One hundred years ago this week, the Great War began. It was the war that was supposed to end all wars. The world decided it was about time to get all their anger out at once and then go back to living in peace. Following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary and Serbia decided they had had enough of civility and started fighting. A world war started a month later.
By the time it was all over in late 1918, about 18 million people (both soldiers and civilians) lay dead and another 20 million wounded across Europe and the world. Disease killed millions, but not more than bullets and shrapnel.
Nineteenth century military tactics collided with twentieth century technology as military leaders sent swarms of soldiers attacking across open fields only to be confronted by clouds of mustard gas and the most deadly weapon invented to that point, the machine gun. Millions died needlessly as many military leaders knew of only one way to conduct war and could not adapt, presumably, with professional pride behind much of that reluctance to change.
It gets worse.
The Muslim Ottoman Empire, centered in present-day Turkey started genocide against anyone who disagreed with them, slaughtering two million Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks…mostly Orthodox Christians.
It was an awful time.
As the calendar turned to August, 1914 the news’ cycles started to overheat.
- Each day one country was declaring war on another. (America declared itself neutral)
- Ellen Wilson, wife of the U.S. President died on August 6.
- The Panama Canal opened on August 15.
- The Pope died on August 20. (Pius X)
And in a dramatic act of stupidity on August 25, the German army burned down the library at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. Hundreds of thousands of priceless books and manuscripts dating from the Renaissance were destroyed.
Jehovah’s Witnesses observed all this and predicted the end of the world by the end of 1914.
But we didn’t lack for culture, especially great writers.
Among the best-selling authors in 1914 were:
Winston Churchill (not THAT Winston Churchill)
Arthur Conan Doyle
L. Frank Baum
In addition, readers desiring a decidedly Christian worldview in their literature were enjoying:
Harold Bell Wright
Gene Stratton Porter
Grace Livingston Hill
And many more.
There was amazing literature and enduring stories from revered literary giants, many that we still love one hundred years later. They provided escape, entertainment, enlightenment, illumination and intrigue, but for four long years the people of the world still fought each other and when it was over in 1918, the stage was set for the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the rise of some of the most evil leaders who ever lived, followed by the most deadly war the world has ever seen.
Apparently, not all problems are solved by great literature.
As we publish Christian books, they are sent into a world where some people do wonderful things for humanity and others do terrible things to humanity.
There is an ongoing discussion whether art reflects life or visa versa. As in most complex philosophical discussions, a convincing case could be made for either side of the argument.
The Christian who writes differs from other writers in their worldview. Christian writers looking at a seething, heaving world seek to show there is another way to view everything.
Because a Christian worldview begins with “In the beginning, God…”, other perspectives that begin elsewhere never end up intersecting with the Christian view down the road somewhere. So if we don’t agree on Genesis 1:1, forget about trying to agree on the last chapters of the Bible.
When you write, you see relationships differently, you see difficulties differently and certainly you see the relationship between God and people a distinct way. You allow people to be redeemed. You rejoice at a changed life. Forgiveness is at the core. Grace and truth undergird what you build.
Nevertheless, some will turn their backs on what you write, no matter how well you do it. No matter how popular you get, there will be detractors. But that is not really a surprise, is it? In reality, there are people in every age that simply hate Jesus and anything associated with him.
You can push back against the dark, even light a candle, but only one thing will destroy the dark once and for all.
Waiting at the other end of the world’s timeline would be the nineteenth chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation. In it we see the armies of this world taking up arms to fight the return of the King of Kings.
The build-up to the last battle is more dramatic than the actual battle. In fact, it isn’t much of a battle at all. Just a couple verses describe it. No struggle. Blink and it’s over.
Spoiler alert: God wins.