I trust everyone had a wonderful, family-filled Christmas holiday, and that Santa was good to you. I was preoccupied with my family, so I didn’t post much, just an occasional comment here and there.
But I did hear the news over the weekend that the Pope, in his Christmas address, prayed for peace. It’s getting to be a cliché that the Pope prays for peace on the most solemn occasion of the Church’s most solemn ritual – Christmas Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. As far back as I can remember, whoever the Pope happened to be at the moment seemed to always pray for world peace. It’s actually gotten to be a joke, because he prays ad infinitum, ad nausem for world peace, and yet it never happens.
I sort of get it when Christians rationalize the failure of prayer when they pray for a new bike, or for Grandma to get better, or for President Obama to keel over from a heart attack (right wing Christians, no doubt). There are just some things God doesn’t have the time for, are not worthy of prayer, or remain unfulfilled because they aren’t part of his Almighty Plan. Sometimes, as they say, the answer to prayer is simply “no”. ( I always like that particular apologetic – it sets prayer up so that it can never fail, because there is always an answer). I get it. I think it’s stupid, but I get it.
But, you know, it seems to me that World peace is a good thing, something all humans strive for, despite their inherent limitations. I also have a hard time imagining a god who would disagree with that. Yet here we have his Personal Representative on Earth, Pope Didley-Do IV, or whatever name he takes upon election by the College of Cardinals, who is personally beseeching his divine boss to grant a most important prayer, and he’s doing it in front of millions of believers. You’d think that on this occasion, this prayer would be answered, that it would go to the top of the list of prayers, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and find the omnipotent, omni-benevolent god’s ear. And that it would be granted. Not this year, 2010, but the first year it was ever prayed for, which was probably in the Middle Ages sometimes. Maybe even earlier.
What is wrong with this picture? Here we have the Pope practically pleading for World Peace, and God says “NO”? What the hell is he thinking? Doesn’t he realize that the Pope needs to have some credibility in order to continue to
fleece minister to the flock? God’s making him look stupid up there on the alter at St. Peter’s, with cameras recording everything and transmitting the images all over the world for the faithful to assess their leader’s failure. Because FAIL is what the Pope is doing, every fucking Christmas.
The Pope prays for peace, the Palestinians or the Taliban or some Irish Catholic shoots someone, or blows someone up, or blows himself up, and the Pope looks like a fool. If I was God, and had a good set of advisers, I’d realize that it was a win-win situation we had here, if I granted the prayer:
- It would provide very convincing evidence of my existence, for all those doubting atheists out there.
- It would give some real street cred to my Pope, so that he could use that cred to continue extracting money from the flock.
- It would distract all those do-gooders trying to hold the Church responsible for the pedophilia of the rank and file priests.
- Oh. And as a side effect, a whole shitload of people would not be killed or maimed in ongoing war, but that’s just the icing on the cake.
But. Despite all these advantages, and no corresponding disadvantages, God ignores this one particular prayer? So what does that say about the efficacy of prayer in general? Well, I’m sure there are a bunch of Catholics who can rationalize it away, but to me it says that:
- Prayer is ineffective, because
- There’s no one listening.
Ah, but you see, if God answered the prayer for peace, then that would magically nullify everyones free will, which they have even though God knows exactly what choices they will make. Makes perfect sense…..nah, I can’t even pretend to believe that.
What I wonder is why didn’t the Pope pray that those who sheltered and protected the pedophile priests (and the priests themselves, of course) would get the justice they deserve…and then turned them in to the proper authorities. Of course, that would mean turning himself in, but since he’s the ruler of his quasi-fiefdom and the Most Holy Representative of the Child-Buggering-Supporting-God Himself, he can’t do that.
Have I ever mentioned that the outgoing general of The Salvation Army (his successor will be elected in late January 2011) recently issued a call for non-stop global prayer – 24/7/365 – for the entire year of 2011? Major Army Barmy describes it this way:
I suspect those prayers will be answered with the same success rate as those of the Pope. Look at it this way, the more time they spend on their knees, the less damage they can do in real world politics.
Isn’t the decision to pray more than once, let alone non-stop for 52 weeks, evidence that there’s not much faith in the prayer(s) being answered? Once isn’t enough? Further perplexing is setting an end date. The whole idea sounds like no one believes it’ll actually happen, so then why do it? I think that’s more interesting. My guess is it serves as both a publicity stunt and busywork for believers to feel like they’re doing something. Same goes for the Pope’s annual prayer. It’s a publicity stunt.
I think it’s foolish to ponder why their god doesn’t do this or that, and far worse to say because it doesn’t, then it doesn’t exist. There’s no reason to believe it exists because there’s no evidence for its existence. Period. Furthermore, praying to this thing for something to happen and then that thing happening would not necessarily be evidence for that god’s existence. Such an action would have to be repeatable. If it was, then it could be evidence for it but there would still be a need to connect the dots. For instance, a recent test showed that people taking placebos for IBS saw improvements twice as much as those who took nothing. Does that mean the placebo actually treated the IBS?
Apparently, YHWH is impressed by persistence – the apostle/St. Paul commanded Christians to pray continually, without ceasing, etc. This verse is YHWH’s escape clause: if the prayers aren’t answered satisfactorily, it’s because someone, somewhere slacked off and stopped praying (which may be why he says “no” so often). Unanswered prayers are not reflections on YHWH’s impotence, they’re signs of human faithlessness. It’s a great scam: if YHWH ran a casino, the house would never lose a dime.
