This is from a sermon Dennis Bradley finished today.
Rather than making a final statement before his execution on June 11, 2001, at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, Timothy McVeigh chose to leave behind a handwritten copy of a poem written in 1875 by English editor and author William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). Here is Henley’s “Invictus” followed by a “Christianized” version of the same.
Our of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
The poem, “Invictus,” celebrates the invincibility of the human spirit. “Invictus” is Latin for “unconquered.” Mr. Henley, a survivor of tuberculosis, would have been horrified that some 125 years later his poem would be quoted by a young man who will go down in infamy for the April, 1995, bombing of a federal courthouse building in Oklahoma City, which left 171 dead, 19 children (three of the dead were unborn babies; a fact which the liberal media continue to ignore).
To me the most troubling lines in “Invictus” are those which read:
“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
So, is it true that we are the masters of our fate? Are we the captains of our souls? Most people in our world, without blinking an eye, would answer, “Absolutely! Of course we are!” To them it is a no-brainer. But the head that is “unbowed” often leaves others bloody in its wake. Just ask the survivors of the victims in Oklahoma City.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Dorothy Day responded to Henley’s manifesto with this poem that she titled, “Conquered”:
Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ – the Conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under the rule which men call chance,
My head, with joy, is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That Life with Him and His the Aid,
That, spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.
I have no fear though straight the gate:
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate!
Christ is the Captain of my soul!
The greatest need of our souls is to be conquered by the self-sacrificing, sinner-serving Christ and direct our invictus manifesto against evil — especially the evil within us.
15 Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. NIV