The war between the states. . .

Having been raised in the city from birth to 25, war was a way of showing respect and honour to this country. It was a way of contributing to the freedoms. . . Speaking freedoms. Religious freedoms &c. I grew accustomed to war. My late dad and his brothers were in the military. My great-uncle committed suicide due to the sights he saw of WWII. What about the Civil War?

I wondered about it. I read about it. We were taught in school about it. So I knew something about it. Did I really know about it?

Recently, I have looked back into this war, with a newness of sight of which cometh from the Lord of Light and the Father of all Mercy. I learned and saw the grim, bleak, and black side of this ignoble strife—646,392 soldiers died and well nigh a million suffered wounds and scars for the rest of their lives.

Last year marked 150 years since its beginning. What is the worth of this war? What does it mean to me? Well, it was senseless and tragic, and its meaning is simple: Death. Another dead soldier. In this case it could have been another dead relative. Also, some of my ancestors fought in it, lost their lives.

Now what? Those flags, which stand for this country, I just tolerate it. I don't pledge allegiance, save to the cross of Christ, who said: "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight. . ." My kingdom, of which I Seek out, is not of this world. All weapons of warfare are carnal. For our True weapons are not, because we wrestle not with flesh and blood. We are to put on the entire armour of our Lord God Heavenly Father. Not bullets or gunpowder, not swords and maces.

The scenes I saw of this dreadful war, were astonishing! The aftermath was heart rending. I find new eyes to see with, which before used to see this as beautiful, now find the same or similar scenes horrible, nightmarish, devilish. Add up the death toll: 646,392 dead 1,000,000 scarred and wounded. A staggering figure is what that is! (I wish I could paste that picture here of the gravediggers at Hanover County, from the battles of Gaine's Mill and Cold Harbor, VA. That one is chilling, for the soldiers are merely skeletons of men!)

Nonresistance. Nonviolence. Non-swearing of oaths. Obedient to the laws of the land, but where those contradict those of Christ, I obey God rather than men. How can this thing of war be beautiful to anyone? I say this—Thou, O Father, keep me fastened to Thee, from this moment to the next, from this day onward. Help me never turn my eyes towards nothing but Thee and Thy Gentle Children. "Thou that rulest both wind and water, Stand by me. . ."

Blessings to ye all, Friends.

"Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Forgive our foolish ways; Reclothe us in our rightful mind, In purer lives Thy service find In deeper reverence praise. . . Drop Thy still dews of quietness, Till all our strivings cease; Take from our souls the strain and stress, And let our ordered lives confess The beauty of Thy peace." John Greenleaf Whittier: 1807—1892

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Van de Wetering, The Empty Mirror:

"Yes," the master said, "there has been a great war. Many of my disciples died in the war. War is an exercise. Now we have peace, and people exercise themselves in a different manner. Much is built, only to be destroyed suddenly and then built again."


William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Strangers in a Strange Land:

[All these wars are symptomatic of ] ...death incarnate in society, and not the other way around... The notion has been widespread that the death-purpose evident in the war could somehow be undone if the war could be ended. But that is as false as it is naive; this Indochina war did not sponsor the power of death in American society. The war rather expresses, grotesquely, the moral presence of death which has always been in America, as in other principalities. And the end of the war promises no end, no diminishment even, to that presence."[Ethic pg 70]

How utterly senseless, meaningless, vanity of vanities this gruesome thing is! The only end is of one war, to only begin another, so it seems. Bloodthirsty, beastly men run to this awful play thing, only to have the bones and corpses brought back and buried one after another! This beast inside, that rears its faceted head during war, is the break down, the decay of man. How wretched! How utterly repulsive war is! I loath and detest it, but even so, advocate Peace as the Prince of Peace, and still the smoke of rifles rise higher and stronger.

Can hatred stop hatred? Can a canon stop another canon? Can projectiles put an end to projectiles? Nay, but rather, only fuels another response and counter attack. . . Ach mein! Oh my! How to live with it? How to die with it? Another dead, another wounded, it means nothing at all—so it seems to me—because one after another falls and is resting in the dust and ruins of mankind's own invention: Warfare.

