Friday, August 24, 2012

War and Peace in Our Time

I received the date for the release of my essay in the upcoming volume, War and Peace in Our Times: Mormon Perspectives. From the website:

Edited by Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman

These essays reveal how the scriptures, prophetic teachings, history, culture, rituals, and traditions of Mormonism have been, are, and can be used as warrants for a wide range of activities and attitudes—from radical pacifism to legitimation of the United States’ use of preemptive force against its enemies. As a relatively young religion that for much of its early history was simply struggling for survival, Mormonism has not yet fully grappled with some of the pressing questions of war and peace, with all of the attendant theological, social, and political ramifications. Given the LDS Church’s relative stability and measure of prominence and influence in the early twenty-first century, the time is ripe to examine the historical, spiritual, and cultural resources within the tradition that provide a foundation for constructive dialogue about how individual Latter-day Saints and the institutional Church orient themselves in a world of violence. While recognizing the important contributions of previous scholars who had offered analysis and reflection on the topic, these essays offer a more sustained and collaborative examination of Mormon perspectives on war and peace, drawing on both historical-social scientific research as well as more normative (theological and ethical) arguments.

"This provocative and thoughtful book is sure both to infuriate and to delight. It brings together reflections and advocacy pieces by an eclectic and serious group of scholars, national security professionals, and peace activists, united by a common passion to discern within Latter-day Saint scriptures and history patterns of thought concerning the causes of war and the conditions of peace. The contributions range from expansive definitions of national defense to philosophic pacifism and from subtle arguments to crusading manifestos. The essays demonstrate that exegesis of distinctly Latter-day Saint scriptures can yield a wealth of disputation, the equal of any rabbinical quarrel or Jesuitical casuistry. This volume provides a fitting springboard for robust and lively debates within the Mormon scholarly and lay community on how to think about the pressing issues of war and peace." - Robert S. Wood, Dean Emeritus, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Chester W. Nimitz Chair Emeritus, U.S. Naval War College

"This is an extraordinary collection of essays on a topic of extraordinary importance. The editors have deliberately included thoughtful LDS voices on war and peace from a variety of perspectives—from peace activists and veterans to historians and national security professionals. The result is a book that will frustrate easy answers and partisan positions. The Book of Mormon includes both military heroes and a devastating critique of militarism; J. Reuben Clark was indeed a pacifist, but for problematic reasons; Hugh Nibley’s strong aversion to war came directly from his personal experiences on the battlefield, while other Mormons have been able to reconcile their commitment to “renounce war and proclaim peace” with their service in uniform. When is state-sanctioned violence necessary or appropriate? Does war ultimately do more harm than good? Are the alternatives reasonable or realistic? Whatever your current opinion on the topic, this book will challenge you to reflect more deeply and thoroughly on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, the Prince of Peace, in an era of massive military budgets, lethal technologies, and widespread war."
- Grant Hardy

I'm honored that my essay seemed to inspire the line about "[legitimizing] the use of preemptive force" found in the first sentence of the book blurb. Although I don't think it is the polar opposite of radical pacifism. If anything, my position articulated the belief of the majority position in the church which supported the war. I hope you buy a copy and enjoy the read.


Manda said...

So when is the release date? This really is very exciting stuff! You should feel really proud! I'm proud just KNOWING you!

Morgan Deane said...

It got released a little while back. There are several reviews out there. Most of it is a liberal dicussion of anti war philosophy, so I'm not sure how much you will like it. When I get my third season of community back maybe I can media mail you one of my copies. :)