Wednesday, October 26, 2005

the mystery of prayer in times of war...

yesterday sometime we passed the sobering mark of 2,000 dead American soldiers. This from a NY Times article today:

But as the nation pays grim tribute today to the 2,000 service members killed in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, their collective stories describe the painful stresses and recurring strains that an extended conflict, with all its demands for multiple tours, is placing on families, towns and the military itself as they struggle to console the living while burying the dead...The milestone of 2,000 dead was marked yesterday by a moment of silence in the Senate, and President Bush said that "the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission."

the war continues in Iraq and i'm really not sure what to believe about how things are over there. sometimes i imagine that the only thing i can do is pray...but then i read this piece from Mark Twain and i wonder if i'm being careful enough about how i petition the Almighty when it comes to armed conflict...


It was a time of great and exalting excitement.
The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way...

read the rest of the war prayer by Mark Twain.

2 comments:

dwain said...

This has always been my favorite war poem because it's so dark. Thanks for sharing Twain's "prayer. "

"At the Cenotaph "

I saw the Prince of Darkness, with
his Staff,
Standing bare-headed by the
Cenotaph:
Unostentatious and respectful, there
He stood, and offered up the
following prayer.

Make them forget, O Lord, what this
Memorial
Means; their discredited ideas
revive;
Breed new belief that War is
purgatorial
Proof of the pride and power of
being alive;
Men's biologic urge to readjust
The Map of Europe, Lord of Hosts,
increase;
Lift up their hearts in large
destructive lust;
And crown their heads with blind
vindictive Peace.


The Prince of Darkness to the
Cenotaph
Bowed. As he walked away I heard him
laugh.

Siegfried Sassoon

Anonymous said...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4981881

I heard this list yesterday and found 2000 deaths, although sickening and terrible, an alamingly small fraction of the 26731-30098 Iraqi civilian deaths.