BreakPoint Blog

Put in Perspective

While it has already generated some criticism, I think it instructive to watch the short YouTube video below, highlighting 1,000 years of wars in places around the world.

My one major criticism is that, except for many of the huge 20th century wars, it was impossible to see the labels.


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I think God is a given, Rolley. :-)
We're certainly in agreement on the Antichrist nonsense that's been thrown at people. Even a halfhearted perusal of the subject in the Bible would make it clear that nobody has fit the description yet; and it's definitely not some disliked politician.

As for the end of the world, unless Jesus is a liar, nobody should pretend to know exactly when that happens.
Argumentum e Silentio
I wonder if it wouldn’t be more accurate to say “there is no clear reference to America in Revelation” than to say “America is not included in the Revelation narrative.”

America and many other nations, though not explicitly specified, could still figure prominently. After all, God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, but guess what?

I have grown suspicious of many such attempts, Kevin, because they seem to almost universally include jig-saw puzzle like efforts to interpret Revelation in the light of current politics by people who know almost nothing about politics. They also seem to proceed on the assumption that such prophecies will be fulfilled within our lifetimes, a presumption that is totally without warrant and has been made to many times to count. We have no way to say for sure that some of Revelation has not already taken place and some will not take place for thousands of years. Furthermore the implications of some of this are problematic; they tend for instance to attach unwarranted religious significance to political opinions and can at times, for instance, lead to a violation of the commandment against bearing false witness by accusing a public figure of being the Antichrist.
I intended no implication that prosperity is in itself bad. It BECOMES bad if people don't handle it well.

Revelation is a complicated issue. Some people believe it is prophesy. Some believe it's allegory. Some simply dismiss it as madness.

Many Christians accept that it is indeed divinely inspired prophecy, which brings with it the responsibility to try to understand it. I've heard many fascinating teachings about Revelation and I still don't know what to think about much of it.

But I think it's interesting and worth noting that every interpretation I've heard concludes that the United States is not prominent in end-time events. If a person believes that Revelation, like other books, is inspired by God, I don't think we can dismiss honest, learned efforts at interpreting it, even if we might not agree with some of the conclusions.
As to the first point: I am dismissing a specific attitude toward the book of revelation.

As to the second point: I was pointing out that one must not imply that there is something bad about prosperity.
Slightly tangential to the discussion on land warfare and the map--at the Library of Congress, a librarian friend in the Maps division showed me hand-drawn maps depicting warships on the side. It was from the 1700s. I can't remember other details, but battles by sea were definitely notated.

If you ever get the chance, I recommend visiting that division and asking a librarian to show you some of the stored treasures.
Wouldn't you basically be dismissing Revelation because we might not understand all of it?

On the other topic, when softness equals vulnerability, that's a problem, as your last sentence points out.
As for us getting soft, Kevin, going a few years without worrying about barbarians or plague, or famine is not the worse kind of softness. It just gets us off guard when barbarians come back.
Just to start with the concept of worrying about whether Biblical prophecy can be read with the assumption that the US is a major player is flawed. It is carrying the assumption that Biblical prophecy is like some cryptic clue in an Indiana Jones style archeological fantasy when in fact we don't know what it is and it is best left that way. That pernicious notion has been around way to long.
And that's just one of the ways we're becoming soft, Jason.

I've heard many a preacher say that there doesn't seem to be any honest way of reading Biblical prophecy that has the United States as a major player in the end. If so, that softness I mentionedwill no doubt have played a role.
It is a common tendency to judge ones ancestors by present day perspectives. In some ways that is unavoidable; how else does someone judge. However it often shows ignorance of context.

Lee Harris in "Civilization and it's Enemies" pointed out that the fact that there is hardly anyone in the Western World that has to consider physical survival a pressing concern in the way people of old did, and those that do remember are growing old.
Thanks, Jason - this is just what I was hoping to see from you.

Oh, and by "the battles are all the fault of Europeans" I meant the tendency of some liberals to blame all of the world's problems on Occidental culture. In particular, I think of the notion prominent in our area of the USA, the highly liberal Pacific Northwest, where the prevailing opinion seems to be that the only thing stopping world peace is the failure of English-speaking peoples to lay down all of their armaments. As I recall, that didn't work very well prior to the first two World Wars. Nor has it worked well in the past 4 years (although with constant drone strikes, one could argue that unilateral disarmament hasn't really been tried). At any rate, my remark was intended to refer to those judging history from the perspective of the present day, not those who lived within historical times. But thanks for the addition of your perspective on that.
It is not as if Asians don't remember their battles, Lee. However the prevailence of Occidental culture does mean that a lot of the best remembered involved Europeans.

