS IS OUR GOD:
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And tho’ this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph thro’ us.
The Prince of Darkness grimï¿½
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Thro’ Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Who is this prince of darkness? This ancient foe? Only the Bible reveals him as the monster he is— the instigator and the adversary who has set man against man, nation against nation, for millennia:
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:11,12
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1Peter 5:8,9
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners. Isaiah 14:12-17