Category Archives: Satire

Unexpected Satire

When I was in Chattanooga a couple weeks ago visiting family, I went downtown on Saturday afternoon with my mom, my sister, and her fiancé to walk around and enjoy the weather. Walking thru Coolidge park, we passed a used book store that I hadn’t noticed before, A Novel Idea, so I ducked in for a couple minutes. I walked out with these books:

  • Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic – Reinhold Niebuhr
  • I’ve heard different passages quoted from this before, so it should be fun to read through.

  • The Cloister Walk– Kathleen Norris
  • I loved hearing Kathleen Norris speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing last month, so I had planned on buying Dakota, her book that I’ve heard talked about most. Since The Cloister Walk was all they had, I went ahead and bought it and was later glad I did when I found out that it has inspired some of Eric Peter’s songs.

  • An Island in the Lake of Fire – Bob Jones University, Fundamentalism & the Separatist movement – Mark Taylor Dalhouse
  • Written by an historian, I was intrigued at this look at my mom’s alma mater, a place where I spent several weeks during my high school years at various music competitions and other events. I bought it because he addresses the well-publicized split between the Joneses and my great grandfather, John R. Rice, over the issue of secondary separation. It looks like it will be an interesting read.

    And lastly,

  • When Skeletons Come out of their Closets! – Eleven greatly used sermons by Dr. John R. Rice
  • I’m trying to build up a collection of my Great Grandfather’s books, so whenever I come across one in a used bookstore I buy it. This one, a collection of his sermons, was first published in 1943. The copy I found is from the fourth printing, in May of 1969, after the first 23,000 copies were gone; I don’t know how many more printings there were of it. I’ve skimmed through it some this week, and in one sermon, America Gets Back Her Scrap Iron (written early in World War II), I came across some unexpected satire that I thought was great:

    How wicked the Japanese are! We sold them millions of pounds of scrap iron with which to make bombs and guns and ammunition and tanks and warships; but we had a clear understanding that they were to kill helpless Chinese with them. And now, after murdering something over a million Chinese, mostly innocent non-combatants, women and children who could not help themselves nor fight back, Japan has now begun to kill Americans with our own scrap iron! How wicked, how sinful are the Japanese, to kill armed American soldiers and sailors, instead of killing helpless Chinese as the understanding was when we sold them the scrap iron along with the airplanes, the oil and some of the bombs to do it with!

    Now, of course, the rest of the chapter contains exactly what I expected, like this line, “France can trace her startling, sudden fall largely to an alcoholized army and a wine-sodden people. Shall America get by with the same sin?”

    And a couple more excerpts, typical of other things I’ve read from him before:

    Every Christian must be a Christian patriot for God and country. I believe we should back up our government in the war with our earnest efforts, our money, our toil, our prayers, and if necessary, with our lives. The decadent pacifism of the modernist, of the pink professors, is not the Christian attitude of Bible Christians.

    No doubt the curse of God on our country, the war and all the dangers we face, are largely because of the great majority of people who do not know God, who never pray earnestly in Christ’s name, who do not love the Lord Jesus, who will not have Him as Lord. Every lost sinner is a Christ-rejector, an alien from God, a child of wrath, following his father, the devil. And on such a nation as ours, composed principally of Christ-rejecting sinners, God must bring judgment if we do not repent!

    Now if I can just find enough time to read all these…

    How to write good satire

    Okay, I’ve said before that it is hard for me to write satire because I read stuff in papers like The Sword of the Lord and The Biblical Evangelist that are exactly what I would write, except they go even farther than I would go. Oh yeah, and they’re not satire.

    A friend of mine, Matthew, just sent me a link to an article that includes the kind of quote they would print, the kind of thing I wouldn’t believe if he made it up. He blogged about it here. And as a side note, if you do want to read good satire, pick up Matthew’s book The Christian Culture Survival Guide (on sale right now from Relevant Books for only $4!). Hilarious.