Oh and by the way, a lot of these battles were between Europeans, involved no one else, and in fact were not even heard of by anyone outside Europe at the time. It is a safe presumption that these at least were the fault of Europeans.

1. Bringing up the point has relevance, as it reminds us of one of the ways our ancestors were different; that they lived in a world in which war was a constant factor, so constant that naming wars was often superfluous. I did however mention that notable engagements tended to be named.

2. As far as the seeming Eurocentric nature of this, to be honest at least some of our ancestors would consider it a compliment to be called warlike. It would imply that they were good at it, as Europeans have indeed tended to be. But yes, Asian battles could be remembered.

3. As you pointed out, this in fact was a record of engagements notable enough to be named rather then wars. This means it necessarily involves engagements between forces backed by powers with extensive resources fought in climates and terrain that allow the logistics resources possible to bring such resources to the area of operations. This usually means cultivated land with a fairly large population.

4. Naval battles have intensive demands upon technology and wealth and there have generally been fewer naval powers then land. Of these most large naval engagements have taken place close to land as the issue at hand tends to be either a shore base or a trade bottleneck, whereas it is hard for fleets to find each other at sea.

5. Raiding and feuding is not mentioned as that does not tend to produce "notable engagements" that are named. They are however the default type of warfare among humans. This type often does take place in the wilder regions.

6. The exclusion of the Western Hemisphere is understandable as few records come from their. There should be more records from African conflicts but I am not familiar with them. However I do know that there was considerable fighting in Asia, despite the fact that great hydraulic empires like Persia and China might seem to make it less common then in Europe which was in a constant Warring States period. Asia does seem to have been neglected.
In fact, does this video look like the battles are all the fault of Europeans, because Europeans were so obsessed with literacy and with using that literacy to capture and preserve history? Including, furthermore, warts-and-all history of the country and its leaders, rather like the Bible depicts heroes of the faith with all their faults?

I *knew* there were worldview issues in here somewhere, because Kim wrote the entry. Found 'em - woo hoo!
Jason, I don't intend this as a criticism by any means, but I was hoping for more from you, our resident history expert. (I'm not disappointed; I'm merely stuck in anticipation.) In particular, the video shows not *wars*, but *battles* - one can be at war without actually engaging in battles. For example, there's the "Cold War" between the USA and USSR, and of course the movie "The Mouse That Roared".

And if it's truly battles, then I'd expect a lot more of that big blue area to have had fires in it, unless the purpose is to only depict land warfare. I'm biased, because my father served on an aircraft carrier in WWII. But I also just read about all the naval warfare between the USA and Britain in the decades after we declared our independence. Furthermore, Ghengis Khan founded the Mongol dynasty during the timeframe depicted in the video, and I don't believe it was entirely bloodless conquest. I'm skeptical that South America was that peaceful. And I'd think the entire continent of Africa would have a faint red glow throughout the video, due to inter-tribal warfare. I was hoping to see a small icon of Michael Caine's face, to remember the movie "Zulu Dawn", but alas. Per the author Don Richardson, some New Guinea tribes were at war with each other, including pitched battles, for close to a millennium. I didn't watch early America all that closely for battles between Native Americans and pioneer settlers, which I would have expected to feature prominently. And did I miss "Remember the Alamo!"? It all went by awfully quickly, and Euro-centrically.

It would also be interesting to see a similar video depicting not the killing of another nation's people in battle, but the killing of a nation's own people by their government. I suspect it would be a rather boring video until Communism was founded, although there could be some surprises in 1,000 years.

Of course, I hasten to add that when it comes to history, I'm a rank amateur. I leave the debating of specifics to those who are far better read than I am.
Of course engagements if not wars were named if they were important or interesting enough.
Well that was to some degree an ironic exagerration; ancient and medieval wars did st times occur in a formalized series of campaigns that can be referred to as "a" war and were referred to as such at the time.

However the point remains that until recently war was for the most part a state of being. Probably the best way to look at war for a lot of history is not "war" and "peace" but to compare it with "crime rate"(I.E a "war rate"). And in fact it is true that most wars went unnamed.
Yeah, I was backing up your remark about the naming of wars being mostly a fairly recent practice; at least, whatever they might have been called contemporarily tends not to be how we refer to them today. Also, it was not unusual for the opposing sides in a war to give it a different name.
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