Peace I leave with thee, not as the world giveth give I unto thee. . . the Messiah spoke those words, yet who pays heed?

After the Civil War ended, wars cropped up with Native American Indians! After that another: the Spanish—American War. Before that horrible Civil War? Mexican War that gained the state of Texas! Before that? The war of 1812. Founded on Freedom was this country? Revolutionary War ended 1787.

Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and______? What next? Where? All of these distractions from the war within. To hinder us from the Narrow Path, our Great Almighty Lord God and Father. The world pressing from without, and strivings and bickerings from within. . . Time is too short! Time is running fast into endless time: eternity! Where our treasure is there will our heart be also!

Blessings and Peace be to thee.

Friend Timothy:

Friend Timothy, I thank thee for thy much needed post.  Thee speaks my mind.

Thy Friend Jim

Hello, and welcome, Friend!

The absurdities of war are staggering. The senseless violence, the blood-thirsty, the anger, hatred, and wrath: depict a sad crumbling at the very Inner Man. Glad if thee appreciated it!

Thanks so much. Thy Friend im die HERR Jesu Christie ~ in the LORD Jesus Christ.


Jim Wilson said:

Friend Timothy:

Friend Timothy, I thank thee for thy much needed post.  Thee speaks my mind.

Thy Friend Jim

Hello Timothy,

Thank you for this comment which I love:  "All of these distractions from the war within."

There is a passage from the gnostic gospel of Thomas...  I have not read the gnostic gospels but found that this quote in particular spoke to me more about my faith now than practically anything else:

"If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you.

If you do not bring forth that which is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

It feels to me like what God "should" have other people do (a type of thinking that leads to wars as well as mundane human interactions that fall short of grace and full potential) really doesn't matter any more when placed alongside this quote and its meaning.  God says "I AM."    But in our own lives, it's the same.  There is nothing relevant for us other than what God is doing within us. That's the full extent of our business. 

I DO take issue with other people's behavior from time to time but that is (hopefully) only because I have learned God wants me to be stronger and to practice allowing that strength, even when it's coming from myself, not about something Holy.  It benefits myself and the other person if I can know that this is where I am coming from.  What I'm saying is because this is what I need to say -- not the ego, but the self God made, I.  So when I am kind it can be of God. When I am tough it can be because God is teaching me to allow and practice some toughness until I get smoother about it.  And at no point is it because the other person "did this (X______) to me" -- a way of thinking that would contribute to violence of Spirit toward others.

This quote from the gnostic gospels would guide me to know that when I bring forth to God even the war that is in me....just bring it forth anyway with freedom and self-acceptance....then even that will serve God and save me.         and that while I remain sure that it is a war that God must not see and would not accept, I hide it away, away from the light, away from God's eyes....  and it remains something that can destroy me, and according to this passage, will.

I hope you don't mind if I get all "Meta" on you.... I have trouble keeping small issues small without getting a kick out of the bigger and bigger story within....

in God's peace!


Friend Olivia,

The war within. . . The Civil War claimed the lives of 646,392 soldiers! (Staggering figures indeed!) Yet the deteriorating state of this starts within, and that claims more lives than the war itself. The Lord Jesus said: "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." ~S. John 16:33

If thou hast received anything beneficial, give thanks unto the Lord God Heavenly Father, not unto me (Psalm 115:1). Also, if thou hast received a blessing share it with others. "Freely ye have received, freely give." ~Matthew 10:8

Thy Friend,


Reading again just recently, the battles of Gaines Mill and Cold Harbour in Hanover County VA, it is a terrible massacre that was going on. After Chancellorsville the Union troops started to push the Confederate armies southwards. Richmond was heavily damaged and Petersburg was burned.

Having nowhere to go but west, Lee turned and followed the railway to Amelia Court House, but supplies were taken. Saylor's Creek (Sailors Creek) was another tremendous battle. There is an old well there that is no longer useable since the Civil War, due to it becoming contaminated by the limbs of amputee's! What the shells missed, the canons took; what the canons missed, the bayonets took. If those didn't get a hold on thee, the fevers, the illnesses, the gangrene, infections, amputations, and other illnesses did.

