The Cross and the Trenches: Religious Faith and Doubt Among British and American Great War Soldiers
Praeger Publishers, 2003 - 311 páginas
The modernist historiographical model of the Great War neglects such traditional modes of thought as religious response to battle. Drawing on the testimony of over 500 British and American soldiers, Schweitzer provides an in-depth account of topics such as soldiers' prayers and biblical readings, as well as religious doubts. As a detailed snapshot of religion during the war, this study provides a crucial preamble to studies of the legacy of the Great War.
The lack of a satisfactory scholarly study has left interpretation of the role that religion played in soldiers' lives to the pronouncements of their contemporaries who often either viewed World War I as an opportunity to spark a religious revival or as an event that crushed religious faith. Schweitzer argues that neither of these interpretations is accurate, and he hopes to replace them with a model that arranges responses on a spectrum ranging from absolute faith in God to atheism. Based on extensive archival research, this study establishes a detailed model of the spiritual lives of British and American soldiers during the war. After sketching this spiritual history, he concludes that both British and American soldiers were more religious than previous writings have indicated.
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183 A third theme that emerges from the Christian Union ' s meetings is a
generally critical attitude toward organized religion in general , and the Church of
England in particular . The tone was set by Evers who criticized organized
religion by ...
For critical comments on chaplains in general , see A . I . Adam letter to A . V .
Murray , September 3 , 1915 , Murray Papers , LC . For critical comments on
Church of England chaplains , see Oliver Sichel letter to his mother and father ...
highly critical of organized religion ' s role in the trenches . Moving down the
social scale , working class soldiers , at least in Britain , were somewhat
alienated from and critical of the Church of England . This was not the case in the
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The British and American Churches and the
The Spectrum of Religious Faith
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