IF MARKING the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe called for a careful balance between celebration, remembrance, and penitence, how much more challenging is the commemoration of Victory in Japan. That the war in the Far East dragged on no longer, as it might well have done, carried on by conventional means, is a cause for thankfulness, as it was in 1945; and yet the means to which the Allies finally resorted to gain their victory was the perpetration of an unprecedented horror. It demonstrated that a new era had begun in which humanity would have to live with the consciousness that it was capable of mass destruction on a previously unimaginable scale.
The nuclear threat has changed vastly since 1982, when the Church of England’s report The Church and the Bomb was published. The old ideological differences between the United States and Western Europe, on the one hand, and the former Soviet Union and Eastern bloc, on the other, are gone. Tensions still exist between the NATO countries and the Russian Federation, as do stockpiles of the weapons. But the new nightmare is the prospect of nuclear terrorism. "The cause of right", The Church and the Bomb said, "cannot be upheld by fighting a nuclear war." No such consideration is likely to weigh with fanatical groups such as Islamic State.
Proliferation already means a danger of regional nuclear wars — India and Pakistan are often cited. It is to be hoped that the nuclear agreement that has been made by the six Powers with Iran will bring about greater peace and stability; but other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel (widely thought to have a nuclear deterrent, although unconfirmed), consider this a tactical error, and warn of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Fear and mistrust drive proliferation. These words of The Church and the Bomb contain a lasting truth: "The task of nuclear disarmament is only the first and most urgent instalment of the major political, social, educational, psychological and religious undertaking of eradicating war altogether from the world’s agenda." This ambition has the one advantage that it must be very near to the heart of God.
Bien joué, Taizé
IT IS testimony to Brother Roger, murdered ten years ago, that the Taizé community, which he founded, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Taizé-style worship is not to everyone’s taste. But it unquestionably “works” in Taizé, whose community has inspired generations of Christians weary of divisions in the Body of Christ and in search of renewed vision. The “globalisation of solidarity” is a cause to which the community makes a unique contribution. We wish it well for the future.