Those Were The Days

A big bowl of civil religion to put the culture wars in perspective:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. . . .

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

Can anyone guess the source (without using Google or some other search engine)?

Does this make the spirituality of the church look any more appealing?

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34 thoughts on “Those Were The Days

  1. Sounds more 20thC. than 19th. But translate it into Arabic and American made 2k critics might begin to see the upside in 2k’s criticism of civil religion.

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  2. Is this the “War Prayer” by Mark Twain? It is about the pastor praying for success during the Spanish American War, and then afterwards a man from nowhere shows up and interprets what the prayer really said. I love that short story, and it helped me die to my own Americanism, even as a combat vet of the Gulf War.

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  3. Oops. Not. Well, it’s still a great story, and as a skeptic, Twain shows insight that many Christians, blinded by patriotism, miss. And yes, I can learn things from non-believers about life and truth. I still highly recommend it as a thoughtful critique of what happens when we mix Christianity and war.

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  4. Sure, there is some discontinuity between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, but only a person who believes there have been two different gospels would deny the unity of “the covenant of grace”.

    So I have been told.

    But some of those who are most committed to the discontinuity of covenants insist on the continuity of an “unconditional” land grant to “the children of the promise”. I was inside the meetinghouse of a fundamentalist congregation last night and was surprised to see three flags. Not only the crusader flag (kill the Muslims) and the flag of the Empire (kill non-Americans) but also the Zionist flag (the blessing of the Empire is conditioned on the Empire killing for the sake of Israel). Is this third flag now commonly found in meetinghouses?

    I Samuel 15: And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

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  5. That would be a good model for state sanctioned prayers in the public schools. Thank God for activist atheists.

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  6. Chris, Twain sounds more like this when it comes to civil religion:

    From “The United States of Lyncherdom”: “In China, almost every convert runs the risk of catching our civilization…We ought to think twice before we encourage a risk like that; for, once civilized, China can never be uncivilized again…O compassionate missionary, leave China! Come home and convert these Christians!”

    And in response to Andrew Carnegie who suggested that America was a Christian nation: “Why, Carnegie, so is Hell.”

    And when, shortly after becoming President, Roosevelt declared that “In God We Trust” should be stricken from the coin (as it “carried the Name of God into improper places”), Twain told the same Carnegie he found the motto to be one that is “simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it always sounds well—In God We Trust. I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.”

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  7. I worry about you here. The prayer above is from Franklin Roosevelt’s radio address to the nation announcing the invasion of France June 6, 1944. Does anybody absorb themselves in U.S. history, here? Now, we can discuss theological issues raised by this post. P.S. I knew it immediately, and didn’t Google. Am in agriculture, to boot, not academia.

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  8. Eric, I’m very humble, though, about Hollywood trivia. Leaving that to you. FDR’s full D-Day speech is easily accessible in full on YouTube. DG missed the start, I think.

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  9. Sounds like it has to be an overseas conflict during a time when ministers could pray with troops before they left for war. Likely WW1 or WW2. Was this General Patton’s chaplain before sailing for Europe in WWII? Remember the one who got the silver star for “having the ear of God”?

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  10. Was this part left out?

    “Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.”

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  11. I was thinking 20th century, though I couldn’t pin down a name. The date of when it was given is apropros.

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  12. I suspected Lincoln at first, but the “They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people.” betrayed that it was 20th-21st century.

    Also, Lincoln didn’t project US power “overseas”.

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  13. Thank God for activist atheists.

    Looking for a parking spot for this. Found one, I did.

    Mr. Muscato says modern technology is a powerful ally. “Any 7-year-old with an iPhone can go to Wikipedia” to check out religious claims made by their parents, he explains. “They’re harder to indoctrinate”—at least until the kids realize that the words “infallible” and “Wikipedia” rarely appear in the same sentence.

    Activist atheists are descending on Salt Lake on Thursday. Look forward to good jokes and lots of irreverence. What’s not to love (insert extra smiley emoticon)

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