Our friend Carl Prine has a good piece up today, comparing St. Paul to Gerald Templer of the Malay counterinsurgency. (Hat tip: Small Wars Journal.) My compliments, but I wonder if he has thought through the question with which he ends.
On this Easter Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Americans in uniform stand on the parapets of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, nations once ruled by Templer’s Britain.
We fire missiles from the skies onto Libya, a prized possession of ancient Rome.
Our boats of war lurk upon or under the seas, our robot drones wheeling like doves above. Our mighty navies and armies traverse unimpeded the gateways of all invaders of all continents.
We carve the heavenly face of God with the orbits of our satellites, the angels that record the murmurs of hearts and the whisperings of minds in all the cities of all the countries in the world.
So many hearts cry out to us. So many minds think of us.
Do we speak back to them the words of Paul?
What would it mean to speak back to them in the words of Paul? Should we call them to his kind of war? Paul's power in speaking to both heart and mind lay in that he spoke in both tongues: for the mind is the seat of the intellect, but the heart is the seat of the spirit.
Our nation does not speak in the spiritual tongue: the Founders cut it out. Yet 'if your eye offends ye'; and such tongues in the heads of nations had offended much during the wars of the Reformation. There is great peril in the spiritual tongue: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
If we find ourselves on Templer's path, we might honestly say that it is the more peaceful path.
It may not therefore be the right path: I have heard it said that Paul's master came not to send peace, but a sword. Yet even that is not clear. This same man also refused to let St. Peter defend him with a sword, though he had insisted on the importance of his followers having swords with which to defend themselves.
The question Mr. Prine raises deserves an answer, but it may be a hard answer.
As the man said, happy Easter.