Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just One of Many Sermons You Won't Be Hearing on Easter Sunday

The Sermon on The Mark
Barry Crimmins

To grasp how hard it is to express antiwar sentiment in mainstream America, consider this: Mark Twain couldn’t get “The War-Prayer” published while he was alive.

Even worse, it wasn’t just any Mark Twain who couldn’t get this crucial tract into print. It was 70-year-old Mark Twain. Legend emeritus Mark Twain. The Mark Twain who had done world concert tours performing symphonic oratory to rapt overflow audiences. It was steamboat captain, journalist, essayist, minter of maxims, travel-writer beyond compare and author of novels who will live until the damned human race inevitably eliminates itself, Mark Twain who could not get “The War-Prayer” published.

Many of Samuel Clemens’s very important political works have been dismissed by scholars and critics who’ve attempted to transmogrify his natural grief over personal loss into a sad and public departure from reason. And why was he crazy? Because (among other injustices) he railed against the needless infliction of violence upon the cannon fodder dispatched to fight needless wars—as well as the grief and suffering of their loved ones, caretakers and survivors. Pretty crazy, huh? For such a weak argument, it certainly has been durable: it began while he was alive remains in disservice today

Obviously Twain’s life was full of grief because Twain was a human and sooner or later being a human is going to hurt—a lot. Twain lost dear friends, parents, siblings, children and his wife over a span of decades. Twain’s personal suffering undoubtedly helped fuel the extremely lucid outrage he eloquently expressed in “The War-Prayer” but it was frst and foremost the work of a great student and teacher of, and participant in, history.

Nevertheless his publisher passed when Mr. Clemens submitted this mordant satirical indictment of the militaristic lunacy, public cowardice and religious hypocrisy that, to paraphrase the great man, precedes war, must precede war, cannot help but precede war. How much shame did that publisher swallow when he said “no thanks” even after reading the following from the Prayer’s preface?
. . . 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.
The cock had crowed three dozen times on Twain before “The War-Prayer” was rejected so perhaps the publisher was simply considering his own personal safety’s sake. Newspaper and magazine editorialists, political cartoonists and public speakers that aimed lemmings cliff-ward with thunderous pro-war messages had already all but shouted Twain from the stage. He was admonished to return to his role as the humorous yarn-spinner whose true messages were easier to miss.

Twain was savaged for not meeting expectations. They wanted to laugh and instead were challenged to think. And feel. And then maybe laugh. He was joking in his “Seventieth Birthday Speech” when he said “I am not here to deceive; I am here to teach.” But in “The War-Prayer” he wasn’t kidding—he was teaching advanced truth, insight, compassion and sanity. As one who’d single-handedly seen more of the world than most of his critics combined, he understood deteriorating global and national circumstances and wrote
with passion and vigor in an attempt to save what he himself would soon lose: life.

“The War-Prayer’s” custard-pie in the face of piety in the name of mass murder didn’t strike many of his critics the right way. Just squarely. Perhaps they were upset over the cleaning bills. The grief/loss-of-reason dispensation Twain’s detractors employed to keep so much of his later work sitting in darkness duplicitously urged us to remember, “His earlier works were great and so let’s recall the happier Mark Twain.”

And slowly, that is what he became. The carefree man who wrote lighthearted tales like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court—they were perfect vehicles for Mickey Rooney and Bing Crosby to rollick across the silver screen into provide distraction from the grim realities of a world of economic depravity and militaristic expansion. Hollywood rewrote a happy ending for 1949’s Connecticut Yankee because it would have been un-American to have Bing sing and dance his way through a stark warning about the technological depravity of new and more awful killing machines —especially at the dawn of the nuclear era and the mushrooming munitions profiteering it promised. Worst of all was a ridiculous bio-pic called The Adventures of Mark Twain, in which Frederic March chose to depict Clemens as a wide-eyed rube who couldn’t understand why anyone took much notice of the tales he scribbled. By the time I was growing up in the 1960’s Twain had been robotized and turned into an attraction on Disneyland’s Main Street. He’s held the position for half a century.

Despite repeated attempts to sanitize Mark Twain’s already pure messages, some of us still read his works that sass the ever-oppressive status quo. A status quo that’s been unbearable for a landslide majority of human beings ever since Twain took up their cause long ago. His allegedly glum summations have provided booster shots of hope at the most unexpected times. When “The War-Prayer” was discovered by my generation during the Vietnam War, we found someone we could trust who was over 30. Over 130!

