CBC rescues war remembrance


Thanks to the CBC for rescuing Remembrance Day from sentimental treacle.

Michael Enright had  a great conversation with Pat Barker whose novels treat the  reality of shell shock and its treatment after “the Great War”.

n the afternoon Eleanor Wachtel had a repeat interview with the late Paul Fussell the author of the Great War and Modern Memory.This great book looks at the responses of sensitive writers to the horrors of trench warfare in WW 1 through the lenses of Blunden, Graves, Owen and Sassoon. The author traces the beginnings of the ennui that pervaded the post war period, the death of Victorian concepts like honour and gallantry—all shattered in the rat-infested trenches of France and Belgium.

When we look at the post-war period we see people flipping their lids, letting it all hang our in the Jazz Age.

The French called it la generation perdue-the lost generation. The broad culture had lost its moorings. Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front  are the great books  of the period.

One can never understand the 20th century without looking at the residue of the Great War.It marked a caesura in history, a radical break with the past. It put an end to the naive optimism that Progress was surely coming. It was “excelsior”—onward and upward. NO! The shocking reality of sin, murder and mayhem  brought theology back to earth, paved the way for the Niebuhrs and their accent on a more realistic Christanity.

The War of course had profound effects on religion. People remembered the role of the church. especially the Church of England , the awful cheerleading of the churches, leading youth into the trenches. It was a great warning about bringing the flag and the cross together. And a reminder that Christianity and militarism can never be married.

Maybe it was too much to ask the Corp to deal with the awful militarization of our foreign policy.




1 Comment »

  1. 1
    jasmurphy Says:

    The CBC’s and Mansbridge’s focus on only the canadian dead is testament to the jingoistic memorialization of war that continues the war culture that is the curent and predominant social norm. Check out Elizabeth May’s “rememnbrance” for a truer take on this deadly folly.

    “Statement on Remembrance Day

    November 11th is a day to remember that soldiers die believing they were sent for a reason, a noble cause, to defend, to liberate. Women and men of the military are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and we owe them our respect and gratitude. November 11th is a time for national reflection.

    We remember those who gave their lives willingly.

    We remember the shattered lives of soldiers who return wounded not only physically, but psychologically.

    We remember that the sacrifice is not just that of a single soldier but their entire family and often an entire community.

    We remember the overwhelming, countless loss of civilians who didn’t choose to die.

    We remember how easy it is to begin a war but not to end it. There is no such thing as a short war–the effects of violence remain long after the last shot is fired.

    We remember the sacrifice of those who work for peace and to end violence.

    We remember that violence does not happen just between nations but contaminates our entire society and our way of thinking.

    On November 11th we remember, with gratitude.

    On November 11th, we remember and pray that war will be no more.”

    Would that the other parties had the cajones to speak truth to this ongoing national idiocy.

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