The War Prayer - by Mark Twain
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 sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads 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 outpouring 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 faces alight with material dreams-visions of a 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 heros, 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 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 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 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 His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this-keep it in mind. If you 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 by 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 the Father 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 their 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 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.
He recently decided to be a drummer.
Then he outfitted their garage as a practice studio. And by outfitted, I mean "changed in name only", meaning no added acoustic treatment. So I started hearing these bizarre drum-oriented noises at odd hours of the day. I'd like to call it "playing", but honestly that word doesn't apply, at least not with his current level of experience. Not super-loud, mind you - houses around here aren't on top of each other. But loud enough to hear clearly if I'm indoors.
Then, I guess, he started a band with his buddies.
Now, I realize that every band has to start somewhere. Everyone sucks when they first start out, and many suck long after. So I don't mean to be critical out of proportion to the situation. But this band would like to learn to play "Come Together". So they play it. And play it. And playitandplayitandplayitandplayitandplayitandplayitandplayit.
And play it.
The problem is, so far at least, they can't play it. The guitarist is probably the closest to understanding how the song should go. Everyone else sounds like, to borrow a phrase I heard recently, monkeys trying to fuck a football.
I tend to be a little more sensitive to annoying, repetitive noises than the average person.
I suppose the good news here is that if I'm making any noise at all myself, I can't hear them. So I guess I need to spend more time making ye olde studio monitors move some air, instead of collecting dust.
Amish Rake Fight has not, repeat not been designeated a Terrorist Organization by the Secretary of State.
Please return to your homes.
So when you chase a bus tour in a van, youíre committing to everyone sleeping in the van most of the time. Plus, with no professional driver, someone in the band or crew has to do those overnight drives. This leads to a lot of additional stress, lack of sleep, and short fuses all around. Itís also easier to spread colds and who-knows-what-else when youíre touring under those kinds of circumstances. So all in all, it can be trying. And while the TKK tour was a lot of fun, and an experience Iíd never trade away, it was certainly difficult.
The first leg of noise.to.signal reminded me of the grind of that TKK tour, even though it was much shorter. We did quite a few dead-head drives, some by choice and some of necessity. The two worst were the trip from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Los Angeles (no stops except for fuel), and Seattle to Chicago (one stop for food). The former was about 28 hours, the latter about 48. In case it wasnít obvious, thatís a long time to spend cooped up in a van. CR and I did the bulk of the driving on this leg of the tour, including some downright maniacal stretches Ė for example, during the Louisiana to Los Angeles trip I drove 15 hours from one end of Texas to the other. By the time El Paso rolled around I was about ready to pass out. But we made it, amazingly. It was a good show, too Ė worth the trouble to get there.
We had some good shows and we had some crappy shows. San Diego was a real letdown to be sure. But Los Angeles and San Francisco were good shows, and Milwaukee was much better than Iíd been expecting.
So, what have we learned from this tour? Gather round, kids, and allow me to share some newfound wisdom with you.
First and foremost, we learned that if you ever find yourself towing a trailer, whatever you do Ė do NOT USE FUCKING OVERDRIVE. This is one of the factors that lead to our transmission failure. ďDonít use overdrive when youíre towing a trailerĒ is written in the ownerís manual, right there in black and white. Not only that, but Iím pretty sure I used to know that, long ago. Did that stop me? No. Chris forgot too, though to his credit he did at least express some uncertainty about it early on in the tour. Why we didnít crack open the vanís ownerís manual right then and there to check is beyond me. It was a stupid, stupid mistake. Now, as it turns out there was a problem with the transmission cooler that, according to the transmission shop, would have eventually lead to the transmissionís demise anyway. We just hastened it by being idiots.
What else did we learn? Well, we learned that driving up to 48 hours straight can make people tired, crabby, and otherwise unpleasant to be around. Naturally, Iím speaking of myself. Mostly.
We learned that 7am rush hour from Tijuana to San Diego is a real bitch.
We learned that Brian can do a Gollum imitation thatís downright creepy. I still have nightmares.
We learned that just because CR says that Chevy Astros never break down, doesnít mean they donít.
We learned that AAA coverage pays for itself very quickly when you have problems. We also learned that AAA does not cover towing a trailer. Ow.
We learned that Miguel has a true talent for those obnoxious coin-op claw-machine games they have at every truck stop on the planet. During the tour he nabbed himself a bunch of goodies, including a Cat-In-The-Hat, a Winnie The Pooh, and a genuine broken glow-in-the-dark pocket watch.
We learned that while itís possible for smokers and non-smokers to share space for long periods of time, it has long lasting debilitating psychological effects. Naturally Iím speaking of other people. Mostly.
We learned that tours can be very expensive. Did I say expensive? I meant EXPENSIVE. I think we all knew that at one time, but forgot and had to be re-acquainted with the idea.
So now itís back to work on the next ARF release, with an intermission or two to work on some remixes Ė next up is one for the Australian band Not Drowning, Waving. Iíve been looking forward to doing this remix for quite some time now.
In theory, weíll resume the fun of noise.to.signal.05 sometime in June, though the plans are still somewhat in the air.
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