Pray Tell

23 Dec

The latest preventable American tragedy to touch ground on our conflicted shores – this time in Connecticut – has incited the usual maelstrom of fevered public discourse.  Also as usual, I am doggedly avoiding entering the fray.  So much talking, such incessant commentary, as if we can just talk-talk-talk the horror of it all away. A dirty bandaid over a fresh gaping wound. Thankfully however, it seems that even-tempered logic is prevailing over knee-jerk hysteria this time around, and perhaps some positive societal changes may eke their way out in the end.

I have also consistently noticed amidst this particular Media Aftermath – somewhat inappropriately, I admit – how irksome I find the repeated references to prayer.  We send our prayers, so-and-so is praying for them, the community is holding a prayer service, etc etc etc.  Of course I understand that this is, in spirit, a positive thing, but I also find it both vaguely oppressive and decidedly exclusive.  What about those families who are not of the Christian faith – and certainly Christian-based prayer is what they’re talking about – or moreover, not of any faith at all? And by that I don’t mean hopeless people “without any faith,” but those who are non-theist.  Lest we forget, not everyone seeks solace in prayer.

Again, logically I understand there are positive intentions behind these unsolicited spiritual offerings.  But I also know that being insistently handed a cocktail or a joint at a party when I don’t want one is, at the very least, unnerving.  Actually that usually bugs the shit out of me and I leave.  It’s just so fucking presumptuous, in a desperate sort of way. 

So I can’t help wondering, where do the non-religious families fit into this tragedy? Where do they go?  Do you show up at the prayer services anyway and just try to ignore the mumbo-jumbo part of the program?  If someone you don’t even know says how they’re “praying for you,” do you say thanks-but-no-thanks, or just muster a wan smile?  It would grow tiresome.

Churchy folk, I’m sure you’re awesome.  But if you feel compelled to start churning out prayer vibes like microwaves, remember some folks prefer not to cook their food that way.  We can all still eat at the same table, though.











2 Responses to “Pray Tell”

  1. La Mama December 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    One of the better things you’ve written (with the possible exception of the odd use of the word “eke” at the bottom of the first paragraph). I find the prayer thing extremely annoying as well, and just terribly dismissive. Your child died? No problem. Here’s a little something to help you get over it asap and am I not a nice, caring person for offering this? When what these parents want or need is not prayers and pretty pictures of candles burning, but to run screaming into the woods, tearing at their hair and flesh until the sky rips asunder, until there is blood running down their face, until they have no voice left with which to scream, until the world stops moving cruelly forward with their child no longer in it.

    When I was undergoing treatment for cancer I was inundated with people’s prayers. I appreciated the expression of concern that represented, but it was still disconcerting and seemed to require some kind of response from me I could not quite muster.

  2. BC December 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Of course you know this means you’re going to hell. See ya!


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