June 27, 2002
CHRISTIAN PACIFISM UPDATE: Reader Ramesh Ponnuru sends this prayer from Stanley Hauerwas’s book Prayers Plainly Spoken:
Title: Save Us from Our American Power
Hauerwas puts in an editor’s note: “I wrote this prayer after the United States sent missiles into Iraq because Iraq had allegedly tried to kill George Bush when he visited Kuwait. President Clinton showed he ‘meant business’ by bombing them.”
Here’s the prayer: “Graceful Lord, we find ourselves living in the most powerful country in the world. The pride and self-righteousness such power breeds are beyond compare. No power exists that can humble us. We are tyrants of all we survey. We decide to bomb these people, send rockets against those people, kill those we call terrorists–all because we can. We are the most powerful people in the world. It is hard not to be caught up in such power. It is intoxicating. Save us from it. Sober us with the knowledge that you will judge this nation, you will humble this nation, you will destroy this nation for our pride. Send us a reminder that you are God, that you alone have the right of vengeance, and if it be your will, make those we bomb instruments of your judgment. At the very least, save us from the ‘normality of killing.’ Amen.”
The 9/11 attacks, in other words, seem to have been exactly what Hauerwas was praying for. I hope he’s happy. Here’s my prayer in response:
Dear God, at the very least, save us from the inanity and excessive self-regard of those who choose to say they are Thy servants and mouthpieces, but who only seem interested in humbling others’ pride, and whose positions always seem to mirror those of Mother Jones. Except that even Mother Jones is showing some sign of a backbone these days. Perhaps I should say The Nation — which seems to see nothing more offensive than American “boastfulness.” In Thy mercy and power, please grant these smug Pharisees in their well-paid sinecures a clue. Amen.
UPDATE: A reader named Dave (his email address gives no clue as to his name, and his signature gives only his first — this is often why I call people “a reader” in these posts, the other reason being that they request confidentiality) sends this thought:
I think the problem is that someone prayed Voltaire’s prayer, and He’s still answering it.
“I have only made but one prayer in my life: `O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And it was granted.”
That’s been the prayer of warbloggers everywhere, and boy, oh boy, has it been granted.