December 18, 2009

Does God care about Twitter... and "Survivor"?

A mother's tweet: "Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool." Now, the poor boy died — 19 minutes after the tweet — and the mother is being criticized for using Twitter. Her tweeting had nothing to do with the accident, though, and it's not really wrong — is it? — for a writer to ask her readers for their prayers?

The woman, Shellie Ross, had over 5,000 followers on Twitter, and I don't think it was wrong for her to reach out to them in her time of anguish. At the same time, I cannot conceive of a God that would decide whether to answer a prayer based on the number of followers on Twitter!

And, did you watch "Survivor" last night? 2 contestants who had bonded over a late-in-the-game revelation of Christian faith found themselves on the same team in a competition that required them to pull ropes out of a structure without causing coconuts to tumble out. They started praying to God for victory. Like God should pay attention to whether coconuts are falling. I know Jesus said that God pays attention to every sparrow that falls, but he said nothing about coconuts. Or who wins on "Survivor." By the way, Team Jesus lost when a whole hilarious load of coconuts rained down as a rope was pulled by the Christian in a bikini. That doesn't, of course, mean that God wasn't paying attention. If you believe in prayer, no adverse result will ever shake your belief. In this case, the believer's explanation is obvious: God rejected the request.

Why would God help you win games? And, for that matter, why would God save a dying boy based on whether he had someone who knew he was dying and thought prayer might help? Why wouldn't He be irritated that you imagine him making decisions like that? Believers don't seem to worry too much about the possibility that their invocations displease God. In the case of the coconuts, maybe God actively preferred the people who declined to seek divine intervention. In the case of the boy, why must any child die?

198 comments:

Treacle said...

"In the case of the boy, why must any child die?"

So that others might be free of his ginormous carbon footprint.

Henry said...

God doesn't care about Survivor. He cares about Football.

AllenS said...

Sometimes, when God doesn't answer your prayers, it's because he doesn't like you.

WV: mounkin

Don't make a mounkin out of a mole kill.

anon2 said...

As Lou Holtz once said, God doesn't care whether Notre Dame wins or loses, but his mother does.

Henry said...

As for the poor boy who drowned -- words fail me. How can anyone blame the mother? At the moment she tweeted, she was completely helpless. She was in a hospital waiting room. That is one of the loneliest places in the world to be.

William said...

C.S. Lewis had the best comment: He claimed that we should pray not to change God's mind about us but in order to change our mind about God.

MayBee said...

God is wise enough not to answer all of our prayers.
Of course, there's no harm in trying.

MadisonMan said...

Extreme grief affects a person in ways that I can't yet fathom; it would be rude to comment on the actions of someone in the throes of grief.

I think the only reaction should be "That's dreadful. I am so sorry."

Bissage said...

"Please pray like never before, . . .

What’s interesting is the recognition that differences of degree amount to differences of kind.

To his credit, it was Linus Van Pelt who recognized that the Great Pumpkin chooses to arise out of the pumpkin patch that is most sincere.

Diamondhead said...

I cringed watching that part of Survivor last night. I also knew, because of the way the show has always been edited, that it would end like that.

Original Mike said...

"...while critics questioned whether her son would be alive if she spent less time online."

My God, the world is full of busy bodies.

re: Survivor: What will it say about the hypothesized existance of God when Russell wins?

John Lynch said...

This is a tough question, whether prayer matters or not.

If God made a universe where we have free will and our lives are not predetermined by fate (and THERE's a debate already), then we have to have the freedom to make mistakes. Even if they kill us.

Random chance must also have a role. Otherwise, again, everything is already written (like that famous subplot in Lawrence of Arabia) and we're just living out a script. There are people who believe that, but I don't.

I think we have the freedom of choice, that our choices matter, but a consequence of that is that bad things can happen. We can do bad things to each other, and bad things can happen even if we don't cause them. The universe is a vast and complex place where random chance has a huge role to play. If it didn't, then fate is all there is. That takes away our choice, and then what we do doesn't matter much.

If God made the universe, he still has to follow His own rules. Otherwise it won't work.

Where does prayer fit in? Can God change things on the fly? If so, why doesn't He when it seems clear to us that it's a good idea? One way to deal with this dilemma is to assume that God has a plan that we just can't see. Another is to reject prayer altogether as useless.

I don't know the answer. It seems to me that God can't intervene too much, or the whole universe is just a long script. But tradition and scripture say it does matter, and maybe our prayers are a choice that can change events.

I don't see how prayers can hurt, either way.

rocketeer67 said...

There is one prayer that never fails: "Lord, I pray that Thy Will be done."

Original Mike said...

I've always liked the fighter pilot's prayer:

"Please God, don't let me fuck up."

Henry said...

"Please God, don't let me fuck up."

I use that one for parenting. And I don't believe in God.

Sam U. said...

Maybe you should rethink that strict policy of writing every word yourself. Or was this supposed to be incredibly banal?

Original Mike said...

Who else loved Russell's "Thanks, Jeff, I think I'll keep it as a souvenir."?

Mike said...

Rocketeer and Original Mike are close to how I believe. I've known many Christian athletes who simply pray that God will let them be at their best. And some have said that the "end-zone prayer" is actually thanks for the ability God gave them more than "thank you for the touchdown" specifically.

vbspurs said...

Ann wrote:

Her tweeting had nothing to do with the accident, though, and it's not really wrong — is it? — for a writer to ask her readers for their prayers?

Let me give my answer to the shell-like enclosed question first. Is it wrong to Twitter during an extreme moment like this? It reminds me of the newly-wedded couple who, the moment the vows were solemnised, stopped the wedding ceremony to update their Facebook status and to tweet it.

