Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mark Twain's "War Prayer"

Over the last couple of days, several dozen bloggers have mentioned, linked to, or quoted Mark Twain's "War Prayer." I was behind on my blog reading and didn't see it until an hour ago on Daily Kos.

Twain wrote the story, which concluded with the following prayer, just over a century ago, in response to the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. The words are as pertinent now as they were then.

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.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Georgia Carnival

The Tenth Georgia Carnival is up at Georgia on My Mind. Tenth? Has it been that long? Check it out--Elementary History Teacher, the carnival's founder and this edition's host, has done another wonderful job!

weekend reading

A couple of pieces worth reading during this long weekend.

Andrew Bacevich, a politically conservative scholar who has long opposed the current war, has an essay in today’s Washington Post. “Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.’s life is priceless,” he writes. “Don’t believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier’s life.” Bacevich lost his son in Iraq a couple weeks ago.

D.R. Scott discusses and links to a recent column in the Boston Globe on “how and why enlistments of African-Americans are at their lowest numbers since the all-volunteer military was created in 1973.” Part of the answer: “This is not a black people’s war. This is not a poor people’s war. This is an oilman’s war.”


. . . or, How Would Jesus Smell?

Attaturk links to a press release:

The world’s first spiritual perfume – Virtue® – was Premiered this week by IBI, a niche fragrance company in Orange, CA. Based upon an inspired Biblical formula, the perfume is designed to be a reminder of God, Christ, spiritual self and soul.

“We turned to the Bible to seek inspiration about which items to include and became convinced that a formulation would reveal itself,” explains Rick Larimore, IBI’s chief executive officer. “Creating Virtue® has been a journey and adventure through fragrance and scripture, with remarkable miracles confirming our choices.”

Virtue®’s subtle blend includes top notes of apricot (the real “forbidden fruit”), pomegranate and fig that transition to a gentle heart of iris, warming to a golden base of rich, exotic woods of frankincense, myrrh, aloe, and spikenard....

“The Bible documents that fragrance was associated with Christ and many of the ancient saints, including last century’s Padre Pio, gave off a fragrance that was associated with virtue,” explains Larimore.

IBI notes that “it will introduce a Biblically based moisturizing lotion soon.”

It just ain’t right. Or maybe I’m jealous that I didn’t think of it first.

Actually, IBI didn’t think of it first. A couple years ago, I read about a South Dakota couple who developed and marketed this:

Light up the candle called “His Essence” and its makers say you’ll experience the fragrance of Christ.

Bob Tosterud and wife Karen say the formula is all spelled out in Psalm 45. “It’s a Messianic Psalm referring to when Christ returns and his garments will have the scent of myrrh, aloe and cassia,” says Karen Tosterud.. . . .

“You can’t see him and you can’t touch him,” says Bob Tosterud. “This is a situation where you may be able to sense him by smelling. And it provides a really new dimension to one’s experience with Jesus.”

I hadn’t thought of the Tosteruds and their candle for a long time, and when Attaturk reminded me of it, I did a quick Google search and discovered that “His Essence” was only the beginning. The original is still available, but two new candles have been added: Resurrection and Servanthood. According to the website, Resurrection is based on John 19:39-40: “Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.” From a marketing standpoint, I’d be concerned with trying to sell something explicitly based on masking the smell of dead people.

Servanthood, based on John 12:3, is more promising. “Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

Reminds me about that verse about how there’s one born every minute.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Meanwhile, back in Kennesaw....

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a month since my last posting. . . .

No, wait, I'm not Catholic.

It's been a quiet month in Lake Wobegon. . . .

No, that's not right either.

A couple of things came up that kept me away from the blog for a while, and I just never got back to it. No excuses, no further explanation, I just took a long unannounced break.

Early this morning, I saw that One Blog a Day recently featured Ed Darrell's Millard Fillmore's Bathtub. I thought "Go, Ed!" He deserves the attention. And then, just a few hours after I read that, Ed added a comment to my last posting here: "'No students' means 'no posting?' Hurry back, please."

OK, I guess Ed's comment was all I needed. Here I am.

It's been a good month. Our Civil War Symposium went well. Good speakers, and a good crowd. I was happy to finally meet LeeAnn Whites, who has written on Rebecca Felton, a champion of women's rights and the first woman in the U.S. Senate (and, like me, a resident of Cartersville, Georgia--well, she resides in the city cemetery). LeeAnn didn't know that the old Felton home, built in the 1850s, burned down a few years ago. I go to the home site every once in a while as I drive around town, and I always pick up a few of the old nails (the ruins have not been cleared). I gave one of the nails to LeeAnn, and she was happier than I would have imagined to have it. She's a very pleasant person, as were all the speakers.

Spring classes ended. One, the senior seminar, I'm especially going to miss. I had a really great bunch of students, the sort of combination that you might expect maybe once in a half-dozen years.

Summer classes begin next week. I'm teaching three. Three classes is a full-time load during the regular year, so this is a killer schedule for the summer (8 weeks rather than 15). One of the classes is the second half of the US survey, and I'm going to use The Historian's Wizard of Oz, edited by Ranjit Dighe. (This edition contains the entire text of L. Frank Baum's book, plus Dighe's extensive annotations on how the story reflects late-nineteenth century politics, economics, and culture.) I've thought about using it before and always chickened out. We'll see how it goes. I'm also doing a section each of Georgia history and the methodology course. I get tired just thinking about this!

While I was away, Elle abd became Elle PhD! For non-academic readers, "ABD" is an informal designation for PhD students who have completed the coursework for the degree but not the dissertation--"all but dissertation." Sadly, ABD ends up being a terminal degree for some, but Elle made it!

All right, those syllabusses for next week aren't going to write themselves. See y'all next month. (Just kidding.)