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Jeremy Bell: does Anzac Day glorify war?

6 May, 2021

Campion lecturer Dr Jeremy Bell addressed last Thursday’s formal hall on the topic of Anzac Day.

His speech was a philosophical exploration of the debate over whether commemorating Anzac Day glorifies war.

Dr Bell quoted a Spectator article, which stated Anzac Day “isn’t about glorifying war” but “about taking a moment to be grateful to those who served and sacrificed themselves for our safety and freedom”.

However, he questioned this analysis, saying that any commemoration of events like Anzac Day are in one sense a glorification of war, if only a celebration of the efforts of those engaged in war to defend the freedom and safety of their country.

Dr Bell went on to discuss the Just War Theory, particularly focusing on Elizabeth Anscombe, the subject of his own doctoral thesis, as well as the concepts of honour, and whether killing is evil in and of itself.

He rounded up this fascinating speech by looking at the Christian distinction between ‘killing’ and ‘murder’, pointing out that even Scripture justifies killing in certain circumstances: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal…” Ecclesiastes 3.

Following Dr Bell’s speech, a group of students led by second-year Joseph Nunes sang Arcadelt’s polyphonic choral piece, Ave Maria.

The evening was MC’d by third-year Lauren Brodie, and presided over by Dean Luciano Boschiero in President Paul Morrissey’s absence. See photos from the night below.