The War Prayer

Once again I had the pleasure to watch actor Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of American humorist and raconteur Mark Twain. It was in a large theatre in a small city. All 15-hundred seats were filled.

At one point Holbrook goes into Twain’s “The War Prayer”. Twain wrote it around 1905. It was rejected by his publisher and then found after his death among his unpublished manuscripts.

Twain apparently wrote it as an opposition to the Philippines War of 1899-1902.

The whole story is too long for this post, but its essence is not. The story is a messenger from “The Throne”, shows up in a small church that had been praying for victory and safety for their young who are going off to war. The messenger says God wants them to know the unmentioned results, the unspoken part of the prayer, that must follow victory in war.

“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.

(*After a pause.*) The messenger says, “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

Twain ends the story with this line. “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

California Fires

Dear Friends,
There is fire’s devastation again in California. I have friends in the area and though their homes were sparred, others were not.

A house for some and home for others
Families, friends, sisters and brothers.
Gone! Vanquished in the force of flame.
Nothing left! No photo! No frame!

We cannot know not being there
The loss, the ache, for hearts to bear
And minds to seek a place called home
Where hopes can rest and memories roam.

We’re oft surprised by nature’s rath
That brings the wind and chewing path
Of flames and shakes and hurricanes
Into our solace causing pains.

The valiant fought with hose and pail
Extinguishing? To no avail.
The pros came in from near and far,
But could not hold the fire’s char.

A table and some chairs in flame.
What is the cause and who’s to blame?
Did laughter, love, once languish there
Upon the deck, without a care?

What do we say to stranger’s pain?
“I’m sorry”, said as prayer, seems lame,
But there is healing in the thought
When we, but view, what nature wrought.

Photo’s by Dan Steinberg AP, Mark Terrill AP, and Andrew Gombert EPA.


Astronomers reported yesterday that they have the first snapshot of planets in another solar system.

Somewhere in the constellation of Pegasus there is a large star. It doesn’t have a name. It has a number, HR 8799. It’s really far away. 128 light years away and one light year is about 6 trillion miles. Orbiting HR 8799 are three planets each larger than Jupiter.

The picture at the upper left of this post is what the scientists who discovered the system call the snapshot.

The Christian Science Monitor put it this way:

“In the hunt for solar systems beyond our own, astronomers have crossed an important threshold – capturing from the ground, as well as from space, the first direct images of planets around bright, sun-like stars.”

I am not an organized religious person or a dogma proponent. I do acknowledge and embrace the efficacy of things spiritual and write about what that could mean often, but the only truth that came to mind when I saw this photograph was the phrase, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

It’s something to think about anyway.


Some thoughts on computer language.

Sometimes it is hard to make ourselves understood in our own language, let alone in another and when the technology of one language coins new words for specific things it can be very confusing.

Back when computers were beginning to be used on a wide scale. America was the leader in computers and computer software. The French, who have long been sensitive in keeping the purity of their language, tried to figure out a literal translation for the computer term “Data Processing”. What the French came up with was “informatique”.

“Tique” is now added to a number of French computer terms. Telecomunications are “telematique”. Automated office equipment is “bureautique” and nearly any new computer linked process the french call ” novotique”.

The French mentality invents words rather than products. Americans invent products, but prefer to talk in initials.

FYI, CU tomorrow.