30 May 2008

The War Prayer

Perhaps I'm lucky. One of the strongest tenants of the Catholic faith impressed upon me as a child was, as Ma' would say: "Would you like it if they did that to you?" (It's also a belief woven into Hindism, Islam, Buddhism and various other practices.) These weren't matters of devotion or adherence to a certain dogma, these were matters of the simple truths of human decency and humanity. Two Golden Rules (paraphrased):
  • Love God
  • Treat people the way you would like to be treated

Neither are impossible concepts to get your head around (even for people who debate the capitalization of the word "God.")

When praying for a win in the little league quarter-finals, you're also praying for a loss in the little league quarter-finals for the other team. Unacknowledged of course (or under-acknowledged, at best), and logically there has to be a winner and loser for there to be a competition. But why would you wish on someone that which you are praying to avoid, through prayer?

I'm not saying everyone should throw the game and let the other guy win (a misappropriation of another very important parable in the Bible.) What I'm saying is that calling on God in defense or praise of strategic competitive goals does not only contain easy to ignore negatives reactions, it is antithetical to the standards of the Golden Rules that were so generously preached and mostly observed by the people I feel lucky to call my family.

Wielding "God" as an ideological or tactical tool to gain a desired competitive result, be it a baseball win or war is indefensible. God's lessons are not about victory. The Bible taught me that Jesus cared not so much about leprosy as a disease, he cared about leprosy and how it affected the leper. The rest will follow.

That being said, courtesy of Mark Twain, this seems to be "going viral" and I think it's a good thing.

It reads just fine without the well conceived animation.

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

(h/t to slacktivist)

Oh, and btw, anyone hiring?

[UPDATE: BTW, I'm an athiest.]