Prayer concern: Remembering all the victims of war

In the church I attend, populated largely by people who might describe themselves as left-leaning and politically aware, the prayers have for months included a prayer for the families of American soldiers who died that week. The names of the soldiers are read with appropriate, sometimes moving, solemnity. Inevitably those names trigger empathetic thoughts: "David—that's my brother's name." "I wonder if Kathryn's parents called her Katie." "William has the same last name as my college roommate."

As the names are read I try to imagine each of them and their sorrowing families, holding them in that moment of spoken prayer as brothers and sisters whose sufferings touch us all.

But I have wrestled with those prayers. Some Sundays I have found it hard to maintain an attitude of prayer. I am bothered by the way the singling out of our war dead seems to valorize a military project I believe to be unwarranted, excessively costly and riddled with profiteering covered by propaganda that keeps us paying for it. I do think that most of those who died in these wars, however righteous their intentions and courageous their actions, died in vain—a thought that laces my sorrow with bitterness.