Hiroshima and the Prophetic Vision of Harry Emerson Fosdick



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I loved this piece. August 6th is a tragic day in American history. With the world still close to the brink of nuclear disaster, it doesn't hurt us to confess our sins and pray over the deaths in Hiroshima. The world is not a better place because of nuclear weapons.

Richard Bryant more than 1 year ago


Every August we get someone writing about the bombing of Hiroshima. Generally it is looking back with a 21st century mindset on the decisions made during the 20th century’s most destructive conflict which yields a flawed perspective. It is important to put these events into proper context which writers seldom do. The decision to drop the bomb on Japan came after four years of slaughter. After the invasion of Okinawa where our soldiers experienced intense combat but also saw mothers throw their babies off cliffs and then jump after them our military and political leaders could only shudder at the thought of invading the home islands. Casualty estimates went from 200,000 to more than a million. Japanese casualties would be several times that based upon recent experience. We would have had to use Russian manpower to add to the invasion. What a bloody mess that would have been. Truman’s decision to use the bomb was an easy one. He wanted to end the conflict and he did. He saved an untold number of lives by doing so. I have been to Peace Park and have seen the exhibits. That quick ending came at a terrible price paid by the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but it was necessary. It is more chilling to consider what would have happened had he not authorized use of the bomb. Contemplate the concept of an atomic bomb serving as peacemaker. Makes my head spin.
Christians have long struggled with the necessity of war. The key word is “necessary”. It must occasionally be waged but a strong preparedness for war can help ensure that it does not happen as frequently. We seem to forget that lesson in this country as we seldom enter into war fully prepared. The United Nations does not maintain peace in the world. Those countries willing to stand up to international bullies maintain peace in the world. We have not had a global conflict since WW II and it is the leadership of the United States that has helped ensure that peace. NATO has done more for world peace than the United Nations ever will.
“It is sobering to remember that the United States remains the first and only country ever to have used an atomic bomb”. There is nothing sobering about that at all. It is because we did that we have enjoyed decades of prosperity and relative peace. What is sobering are the countries that have built or are trying to build nuclear arsenals; Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea are not exactly responsible actors on the world stage and the feckless leadership of the prior administration only encouraged rogue state nuclear development. The UN is powerless. Reimposing sanctions on Iran is a step in the right direction. While our foreign policy might look chaotic to the author it does seem to be working. Foreign policy is messy business on its best day.
I am an optimist when it comes to American Christianity. Put Fosdick back in the attic.

Kevin more than 1 year ago

well put

Kevin, you have obviously been a good student of history. Presidents have to make very hard choices which often weigh the loss of lives to prevent an even greater loss of lives. Truman perhaps knew that best when he took to heart "The Buck Stops Here!" I'm not particularly proud that we dropped the first atomic bombs, but I'm not guilty about it either under the circumstances in which it was used. And I'm fairly confident all those Methodist mothers of Methodist GI's did not lose too much sleep over it after their sons came home rather than being physically maimed in an invasion of the Japanese homeland.

JOHN more than 1 year ago

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