'War Horse' and returning soldiers

Josh Larsen

January 19, 2012

Josh I think you have hit upon an important problem, a lot of Christians don't seem to care. They say they care but I think it boils down to fear and commitment.

Is our view of Christianity and our role as Christians in this world project based or relationship based when it comes to fellowship with others? It is fairly easy to join a group that raises money to aid an anonymous group elsewhere. When asked to reach out to an individual in pain and offer help even when that request is a nudge from within our own hearts, that is harder because it could mean the start of a long term commitment to befriending someone who might take time away from our top priorities.

People like returning soldiers with mental stress injuries and people in our society who suffer from illness and loss often get brushed off because average folks don't know what to say. There is that "Someone else will help them" attitude that pervades society. Too often that "someone else" never comes along. BUT when someone does take the time to say "Hey come have a coffee with me," or "Let me read that editorial you are writing for the Sun," whatever it is that shows you are paying attention, it means everything and truly shows Jesus love.

January 19, 2012

I was disappointed by the movie (too Disneyfied), but your post adds a new layer of meaning to it for me. Thanks for your thoughtful and well-written admonition. In our era of professional military, we we no longer have the same connection with the troops as in the past. In the the first two world wars, enlisting, serving, and helping with the war effort was much more personal, communal, and universal. Everyone knew someone who was in the war or had a family member in the war. I live in a military-intensive city and yet I don't know anyone who is, or has been, serving overseas in the military, either in my circles or in my church (if they are there, they are in their civvies). And that's why your post is important. To see our returning military, we have to make an effort to look. They are there, and it is our Christian responsibility to see them, just as Jesus looked on the masses and saw their needs.

January 19, 2012

I agree with you Josh. America’s history of ignoring (if not villifying) returning soldiers, leaves me dispirited as well. I am looking forward to seeing this film. However, I don’t believe that was the motivation for ignoring the earlier blog by the retired chaplin. I have no desire to fight the iraq war over again so I didn’t comment. Some Christians here are of the Yoder, pacifist variety who believe we should always love our enemy. They regard iraq as Bush's war. They can only view a returning soldier as someone who has compromised their moral values. That does a grave disservice to soldiers and leaves them once again ambiguous about their service, just as pacifists during the Viet Nam war denigrated the returning vets. Herman calls Iraq “a war that is very morally ambiguous.“ How is a vet supposed to feel when Herman says “For most soldiers who carry the moral wounds of war, absolution is an intensely private matter, because we have devalued public confession and pronouncement of forgiveness.” There is a presumtion of guilt, moral failure for following duty and defending country. Is it any wonder no one commented on that story? My nephew and my best friend’s son both served in Iraq and Afghanistan and we support them every way we can. Our church has a weekly fellowship for returned vets. Life is tragedy and human beings were not created to kill each other in a fallen world. But aid to the defenseless, self sacrifice and duty to country are noble virtues. I think I will resonate with the sentiments of War Horse. Thanks for the review.

January 19, 2012

I would add that on the coat-tails of War Horse comes Downton Abbey,with the immense pain, waste,and brokenness of World War I as the second season's context.
Thanks for the extra layer of interp and the reminder to care for those who have borne the battle as well as for their widows and children.

February 26, 2012

I just hadn't seen the movie. Now I have.
But this makes me think of something else. I went to see the play American Idiot with my sons. One of the actors, who played a soldier and one of the three main characters, was an amputee, and it was revealed so casually it was at least, I would guess, 10 minutes, before I noticed. I was just into the play and the music.
Afterward when we were leaving I heard a young couple talking. The woman said she liked the two performers that played the other main characters, but she didn't mention the soldier. All of the young men were strong singers. They frequently sang together. I wondered, was she uncomfortable, or was it something else?

Add your comment to join the discussion!