The key to the relationship between religion and war is the concept of territory. All religions grow out of a local ecology -- the interacting forces that dictate the economy and therefore the strategies of survival. If the strategies are successful, the population will expand until it hits limits, sometimes geological and sometimes other people. If the confrontation is with other unified people, the ecological solutions might be developing a new survival strategy, infiltrating the other people in a symbiotic of trade, or going to war. War displaces whole populations, making their survival problematic.
In the beginning humans passed innocently through the world, like any other animal, depending on their wits, strategies, or maybe what some call “confrontation hunting,” which depended on a group taking on a big animal like a mammoth with only spears.
In an ebook called “Hunting - Philosophy for Everyone: In Search of the Wild Life” which can be partly read by Googling (a form of hunting), a writer distinguishes between “distant confrontation hunting” which means throwing weapons from a distance, and “close confrontation” which he describes in close detail, claiming that the woolly fur of the mammoth offered handholds so that one hunter could “rodeo” as a distraction while the others drove their sturdy spears into the innards of the beast. Early humans, who came out of Africa later than Neanderthals, used throwing -- Neanderthals used grappling. Hunting skills become war skills.
In fact, now that people would rather be “spiritual” than institutional, the church buildings that once seemed to offer sanctuary, continuity and inspiration have become problems. When we turn to secular life, what happens to the sacred? The ceremonies of “de-sacralizing” buildings are not much of a solution, but Catholic canon law provides for it.
|If a sacred place is to be given over permanently for profane uses, the competent ordinary should first issue a decree in writing, directed to the person responsible for the sacred place, stating that the place in question is no longer a sacred place and has by the decree lost its dedication or blessing. The issuance of the decree is subject ot the rules for individual administrative acts and individual decrees (cc. 35-47, 48-58), and recourse may be taken against it if a person, physical or juridic, is aggrieved by it. Although a sacred place also loses its dedication or blessing when in fact it has been permanently given over for secular purposes, this is not a legal option for omitting a decree but simply a provision of law in case a decree is not issued. A decree should be issued because it recognizes the authority of the ordinary who had the competence to establish the sacred place, it leaves no uncertainty about the status of the place, and it allows the possibility of recourse.|
The most concrete vestige of the Belgian origins of Valier is the church that still stands east of the town at the foot of "Belgian Hill" where the communication relays are. So far as I know, that church has never been deconsecrated though the congregation moved to the church in town. The cemetery is still visited and neighbors will come to investigate idle visits.
It could be a relief to resort to “close confrontation war” to claim back our territory of prairie and buffalo -- or even the open range. But it’s not possible so in our frustration we quarrel with each other. One cannot bomb a stubble field in any useful way. There is no way to war. We’ve got to use words on paper, faces across tables. That means education and creating coalitions -- not depending on separatism. If we look at the older millennial history of this land, it is daunting -- a story of a people whose land was taken from them.
The Thirty Years War in Belgium
If we look at the history of the Belgian people we see war. At first the usual scatter of kingdoms, divided among various allegiances, including ownership by the Roman Catholic church, then separating by languages into loyalty to Netherlands, France, and Luxemborg, and finally, after the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and the earlier Eighty Years' War (1568-1648), becoming a nation in the modern sense in 1830. This is little more than twenty-five years AFTER Lewis and Clark came through and twenty years BEFORE the prairie tribes signed the first big treaty.
Today Brussels, Belgium, is the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, which it supported. But Belgium has its dark side of early industrial development and failure to achieve real unity, partly because of language differences which always means different assumptions about the nature and goal of human beings. The darkest side of all was in the Belgian Congo where many of the contemporary ghastly practices of mutilation, slavery, and oppression were brought to the local people by King Leopold. The demoralizing scandal resulting from knowledge of this broke just before WWI, about the time that Cargill bought the 7 Block Ranch.
It was the irrigation project that created Lake Francis as a holding reservoir that also caused the development of the town of Valier, beginning with the big boom that was dam and canal construction. The town was incorporated in 1910, more than a century ago. Now we are pressed to renew the aging infrastructure and come to terms with legal neglect of water allocation with the Blackfeet tribe. So should we do “close confrontation” or “distant confrontation”? Or just run? But to where? For some of us, this is our sacred place. Our holy land.