Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
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Posts tagged war

from “Two Weeks in Forever,” by Peter van Agtmael, New York Times, 14 October 2009

Christy:
Nate:
from "Walking," by Henry David Thoreau, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1862

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,— who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer,—a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return,—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again,—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

Nate:
from "On Clausewitz and the Art of Cricket," by Alex Massie, The Spectator, 28 August 2009 :: via More than 95 Theses

I don't mean to be too flippant here, nor to accord cricket too great an importance in the great kerfuffle of life—I simply say that the reason that test match cricket exerts such a tremendous fascination is that is shares so many qualities with the greater, more terrible dramas that make up the human experience.

It does so in a condensed, peaceful form and triumph and failure on the cricket field are ultimately trivial but the game moves us just as great art moves us. To pretend otherwise is, it strikes me, silly. That is, sure it's only a game but it's also not just a game.

In other words, it is life. And like war, and life, that sometimes end in stalemate. Which means a draw. There are winning draws and losing draws and plain old dull draws. But without them, or the possibility of them, everything else is too neat, too simple and, in the end, too unsatisfactory.

from “Ukraine’s Got Talent,” by Kseniya Simonova, posted 7 June 2009

Christy:
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"Fatigue," oil on linen, 80" x 50" by Jay Walker, 2007
Christy:
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from "Knitting for Spies," by Emma Payne, Fed by Birds, 5 August 2009
Nate:
newsArt that heals wartime wounds

During Sgt. Ron Kelsey’s year-long deployment in Basra, he began to think about how his work as a fine artist jived with his position as an Army officer. Pondering the power of art to heal emotional wounds, Kelsey approached IAM about partnering with the U.S. Army on an exhibition. Mako will speak, I will sing—and there will be plenty of beauty to help the healing begin. —Christy Tennant

Reflections of Generosity: Fort Drum Arts and Crafts Center
August 19 - September 11

The “Reflections of Generosity – Toward Restoration and Peace” Art Exhibit is dedicated to the memory of the heroes of 9-11 and the Soldiers who have given their lives in recent conflicts. Experience the power of painting, sculpture, and song to facilitate restoration through generosity, community, and beauty. Join us at Arts and Crafts for artwork and performances that reflect the spirit of ongoing generosity demonstrated by the military. The opening night will feature Makoto Fujimura, Tim Sheesley, Pamela Moore, Sharon Graham Sargent, Claye Noch, Joyce Lee, Sandra Ceas, Jay Walker, Gerda Liebmann, C. Robin Janning, Craig Hawkins, John Russel, Charles A. Westfall Macon, Ron Kelsey, Kyla Kelsey, Christa Wells, and Christy Tennant.

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from "Dispatchwork Berlin," by Jan Vormann:: via Laughing Squid (thanks Agnieszka)
Andy:
Andy:
from "The Secret Weapon: Religious Abuse in the War on Terror," by Michael Peppard, Commonweal, 5 December 2008

The United States has desecrated what most Muslims consider God’s presence on earth (the Qur’an), drowned out the call to prayer with the American anthem and rock songs, used grotesque sexual assaults to undermine piety, mocked religious holidays, and engaged in freelance proselytism.

How long can we expect the memory of such abuse to endure? Does it qualify as torture according to the definition offered in John Yoo’s famous Justice Department memo—“significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years”? History suggests that the collective memory of this abuse will last far longer than that. Millennia ago, another religious group with strict codes of ritual purity and devotion to God underwent physical and religious torture at the hands of occupying forces, prompting insurrection. More than two thousand years later, the events accompanying that revolt are still commemorated annually. The people are the Jews, and the holiday is Hanukkah.

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"Lifting a wounded or sick soldier," photographer unknown, from United States Sanitary Commission records (1861-1865), NYPL Digital Gallery :: via Hoefler & Frere-Jones
Nate:
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AP Photo by Karim Kadim, from "Scenes from Iraq," The Big Picture, 3 September 2008
Nate:

The whole of the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis 12 to Malachi 4, can be seen as a record of Israel’s education in faith—not “faith” as a purely spiritual or religious enterprise, but as a cultural practice of dependence on the world’s Creator that encompasses everything from military strategy to songwriting.

Culture Making, p.131

repost ah-SEE-sh?
Nate:
a languagehat.com post, 10 August 2008

I’m not going to get into the politics of the mess in the north Caucasus except to say that there are no good guys, but I have to get a minor linguistic gripe off my chest: all the news broadcasts are talking about “ah-SET-ee-?” and the “ah-SET-ee-?nz.”  What’s next, cro-AT-ee-?? ve-NET-ee-?n art?  I realize none of the broadcasters and reporters have ever heard of Ossetia before, but you’d think the patterns of English spelling would clue them in to its proper pronunciation, ah-SEE-sh?.  I suppose it’s another case of hyperforeignification, like “bei-ZHING.”

Incidentally, Ossetian (as every schoolboy knows) is an Iranian language, and the Ossetian name for Ossetia is Iryston, based on Ir, the self-designation meaning ‘an Ossetian’ (well, actually it specifically refers to the majority group of Ossetians, and the minority Digors resent the use of that name for the whole people, causing some Ossetes to identify with the medieval Alans and call Ossetia “Alania,” but let’s set that aside—if you’re interested in the messy politics of Caucasian ethnic nomenclature and the Alans, read “The Politics of a Name: Between Consolidation and Separation in the Northern Caucasus” [pdf, html] by Victor Shnirelman); it used to be thought that Ir was derived from *arya- ‘Aryan’ and thus related to Iran, but Ronald Kim denies this in “On the Historical Phonology of Ossetic: The Origin of the Oblique Case Suffix,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 123 (Jan. - Mar. 2003), pp. 43-72 (2.0.CO;2-5”>JSTOR); the relevant discussion is on p. 60, fn. 42.  Kim says it may be from a Caucasian language, or it may be descended from PIE *wiro- ‘man.’  (The word Ossetian is based on a Russian borrowing of the Georgian term Oseti.)

via Boing Boing
Nate:
Andy:

He once thought, he said, that the way to be a moral scientist was to avoid projects with bad applications. But he had changed his mind. The vital thing was to stay involved; to speak, write, testify, and make sure that research was turned not to evil, but to good. For more than 20 years he taught bioethics at Yale, a course he had started and which, by his last year, was one of the most popular in the college. His country forgot, but he did not, the mangrove ghosts.