ANZAC Day and the Language of Redemptive Sacrifice

In this post, my second concerning ANZAC Day, I want to focus on—and challenge—the way in which the language of redemptive sacrifice has been applied to those who die in battle.

An interesting phenomenon seems to have crept into many churches whereby the language of Jesus’ death on the cross is commonly (mis)applied to the death of soldiers in the ANZAC tradition. You may have seen some of the pictures that float around social media at these times with a picture of a (possibly silhouetted) soldier, perhaps a flag, and a cross, with a bible quote attached to bring the message home. Usually, this bible quote is taken from the gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 13:

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Continue reading ANZAC Day and the Language of Redemptive Sacrifice

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Anzac Day and ‘The Old Lie’

I have, for a while now, been contemplating the possibility of writing a few posts about war and, in particular, the way in which we Australians approach our military history.

ANZAC Day, and all that goes along with it, has become (for all intents and purposes) like something of a ‘State Religion’ for Australia. There is the tradition, the ceremony, the sacred space, and the requisite mythology that must accompany such things.

As such, I am acutely aware that whatever I say on this topic, unless it simply affirms the status quo, will no doubt upset some people. To express a point of view that does not conform to the official script has the potential to be viewed as disrespectful at best, sacrilegious at worst. This is why I have chosen to wait until after ANZAC Day this year to write. In the midst of the extraordinary emotion of it all, I see little possibility of reasonable discussion and debate. My hope is that now, after the intensity of the day itself has passed, we are in a better position for such discussion. I guess we will soon see.

In this post, then, I want to discuss what I see as one of the core untruths of the whole ANZAC tradition. Quite simply, I want to challenge the idea that the tragic death of so many young men (and women) has any meaning at all.

Please let me explain.

Continue reading Anzac Day and ‘The Old Lie’