Good guess on both counts. The current general, Shaw Clifton, is controversial within Salvation Army circles, so, similar to the way outgoing American presidents behave, he is looking to build his legacy. On the one hand, it takes balls to set an agenda for a year in which he will vacate office at midnight, April 1. In other words, he’ll be out to pasture for 2/3 of his global prayer initiative. On the other hand, it’s more of a gesture than anything substantive anyway, as his successor’s hands won’t be tied in any way. He’ll be only one of thousands of people praying, and he’d be doing that anyway, with or without a global challenge issued by his predecessor. It’s a safe, smooth move on Shaw Clifton’s part – he gets to look impressively spiritual without taking any risk.
Busywork is a large part of it, too. The broad focus of the prayers is social justice. Since a hell of a lot of items fit under that umbrella, improvement in any area (for example, fair trade – an item in which Salvos have been active and have done some good) will be interpreted as an answer to the prayers of the faithful winging their way to heaven. So, people can waste their lunch breaks praying, yet feel like their intercession actually influenced the world. Again, it’s a smooth, safe topic since it’s likely that, in some corner of the world, social justice will advance, even if it only takes a few baby steps forward. For example, if DADT had been repealed next week instead of last week, liberal Salvos (there are a few of them – but General Clifton is not among them) would point to that as an answer to prayers for social justice.
Well, it should make all of you scoffers happy to know that the pope and his priests are doing exactly what it is that they’re supposed to do, which is make Christianity seem stupid and inane. He is, after all, the front man for a pagan organization that is directly opposed to Christ, being set up as a false representation of Him. Also, if your much-vaunted evolutionary prowess as reasonable, logical, scientific human beings is valid in even the minutest detail, why aren’t you solving all of your own problems instead of mocking Christians for praying for God’s intervention? You can’t, can you? And, it’s not because religious people are doing all of the fighting, it’s because ALL of humanity is intrinsically evil and self-centered, the result of sin. God simply reminds you of the fact, you squeal like stuck pigs that it’s not so and the wheel goes round n’ round.
Yeah, I get sick of hearing that pompous fool spout off every fucking year, but, I know why he does it and I also know that even if he weren’t doing it, people would still find ways to rob and kill each other. Besides, isn’t that the evolutionary way? Survival of the fittest? Hell, you infidels should be touting all of this strife and bloodshed as proof that your beloved pseudo-religion is working just fine! And, there’s nothing wrong with any of it if evolution were the truth. Sentimental musings of peace and brotherly love are ridiculous in view of a reality that depends upon the strong obliterating the weak. Why don’t you infidels grow up and accept the inevitability of your chosen faith? After all, it’s only Christ’s ‘freakish’ religion that preaches against the grain – peace and humility over war and self-aggrandizement.
Go ahead and jump on the peace train, right alongside that phony-baloney “Vicar of God.” You’re both striving toward the same end, anyway, discrediting Christ and Christianity. Yeah, and God does demand a certain authenticity and sincerity before He hears prayer. Christ, speaking in terms of the events of the last days, says that He does not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34) In other words, evil has no place with Him. Those that oppose Him and His people will NOT find peace! So, keep looking for it, you ain’t getting it! Peace is only available to those that really wish to have it, on God’s terms.
Now, continue on in your self-righteous ravings, it amuses me.
I know some people, who being strong in their Calvinism, point out the folly of this particular course of action vis a vis peace. The bible says that there will be wars and rumors of war, so it is futile to try to change the “plan”, and scoff at attempts to do so. Hey! No script changes!
They also believe that only the specified number of “elect” (less than 150,000) will make it into the pearly gates, and all will be men, complete with genitalia (useless, so why?) and it is a horrible crime not to praise their “merciful” deity even though hell looms for us.
And, yes, they advocate prayer.
Yet here we have his Personal Representative on Earth, Pope Didley-Do IV, or whatever name he takes upon election by the College of Cardinals, who is personally beseeching his divine boss to grant a most important prayer, and he’s doing it in front of millions of believers. You’d think that on this occasion, this prayer would be answered, that it would go to the top of the list of prayers
Another way to look at it is not that the prayers itself are supposed to cause God to create peace on earth, but rather to inspire people to work for peace.
While prayer doesn’t result in some deity granting pleas and wishes of those who pray to it, I think it serves more as an exercise in solidarity for believers, that it is a shared experience.
Well, yeah, but then what need of prayer or a deity? If all the Pope is doing is attempting to inspire humans to be…human, why do we need gods? Or a huge, hierarchical church?
Well, they do need to keep their jobs after all! LOL!
Ha! I agree. But I’ve always said, religion is more about creating jobs here and now than about spirituality or the hereafter.
Besides, isn’t that the evolutionary way? Survival of the fittest? Hell, you infidels should be touting all of this strife and bloodshed as proof that your beloved pseudo-religion is working just fine!
That assumes that humans are obligated to behave like animals. It also reduces a human’s worth to sheer physical strength, when we are all enriched by the contributions of people regardless of their physical attributes. A parapalegic can still utilize his or her intelligence to produce literature or scientific insights.