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.