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15: Anzac Special: War – what is it good for?


Anzac Special

War – what is it good for?

with Michael Jensen and Megan Powell du Toit

War: what is it good for? We’re talking about the God of the Anzacs + Australian war songs.

For arguments sake: where we take a debate, cut out the party politics and try to talk it out

War is a controversial topic among Christians. We have been divided in the past over whether war is something Christians should endorse. And there have been historical instances where religion was responsible for “whipping up” war, as Michael says, recalling the Pope and the Crusades. In this contemporary world we live in we still see a connection with religion and violence. So what do we do with this aspect of our faith?

Megan and Michael discuss whether there is ever justification for Christians to not be pacifists? Might there be a case, thinking through the ‘Just War’ theory, where it is absolutely necessary to go to war?

And then there’s the Anzac tradition and the dangers of romanticising war. Michael says that while he believes it is important to honour those who went to war on our behalf, we should question whether we are glorifying bloodshed rather than bemoaning it. Megan wonders whether the Anzac tradition has changed now to be more like myth or legend.

Did you know? Much of the Anzac Day commemoration events were started by a Christian minister, Canon David John Garland? Megan and Michael say they have observed that much of the Christian ‘commemorative’ aspects of Anzac Day services have been stripped away, to become more about Australia and our national character which has been formed through bloody sacrifice. Megan also questions the male emphasis of Anzac, saying in her research Australian nurses were originally very involved in Anzac commemorations, but seem to have been sidelined now. “It’s an exclusionary myth, and not just for women,” she says.

Also mentioned in this segment:

Be our guest: opening up the conversation

For this episode, Megan and Michael invite Daniel Reynaud, Associate Professor of History at Avondale College of Higher Education. David wrote Anzac Spirituality: The first AIF soldiers speak. Reynaud is also working on a follow-up book, tracing individual Anzac stories and their journeys of faith through the war.

Daniel told Megan and Michael that God is big part of the Anzac story: “an unrecognised part”. Daniel says that in his research for the book he was “shocked” at how often Anzac soldiers spoke about their faith in letters and diaries.

Mentioned in this segment:

Marg and Dave: reviews from two people obsessed by stories but not always the same one

Megan and Michael dissect four war ‘conflicted’ songs:


Less aggro, more conversation.

Is it even possible to have a deep discussion without it descending into chaos? Michael Jensen and Megan Powell du Toit think yes, and want to show the rest of us how to do it.

There’s plenty of things they disagree on: free will, feminism, where you should send your kids to school and what type of church you should go to. But there are also plenty of other things that they have in common. They want to talk about all these things with conviction. But they also want the conversation to be constructive. Tune in to find out if that’s possible.





Oh boy, does John love questions. So don’t be afraid to send them in. At the end of each season we dedicate an episode or two for John to answer all your burning questions about Christianity. Want to know something more about a previous episode? Or perhaps you’ve got a question about faith that you’ve been struggling to find an answer for?
Let us know here.

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