    The War Prayer (National Day of Prayer, 2008)

    Since today is the National Day of Prayer, as I’ve done before, I thought I’d post my favorite short story from Mark Twain, The War Prayer. I found an illustrated copy of this a couple weeks ago in a used bookstore here in Nashville, and just came across an animated version here. I think the last line is brilliant.

    The War Prayer by Mark Twain
    written approximately 1904-05

    Editorial Note: Outraged by American military intervention in the Philippines, Mark Twain wrote this and sent it to Harper’s Bazaar. This women’s magazine rejected it for being too radical, and it wasn’t published until after Mark Twain’s death, when World War I made it even more timely. It appeared in Harper’s Monthly, November 1916.

    It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

    Sunday morning came — next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams — visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

    God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

    Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory —
    An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

    The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

    “I come from the Throne — bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import — that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of — except he pause and think.

    “God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two — one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this — keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

    “You have heard your servant’s prayer — the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it — that part which the pastor — and also you in your hearts — fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

    “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.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

    It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

    The Life of a Christian Musician…

    Andrew Osenga, a member of the Square Peg Alliance, just wrote a blog post titled “When it rains, it pours”. Toward the end, he says:

    It’s been a week with 30 hours of stuff to do a day, where every dollar that shows up comes with a bill for two more, and where the club won’t book you cause you played in a church, and the christian college won’t book you because you drink beer. And yes, that really happened.

    At least the christian college knows what’s really important.

    Jesus Needs New PR

    Is there any question that Jesus needs new PR? He is constantly having statements and positions attributed to him from all corners. Everyone from the guy on the street to the sports fan holding up a sign to politicians (of all stripes) claim to be speaking for Him. There’s even a 76-year old guy who claims he can bench press 2000 lbs who keeps eating bad Mexican food, falling asleep in front of the T.V., and then announcing he is receiving messages from God.

    Ben Folds talks about this in Jesusland, singing Town to town / broadcast to each house, they drop your name / but no one knows your face / Billboards quoting things you’d never say / you hang your head and pray // for Jesusland / Jesusland //

    There aren’t many things that I know of that beg satirical attention more than all the statements attributed to Jesus. Fortunately, there are some people who are addressing it. Acclaimed author and speaker Matthew Paul Turner (you are acclaimed, aren’t you, Matthew?) recently finished writing a new book titled, appropriately enough, Jesus Needs New PR. Since the book doesn’t come out until September, Matthew has just started a new blog of the same title. He described his blog this way: This blog is a satirical blog about how Christians portray Jesus within culture, media, politics, and other areas of our society.

    In his first post, he said:

    As a writer, you’re always looking forward to your next book or project. Well, that would be an understatement for me. I’ve been working for a little more than a year on my book: Jesus Needs New PR. I am beyond excited about it. I’m in the editing process now, as it doesn’t release until the fall of 2007.

    Tyndale House Publishers out of Chicago will be releasing it. And I love the people I work with at Tyndale. Not only are they kind and helpful and fantastic at what they do, they’re taking a risk with this book. Why is it a risk? Well, because Jesus Needs New PR is not like anything that I’ve ever read from a faith-based publisher. And since Tyndale is best known for “Left Behind” and “The New Living Translation” of the Bible, this book is a rather big step for them. But you know, I really wouldn’t want to take that step with anyone else–they’ve been wonderful.

    As the release day gets closer, hopefully, I will be able to let you sample some of it. I can’t wait for that. Until then, the topic is Jesus and his PR… let the conversation begin…

    MPT

    I’ve enjoyed reading Matthew’s other books, especially his first one, The Christian Culture Survival Guide. One of the reasons I enjoy his writing, I’m sure, is because our backgrounds are similar. We both grew up in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, his family went to a Jack Hyles church (if you don’t know who that is, consider yourself lucky), and he even heard my Great Grandfather, John R. Rice, preach when he was about 6 years old.

    Check out Matthew’s blog here, or from the links list on the left.

