Ep 15 The God of the Anzacs

War: what is it good for?

Notes on episode 15

War: what is it good for? We’re talking about the God of the Anzacs + Australian war songs.

For arguments sake: where we take a debate, cut out the party politics and try to talk it out

War is a controversial topic among Christians. We have been divided in the past over whether war is something Christians should endorse. And there have been historical instances where religion was responsible for “whipping up” war, as Michael says, recalling the Pope and the Crusades. In this contemporary world we live in we still see a connection with religion and violence. So what do we do with this aspect of our faith?

Megan and Michael discuss whether there is ever justification for Christians to not be pacifists? Might there be a case, thinking through the ‘Just War’ theory, where it is absolutely necessary to go to war?

And then there’s the Anzac tradition and the dangers of romanticising war. Michael says that while he believes it is important to honour those who went to war on our behalf, we should question whether we are glorifying bloodshed rather than bemoaning it. Megan wonders whether the Anzac tradition has changed now to be more like myth or legend.

Did you know? Much of the Anzac Day commemoration events were started by a Christian minister, Canon David John Garland? Megan and Michael say they have observed that much of the Christian ‘commemorative’ aspects of Anzac Day services have been stripped away, to become more about Australia and our national character which has been formed through bloody sacrifice. Megan also questions the male emphasis of Anzac, saying in her research Australian nurses were originally very involved in Anzac commemorations, but seem to have been sidelined now. “It’s an exclusionary myth, and not just for women,” she says.

Also mentioned in this segment:

Be our guest: opening up the conversation

For this episode, Megan and Michael invite Daniel Reynaud, Associate Professor of History at Avondale College of Higher Education. David wrote Anzac Spirituality: The first AIF soldiers speak. Reynaud is also working on a follow-up book, tracing individual Anzac stories and their journeys of faith through the war.

Daniel told Megan and Michael that God is big part of the Anzac story: “an unrecognised part”. Daniel says that in his research for the book he was “shocked” at how often Anzac soldiers spoke about their faith in letters and diaries.

Mentioned in this segment:

Marg and Dave: reviews from two people obsessed by stories but not always the same one 

Megan and Michael dissect four war ‘conflicted’ songs:

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Find out more about the hosts of With All Due Respect:

Rev Dr Michael Jensen, rector at St Mark’s Anglican Darling Point, author, public commentator.

Rev Megan Powell du Toit, ordained Baptist minister, Publishing Manager of the Australian College of Theology, editor of the journal Colloquium.

We got the idea of our two-header theology and culture podcast from this show: The Movie Show/At the Movies.