An alternative prayer for Memorial Day

If you feel conflicted over Memorial Day, you’re not alone. On the one hand, it is right we should honor those who sacrificed everything, driven by the noble desire to serve. On the other hand, it feels less right that we should baptize their sacrifice as a pretext for the next war, and the next one, and the next one.

Other voices for nonviolence have shared their Memorial Day reflections. (See, for example, this prayer from Kurt Willems and this excellent post from J.R. Daniel Kirk two years ago.) For this post, I tapped into the two theological streams I’m drawn to most—the Anglican and Anabaptist traditions—to write an alternative prayer for Memorial Day…

—//—

We remember all who serve in the armed forces. We pray for their safekeeping.

We remember those stationed overseas. We pray they will be reunited with their loved ones soon.

We remember those who have experienced combat. We ask you to restore peace to their souls and wholeness to their bodies.

We remember those who have died in combat. We pray for the repose of their souls and the comfort of their families.

We remember the innocent victims of war:

We remember those imprisoned by war, including those at Guantanamo Bay. We pray for those innocent of wrongdoing, those cleared for release but with no freedom in sight, and those held more than a decade without trial.

We remember the children killed in our drone strikes:

Wajid, 9,

Ayeesha, 3,

Syed, 7,

Talha, 8,

Zayda, 7,

Hoda, 5,

and many more.

We remember civilians killed in war, including the 137,000 who died during and after the war in Iraq.

We remember the children of Syria, Nigeria, and everywhere conflict deprives a child of his or her right to live in a safe and nurturing environment.

We confess that evil is real and that it lurks within our hearts. We have been quick to condemn the violence of others while ignoring the deeds of our own hands.

We confess we have put nation above church, flag above cross. We acknowledge that Christ’s followers have but one Memorial Day, commemorated with bread and wine, not with beers and barbecue.

We confess we have failed to care for those we’ve sent into combat, for those who bear the physical and emotional scars of war. We acknowledge our duty to them, a duty that does not end when our attention turns elsewhere.

We confess we have not obeyed our Lord’s command to put away our swords. We acknowledge that war to end war is a fantasy, redemptive violence a myth, and that peace through conquest is an unattainable lie.

We confess that true freedom is not won by a soldier spilling someone else’s blood, but by a lamb who allowed his own blood to be spilled, refusing to take up arms.

We give thanks for the cross, God’s answer to a world addicted to violence. We mourn all whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of war. We pray for the resolve to pursue another way, to “let go of the sword and take the hand of the Crucified One.” On this and every Memorial Day, we ask that we might prove ourselves worthy subjects of the Prince of Peace.

HT Brian ZahndJ.R. Daniel Kirk, Kurt Willems, Preston Sprinkle

40 thoughts on “An alternative prayer for Memorial Day

  1. Today is the day we remember those who died while protecting our nation. This articles author has honoring soldiers mixed up with the policies surrounding war. That is why he is conflicted every memorial day. He can honor those who have served, and still disagree with the policies of war. It is sad he chooses to be so disrespectful. Daughter of a Vietnam Veteran. Grand daughter of a WWII Veteran. Niece of a Veteran who served in Germany during the Vietnam War. Granddaughter of a Navy Veteran.

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    • I don’t think anything I’ve written is dishonoring to those who feel led to serve in the military. I included prayers for safe keeping, safe return to their families, healing for those injured in combat, and ongoing care & support when they return. By the way, I write this as the brother of an Iraq War veteran, nephew of a Vietnam War veteran, and grandson of two World War II veterans.

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      • I recognized immediately your issue was not with our veterans, but with the policies surrounding war. What was disrespectful was this discussion on Memorial Day when the veterans are to be honored. I am also curious, do you pray for the salvation of the Guantanamo detainees, or just their freedom? Do you also pray for the other non-free people that live on that island? Do you pray for all of the people our soldiers have saved, or just the ones that lost their lives? Seems to me, being a pacifist in a country where your freedom and life is not in jeopardy, largely due to our military, is easy. What if you were Jewish in Nazi Germany? A Cuban living in Cuba today? (FYI My husband is Cuban and his parents lived through the take over of Cuba by Castro). Do you think you would feel differently?