    An Argument for Total Abstinence

    Wade Burleson has just written one of the best blog posts / satirical essays I’ve seen in a while. In the spirit of the motion at the last Southen Baptist Convention to affirm the supremacy of traditions over scripture, Wade has laid out his arguments for a motion to be submitted at the next SBC convention:

    Reasons Why Tea Totalers Should Be Excluded from Southern Baptist Leadership and Missions Ministry

    (1). Drinking tea leads a person to addiction to caffeine.

    There might be some who allege that drinking just one or two glasses of tea does not lead to caffeine addiction. This is technically true, but unfortunately, not all Christians who partake in moderate tea drinking can stop with just a couple of glasses. It is not uncommon for Christian men and women to progress from tea, to coffee, to 64 ounce Colas or Mountain Dews. Where does it stop? How does one know when the line of addiction has been crossed? If caffeine is addictive, then why play with fire? We must conclude that Drinking tea is a sin (Counsels on Diet and Drink: Part II, Tea and Coffee, page 434).

    (2). Tea and coffee are destructive to the Christian’s body, which is the temple of God.

    As pointed out above, caffeine is highly addictive. Quitting coffee can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness and irritability. The acidic nature of coffee can lead to stomach ulcers. When the excess acid enters the bloodstream, it also increases calcium loss in urine. Both coffee and tea have no nutritional value. Tannin, the substance that makes tea cups brown and coats tea pots, is used for tanning leather. Imagine the stomach after twenty years of tea drinking.

    Caffeine is able to penetrate deep into vital tissue. Evidence shows that it may be linked to male infertility and also birth defects by passing through the placenta. Drinking coffee during breast feeding will cause caffeine to be present in mothers’ milk.

    Caffeine has a powerful effect on coronary arteries and the pulmonary and systemic vessels, causing a greater flow of blood to the heart muscle, but decreasing the flow of blood to the brain by constricting cerebral blood vessels. Caffeine can cause abnormally fast, abnormally slow and irregular heart beats. It also wreaks havoc on blood pressure, commonly producing hypertension. Coffee has been linked to heart disease, pancreas and bladder cancer, and hypoglycemia.

    Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, providing that familiar kick on which we have come to depend. But as with all stimulants, there is a price to be paid. If you run the body on overdrive for an extended period of time by artificially stimulating the adrenals, expect breakdown to occur.

    (3). Though the Bible does not expressly forbid the drinking of tea, there is an overwhelming preponderence of Biblical evidence that tea drinking is a sin.

    “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him” (Proverbs 10:36). The same acidic quality of vinegar, tea and coffee is as damaging to the Christian as smoke is to the eyes.

    “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5), “…every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things” (I Cor. 9:25).

    Though some might argue that these verses do not explicitly ‘forid’ the drinking of tea, it is clear that the Christian who desires to be holy in all things will not even begin to cross the line of introducing tea or coffee into his system.

    (4). Though some have the gall to say Jesus drank tea on the cross, it was clearly not the same kind of tea or substance that tea drinkers consume today.

    Some try to be cute in their arguments for moderate tea drinking by pointing out that Jesus drank ‘vinegar’ on the cross, which contains the same acidic and caffeneited quality as today’s tea.

    The Bible states, “And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink….” (Mk. 15:36).

    Biblical scholars have long pointed out that the acidic and caffeinated content of the vinegar drink offered to Jesus was less than 5% of the acid and caffeine found in today’s most popular teas. To compare the actions of Jesus at Calvary with today’s tea drinking should be considered a sin in and of itself.

    To justify your own desire to drink tea by pointing to the conduct of Jesus is shameful.

    (5). The argument that drinking tea is not illegal in the United States, and therefore, lawful for the Christian, is an argument straight from hell.

    Homosexuality is not illegal in the states. Adultery is not illegal in America. Dressing inappropriately with boxers showing, and breasts peeking out of tight tops is not illegal in my hometown, but does that make it right?

    Just to say drinking tea is not illegal is in reality no argument at all. “In everything we do, whether we eat or drink, we do for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).

    (6). Some cultures drink tea as a normal part of daily life, but that is no excuse for Christians to drink it, since we are to be ‘a cut above’ the world.

