Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Petitioning the Lord with prayer

All the press coverage I read of the recent negative findings on the power of prayer to enhance recovery from heart surgery were fair and balanced. The reporters all went out and found eminent physicians and/or clergy to say that the study doesn't prove that prayer doesn't work. For example, prayer by family and friends, as opposed to distant religious communities, might well be effective.

Why isn't it obvious to everyone that anyone who believes this has a contemptuous view of God? Think about it. Here's Harvey Havemore, a wealthy corporate lawyer, who is diagnosed with lung cancer. His wife, kids, and siblings all pray furiously for his recovery. The all-powerful, omniscient, benevolent Creator and Lord of the Universe was going to let him die, but he sees the prayers pouring into his inbox so he says, "What the hell, I guess I'll cure this one."

On the other side of town, here's Helen Hasnot, whose husband ran off twelve years ago, whose only son died of leukemia, whose parents are both dead, whose sister lives in Dubuque and they drifted apart years ago, who descended into depression and social isolation. Nobody is praying for her. God says, "Tough shit, I don't have a single card or letter on this one." Helen suffers a protracted and painful death.

Then there are all those bumper stickers and signs that say "God bless America." So the idea is, God wasn't planning to bless America, but he sees the bumper sticker, so he says, "Okay, I guess I'll throw them a blessing"?

If that's your God, you can have him.

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