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      • I’m glad you see that I’m not being dishonoring to those who serve. Also, I can appreciate your objection to the timing of this reflection. But as a Christian whose first loyalties are to Christ and his kingdom, I don’t feel I have the luxury of taking a day off from praying for the victims of violence and injustice. Also, I think you’re responding to a common (and misleading) stereotype of pacifism, rather than the real thing. Pacifism is not being passive in the face of evil. Christian pacifism is an attempt to obey Jesus’ command to meet evil with nonviolent resistance (esp. Matthew 5:38-48).

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      • Yours is the first article on pacifism that I have read so I don’t think I have much of a misconception. Read the article you posted to the other person who commented. I think most people will try the non-violent approach before resorting to violence. Although the scripture cited did not include defending your life, so I hesitate to believe Jesus meant not to resort to violence if the attack is on your life. It was meant to show the other person love and therefore convert them. So if preserving your own life can be done without violence, then I agree. Our ultimate concern should be with their salvation. Back to your article and your last response: It assumes all military action is an act of injustice and creates victims of unnecessary violence. It assumes that violence was the first action taken. That is the way it comes across. Sometimes violence is necessary. And, unfortunately, it is most likely needed due to man’s sinful nature. I have enjoyed the discussion. I always enjoy reading other’s opinions.

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  2. I believe in prayer, but your post is disrespectful to the people who serve. In this way, you seem to make men and women serving in our military equal to Islamists and Nazi’s who provoke a war. If you were president what would you do if your country was attacked? Or closer to home, would you defend your sister, mother or close female friend from an attacker or would you just stand by and let evil take it’s course. Jesus loves people, but he is not a pacafist….Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

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  3. Well, that’s what it always seems to come down to, right? “You must hate the troops and America and apple pie and your mother.” Or “well I am all for being obedient to the peace of Christ until (insert favorite rationale).” It seems that the disdain for peace is a hard thing to overcome when obedience clashes with something we happen to find more valuable.

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    • Please expound on what you mean by being obedient to the peace of Christ until……? Please give scripture to support that Christ taught that war and violence was never to be used. Please don’t assume everyone is willing to sacrifice their belief as your last statement suggests. That is the best way to ensure that a person will never be convince of what you have to say.

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      • Hi Veronica, couple thoughts…

        I understand Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount as ruling out violence of any kind, at least for his followers. BTW, this is something I looked at in another post a few years ago: https://benirwin.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/people-of-the-third-way-2.

        For at least the first three centuries of the church’s history, the Church Fathers were united in the belief that Christians should not kill under any circumstances, including military activity. There’s a much wider range of opinion on that question within the church today, but I think it’s helpful to note where the church stood for the first 300-ish years of its existence. Some more on that can be found here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/07/02/did-the-early-church-believe-in-violence

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      • Veronica, I could go through the sermon on the mount, I could point out all the places where Christ in his life rejected the use of violence against people, I could mark for you all the places where he denied using power over people as a method for accomplishing his work. And I could have you try to find all the places where Christ told us to go ahead and use violence and power and the authority of the state to accomplish Kingdom work. But come on, if we are being honest with each other, you don’t want to be convinced of any of the things that we are trying to say here. After reading your other comments on this post, it is fairly clear that you don’t want to let go of your view that violence is acceptable as long as you think it is logical, rational and right. So what’s the point?

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      • Thank you Ben. I see you have tried to help me understand your point in a very respectful way and I appreciate it. My confusion on self defense and pacifism was due to reading the blogs or articles you suggested and they would not give a clear answer on whether violence was allowed or not. Even Preston Sprinkle would not clearly answer when a person asked him about a case about a 2 year old child being held by knife point in Walmart. Was the officer justified in killing the assailant? Preston’s answer was remorse for the fact that that happened and then suggested that showing love to your neighbor (the child) did not trump showing love to your enemy (the assailant). Understand my confusion now? I would suggest Preston’s argument put the loving your enemy above loving your neighbor. There are also other pacifists, in my own research online, that do not believe violence is EVER allowed. Even in the case of an attack on your life. A friend of mine on FB would not answer my question about protecting a child from harm from an attacker. This further added to my confusion. Happy to see I am allowed to protect myself and others from harm from an attacker. LOL

        Anyhow, as far as wars. Why would you omit the OT wars because of the genocide? God ordered it to be done to prevent that society from pulling the Jewish people away from God almighty through assimilation. God ordered it so it could not be wrong. There was a purpose for it, outside of power.

