What makes a person
so certain of his/her superiority
so assured of his/her own “right” position
so confident that s/he is the sole possessor of truth
that nothing – no thing – is unworthy of a fight to the death
no individual – no person – is worth more than that fight
no relationship – none at all – is more valuable than being right?
Where does that kind of anger come from?
Who has hurt that person so much that
Even the slightest of slights is sinister in motive
Vengeful in origin
And purposely designed to malign?
What makes a person
so incapable of grace
so bereft of mercy
so resistant to reconcile
that no difference of opinion can be overlooked
that no slight can be forgiven
no apology can be wholly accepted?
Where does that kind of pride come from?
How can one nurse such contempt for others
That there is never a benefit of the doubt
Never an option for redemption
Never an avenue for restoration?
What makes a person this way?
I wish I knew.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published February 25th 1984 by Harper Perennial (first published 1968)
ISBN: 0060911131 (ISBN13: 9780060911133)
original title: The War Prayer
Written by Mark Twain during the Philippine-American War in the first decade of the twentieth century, The War Prayer tells of a patriotic church service held to send the town’s young men off to war. During the service, a stranger enters and addresses the gathering. He tells the patriotic crowd that their prayers for victory are double-edged-by praying for victory they are also praying for the destruction of the enemy… for the destruction of human life.
Originally rejected for publication in 1905 as “not quite suited to a woman’s magazine,” this antiwar parable remained unpublished until 1923, when Twain’s literary executor collected it in the volume Europe and Elsewhere. Handsomely illustrated by the artist and war correspondent Philip Groth, The War Prayer remains a relevant classic by an American icon.
Understanding that Mark Twain was pretty seriously anti-war, I found this a really poignant piece that pointed out the (sometimes overlooked) consequences of war, and of the political positions we adopt, and ask God to make victorious. War is, unfortunately, an unavoidable part of a sinful world, and I think that regardless of Twain’s personal religious beliefs, he understood that, and he understood (and pointed out) that a good outcome for one can very often be a severe casualty for another.
Above & beyond the brilliantly executed writing is the artwork, which skillfully illustrates Twain’s words without being distracting or out of keeping with the timbre of the prayer. In choosing editions to read, the illustrated edition is definitely worth seeking out.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Kids Can Press (first published June 1974)
ISBN: 1554534585 (ISBN13: 9781554534586)
original title: Casey At the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 (Caldecott Honor Book)
setting: United States
literary awards: Caldecott Honor (2001)
Visions in Poetry is an exciting and unique series of classic poems illustrated by outstanding contemporary artists in stunning hardcover editions. Casey at the Bat, the fourth book in the series, is more than a poem about a proud and mighty slugger who strikes out during the big game. It is a slice of baseball lore, as much a part of the game as hot dogs and the seventh-inning stretch. Illustrator Joe Morse sets the poem on gritty urban streets with a multiracial cast of characters. It’s a startlingly fresh approach that not only revives the poem for a new generation, but also brings it new richness and depth.
What makes this book so good is the art. The poem is a classic…of course…but the illustrations are exceptional, and they perfectly capture the tenor of the poem. They rendered reminiscences of a simpler, slower, more relaxed era, when baseball was (truly) the American pastime