This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
My apologies for this posting having nothing to do with the Crusades (of which I highly approve, except for the Fourth), but I feel the need to say something about the astounding book I am currently reading, the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul. I cannot recall the last time I have read anything of such awesome profundity, so soaked in Wisdom, so perfect in exposition and execution, and so urgently important to both the world as a whole today and to myself as an individual soul. Although I am so far only on page 116 out of 711 (I've been reading it slowly and carefully, making sure I fully understood each paragraph before going on), I feel confident by this point that the remainder, far from disappointing me, will only give me more reason to praise this work.I cannot recommend Divine Mercy in My Soul highly enough. It could be Life Changing to anyone who reads it with an open mind. (I myself was extremely skeptical at first, but no longer - this is the Real Deal.) It makes everything else I've read in the past few years seem like childrens' literature.
A few years ago when reading about the Crusades, it occurred to me that one reason that they went so badly was the impossibility of these relatively large forces to be adequately supported by supply lines. The necessitated pillaging, even fellow Christians such as the Fourth Crusade. The situation was much more complex than that, but simply trying to keep an army fed required "living off the land" which could lead to nothing but atrocities. And it did. The Crusades were a bad idea for maybe a good reason. They offend us much more today with our reworking of Just War Theory. And it should.
The Crusades were essentially a long-overdue counterattack against centuries of non-stop Islamic aggression against Christendom. (Just how do you think the Mohammedans got control of the Holy Land in the first place, huh?) The immediate casus belli was the Battle of Manzikurt (1071) in modern day Turkey. This catastrophe threatened the Byzantine Empire with extinction, and Western Europe finally shook off its slumber and decided to defend itself.The overall strategy was quite ingenious, although I agree with oozie that it was probably logistically impossible in 1096 (the start of the First Crusade). Basically, it was forget about defending the periphery and go for the gut - strike the enemy at his center (the Levant). Put him on the defensive for a change! Plus, it didn't hurt that liberating the Holy City was a great motivator.All in all, despite the undeniable dark side to the whole affair*, the first three crusades were a Good Thing for Western Civilization, and I will heartily defend them against all detractors.* There's a dark side to WWII as well (firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, the atomic bombs, the alliance with the Soviet Union, etc.), but that doesn't stop the Allied cause from being a Noble Endeavor. If you're going to condemn the Crusades because they weren't all beer and skittles, then you'll have to condemn the Allies in WWII as well.
Bob,Because I enjoy your posts here on Dangerous Idea, I ordered your recommendation from Amazon. It sounds a little too Roman Catholic and mystical for me, but I'm willing to give it a read.Rome and mysticism are like Rottweilers that come crashing out of my neighbors yard and chase me around the house once in a while. My personal email is: firstname.lastname@example.org I would enjoy some of your reflections on the writings and I will send you some of mine after I've had a chance to read.
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