        I agree that the church should probably not be engaging in wars for the purpose of power gain. However, if you take the self-defense argument to a larger scale, wouldn’t you say that a war to protect another’s life from an assailant, i.e Hitler, would fall under the same category as self defense and be therefore justified? I am thinking of the 300 girls being tortured under the Boko Haram this minute. Are there no scriptures that support defending your brother? Or what about Israel and their conflict with Palestine? I believe God will use people to meet his goals, even in the form of war. Not trying to stump you, and I am not assuming I have, but these are real cases happening today and apply to the pacifist argument. What is the Third Way if you still feel a battle is not allowed to free these girls?

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    • Bigredjeff, you assume I am arguing for the sake of arguing, and I am not. I have never heard of this view from Christians and am genuinely interested in understanding the scriptural support for it. Just because I disagree that the Sermon on the Mount proves Christ was a pacifist, does not mean that I don’t want to understand. I have come to a point in my walk with Christ that I try very hard to critically look at the scriptures because I hear so much preaching that just isn’t biblical. So many rules and regulations pastors place on their congregation as a means to being “a good christian”. I truly wish to find the truth in God’s word and seek Him out above all else. So having said that, I sincerely have not read any argument in the links posted that proves to me that allowing someone to kill or rape me without resisting violently is Christ’s command. I agree that we should live differently so everyone will turn their life to Christ. I do not believe in vengeance or repaying another for their evil if my life is not in danger. My ultimate disagreement is with the self-defense argument. In the OT there were safe places for someone to go if they killed someone and wanted to be safe until it was ruled otherwise. In the OT there were many wars that God wanted where even the women and children were killed because of his plan. Maybe not all of our wars now are justified, but I don’t believe ALL of them are unjustified. I don’t believe loving my neighbor means allowing him to commit murder or rape because I could not convince him with words to do otherwise. Please stop assuming we all wish to not follow the word of God. If a blog is posted, there will be dissenters and people who need more information. Isn’t that the purpose of the blog? If only people who agreed read the blog then the preaching is to the choir and does no good. The cool thing about reading things that I don’t automatically agree with is that I now have this information in my mind as I read through the scriptures. And the Holy Spirit will guide me in the truth.

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      • Veronica, you haven’t come across to me like you’re arguing for the sake of arguing. Your comments, questions, and even your disagreements are welcome here. I just want you to know that.

        Pacifism/nonviolence is a genuinely new concept for many Christians today. That’s partly because (in my opinion) we don’t read Jesus’ teachings in their original context carefully enough. And it’s partly because, while the early church fathers were pretty well united in their belief that killing, military service, etc. were inappropriate for Christians, this began to change as Christians gained power (starting with the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine). There’s no denying that pacifism is no longer the dominant perspective among Christians—at least not among American Christians. But I think it’s noteworthy that the church’s commitment to nonviolence waned as it sought (and gained) more power for itself—power it was arguably never meant to have.

        I think you may still be dealing with a caricature of pacifism rather than the real thing. (Granted, the name doesn’t help, since “pacifism” sounds a lot like “passive.”) I don’t believe a commitment to nonviolence rules out self-defense in cases of rape or assault. To your point, Jesus didn’t address either of these scenarios in his teaching on nonviolence. As a pacifist, I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone in either situation to use whatever force is necessary to repel the assault. Throwing off an assailant is not remotely the same as “repaying evil for evil” in my book. Now, if the assault victim went on to beat their attacker after they’d been subdued, that would be another story. But I don’t see any conflict between self-defense and a commitment to nonviolence.

        Whether Christians should participate in warfare is the bigger question for most proponents of nonviolence. I don’t think we should use warfare in the OT as a justification for participating in wars today, for precisely the reason you mentioned: many of these texts call for all-out genocide, the targeting of noncombatants (including children), etc.

        As a side note… the other major Christian viewpoint on war (and arguably the dominant one for the last several hundred years) is just war theory. It was first developed by St. Augustine, and it offers several specific criteria for determining whether a particular war is just and what kind of warfare is appropriate. I don’t personally agree with just war theory but what’s interesting is that a strong case could be made that none of the wars America has fought since WWII rise to the threshold of “just” as defined by just war theory.