What good did all of this prove? Power? Pride? I don't know. Slavery ended but the war had caused damage to the economy. Even though slaves were free, the hatred of them continue well past the war. Why? Why all of this nonsense? Why build another building at ground zero, when it is apt to fall like the towers did before it?

Yet God's Gentle People will not pick up such carnal weapons. God's Children of Light will not harbour hatred towards other peoples. "O to be like Him, pure as Thou art. . ."

The battlefield were drawn. Some in peach orchards, some in corn fields. One of the worst spots was Gettysburg, PA. Seminary, Missionary, and Cemetery Ridges. . . Trench warfare started in WWI, nay, it was already in the making during the Civil War.

Finally, having reached Farmville, VA in Prince Edward County, where another supply train was due, which was there along with Union troops; Lee fled southwards, only to be met by more Union troops again. Taking this westward route he came to Appomattox Station (now Appomattox) and his men were in tattered clothing, shredded boots, half starved, and worn out. He sent word to Grant on the 8th of Fourth Month, 1865 stating his interest in having a private meeting with him. The next morning, 9th of Fourth Month, 1865 Lee had surrendered and left in haste for Richmond to be with his invalid wife, and Grant went to Washington.

What became of the dead? The Old City Cemetery, founded in 1806, contains some 3,000 Confederate soldiers. Take a look at this picture. . .

This is just one scene of the aftermath at Gaines Mill and Cold Harbor battles in Hanover County. African American grave diggers in the background and one kneeling next to the stretcher of his fallen, dried out cadavers, corpses, skeletons, comrades. (This was AP photo Library of Congress , J Reekie, and A Gardner. Picture taken 1865.)

Look at what it really is. . . This is only one scene, and there are many others like it! Just another dead soldier. . . "War is beautiful," I've heard. Do ye see the beauty in the above? I haven't.


Hello Timothy,

Your post got me thinking:

Jesus wants that we "shall not kill" -- and yet that we be willing and ready to die... for our friends, or even for our enemies's sake.  

This makes me envision another situation in which there is a place for earnest Christians in wartime -- it's not always away in a peaceful spot elsewhere (avoiding war), but might sometimes be in the trenches, being willing to die for others' freedom.    In this, the loss of their lives may not all be pointless loss, but a gift to God in the style of Christ their master.   

It might involve strategic participation in which they (or we in such a situation) worked to change hearts and minds as long as we could, but when it came down to it, gave all for the lives of both the "enemies" of justice, and for the lives of the poor slaves.   It might have led some to serve in the military even (with an artfulness that is of this world but a heart focused on the Kingdom of God), determined to save as many lives as they could, on both sides, subversively, and then to die themselves, when needed. 

[I am just speaking of those who were committed to not taking any life.   Clearly there were many, many others, who were willing to die for what they believed in but inflicted some death on others in the process (that's what war usually is). ]

Thank you for getting my thoughts going on this.

Certain people have volunteered in hospitals, rest homes for the elderly, mental institutions, and many other places as an act of service instead of picking up carnal weapons. Some have been in the Red Cross, other Friars, Nuns, and Adventists will actually serve as doctors or chaplains. I don't see stepping into a trench to be razed with all will instill peace into a people that is already bloodthirsty. The peaceful actions of Friends, which helped remove slaves to the Queen's Bush in Canada was an act that could have cost their lives.

Harriet Tubman also an African American, risked her life too, making many runs back and forth to free those that she could. Shakers actually "bought" the freedom papers for many slaves, and their communities were raided and ransacked during the Civil War. They would tend to any one and turn none aside, friend or foe, north or south, free or slave, and no matter what the colour of their skin.

Greater love is this, that one lay down his life for his friends. . .

Am I willing to be martyred for those with whom I call Friends? Am I willing to heed the Master Teacher's example of laying down my life? He didn't go into a trench, but carried the timber to which He would be fastened to. His Kingdom being not of this world or His followers would come with carnal weapons to deliver Him. For this cause and this purpose, He said, came I into the world.

