Originally published as The Day the Bomb Fell(1984), by Johannes Siemes SJ; and Peace is our Problem (1970) by Bruce Kent, these two titles have been brought together to contrast the two very different subject matters. The first is an eyewitness account, by a German Jesuit, of the atom bombing of Hiroshima. The second is an account of the Christian peace movement by a well-known activist.
The morality of nuclear weapons and deterrence, and the possibility of “just war”, is still hotly debated amongst Christians and this was a book very much of its time. Fr Siemes’s account of the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath is remarkable for its level-headed, factual tone; he does not engage in the easy judgements so common in discussing nuclear weapons. He makes it clear that all war is horrible, and so-called “conventional” explosives are quite as capable of killing civilians as their nuclear counterparts.
Bruce Kent’s text on the peace movement was first published in 1970, at the height of the Cold War. Today our real concerns about security are less likely to involve the arms race and opposed great power blocs than the actions of international terrorists and rogue states. Many sincere Christians still advocate disarmament and the exclusively peaceful resolution of conflict. That other equally sincere Christians reckon them naïve or mistaken does not diminish the value of their witness; nor, however, does the sincerity of that witness tell us, in itself, anything about the value of their arguments.