        By the way, if you are interested in reading a case for nonviolence from a conservative theological point of view (one that I think addresses many of your concerns), I highly recommend Preston Sprinkle’s book Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence.

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  4. Thanks for this Ben. I see no disrespect to anyone in this prayer. I see only the restoration of dignity to all impacted by the tragedy of war on both sides.

    Keep doing what you are doing and spreading the love and teachings of Christ. Exposing the myth of “God and Country” will always invite backlash.

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    • I disagree with the disrespect issue. It is just as disrespectful as the JW who came to my door Christmas Morning to preach to me. I am genuinely interested in you explaining the second half of your statement regarding God and Country.

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      • Perhaps a passage from an early Christian writing would better reflect on this than anything I could write. From the Epistle to Diognetus, a 2nd century Christian writing:

        “For Christians are not distinguished from the
        rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in
        customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their
        own, neither do they use some different language, nor
        practise an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention
        discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious
        men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some
        are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and
        barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the
        native customs in dress and food and the other
        arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their
        own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous,
        and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as
        sojourners; they bear their share in all things as
        citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers.
        Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and
        every fatherland is foreign. They marry like all other men and they beget
        children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their
        wives. They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they
        live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their
        citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they
        surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by
        all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned.
        They are put to death, and yet they are endued with
        life. They are in beggary, and yet they make many
        rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they
        abound in all things. They are dishonoured, and yet they are
        glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of,
        and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are
        insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers;
        being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby
        quickened by life. War is waged against them as aliens by the
        Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by
        the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell
        the reason of their hostility.”

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  5. I am always interested when Christians claim to be loyal to Christ’s kingdom – and that the cross comes before the flag – who then use this as an excuse to disrespect the flag.

    Because it is disrespectful. You have spent far more time lamenting your litany of our wrongs than honoring our fallen or paying respects to their sacrifices which provide you the freedom to pontificate on how much harm we’ve done the world. Doing this as a Memorial Day reflection is unquestionably inappropriate. Do you make a habit of attending funerals and rambling off grievances?

    But, that aside, I really do wonder what this loyalty to the cross before the flag accomplishes. Does Christ care for our nation, or is He contemptuous of it?

    No doubt we can and should call for our nation to turn to righteousness…though, now that I type that, perhaps there is a doubt. What is the point of calling our nation to righteousness if our loyalty is only to the cross? More to the point, why should America be influenced by your arguments, when evidently to follow Christ is to abandon America.

    One other thing; as always, this sort of reflection is so easy to do in the protection of a free society. History condemns modern pacifists whose words reckon cheap the privileges practically every society prior to ours have longed for.

    Ah well. So much for that.

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    • I have no disrespect for the flag, but I am loyal to the cross first. While I have no disrespect for the flag, the lens of Christ helps me also to be honest about that flag and the baggage that it carries. The assumption that the American way was forged on the backs of the sacrifices of our soldiers denies that it also was forged on the back of our slaughter of Native Americans and enslavement of blacks. It also assumes that the only practical way to enjoy freedom is through issuing violence. The cross was not practical. It was scandalous in that freedom was received through our Lord receiving violence.

      This is the sort of statement that countless numbers of Christian martyrs carried with them to their own deaths as they refused to buy into the violent systems of the world and instead stood firm in their faith in Christ till the end. Their faith was bold with no such “protection of a free society”!

      I grieve the young men and women that believe in their hearts that they are making a sacrifice for our way of life. I honor their commitment. That in no way means that the powers and principalities that send them into combat should escape criticism on the day we remember their deaths. All the better reason for the powers and principalities to be criticized!

      I long for the day Americans take seriously Christ’s teachings. When their faith in Him is stronger than their faith in the ways of our culture.

      In Christ.

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    • Silverhand18, I think this argument overlooks one of the key themes that pervades the New Testament—namely, that Jesus came to set up his kingdom as an alternative to ALL the kingdoms of the earth, including the one we live in. Jesus’ kingdom ethic, summed up in the Sermon on the Mount, is at odds with the ethics and principles of every other kingdom. The New Testament calls on followers of Jesus to be good citizens of the kingdoms they live in—obeying the laws, respect for the authorities, etc.—but it never encourages Christians to show uncritical patriotism or to be silent in the face of injustice.

