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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Good and evil

Franz Jägerstätter was an Austrian peasant who refused to fight for the nazi's. His objections were for the most part religiously inspired and are not of extreme importance imo (except maybe for all you martyrs out there who believe in the eternal Kingdom) but he raises a damn fine question, asking why we are able to make a distinction between good and evil in the first place. Off course this presumption is heavily debated but suppose we can, what purpose would be served?

For what purpose, then, did God endow all men with reason and free will if, in spite of this, we are obliged to render blind obedience?; or if, as so many also say, the individual is not qualified to judge whether this war started by Germany is just or unjust?

What purpose is served by the ability to distinguish between good and evil?

-- Franz Jägerstätter
A short biography

Franz Jägerstätter was an Austrian Christian executed for his refusal to serve in the armies of the Third Reich. After gaining a reputation as a rather wild young man, perhaps fathering an illegitimate child, Franz married and settled down to a typical peasant life. He became known for his opposition to the Nazi regime, casting the only local vote against the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938), eschewing the local taverns and political argument, but typically responding "Pfui Hitler" when greeted by a "Heil."

When Jägerstätter was called to active duty in the military, he sought counsel from at least three priests and his bishop. Each tried to counter his conscience and assure him that this military service was compatible with his Christianity. His earlier experiences left him with a great horror of lies and double-dealing, and Jägerstätter reconciled his church's advice of subservience to the governing authorities with his conscience by reporting to the induction center but refusing to serve. Imprisoned in Linz and Berlin, he was convicted in a military trial and beheaded on August 9th, 1943. He was survived by his wife and three daughters, the eldest of whom was six. He also left behind a small and moving set of essays and letters from prison.

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