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"Shenandoah": Thanking God

In the classic western movie Shenandoah, Jimmy Stewart stars as Charlie Anderson, a Virginian farmer trying to keep his family out of the Civil War.

With one empty place set for his dead wife and his children gathered around the supper table, Charlie begins a litany they obviously have heard before: "Now your mother wanted all of you raised as good Christians, and I might not be able to do that thorny job as well as she could, but I can do a little something about your manners."

He gestures that they all should bow their heads and continues: "Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. We wouldn't be here, we wouldn't be eatin', if we hadn't done it all ourselves. We worked dog-boned hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for the food we're about to eat. Amen."

Through the course of the movie, we see one tragedy after another strike the Anderson clan: the youngest son is mistaken for a soldier and captured, another son and his wife are murdered by marauders, and a third son is shot by an over-zealous sentry. When we next see Mr. Anderson at the supper table, there are four more empty places as he begins his ritual prayer. But this time we hear his voice quiver and break as the awful realization comes upon him that he is not in control, that he is not the master of his own destiny. His voice trails off as he finishes the words "if we hadn't done it all ourselves."

He stops, gets up, and walks away, a proud man, broken and stripped of his pride, knowing that he needs to turn to the Lord, but not yet ready to fall on his knees and ask for God's help.

Elapsed time: Measured from the beginning of the opening credit, the first prayer scene starts at 4:51 and ends at 5:22, and the second prayer scene starts at 1:38:24 and ends at 1:39:15.

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