    Some missionaries might argue that drinking tea in China is a cultural event, and to identify with the Chinese one must drink tea. As it is said, “When in Rome do as the Romans.”

    Hogwash. We are not to let culture affect us, we are to be a shining example to culture of how Christ can transform people. The person who drinks tea on a regular basis simply has no idea what Christ can do for his life, and if you drink tea with him, while introducing him to Christ, then you may give him the impression he can continue drinking tea as a Christian.

    When in Rome do as Christ would do. Christ would not sit and drink tea with the Chinese. How could He defile His holy body in such a manner?

    (7). When a Christian purchases tea he is supporting an entire industry that has made a fortune by leading people to the mind altering, destructive, and nearly impossible to break addiction to caffeine.

    This industry must not be supported by Christians. Every dollar you spend on green tea is like purchasing a death warrant for the person who will later die from an acidic stomach from the tea produced by the company to whom you gave profits.

    It is time for Christians to shut down the entire, godless industry of tea making and associated tea products.

    (8). It has been scandalously reported that some young, Southern Baptist pastors are actually having Bible studies in the local Starbucks in an effort to lead people to Christ.

    The pastors who have begun this new outreach program seem to have no understanding of what it means to be ‘in the world, but not of the world.’

    No matter how many people have come to Christ through these creative efforts, it is unconscionable for SBC pastors to actually meet in a location where people are introducing into their bodies an agent that alters the mind, changes the disposition, and eventually destroys the body.

    No matter how slick the environment, there is no excuse for the compromise of the gospel.

    (9). A great concern for the loosening of the standard of total abstinence from tea drinking is the belief that those Southern Baptist moderates and liberals who drink tea will eventually cause the Southern Baptist Convention to turn back from a firm belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.

    It is being reported that there are actually some pastors who are either not using the Bible in their ministries, or trusting in very loose translations of the holy and inerrant KJV.

    For example, one loose knit association of SBC pastors have actually quoted Psalm 23 as:

    The Lord is my barista; I shall not want.

    He maketh me to recline on green sofas: he leadeth me beside the clean tables.

    He repoureth my latte: he maketh me a ristretto of righteousness for goodness sake.

    Yea, though I walk through the aisles of instant coffee, I will fear no nescafe: for thou art with me; thy cafe and it’s staff they comfort me.

    Thou preparest an espresso for me in the presence of mine tea drinking colleagues: thou anointest my ears with friendly banter; my latte hath art on it.

    Surely warmth and bonhomie shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the cafe of the Lord for ever

    (10). Drinking caffeinated tea for recreational purposes physiologically acts as a ‘mind altering drug, “

    Once a Christian says it is all right to alter his mind by introducing outside agents to change his perspective, where will he stop? Why not marijuana? Why not cocaine? The libertinism of the modern Southern Baptist Convention must be checked. The line in the sand must be drawn with tea and coffee.

    There will be a resolution introduced at San Antonio to forbid any trustee, missionary or denominational leader from partaking in the recreational use of tea or coffee.

    May God keep our convention pure.

    May God bless the Southern Baptist Convention.

    You can read Wade’s original post here, along with comments that urge the expansion of this motion to include decaffinated tea so that “the appearance of evil is avoided”.

    The Wittenburg Door

    I’ve been reading the online version of the Wittenburg Door for a while but had not read their print magazine until this past weekend. For those unfamiliar with it, they bill themselves as “The World’s Pretty Much Only Religious Satire Magazine”.

    If you pick up a copy, I recommend not reading it in a public place. At least, not if you don’t want people looking at you strange. Among the funnier pieces is an article about the new “One Second Bible” for those who don’t have time for the “One Minute Bible”. One paragraph cheerfully notes that “in just over a week “practically anybody” can read through the entire verse of John 3:16.” Which is, the VP of marketing stressed, “all a Christian really needs to know anyway”.
    “According to the book’s reading timetable, the more industrious reader can complete Paul’s epistle to the Romans in just under twelve years. (Which is just about the same amount of time it takes the average Presbyterian minister to preach through it.)

