When the Jagerstatter beatification was announced, I happened to have just watched a fairly recent movie on the White Rose group which I thought was really interesting because it was so matter of fact about the court proceedings, I mean to me it was realistic, which is unusual for any movie about anything to do with any legal system, and I was really struck by the shock the heroine felt when she realized she was going straight from court to execution. I wondered if Jagerstatter was similarly shocked when he discovered his very rational refusal to stay in the military went from an argument with local officials to execution. I know the White Rose isn't usually included with witnesses like Jagerstatter because they weren't religious or non-violent, just students exchanging information and ideas, but really Jagerstatter wasn't part of anything transcendent, only a fellow with an idea in his head that he was rather stubborn about. All very mundane. And it makes me wonder if there isn't much difference in the course of the lives of these martyrs and of people who live similar lives and don't become martyrs except that they were murdered by the state. I think what I'm getting at is that this focus on martyrs as models of principled action really mixes up what they did with what was done to them. If they hadn't been murdered by the forces of opposition in such unseemly manners, what worth would their stories be to our little social movements? They couldn't be used as examples of how we should march forward with no thought of our own lives, just like Franz or whoever.
In a similar vein, I just read a recent book about Joan of Arc that was pretty good, and it was by a Catholic , so I was surprised. That reminded me how much rationalization there has ben about Joan signing a confession at he last moment. Even this author, who's trying so hard to make her thinking clearly understood, has her maybe, just maybe, playing a trick on the English in the way she made her "mark." So it's a similar thing with Joan. She's valuable a saint and martyr if she just kept going forward without a thought of her own life, but if she tried to reverse the state's momentum toward murdering her by violating her principles, no, that doesn't fit, not as good an example as the martyr who dies singing the Internationale in front of the firing squad.