Friday, July 16, 2010

Band of Brothers

Just finished reading my first Stephen Ambrose effort-- perhaps the most famous, given the BBC (HBO?) series...

Three thoughts:

1.) War is Hell. Ambrose's descriptions of what these men endured is brutal in so many ways.

2.) The dilemma of having a "tough but effective boss". Captain Sobel was so disliked that his men were making plans to kill him with not-so-friendly fire in battle. But Ambrose makes clear that his methods also allowed them to develop into fine soldiers and a fine unit-- and thus, he is responsible for much of their success. Ambrose depicts the soldiers as excited about how good they were but ambivalent about how they got there.

3.) The morals of those who served. Ambrose argues that they were far less likely than other soldiers to engage in rape, unnecessary killings-- and to some extent, looting. But Ambrose makes quite clear that many of the soldiers struggled in some other barometers of (more personal) immorality: drinking, cussing, and womanizing. This is not at all to diminish what they did-- or even to judge it. (On the latter, I can't imagine what it'd be like to face death, at a young age, so far from home and with the ability and peer pressure to do knuckle-headed stuff.)

But to draw application to the on-going debate about how good the 1950s were: it would seem that a relatively small proportion of these men were "Christian" (beyond the cultural sense). This connects to an observation I've made frequently-- that the children of the (dreaded) 1960s came from the parents of the 1950s. And although that may have been a more moral time-- with people united under the god of civil religion and civility-- it was not a particularly Christian time in our history.


At July 16, 2010 at 6:29 PM , Blogger PianoMom said...

Sounds very interesting.

Who ever said the people/parents of the 1950's were exceptionally moral?

At July 16, 2010 at 10:38 PM , Blogger AmericanVet said...

The 1950's were apparently wildly IMMORAL, as we found the popularization of the Playboy mentality coming in while even the mention of religion or Christianity was condemned. The President of the USA at the start of the decade called monstrous murdering dictator Stalin "Uncle Joe" and communists actually WERE infiltrating government and academia alike. The 50's lax morality ushered in the Summer of Love (yeah, right) as we became a hedonistic nation.

At July 16, 2010 at 11:49 PM , Blogger Dave said...

Perhaps this is true; however, is it a better question to ask what these young men would be like if they were not Christians.... or what would their behavior be like if they became Christians. Obviously, it's important to consider the fruit because by their fruit, they will be known. America has become more and more about self-sufficiency. I would have to think that part of the continued decline of Christianity in America since the 50s and before is tied in large part to not recognizing our need for God.....we can do it on our own! War's interesting in that respect because in some ways, it brings individuals to their knees, but in other ways, it picks nations up by their bootstraps to do it on their own......


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