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  7. Ben, I’ve enjoyed and appreciated nearly everything I’ve read of yours, but you missed the mark big time with this.

    First, you showed an obvious lack of understanding of what Memorial Day is intended to recognize, specifically the distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

    Second, you worship and write and breathe and raise your daughter in the relative comfort of America. Our eternal Freedom was bought by Jesus on the cross, but the earthly freedoms you and your family are currently enjoying in the United States have been protected by servicemen and women – some of whom gave their lives in duty. Memorial Day is a day to reflect on, honor, and appreciate them and their families.

    I actually don’t disagree with you on the specific points you raised: evils of war, loss of innocents, drones, murdered children, etc., etc. These are things we should be aiming to change about our world, but to raise these points under the guise of a “Memorial Day prayer” is disrespectful and inappropriate.

    You’d do far better to simply say that due to your pacifist convictions you cannot rightly observe Memorial Day, than to spit on the remembrance of those whose lives were lost in service to your country with such a post.

    I don’t know enough about the faith traditions you claim to have drawn inspiration from for your prayer to speak to that aspect. I will say, though, that as a Methodist, I very much appreciate the UMC’s stance that Memorial Day is best left to be observed as a civic holiday and certainly not emphasized in worship. It’s a national holiday, not a Christian one, so if your faith makes you feel conflicted about it then don’t observe it – but abstain respectfully.

    -Active Duty, United States Coast Guard

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  8. Justin, to say I’m spitting on the remembrance of those who died in service to their country is, I think, to ignore a good deal of what I actually wrote. I think that’s unfair. (And I don’t think you need me to tell you that.)

    Your assumption seems to be that our earthy freedoms could not have been won without violent conflict—a common view which I think reflects a failure of collective imagination. Many former colonies of the British Empire won their independence without bloodshed—and went on to build societies every bit as vibrant and democratic as ours. Britain managed to abolish slavery peacefully—and sooner than we did—without sacrificing more than half a million of its own people along the way. Obviously, each country is different. And no country has been immune to warfare. But history proves there are other options for those who are committed to finding them.

    As you note, we share many of the same concerns. (And let me be clear: I appreciate that pacifists don’t have a monopoly on these concerns.) But you seem to be saying there are some days when it’s inappropriate to give voice to them. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that it’s ever not OK to call for the remembrance of innocent children cut down by conflict.

    Finally, given the history of Memorial Day, I think a prayer like mine is on more solid ground than you believe it is. Memorial Day started during (or just after) the US Civil War. In time, it grew to be a commemoration of those who died on BOTH sides. Not just “our” boys, but the other side’s as well. Standing on this foundation, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to expand it into a remembrance of ALL who’ve died because of our world’s ongoing addiction to war and violence.

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    • Ben, I ignored a good deal of what you wrote? Two brief sentences (and a half if you include “We mourn all those whose lives…”) of your Memorial Day prayer actually addressed those people the day is intended to honor. You did spit on their remembrance, because the majority of the rest of your prayer was spent essentially vilifying them.

      Please don’t leap to argue against assumptions I haven’t made. If you re-read my comment you’ll see that I said nothing of how our earthly freedoms were won, but instead who has protected those freedoms.

      Also, I didn’t say it was inappropriate to give voice to the concerns that we share, or whatever other concerns you have. I said it was inappropriate and disrespectful of you to do so under the guise of a “Memorial Day prayer,” and judging by this thread most people who read your post seem to agree that it was disrespectful. You could have addressed those issues on that day without actually co-opting Memorial Day.

      As for Decoration Day (which became Memorial Day), it did, as you said, come to honor the dead who had fought on both sides… the *dead* who *fought*. Through history it has always been a day to honor those who died in military service. Your post admits zero honor for those people Memorial Day aims to honor and celebrate the memory of.

      If you see no honor in the service that took their lives and you can’t rightly observe Memorial Day then that’s ok, but hijacking it is not ok.

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      • Look again. The first four prayers were designed to remember those who have served in the military.