There is a place within the shelters with field nurses and doctors, as many have done, to try to impute peace to the suffering. Saint Francis met up with Sultan Malik Al-kamil to try to stop the crusades wars in the 1200s: "Peace is the highest of tasks," he said to Francesco, "but the power to impose it is not in my hands."

Adolf Hiltler would nothing move until he had rid the world of the weaker peoples: Turks, Jews, &c. To meet up against him, as did Dietrich Boenhoeffer, which he did not do so within a trench, but other tactics, but later on he could not deny his conscience. Thus he was imprisoned, and ultimately hanged 9th Fourth Month, 1945. To hide the Jews was risky then, like Corrie Tin Boom and her family had done. Yet none of these went out to an active battlefield to make peace.

If I walked out to do such, during the Civil War, I would have been gunned down without getting a single word out to another soul. To come face to face with Death for the good of others, no weapon and just speaking peaceful to the enraged, I then would have died first and in vain. Yea, not amounting to but one more casualty, rising the death toll to: 646,393 instead of 646,392.

If raiders of this government came into the doors of any meetinghouse and tried to negotiate peacefully with them, and I am killed but others flee for their lives, I've died as the Teacher indicates. To take a life with a canon ball or pistol or bayonet or bullet or sword is devastating. To get involved as a speaker of peace for both of the enraged and bloodthirsty will lead to a certain end, and ye know that such would fall first, no less because the rest are out with drawn battlements and not willing to hear anything but firing.

Friend Forest noted already:

William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Strangers in a Strange Land:

[All these wars are symptomatic of ] ...death incarnate in society, and not the other way around... The notion has been widespread that the death-purpose evident in the war could somehow be undone if the war could be ended. But that is as false as it is naive; this Indochina war did not sponsor the power of death in American society. The war rather expresses, grotesquely, the moral presence of death which has always been in America, as in other principalities. And the end of the war promises no end, no diminishment even, to that presence."[Ethic pg 70]

Peace to thee, Friend Olivia.


Yes to all you are saying, Timothy, but also this:

Jesus Himself submitted to this death-purpose evident within society.  He cast it out while it was given him to do, but then ultimately surrendered his life, to allow people to have all the bloodthirst they wanted and still to continue the lesson and show them that now that they've had the last word....he was still there with the same message and God would ultimately have the last word still.

There are so many ways to work for peace and against violence to one another, yes.  Many of them do involve avoiding the Machine.  But it was occurring to me those situations and those people for whom that was not the path...that some stealthy and solid Christians surely were called INTO it and to be Peace even in that place.   Doing as Jesus did as they artfully worked "among wolves" to buy their message as much time as possible before the machine chewed them up, but submitting even to that ultimately.  Dietrich is definitely a great example of this!

He also participated in a plot to kill Hitler.  I applaud everything he did including this -- but I don't think he fits as neatly as you want him to into an example of a pacifist. 

I guess what I'm doing is suddenly looking into the real impulse to Fight for Right and seeing even that as God-given, and considering what God would have us do.  Too many Quakers would rather avoid conflict (and see it only as having victims), rather than understand that we are not to avoid it but to allow ourselves to go into it unarmed!! (a much scarier, and braver proposition)   but one that allows the healing of the world sometimes -- most notably seen in Jesus's own submitting to this.  

I think of a sermon I read one time by Gordon Cosby of the Washington DC Church of the Savior community.  His sermon was on this choice Jesus had and we all have to go down, down, down, down....   down into the least of these in our society, down until we get chewed up and spit out, and that at the bottom there is a Power unleashed that can save the world.   He was saying that Jesus modeled this in his ultimate submission to crucifixion...and that only by going through that fully could the Light of God then shine so brightly into that situation and overcome all obstacles. 

Perhaps I digress....but am thinking of this sort of approach as one that many others (not all!) may actually be called to, and sometimes during war time and involving that War Machine/Death-Purpose of society as well.

I'm enjoying the conversation, Timothy.  Thanks for stirring these thoughts.

One thing came to me this morning. It happened many many years prior to the Civil War. In Germany during the Thirty Years War 1618—1648 initially fought as a religious war between Protestantism and Catholicism within the Holy Roman Empire.

