Monday, December 18, 2006

The religion of war and sacrifice

More thoughts from my (not so recent now) trip to Canberra.

I spent a morning in the Australian War Memorial. Great place to go and could easily get lost for hours.

One thing that struck me, though, is the way we have turned the memory of war into a quasi-religious experience. I've often thought that Australia's most religious public holiday is neither Christmas nor Easter, but Anzac Day. The whole architecture of the War Memorial is almost temple like, complete with stained glass windows and a domed ceiling, a shrine to the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in service of others to buy their freedom. A place that encourages (like many cathedrals and the like) quiet contemplation and reflection.

This is all well and good to remember and respect those who died in war, but as far as religious experiences go, better I think to focus on the one sacrifice that purchased freedom for people of all nations and ages, not just twentieth/twenty-first century Australians ...


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