Is being a war enthusiast a sin?


I enjoy reading military history and I play war games because of the strategy involved. I also enjoy movies that involve war because of the valor/drama aspect. That said, I would never want for war to happen in real life unless it’s a just war, all in conformity with Catholic teaching. Is it a sin or imperfection for me to be fascinated with war, nevertheless, even if for academic and recreational reasons that have no serious impact on how I live my life?

Or is the subject of war simply inherently violent that we should avoid it altogether (out of sight, out of mind?) But then that would mean that academic military historians (who, I presume, are also war enthusiasts) would, by the nature of their profession, be constantly sinning/be imperfect. And so on. (Or am I just being scrupulous?). What say you?


One would argue that it would indeed be a virtuous path to endeavor to avoid future wars. That said:

"“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke

Accordingly, I submit that being a student of historical wars can be a very virtuous and righteous path.


Yes, sounds like you are a history buff. No sin there.


Unless you are taking some sadistic delight in the suffering of others, I don’t see how having an interest in military history (which is after all a legitimate branch of history) is in any way problematic.


If you want to take a break from strategy and valor, and read a scholarly book about the horror of war as experienced by soldiers, I would recommend the following, which I read recently:

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

The twentieth century, with its bloody world wars, revolutions, and genocides accounting for hundreds of millions dead, would seem to prove that human beings are incredibly vicious predators and that killing is as natural as eating. But Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a psychologist and U.S. Army Ranger, demonstrates this is not the case.

The good news, according to Grossman — drawing on dozens of interviews, first-person reports, and historic studies of combat, ranging from Frederick the Great’s battles in the eighteenth century through Vietnam — is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill. …]

The provocative news is that modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have learned how to overcome this reluctance. …]

The bad news is that by conditioning soldiers to overcome their instinctive loathing of killing, we have drastically increased post-combat stress — witness the devastated psychological state of our Vietnam vets as compared with those from earlier wars. …]


I am in contact with published military historians. Truth is the first casualty of war, documents are classified for decades, and only later - much later - does new information and documents get declassified.

War games have been played for a long time. If the object is bringing to life courage and valor in a just war - no problem. The nature of war is inflicting violence on the enemy. I have a recreational and academic reason to buy the military history books I buy and watching some war movies, but not those where enemy equipment is not accurately portrayed.

The goal for academics is the truth. New material is surfacing about World War I. But if you don’t find a good community of historians, researchers and even those who find it all interesting in a recreational sense, odds are you’ll have difficulty tracking down new information.



If interest in war as a matter of intellect were wrong, then even games like chess would be.



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