“Onword Christian Soldiers”

Glenn Watkins

in Proof through the Night

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927896 | DOI:
“Onword Christian Soldiers”

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Randolph Bourne, a youthful intellectual, was bitterly opposed to America's intervention in the Great War. The fervor behind America's entrance into the conflict had unmistakable religious overtones, with a majority of American clergymen resolutely defending the preservation of democracy as a noble enterprise that justified the taking up of arms. Many of the issues that had been debated by Romain Rolland, French intellectuals, and the Catholic Church had found a new nesting ground. Resounding throughout most of the American tracts on morality in relation to the current struggle was the belief that the issues at stake were universal and that the war had touched people everywhere and had dissolved forever all possible claims of isolationism. Paradoxically, the dissolution of isolationism was now joined to the concepts of patriotism and national identity. Many popular American songs of the day played to the power of prayer and, especially after the series of bombings of Rheims Cathedral, addressed the destruction that had visited sanctuaries large and small.

Keywords: Randolph Bourne; Great War; America; morality; isolationism; patriotism; national identity; songs; Rheims Cathedral; bombings

Chapter.  4988 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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