Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Prayer Not Worth Praying

Perhaps the two good things I can see about the "non-theistic prayer" supplied by the Rev. Dr. Charles Bidwell are that (a) he isn't one of ours (acto his website, he is in the Metropolitan Community Church), and that (b) this schlock is two years old. In fact, I'm wondering where Chris Johnson dug this stuff up from, because on one level it would seem to be pretty unimportant stuff. Liturgical crud is bad enough in our own church without having to borrow trouble from someone else. And while I'm not sure that a poll of Episcopal Divinity School faculty would result in retention of the Nicene Creed, the situation elsewhere is hardly so dire.

That said, I have to agree with Brad Drell that this is awful, self-ratifying, arrogant crap. Faced with "petitions" such as this:
We work for these changes in our lives and in the lives of others in the spirit of Jesus who cared for all those who were unjustly treated or oppressed.

... all I can says is, "you will, will you?" This drivel (for the writing is dreadful) is not for the poor, the ill, or the powerless; it is a credo for those who have health, wealth, status and power at their disposal. Or at least, those who feel they merit all of these, by virtue of their virtuous position. In short, it's for the overly-educated upper middle class, especially academicians and clerics. It's not something I can see a barber or sales clerk or ditch digger "praying".

I also wonder, reading this sort of stuff, where the rest of 20th century theology went to. Back in the '70s the Euro-American postwar (Great Patriotic or Vietnam, take your pick) angst was still strong. Now twenty-plus years later, the whole sense of sin that motivated those earlier atheisms has faded away, and we are left with people like this who can't kick the religion habit.

I suppose there's some reason to worry that the rank intellectual snobbery of this kind of talk will appeal to seminary professors. But I'm not too worried. The whole thought of having to stand up in church and say this thing is enough to dissuade all but the very silly.