Jun. 28, 2007

Faith’s Review and Expectation

by John Newton

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Poem: "Faith's Review and Expectation" by John Newton, from Olney Hymns. Public domain.

Faith's Review and Expectation

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ'd

Thro' many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Literary and Historical Notes:

Today is both the anniversary of the event that started World War I and the day that the treaty was signed that officially brought the war to a close.

The event that started the war was the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Bosnian revolutionary on this day in 1914 in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo.

At the time, Ferdinand was the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Bosnia was one of the empire's most rebellious provinces. But Ferdinand chose to go there with his wife anyway. Assassins threw a bomb at his car that morning, but he continued to a meeting at city hall to hear a speech by the mayor. After the speech, the general in charge of security suggested they return to the train station along the straightest, widest road in the city, so that they could travel rapidly. Unfortunately, no one told the chauffeur about the change in plans. So Ferdinand and his wife got back into the car, and the chauffeur proceeded down the route that had been published in the paper that morning. Once he realized his mistake, the chauffer stopped, and tried to back out of a narrow street.

The chauffeur just happened to have stopped the car a few feet away from another one of the assassins, a nineteen-year-old named Gavrilo Princip, who had a .38 Browning pistol in his pocket. Standing just a few feet away from the royal car, he fired two shots, killing both the Austrian archduke and his wife.

One month after the assassination, Austria used the event as an excuse to declare war on Serbia, even though the nation of Serbia had nothing to do with the assassination. Germany chose to back Austria in its attack. Russia chose to defend Serbia. France entered the war against Germany. And when Germany invaded Belgium, Great Britain got involved as well, having pledged to defend Belgium from any invaders. That series of alliances led to the largest war ever conducted in history at that point. About ten million people died in the next four years of fighting.

And exactly 5 years later, on this day in 1919, the First World War was officially brought to a close by the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which redrew the maps of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. World War I had led to the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Tsarist Russia. The result was that the world leaders attending the Paris Peace Conference had to pick up the pieces of all these different parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and try to fit them back together.

Most of the major decisions were made by 3 men: Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Georges Clemenceau of France, and David Lloyd George of Great Britain. They met informally, behind closed doors, and drew up plans that would affect the lives of millions of people in dozens of countries. Among the countries created by the Treaty of Versailles was Yugoslavia, which collapsed into civil war in the 1990s. Another country they invented was Iraq.

Just about every major European or Middle Eastern conflict in the last few decades can be traced back to the decisions made in 1919. One of the people paying close attention to the conference was a young Southeast Asian kitchen assistant at the local Ritz Hotel named Ho Chi Minh. During the conference, he submitted a petition appealing for the independence of his home country, Vietnam. But the petition was ignored. So even the Vietnam War can be traced back to the Treaty of Versailles.

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau would later say, "It is much easier to make war than peace."

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