    Here’s another excerpt:

    Good News for CBA 2007
    By Darrin Rittenhouse

    The slump in sales suffered by Christian Bookstore Association members in 2006 can be attributed to two factors. First, the ferocious attempt by Wal-Mart to corner the market by illegally undercutting Christian publishers. Second, the dearth of even marginally original new books by the world’s best-known religious authors, most of whom have been long since reduced to recycling their earlier work.

    Fortunately, a new trend is sweeping among evangelical authors – blending! Why should one author struggle to stretch a marginal idea over 180 pages? Instead, top authors are working together to create a whole new wave of powerful, prophetic, groundbreaking, relatively original books. Here’s a sneak preview up upcoming titles in 2007:

    Your Best Purpose-Driven Life Now by Joel Osteen and Rick Warren

    Cure for the Common Life You’ve Always Wanted by Max Lucado and John Ortberg

    So You Want to be Wild at Heart by John Eldredge and Charles Swindoll

    So You Want to be Like, You Know, Wild at Heart (for teens) by Eldredge and Swindoll

    The Case for Approval Addiction by Joyce Meyer and Lee Strobel

    I Kissed the Bad Girls of the Bible by Joshua Harris and Liz Curtis Higgs

    What’s So Amazing about Bruce Wilkinson by Philip and Jabez Yancey

    What Every Man Wants… Twelve Extraordinary Women by John Hagee and John MacArthur

    You can read more from this issue at http://www.wittenburgdoor.com/current_issue.html.

    The War Prayer

    Since today is the National Day of Prayer (read the President’s comments here), I thought I’d post one of my favorite short stories, written by the eminent American author Mark Twain.

    The War Prayer by Mark Twain
    written approximately 1904-05

    Editorial Note: Outraged by American military intervention in the Philippines, Mark Twain wrote this and sent it to Harper’s Bazaar. This women’s magazine rejected it for being too radical, and it wasn’t published until after Mark Twain’s death, when World War I made it even more timely. It appeared in Harper’s Monthly, November 1916.

    It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

    Sunday morning came — next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams — visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

    God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

    Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory —
    An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

    The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

    “I come from the Throne — bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import — that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of — except he pause and think.

    “God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two — one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this — keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

    “You have heard your servant’s prayer — the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it — that part which the pastor — and also you in your hearts — fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

    “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.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

    It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

    How to interpret the Bible like an Evangelical

    NOTE: Before you read this post, I have to warn you that I am a big fan of satire. If you are offended by satirical humor, you will inevitably become upset when reading certain posts. I will not always feel compelled to label posts that contain satire, so keep that in mind. And now, let the fun begin:

    Joel Kilpatrick, creator of LarkNews.com, recently wrote a new book, A Field Guide to Evangelicals & Their Habitat.
    I bought it soon after it came out a couple weeks ago, and finished it by that evening, all 170 pages. The reason it is so funny is because so much of it is true.

    I have written before on why I think the political positions many conservative evangelicals take is contra-Biblical, so I especially enjoyed this section on Biblical interpretation. The key to trying to defend a political position you endorse by using scripture is really very simple; you just have to know how to read it the right way. For example:

    Here is how evangelicals interpret Bible passages to arrive at their political positions:

    This passage: “Remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10)
    really means: Remember how lazy the poor are and thank God you’re not on welfare like them.

    This passage: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jesus in John 18:36)
    really means: But for now, make sure you keep control of the White House and Congress.

    This passage: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Jesus in Matthew 22:21)
    really means: Only pay taxes on money you can’t hide from the IRS.

    This passage: “Thou shalt not kill” (God in Exodus 20:13)
    really means: Kill only those who deserve it—like death row inmates, abortion doctors, sworn enemies of the United States, and the French, when possible.

    This passage: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him” (God in Exodus 22:21)
    really means: Vote against government benefits for illegals.

    This passage: “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it” (Genesis 2:15)
    really means: Don’t worry about the environment because when Jesus comes back he’ll destroy the earth anyway.

    Thanks to Shaun for bringing this book to my attention.