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With God on Our Side


Published May 27, 2008 at 1:51 p.m.

Markos Kounalakis, president of The Washington Monthly magazine, has directed a short-film adaptation of Mark Twain's "The War Prayer," a searing indictment of the toxic mix of religion and patriotism, written in 1905. It's definitely worth 14 minutes, 21 seconds of your time.

The illustrations, by the animator Akis Dimitrakopoulos, are haunting. Actor/activist Peter Coyote narrates, with the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti taking over as the mysterious visitor, "come from the throne — bearing a message from Almighty God!"

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.