Thursday, September 20, 2018

Prayer, nuts and common sense


My job is like a baseball game. I’m in the outfield kind of looking at the sky when all of a sudden somebody hits a double and I have to run like “h-e-double-toothpicks “ to get to the ball and try to stop the baserunner that was already on second base from scoring.  Then I can go back to patrolling the outfield until the next time somebody gets a hit. So, I’m usually either running full out or not running at all. Sometimes during the lull in the action I have time (although limited when you count the documentation I’m already behind on) to write a little on my blog. Back and forth during the day or all at once depending on the length. 

 So, that brings me to today and right now I’m just kind of waiting on the next pitch so I have a minute to write. Two things caught my eye today. One was a friend posting about the local school system not allowing a prayer before the football game and the other was a wild eyed tax dodger evangelist who has migrated across the state line from Florida to South Alabama.  Lawd, don’t Bama already have enough nuts?

The thing about the prayer before the football game kind of struck home. I’m born and raised in the vicinity or at least the part of North Alabama the issue is being raised in. I remember countless football games from my youth both as a small child and during high school and it was a tradition and honestly a bit of a comfort for the local Baptist or Methodist or Church of God preacher to pray the Lord’s protection over the players and for the safety of the crowd on the way home. I don’t know how many if any injuries were actually avoided by the prayer but the minute of stillness and recognition of our own human frailty before The Deity always seemed comforting to me if I thought of it at all. At the most it was as I said a comfort and at the least I just waited patiently for the adult to finish his or her prayer so I could raise my head and get on with the night. No harm at any rate and so I would never have thought anything about it.

Now in all honesty my faith and my beliefs and worldview have undergone a lot of changes since my childhood and teenage years. Even from my young adulthood. I no longer feel that one size fits all when it comes to religion and I understand that not everyone is going to agree with the concept of God or meaning in the universe or if Jesus saves. I get that. I am uncomfortable at work when during an office lunch somebody say’s let’s bow our heads for the blessing. It just seems phony on some level and a bit oppressive on another. I personally do bless my food. I do it quietly between me and my Source (God) and move on. Others don’t do a blessing at all and some are atheist or agnostic or maybe even Pagan or Wiccan or Buddhist. I have come to a place where I understand the bible is not some holy book that was written by God and personally handed down from an angel to mankind. It’s a collection of wisdom and holy interaction and myth and politics and war and slavery. Much of what the “church” now considers scripture was given by Rome and sanctioned by Rome and interpreted by Rome and others for a specific agenda. So, when you hear actual scholars (not Dallas Theological Seminary or Lee College of the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee) talk about the actual meaning and culture and time and place then you realize that some people are trying to judge other’s and modern society based on 6000 year old Jewish dietary laws and 2000 year old stories that may or may not be literal.

Please don’t misunderstand. I absolutely have no regrets at all for the times I prayed at an alter in my youth or attended the Church of God of Prophecy with my Grandmother. I cherish the night I was Baptized at Cherry Street Baptist Church in Attalla, Alabama. It gave me a foundation and a parameter for my life and the gift of prayer . I was once asked by a fundamentalist if I thought I could take part of the bible and leave part out. Well Yeah I can. Because the “bible” isn’t a single book written by a single author. Honestly, I have more respect as a so called heretic than I had in my fundi days. Because then I was “believing” because I was told what to believe. Now, I can be honest with myself about what I do think and what I don’t accept.

But, anyway considering the prayer at a football game.  I firmly believe that a community has the right to have a prayer before a game. Most of the time the people protesting are from outside the community and are trying to impose their power and will on others. It’s not done out of love of country or fellow men. It’s done out of bullying and silliness. Because if you don’t want to pray or bow your head then don’t pray or bow your head. If you want a Buddhist prayer or a Wiccan prayer or a different prayer then get enough people together and have your prayer or invocation. We seem to have lost all common sense in this world.

But, also if your “God” can be kicked out of schools or ballgames or anywhere else then maybe it’s time you spelled it “god” instead of God.  J I don’t like forced prayer and I don’t like public prayer that assumes that I believe or live just like the speaker or the preacher. Seems hypocritical to me. But, I also don’t like somebody coming in to a small community and disrupting the peace just to make a point. The prayer of the local minister and the community isn’t going to hurt you and it isn’t going to oppress you unless somebody is standing there forcing you at the threat of life and limb to take part. So to the atheist and the secular folks (who I would otherwise agree on some points with) get a life. Sheesh.

The second thing I saw today was a nutty dude who started an anti evolution theme park in North Carolina but he migrated south (Lawd, why do the idiot snowbirds love South Alabama and Northwest Florida?) So, he now having served time in prison for tax evasion Are ya listening Donny Trump?, is now of course asking the “children of the lawd” to help him fight Satan and pay off his bills and support his anti evolution and 6000 year old earth idiocy.

I have a friend who is always going to be a religious person. I actually miss talking to him but I don’t miss the blind acceptance of religion. Every once in a while he will post about a “ shortened leg growing out after a prayer.” Or a drug user getting off drugs and delivered praise da Lawd. I’m so sorry and it’s not because I’m an atheist because I’m not an atheist. But, stating stuff like this without any proof at all is not helping the cause of Christ. (bring the doctors xray before and after as proof) As a matter of fact it’s just providing more fuel for the scoffers and the so called unbelievers. Now, I know another friend who has a ministry to the drug addicted. His method is longer and harder and more effective because he’s working in the trenches and understands that a quick “Help him Jaysus” might not be the cure all for a lifetime of excess drug and alcohol use.

So, people like this nutty preacher trying to dumb down the flock are doing a great disservice to people who might otherwise need a spiritual foundation. But, unless they are totally unwilling to look at the age of the earth (it’s ancient by the way) and the fact of change over time (which is evolution) then only a few misguided zealots will be parted from their money by this dummy.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.  But, let me say this. When I say something about the south it’s not from a perspective of hate or wanting to put it down. I’m southern to my core. I love the south and it’s people and I think it’s the greatest part of the nation except for some backwards political junk.

When I talk about the church please understand. I’m born and bred in the church. I still have a prayerful foundation because of the church and I wouldn’t trade it. So, right  or wrong when I speak, I speak as family and not as a hater of the faith or religion. But, I can’t pretend to believe something I don’t just to get a pat on the head and to not offend people. Some of the people that this will perhaps  offend (if they read it which most of them don’t.) are my childhood friends and kin and people I’ve loved all my life. I have no desire to push away the connections that I’ve been blessed to rekindle on facebook and the memories I have of Walnut Park in Gadsden and Altoona from back in the day.

But, this is my take on this at this time. Life is a journey and a marathon. Not a 50 yard dash. Although, there are times when it seems like a 50 yard dash. It’s awfully short and fast. So, that’s all I got to say about that.

Peace.