“The War-Prayer” is the final word on war. It truly is a holy work because it peacefully resists the frothing madness required to stand on an altar to promote war. It mocks the brainlessness of nationalism and challenges people of any land to take a truly brave stand by separating themselves from the parochial mob to join anyone from anywhere smart and courageous enough to work toward resolving differences with reason rather than violence.

Even after learning how he was muffled, if not silenced, and knowing that many of the great works of his later life are still universally dismissed, even though mostly unread, I chose a course that even the premiere navigator of American letters couldn’t safely negotiate. But as they like to say in the war movies, I’d go to hell for that guy. Although it’s more fun going with him and so that’s why I always tuck a volume or two of Twain into my suitcase before I hit the road to take my argument for the improvement of the human condition onto the stage, page or airwaves.

I’ll never achieve even a fraction of what Mark Twain accomplished but I can aspire to emulate his bravery when it comes time to be one of “those rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness.” Since first reading “The War-Prayer” I have wandered in a “wilderness of flags” for over 35 years. I have performed and written material in the ever-darkening shadow of a Stars and Stripes that has been dragged through the mud, blood and treachery of one unjust war after the next.

At times I’ve inoculated myself from an audience’s silence and/or jeers by thinking, “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.” My audiences just wanted some laughs, but not the kind that come from understanding the buffoonery, arrogance and depravity that’s led to wars from Southeast Asia to Central America to the Middle East. Damned expectations!

It is a joyous and rare day when another “War-Prayer” passage does not impale my heart, “..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 un-friended 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!”

There’s never a day when I fail to think of the author of the greatest spiritual offering since the Sermon on the Mount and realize that regardless of what a century of jingoists would have you believe, Mark Twain was anything but a lunatic, because there was perfect sense in what he said.



  2. What a great way to respond to Easter Kenny, the war prayer has always been one of my favorites as it displays the arrogance of American idiot. It always amazes me how most Americans will be full steam ahead for war, any war without questions. The old story you posted about the soldier's revolt is also one of my favorites as I was drafted during this period. We saw many friends leave germany as a result of a levy and come back in a body bag. Some coming from Vietnam seemed almost crazy.

    On a more positive easter note, some comments I have noted lately.

    Gojim pride world wide (from a Rus commenter, maybe they spell it that way.)

    You don't go to russia, Russia comes to you.

    John McStain

    What if Putin decided to slap sanctions on the BLM for violating the homestead rights of Clive Bundy? What if Putin placed warships off California in case Bundy needed help, replaced his destroyed cattle and placed troops across the border in Canada.

    Lavrov: I an so tired of winning!

    A national watch is on to see if Putin tries to kidnap Reggie Love

    To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.
    - Tacitus


    You know I often tried to bring old friends along and then they come up with well Jane Fonda made the vogue, the communist traitor etc etc. I am no big fan of Jane as she was harping the Hollywood bolsheviks who actually controlled Russia at the time. I can say this however, in the billets in Germany, there were posters of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, The East Side Five, Steppenwolf and many others. These groups gave concerts in Frankfurt and they were full of soldiers passing reefers who knew they were doing anything but defending freedom. It is another reason they ended the draft. In those days they held locker room busts trying to find ganja inside anyone's locker. Now days they keep the soldiers doped up.

  3. Here's some more information you won't hear about in church:

    Jesus Christ –The Neighbour from Hell
    Jesus Christ – A Paragon of Virtue?

    Few people attempt a defence of the bloody history of the Christian Church, though because most of the iniquity attaches itself to Roman Catholicism and the Papacy it is Catholics who work hardest at damage limitation ("one or two bad apples in an otherwise glorious story").

    But let's not forget, Protestants were as good as anyone else at burning witches, heretics, native 'savages' and even Catholics.

    Read the rest:

    The Criminal History of the Christian Church
    Christianization of the Roman world
    The destruction of ancient civilization
    The terrifying history of a morbid cult that destroyed the ancient world

    A 4th century power struggle that played out across the Mediterranean world brought a minor sect of religious extremists to centre stage. Finding themselves on the winning side in a civil war and rewarded by cosseting within imperial residences, bishops of the Christian Church were able to impose their faith upon a demoralised population using all the sanctions of the State. And as the empire fragmented and fell, ambitious clerics of Christ disseminated a cancer of superstition, fear and brutality far beyond the old imperial frontiers.