        As for some of the other prayers, questioning the policies that send US service members into harm’s way and the consequences of these policies is not the same as vilifying those who serve. Not even close. Personally, I can’t reconcile military service with my understanding of the Christian faith. For the first 300 years or so, almost no one else in the church could, either. To paraphrase Shane Claiborne, I can’t let my government tell me when it’s supposedly OK to take another person’s life. But none of that prevents me from affirming that the vast majority of people who serve in the military to do for wholly honorable reasons.

        You also missed the part where I lament our failure to care for service members returning from combat—which was an intentional response on my part to the recent scandal at the VA. I’m not sure how me saying that our military members deserve better equates to vilifying them in your mind.

        I don’t mind the pushback. This was one of my more widely read & shared posts in the last few months, so I can only assume there were a number of people who resonated with it, too. At the end of the day, neither is the most important indicator of whether or not what I wrote was valid.

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      • Ben, you’re so bent on defending the validity of what you wrote that you haven’t paid any attention to even the first point in my original comment – your lack of understanding of who Memorial Day is intended to honor and your lack of understanding the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

        All of your well intentioned words (and I do believe they’re well intentioned) about caring for people who serve/served, those should go in your pocket until Veterans Day. Memorial Day (and its forerunner Decoration Day) is specifically set aside to remember and honor those who died in military service. Re-read your prayer and see how many sentences mention them. I’ll give you a hint, the answer is two (and maybe a half).

        You say you don’t vilify servicemen and women, and in the next breath you essentially tell me that, so far as you can tell, I can’t rightly be a Christian and a serviceman. To this I will simply say that you are wrong, and evidently beyond your depth.

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      • No, I said that I can’t personally reconcile military service with my understanding of Christianity. I did not say you can’t be a Christian and a serviceman. There is a big difference between the two, if you want to talk about not paying attention to each other’s arguments…

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      • I said “so far as you can tell,” recognizing in other words ‘your understanding.’ You’re saying you can’t reconcile the two, or in other words as I put it, you feel one cannot “rightly” be both. Did you ever serve in the military to speak on this from experience? Can’t you see that this is terribly judgemental and offensive to Christians in the military? Do you understand that this offensive opinion echoes behind and all throughout your prayer?

        And what of my other points which you’ve chosen not to address?

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  9. Just checking back in, Ben. As strong as your convictions on this seemed, I can’t imagine you intend to ignore it now. If you’ve found yourself at a loss for words a simple apology would suffice.

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    • Justin, I’ve stopped following the discussion thread because I’ve grown weary of explaining what I think, only to have it repeatedly misconstrued. You’re not trying to understand where I’m coming from; you’re trying to force me into some kind of apology. I stand by what I wrote. I respect the right of Christians to disagree on the morality of war, serving in the military, etc. But to suggest I can’t have these convictions because they’re offensive to Christians in the military? Seriously? If you’re offended by what I wrote, you may want to steer clear of the Church Fathers. That’s the last I’m going to say about it.

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      • If you’ve grown weary of explaining what you think then maybe your post didn’t express it clearly enough. Also, I never suggested you can’t hold those convictions. My argument all along has been that it was offensive and inappropriate (I could add rude, hurtful, ignorant, snarky) to express those convictions in a backhanded “Memorial Day prayer.” You owe no apology for your convictions, but instead for the guise under which you voiced them. If you can’t see that, then you’re probably too blinded by self-righteousness to ever admit when you may have overstepped in poor taste.

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  11. As an atheist who’s also a pacifist, this is probably the best thing I’ve come across that sums up my feelings and thoughts on Memorial Day. Even though the thing greater than me that I look to serve is the whole of humanity rather than Christ or any deity, our feelings on this day are the same.

    I skimmed the comments – I have nothing much to add aside from that it’s a dishonor to the soldiers who served and/or died to ignore the policies and political decisions that sent them to war. While I would love the world to be in a state where peaceful negotiations have replaced war, I live in the present where war is a matter of life. I have people very close to me going off to war, coming home from war, and friends whose spouses are deployed or have come home. Because of this, it’s very important to me for the sake of my loved ones and fellow humans that we scrutinize decisions to go to war and only use combat in truly extenuating circumstances. Part of this is being aware and critical of those reasons, and not hiding the brutal effects of war, like unintended civilian deaths and the impacts on the people who do manage to make it home.

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    • Thanks, Andrea! I fully agree that the best way to honor those who serve in the military is to scrutinize the policy decisions that put them in harm’s way.

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