Brilliant light, brilliant evil

Bosco Peters has a profound meditation for this day on which the church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration and the whole world remembers the first use of the atomic bomb.

On this day in 1945, someone climbed not a holy mountain, but into the cockpit of a plane – a machine of war. There had been a lull of a week in the fighting between America and Japan. The Americans had a new secret weapon and they wanted to use it with the maximum psychological effect. On August 6 an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Here we have a new voice booming from heaven. Here too was brightness, brilliant as burning magnesium. Here too is a cloud that has come and has covered us all with shadow. Truly, under the shadow of this new cloud, we are right to feel afraid.

Indeed, are we transformed by the experience of this evil — the destruction of an entire city in one brief flash? Are we as Christians troubled by the juxtaposition of two dazzling experiences on one day? Let us pray that as Peter, James, and John were never the same after seeing the Christ, so may we never be the same as we contemplate the cost of peace and war.

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1 Response

  1. Phil Snyder says:

    While the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were evil acts, they were the lesser evil when compared to the millions of deaths (both American and Japanese) that would have resulted from an armed invasion of the Island or that would have resulted from the complete quaranteen necessary to acheive the surrender of the Japanese military.

    Even on the day before surrender, the Army staged a coup to stop the surrender (and this after the two atomic bombs had been dropped). The coup was thwarted by other elements of the Army.

    If you want to see some terrifying projections, look up Operation Olympus some time and see how many US soldiers (all of them young men) would have been killed in the invasion and occupation.

    The war in the Pacific would have continued for another year or two. And, it is entirely likely that Japan would have developed an atomic bomb during that time. They were much closer than the Germans at the time our bombs were dropped.

    Phil Snyder