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Thoughts on Mark Twain's 'The War Prayer'

By David Lindorff, Sr.  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 4 pages)
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Headlined to H2 12/13/11

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By David Lindorff Sr.


David Lindorff Sr. was a Marine staff sergeant in World War II by ThisCantBeHappening

At the beginning of the twentieth century the United States was engaged in a long and brutal war of aggression against the Philippines, which led to between 200,000 and 1.5 million civilian deaths. It was a colonial war against independence fought by the US with patriotic zeal and of course, the claim that God was on our side.  To be against the war in that jingoistic era was considered tantamount to treason.  Hence it was a brazen act of effrontery for author Mark Twain to have made a statement denouncing the acts of brutality that accompanied this war.  In his short story, The War Prayer , he portrayed a priest who, with  fervor, called upon God to bring victory to a supposedly just cause,  irrespective of the horror inflicted on the "enemy," a poor and downtrodden people trying only to assert their freedom after centuries of colonial oppression.

Following an invocation from the Old-Testament and an enormous blast from the orgen "that shook the house," the priest closed with,

"Bless our arms,

                        grant us the victory,

                        O Lord our God,          

                        Father and Protector

                        of  our land and flag.

It was then that attention shifted to an old man walking slowly down the aisle. With his eyes fixed on the gaunt face and long white hair of the approaching stranger, who was wearing a white robe that reached to his feet, the startled minister yielded his place at the altar.  The strange interloper stood there for a time, seemingly unaware of the people sitting spellbound before him in the pews.

With eyes that showed an "uncanny light, he then said in a deep voice:

I come from the Throne --               

bearing a message from Almighty God."

These words were of course shocking. He continued:

He has heard the prayer

                        of the servant your shepherd

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Amen to this, bro.... by Nick van Nes on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 10:20:37 AM
We must remember they are asking the good Lord&nbs... by Nick van Nes on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 10:25:05 AM
Thank you for saying what i have privately thought... by liberalsrock on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 11:30:57 AM
you are assuming that the god that is being prayed... by zon moy on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 5:57:17 PM
I don't think I fully appreciated Mark Twain until... by June Genis on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 10:32:12 AM
they would be ranting that war is not the solution... by Anuel Jackson on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 4:38:11 PM
I recommend it. Short answer: Yes, it will, if we ... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 at 11:46:44 AM
After reading the article, I revisited "Sky Pilot"... by Ben Wofford on Friday, Dec 16, 2011 at 12:42:15 AM
to god for their victory over their vanquished opp... by bogi666 on Friday, Dec 16, 2011 at 8:18:52 AM