I just wanted to clarify my position on the cruelty of prayer.
I don’t think it’s the praying itself that bothers me. If you genuinely care about me and you consider prayer your means of asking your god to watch out for me and to let some good things come my way, go for it. If you see me struggling and you don’t know what else to do and you want to put some good vibes out there in the Universe for me, honestly, I appreciate it.
I regularly ask my ancestors to send good things to folks, like Kleinheider, who I’m sure wish sometimes that I didn’t exist and could give two shits about whether my ancestors existed, but I do that not only for his benefit in some woo-woo way, but also to remind myself that, if I’m going to criticise someone as often as I criticise Carter, I need to be doing it from a position that is open to his criticism in return, that, if I want him to take what I’m saying seriously, I need to seriously consider his perspective.
I think the problem comes, like I said, in the way that folks use prayer to bully people, to march through the world so sure of your rightness and your righteousness that, from the outside, it seems like you almost feel duty bound to impose your religion on the rest of us.
Listen, it’s fine if you believe that your religion is right and true. I would hope that you’d be firmly convinced of that if you’re going to devote your life to a worldview. But it is vile to run around imposing your worldview on others. And that goes for everything from saying things like “All religions are the same and they all point to there being just one god” (as if Christianity is the pinnacle and inevitable conclusion of history) to saying “I think you’re a bad person, therefore I’m going to pray for you” to people you disagree with.
It’s good that you feel like your god is always with you and always on your side, but, and I think I speak for a lot of people here, when you whip your god out like some kind of immutable eternal trump card that lets you be right in every situation?
You come across like a bully, an incredibly cruel bully.
Listen, you have my sympathy. Christianity is hard to do well. It requires checking your impulses and, in almost every case, doing the harder thing. When someone hurts you, it’s easy enough to lash back. It’s harder to turn the other cheek. When your enemies have plotted against you, give yourself over to them. The temptation to believe that you’ve done everything you can and now you’re right enough with the Lord that you can turn your attention to smugly passing judgment on others has got to be great.
And yet, where in the Bible is that allowed? Instead it’s always, always, it’s about giving yourself over to the transformative power of Christ.
Running around the world with your fingers pointed at others–“You’re wrong; you need to change; I’ll pray for you to stop being so evil”–completely misses the point of who Christ was talking to.
So, not only is that kind of behavior completely offensive to non-Christians, it ought to be offensive to Christians as well. Where in the Bible does Jesus say, “Hey, let’s ignore your behavior and instead go push those guys around?”
Even worse is when uses a request to "pray together" as bullying. It’s one of the sickest things I’ve ever seen. It generally takes the form of taking the target’s hands, bowing one’s head, and addressing "God" out loud in a long third person diatriabe against the target. Refusing to let go of the target’s hands when they struggle to get away while the "pray-er" amps up the volume adds extra spice. You’re right that Christians should hate this. The sincere ones do, and attempt to warn others when they become aware that a certain person or group is a "prayer bully".
Oh, my god. The "pray together." Luckily, I have not had to endure one of these, but I’ve seen it used on children and I think it’s pretty close to emotional abuse. "Not only are Mommy and Daddy pissed at you, so is God."
"Love the sinner, hate the sin" is often applied by self-serving Christians to gays. Drives me crazy it is so hypocritical, patronizing, vicious and demeaning. I got nothing against God, it’s the damn Christians I don’t like.
What you have described as "praying together" seems more to me like preying together.Abomination.
" it seems like you almost feel duty bound to impose your religion on the rest of us"Well, impose is a strong word (think of it more as the world’s biggest ever marketing campaign), but there was that whole Great Commission business. It does get a little difficult to turn your whole life over to Jesus if when you hear His very last command, you cover your ears and say "La, La, La – can’t hear you!"Now, I want to ask a question in all seriousness:How do you *know* the intent of someone who says they will pray for you?Is it a feeling you have? I really mean this, I say that I will pray for people all the time, and the last thing I want to do is make them angry about it.I want to be a better "Light" as it were, and, as the old Chinese proverb goes: if you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish. I am already learning much, just from this post. Y’all are helping me greatly.
I find that when someone quips the rhetorical "oh dear, that wasn’t very Christian of me, was it?" in their response to something that they’ve done to you adds insult to injury. As if what they did wasn’t bad enough, your evil genius made them stoop down to your level.
Generally (but not always) when people are critisizing Christianity, they are referring to the perversions that people have performed under the Christian banner.The simple phrase, ‘I’ll pray for you’ can be meant as a humble act of love, or it can be a patronizing sneer implying that the speaker is somehow better than the listener, or it can be a demeaning comment denoting that the listeners actions are being judged and are found wanting.The Christian model is humility..one wounded person offering his gift to another…one beggar sharing his bread with another beggar.It’s the followers who have built the cathredals of doctrine and cant and layers of the reverent. After having the crap bugged out of him by his disciples for a rule book or guidelines Jesus says..ok, you want rules…I’ve got two. One: Love God Two: Love your neighbor like you love yourself and treat him/her the way you want to be treated..and oh yeah, as a corollary, your neighbor is not just the person who lives next door or the person you agree with on most issues, it’s the jerk down the street or it’s the right-wing shill for the current Caesar.Jesus didn’t set blockades nor did he give us any excuse to feel superior to others. I understand that if you don’t believe in God then rule number 1 isn’t too relevant in your life. I’d like to believe that rule number 2 is still a pretty good rule.Richard Marius, the late writer who was a professor at UT, once wrote about the people who threw ‘Jesus at you like rocks’. Those people are cruel. A Christian should be just as offended by those folks as they should be at the people who prey on the poor, the sick and the otherwise afflicted.I’m curious, B, is this post based on some recent events or a general cumulation of all the Christian patronage you could stand??
