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James Brody April 10th, 2009 11:40 AM

"Praying like you've never prayed before..."
From an essay by Leo Thorsness about faith, its practice, and rebellion in the Hanoi Hilton…

“Our SRO (Senior Ranking Officer) turned out to be Ned Shuman — a really good Naval aviator. The first Sunday in the large cell, someone said, “Let’s have church service.” Good idea, we all agreed. One POW volunteered to lead the service, and we started gathering in the other end of the long rectangular cell from the cell door. No sooner had we gathered than an English-speaking Vietnamese officer who worked as an interrogator burst into the cell with a dozen armed guards…

“During the next few days we all grumbled that we should not have backed down in our intention to have a church service and ought to do it the coming Sunday. Toward the end of the week, Ned stepped forward and said, ‘Are we really committed to having church Sunday?’

“There was a murmuring of assent throughout the cell. Ned said, ‘No, I want to know person by person if you are really committed to holding church.’ We all knew the implications of our answer…” More at

Fred H. April 10th, 2009 01:51 PM

Re: "Praying like you've never prayed before..."
As noted in the last paragraph of that story:

Five courageous officers were tortured, but I think they believed it was worth it. From that Sunday on until we came home, we held a church service. We won. They lost. Forty-two men in prison pajamas followed Ned’s lead. I know I will never see a better example of pure raw leadership or ever pray with a better sense of the meaning of the words.

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