    Read the rest:

    A brutal superstition extends its grip
    The Christianization of Europe

    With ruthless ambition, and by enforcing an ideology of 'sin and redemptive sacrifice', Christian clerics enslaved the Mediterranean world. But the ambitions of Holy Mother Church were not readily sated. By aggressive warfare, heathen tribes also were brought into the embrace of the Lord's henchmen. Masters of the whole of Europe for more than a thousand years, sadists in the uniform of Christ terrorized and brutalized a continent. They then exported that terror to the four corners of the globe.

    Read the rest:

    All the inhumane violence you could ever wish for
    The Holy Bible: A Good Book?
    Savage Biblical Injustice

    Biblical morality is archaic and savage. It reflects a barbarous, pitiless age and a tribal, slave-based society, a time when "elders" and priests ruled desperately primitive villages and nomadic or semi-nomadic clans. The Romans regarded Judaism as a primitive religion – and it was.

    The legacy scarcely improved when repackaged as Christianity, for all the nonsense talked about "love" and heroic self-sacrifice. Indeed, as political need presented itself, the Christians turned increasingly to the corpus of Judaism to justify every vicious act.

    The New Testament, with its skimpy biography of a humanoid god and eclectic collection of letters, meant the practitioners of Christ, raised up as "elders" and priests of a decaying world, drew heavily upon the Old Testament and its rich compendium of inhumanity and intolerance.

    Read the rest:

    1. Aesop's Fables, which date back to the 5th Century BC, are short stories, often humorous, which illustrate a particular moral and teach a lesson to children. The moral of Belling the Cat, for example, is that it is easy to propose impossible remedies.

      The Bible is also full of fables which are claimed to be the word of the bloodthirsty imaginary god which the Hebrews created in their own image. The anonymous authors were deliberately lying when they wrote them for the purpose of empowering and enriching priests and rulers, and compliance with their dictates has been enforced by intimidation, torture, murder, imprisonment, seizure of property, etc. The "morals" which those fables teach is that genocide, human sacrifice, rape, theft, slavery, deception and a host of other evils is perfectly fine when practiced by "god's chosen people". The results have been horrific. Let's bell that cat.

    2. conflating the Bible with the "Proselytes" to Talmudic Judaism is rather sophomoric
      or very "JEWISH" soon as the truth is avoided the destination remains the same..,
      there were never any "Jewish" so-called Hebrews, Jesus was not a "Jew",
      and the entire History of Earth...even before Napoleon ,
      was "written" by Scribes paid by the "Money Changers" and
      approved by the Pharisees....who never spoke a word of Yiddish...especially in 1AD...
      the World has a "Jewish" so-called State...a stool sculpture deity cult compound...
      wherein most of the {spiritual} hostages could come out simply by knowing
      the Truth about the "Jewish" so-called NARRATIVE which is just one lie right after another...which is why so-called "JEWS" must hate Jesus...
      the Bible didn't produce "Jews", but the misunderstandings of the Bible sure do produce
      "JEW" worshippers...and that is no Myth.
      Just remember G*D HATES FAGS....
      especially Mental/Spiritual "FAGS" limp wristed fraidy cats who are afraid of the Truth because it will make them unpopular with all the "JEW" worshipping self righteous a**holes they call friends...and that is no MYTH either.

      ....FREE PALESTINE.....tell a "JEW" some TRUTH !! ***{purify the language}***
      no one HAS to stay in the stool sculpture deity cult compound....they could come out !!!


    3. I was wondering when Scatological Davy would show up to excrete his typical steaming pile of feces for visitors to step in.

  4. Wow, I had never read the War Prayer. Very powerful stuff! Thank you Kenny!


    Interesting the Sitchin/cuneiform tablets were brought up. I have always felt they are the most logical explanation of how life came to earth. Not only that they are the oldest written of records that exist on our planet to date. They are ignored as they expose most of the fallacies were are lead to believe. To a certain extent, both creationists and evolutionists are both right.

    We know organisms do evolve and adapt however that also doe not rule out that man was upbraided with DNA from another civilization. In fact the tablets say just that, they planned to jump start primitive man by millions of years. The tablets also indicate many forms of plant and animal life were seeded on earth during a collision with a celestial object billions of years ago. The ancients called it the celestial battle.