When your "I’ll pray for you" comes out with the same inflection that you might use to say "what a dumbass," that’s when you know that you’re being a judgmental prayer bully. As to the Great Commission, I think that inspiration of going forth and doing likewise is often sadly overlooked as a means of evangelism. To paraphrase Vonnegut, for the love of God, a little less "love," a little more common decency…
As for the great commission – to preach the "word" to all nations – that part of the bible is now under great suspicion, as scholars are now finding that those last verses of the book of Mark – Mark 16:9-20 do no exist in the earliest transcripts of the bible, and so they now believe that it was added later on by some scribe, and that it really doesn’t belong in the bible.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark%2016&version=31
Religion/spirituality/ faith/Christianity is a lot like money, if a person truly has it, they will not need to flaunt it or show it off.I have found that to be a pretty good measuring stick, especially to the people that are public prayer bullies. I know and have known some truly good, caring and spritual people and they never have to tell anyone about their faith, it shows in their everyday lives.I wish I could remember the exact wording, but David Cross did a piece in his stand up routine several years ago about being censored and prayer bullied by an overly religious southern lady. It was very funny and very true.
See, and I guess this is why I think Coble is such a pleasant Christian to be around. Everyone knows she’s a Christian and that her faith is important to her and drives her considerations for how she lives her life.And yet she never tries to push it on anyone. She’s open to questions and discussion, but she’s not out to convert anyone.And yet, I think she does a lot to make Christianity seem worth checking out.
A Mormon friend of mine says that for all the missionizing they do (and all young men are required to spend a couple of years at it, and many young women do the same), they get more converts from next door neighbors.
LDS folks are instructed to pursue an active program of befriending, inviting to social events, fellowshipping, and otherwise lessening the barriers and risks of exploring a faith that many Christians were taught was a weirdo cult. They teach a recruitment strategy moving from casual contact into progressively deeper exposure to doctrine through informal and formal house visiting, etc. This courting rush can be very successful. On the other hand, if you’ve been avidly pursued by the friendly campaign and firmly reject their doctrine, they drop you like you’re hot and move on to the next likely sinner to be reclaimed. That can be a little hurtful if you’ve genuinely liked the LDS families in question and haven’t caught on to the proselytizing intention behind the amiable treatment.
Oh. My. God. How is it that you can get this exactly right, but most of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for the life of them cannot??? — I’d send them all over here to read this post, but… sadly I don’t think it’d do any good.Slartibartfast – there’s a HUGE difference between Jesus’ command to us to "make disciples" and imposing our religion on the rest of the world (or, having the biggest marketing plan in the world, if you like). Huge. Katharine Coble does the former, Jerry Falwell does the latter. Huge difference.
Bridgett, I believe what you say is true; but my friend also told me strategies to move Mormon missionaries off my doorstep pronto, so they’re not only about converting people.
True. I think they are all about making connections between people in need and a faith that would welcome them. If you’re obviously not buying, they quickly disengage and move on to spread the needful word somewhere else.
Oh, John, somehow I missed your comment. No, nothing in particular brought this on. I was just mortified by all the Christians who were gleefully telling Marcotte how they’d be praying for her and also that she was a cunt they hoped was soon raped.
Lately, if I get that, and it’s clearly meant in the patronizing stranger way, i respond, all chirpy,"You, too, eh?"a la the Chicken Lady from Kids in the Hall.sometimes i come out with it first, with really obnoxious religious people, because it pleases me.
>They teach a recruitment strategy moving from casual contact into progressively deeper exposure to doctrine through informal and formal house visiting, etc. This courting rush can be very successful. On the other hand, if you’ve been avidly pursued by the friendly campaign and firmly reject their doctrine, they drop you like you’re hot and move on to the next likely sinner to be reclaimed.>technically, that is considered one of the warning signs of a cult. just sayin’.
>all the Christians who were gleefully telling Marcotte how they’d be praying for her and also that she was a cunt they hoped was soon raped.gahhhhh!! see, this is what i get for blithely not reading the main source of the mess (for various reasons). charming.
I think one of the reasons I’ve never been able to feel good in church settings is because I do not really understand what prayer is. I was just having this conversation 30 minutes ago, and a nice, funny, gentle undergrad came the closest to giving me some account of prayer that made sense to me than anyone has in the 25 or so years I’ve been asking – I only wish I could repeat it. I propose the sequel to faith doubt be serveral little vingettes about the meaning and practice of praying.