Thursday, May 6, 2010

The National Day of Imaginary Dialogue

Today is The National Day of Prayer, an insult to fake holidays if anything is, but not to worry: more than a century ago, Mark Twain gave us the prayer that renders all others superfluous:

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.
There's no chanting in bloodlust quite like the chanting in bloodlust that passes between one and one's imaginary sky-father. The same goes equally well for vocalizing hopes for the outcomes of sporting events and such.

Imaginary interlocutors never fail to fail us. Frederick Douglass put it so very well when he said "I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs." Then as now, our legs, not sweet nothings passed to imaginary characters, will deliver us or nothing will.

(via Ophelia Benson)

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