War and meaning

Peter Leithart notes that many soldiers find war to be more meaningful than normal life, according to Sebastian Junger’s WAR.  Leithart’s musings are interesting:

First, Junger’s observations help to make sense of the fairly common historical combination of cultural degeneracy and war-making.  When normal life seems pointless and decadent, war is an attractive alternative.  War is a way to make a difference.Second, what does the US do with a sizable group of committed, well-trained, efficient soldiers who have been “ruined for anything else” but war?  What happens to them when (if?) America is at peace?

Third, the churches should inspire and equip her young men for something like a “moral equivalent of war.”  (“Like” it, because war is not per se immoral.)  The church should give her young men a sense that even in normal life they are “in a world where everything is important and nothing is taken for granted.”  To do that, we have to recover some deeper, real sense of what it means to be a church militant.



  1. Liethart makes some excellent observations. I would just add that I think the military is one of the few places outside of the sports arena where it’s OK for a guy to act like a guy and to find rough and tumble comradeship. The rise of feminism has resulted in the feminization of culture, especially in the academia and left many men either uncomfortable with their designated place in society and its rules.

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