There was a man, a Lutheran minister in the hamlet (small country village) of Eilenburg, named Martin Rinckart 1586—1649. The place became filled with refugee's and the official minister of that congregation left his post, so Rinckart filled it.

Around this time famines, pestilences, and plagues also broke out. The plague reached a height in 1637, and he conducted his own wife's funeral that year along with nearly 4,000 that year. When Rinkart was serving as minister during the wars, he officiated and conducted 40—50 funerals per day, some 4,480 in all. In the year 1636, he composed a lovely hymn, which I like in both languages:

1) Nun danket alle Gott mit Herzen, Mund, und Hände, der grosse Dinge tut an uns und allen Enden; der uns an Leib und Seel von früher Kindheit an unzählig viel zu gut bis hieher hat getan.

2) Der ewig reiche Gott woll uns in unserm Leben ein immer fröhlich Herz und edlen Freiden geben, und uns in seiner Gnad erhalten fort und fort und uns aus aller Not erlösen hier und dort.

3) Lob, Ehr un Pries sei Gott, dem Vater und dem Sohne un dem, der beiden gleich in höchsten Himmelsthrone, dem dreimal einen Gott, wie er ursprünglich war und ist und bleiben wird jetzund und immerdar!


1) Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices; Who from our mother's arms Hath blessed us on our way With countless gifts of Love, And still is ours today.

2) O may this bounteous God Through all our life be near us, With ever joyful hearts And blessèd peace to cheer us; And keep us in His grace, And guide us when perplexed, And free us from all ills In this world and the next.

3) All praise and thanks to God, The Father, now be given, The Son, and Him who reigns With them in highest heaven, The one eternal God, Whom earth and heav'n adore; For thus it was, is now, And shall be evermore.

This town was raided thrice. On one occasion, the armies that had overran it, they requested a very large sum of money, which he and all the parish could not produce. He retrieved what he did have, which was not the amount. The officers demanded more, and he said he had nothing more. One by one all of the parishioners joined Martin Rinckart in the singing of this hymn. He thought for sure death was imminent, having nothing more to give, he sang, and he was joined by his parishioners in song.

Amazingly enough, the armies left. They were baffled. They got only some of the money they requested, which wasn't enough, but none of them were beheaded, even though swords were drawn high.

Could something like this have made a small impact upon the Civil War? I'm not sure. Many Old Order River Brethren, Old German Baptist Brethren, Mennonites, and Amish had losses to crops or forced to feed the soldiers. Friends helped the Underground Railroad, as did some Mennonites, to assist slaves to Canada's Queen's Bush area. Could a Martin Rinckart have made any impact or change of mind in some of the soldiers of the Civil War? He did face the armies, as he had no other alternative.

I see something in what ye say, but I cannot connect it directly into the Civil War though. . .

Hi Timothy!

Thank you for sharing about Martin Rinckart.  I'm sure he and those like him could and do always make a difference in wartimes. 

I just enjoyed a web search for saints of the civil war -- trying to find examples of anyone who may have chosen this path, or at least an example of what it might have looked like.   The best clues I have at this point are very indirect but might be of interest to you for further reading:

1) from a wikipedia site on pacifism:

Walter Wink writes that "There are three general responses to evil: (1) passivity, (2) violent opposition, and (3) the third way of militant nonviolence articulated by Jesus. Human evolution has conditioned us for only the first two of these responses: fight or flight."[38] This understanding typifies Walter Wink's book, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way.[39]"
and 2) another site on the division between churches in America during the Civil War mentions a pro-Union "The Christian Record":

"which was created to combat the pacifism of Benjamin Franklin's American Christian Review."  

Perhaps Ben and his newspaper offer more examples of this path we are exploring.  I think I like the phrase "militant nonviolence."   I'm sure it can be misused -- being around militant people can be hard and not the most helpful and I'm not sure Jesus was ever militant (haven't read Wink yet).   But on the other hand, the concept seems true to me and is maybe what I'm reaching for with examples like (most of) Dietrich Bonhoeffer's work in Germany, and Gandhi's life (which is covered in a book out on militant nonviolence, I see).  That complete engagement and bravery and uncompromise in the name of Peace and in the name of God....

peace to you!

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