    Many in their frustration with the Constantine narrative tend to write off Jesus altogether, something I do not do. In fact sources such as the Essene Bible taken from the dead sea scrolls indicate that Jesus was all about Vedic truths which are millions of years old was echoed much of the same teachings which are pretty much gnosticism. The Vedas are a science which encompass everything from medicine to mathematics. They insist on proof, not belief. They are very similar native American belief systems also which value plants in healing and the benefits of the sweat lodge. The words of Jesus were very similar to what most any indian chief would tell you. I have proven this to myself and that is about all anyone can do. In fact the Vedas, American Natives agree they are the descendants of supernatural beings from the stars. It is mostly the west who believe they came from monkeys are where created by some magical moment.

    The solar system is a dangerous place, asteroids can snuff out life on any given planet at a moments notice. Let us hope there are civilizations advanced enough to leave a dying planet and seed life elsewhere. If planet earth represents the pinnacle of human progress, indeed the universe is in trouble.

    1. Jesus Christ is not mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here are some resources for information about the Essenes without the hype or modern pseudepigrapha:

      Others And Intra-Jewish Polemic As Reflected In Qumran Texts
      By Stephen Goranson


      In order to determine how writers represented in Qumran texts viewed the "other," especially other Jews, one must first recognize how they viewed themselves. They saw themselves as the exclusive, true observers of Torah and as the true remnant of Judah.

      Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene
      By Stephen Goranson



      Eschatological "Rain" Imagery in the War Scroll from Qumran and in the Letter of James

      An Esoteric Relation between Qumran's ‘New Covenant in the Land of Damascus’ and the New Testament’s ‘Cup on the New Covenant in (His) Blood’?

      Sicarii Essenes, “Those of the Circumcision,” and Qumran

      Modern pseudepigrapha

      Modern pseudepigrapha, or modern apocrypha, refer to pseudepigrapha of recent origin – any book written in the style of the books of the Bible or other religious scriptures, and claiming to be of similar age, but written in a much later (modern) period. They differ from apocrypha, which are books from or shortly after the scriptural period but not accepted into the religion's canon.

  6. Quotes from The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

    BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

    BRAHMA, n. He who created the Hindoos, who are preserved by Vishnu and destroyed by Siva—a rather neater division of labor than is found among the deities of some other nations. The Abracadabranese, for example, are created by Sin, maintained by Theft and destroyed by Folly. The priests of Brahma, like those of Abracadabranese, are holy and learned men who are never naughty.

    O Brahma, thou rare old Divinity,
    First Person of the Hindoo Trinity,
    You sit there so calm and securely,
    With feet folded up so demurely—
    You're the First Person Singular, surely.

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

    CLERGYMAN, n. A man who undertakes the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.

    CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

    ESOTERIC, adj. Very particularly abstruse and consummately occult. The ancient philosophies were of two kinds,—exoteric, those that the philosophers themselves could partly understand, and esoteric, those that nobody could understand. It is the latter that have most profoundly affected modern thought and found greatest acceptance in our time.

    EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.

    FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

    GNOSTICS, n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers.

    HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.

    IRRELIGION, n. The principal one of the great faiths of the world.

    JOSS-STICKS, n. Small sticks burned by the Chinese in their pagan tomfoolery, in imitation of certain sacred rites of our holy religion.

    KORAN, n. A book which the Mohammedans foolishly believe to have been written by divine inspiration, but which Christians know to be a wicked imposture, contradictory to the Holy Scriptures.

    MANNA, n. A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the wilderness. When it was no longer supplied to them they settled down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies of the original occupants.

    MYTHOLOGY, n. The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.

    PANTHEISM, n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.

    PHILOSOPHY, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

    REVELATION, n. A famous book in which St. John the Divine concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators, who know nothing.

    SACRED, adj. Dedicated to some religious purpose; having a divine character; inspiring solemn thoughts or emotions; as, the Dalai Lama of Thibet; the Moogum of M'bwango; the temple of Apes in Ceylon; the Cow in India; the Crocodile, the Cat and the Onion of ancient Egypt; the Mufti of Moosh; the hair of the dog that bit Noah, etc.

    SCRIPTURES, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.