It seems to me that every generation uses their era's technology in such a way as to seem strange even to their own contemporaries. This is a little known fact, but you can see this in action during the future Queen Mary's engagement to King George V. The bride's excited and rotund mother, Princess Mary Adelaide, had taught herself Morse code. The moment she learnt of her daughter's engagement (her second to a British heir to the Throne), she went inside the pokey cupboard-like telegraph room and spent the next two hours personally telegraphing Queen Victoria, their shared huge family, on down to the least members of the Cabinet.

That is EXACTLY analogous to Twittering for prayers or updating one's Facebook status during a weeding ceremony, today.

As for prayers, prayers like faith are a question of belief. There is no "wrong" time to pray.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Wedding, not weeding. Although I wouldn't have put it past "Fat Mary" to telegraph that she was going weeding.

Original Mike said...

@Mike: I'm an atheist, so I think Rocketeer and I are probably on opposite ends of the spectrum (not that I want to put words in his mouth).

Tom Wolfe made a point of distinquishing between the prayer most people would pray from the cockpit of a fighter plane ("Please, God, don't let me die") with that of a fighter pilot who would rather die than show himself to be anything other that 100% competent no matter what the circumstances.

traditionalguy said...

God's love is the unexplainable cause of everything. She probably had a belief that many of the 5000 potential prayer warriors had a better channel of God's favor working in their lives. While the scripture points out that God is sovreign, it also shows that He will await for us to inquire of him to do what He wants to do anyway, so that He can include us us and not do things alone.

Paddy O. said...

I think this is a great question that really touches on core aspects of human spirituality.

Accusations of banality are extroverted ennui. And sad.

But to the question...

That's the big question. This twitter wasn't really a theological statement but rather an exercise in doing "something" when there's such a feeling of helplessness.

In the church world these aren't uncommon. I don't follow twitter at all, but I've seen similar things on Facebook--I've posted prayer requests on facebook myself. It's a reaching out to others, and it's a seeking of whatever can be done. Prayer is a response that gives us some measure of hope.

But it's not a vending machine. The more coins we put in the more response we get. Prayer is a mystery. But we're called to do it. And, second guessing what God seems is important is not really, I think, helpful. Because how do we know?

It doesn't hurt to ask. It doesn't hurt to reach out. And, I think, this is even the case for Survivor contests or football games. Seems meaningless to us, but there are all kinds of ways a small matter can influence people in big ways. A football win could change the course of a fan by affecting an emotional state, or a player by providing a confidence boost, events which might resonate and influence small changes that lead to big transformation.

Does God change the path of something because of our entreaties? The Bible suggests this is the case, though not in a consistent way that means we control God. It's a mystery.

What's also true, in Christian theology, is we're not left with the idea of a boy's tragic death or the futility of unanswered prayers. We say that, in this moment, there is pain, and mystery, and loss. But there is, even still, hope because what we experience in this present isn't the end, and in the end, we will find restored joy and peace and life.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Believers don't seem to worry too much about the possibility that their invocations displease God.

How have you reached that conclusion?

Your sample of two incidents seems a bit light for such a conclusion, unless you know a large group of believers well enough to understand what's in their hearts.
______

One of the things I enjoy about the Christmas season is that atheists and agnostics reveal themselves as being among the most religious of people. They see God everywhere and in everything, and can't help pointing it out to the rest of us in their own manner.

exhelodrvr1 said...

IMO, God rarely steps in directly. He is a parent who has given the children everything they need to succeed, and now stands by and watches them live their lives. That doesn't mean that he doesn't love them, and doesn't agonize when they make bad choices and when they experience difficulties. The greatest benefit of prayer is the sense of peace it brings; the sense of understanding that there is a loving God who cares, who has a plan, even if you can't understand the what and why at that particular moment.

George Wallace said...

God, as channeled by Elvis Costello:

[Y]ou lie in the dark, afraid to breathe,
And you beg and you promise
And you bargain and you plead.
Sometimes you confuse me with Santa Claus:
It's the big white beard I suppose.

tim maguire said...

Unless the child was still in the pool while she tweeted, only a right bastard would object to her message.

Bissage said...

JERRY LANDERS: People are always praying to you. Do you listen?

GOD: I can't help hearing. I don't always listen.

JERRY LANDERS: So then you don't care?

GOD: Of course I care. But what can I do?

JERRY LANDERS: What can you do? You're God!

GOD: Only for the big picture. I don't get into details.

-- Oh, God! (1977)

vbspurs said...

TradGuy wrote:

She probably had a belief that many of the 5000 potential prayer warriors had a better channel of God's favor working in their lives

That's it, of course.

This "power of shared prayer" is seen from traditional religions like Buddhism, to the New Agey Silva Mind Control method, who both emphasise the communal "energy flow" that is created during ritual chanting or positive thought-making.

Prayer is man's way of tapping into the unknowable. It brings comfort and peace to those who do it and (who truly ever knows) but it could really affect the outcome.

Having said that, my mother prays for everything, including favourable parking spaces. I have always balked at practises, and confine my prayers to thanking God for his bounty in general and for requesting a positive outcome to happen for very very important things, like health and safety.

I just don't feel like taking up His time with lesser requests, although I do not judge anyone should they feel the right to (even my mum's parking requests). This poor woman's Twitter request, as strange as it seems, is perfectly valid given my reasoning.

Cheers,
Victoria

rocketeer67 said...

Yep, opposite ends, Original Mike. But the prayer's we both refer to are close cousins, I think.

Ann Althouse said...

@Michael H Well, look at the earlier comment "God is wise enough not to answer all of our prayers.
Of course, there's no harm in trying." My suggestion was that there IS a risk. In prayers, people ask for special favors. That could be a terrible error. Why do you think your child and not some other child should be saved? Why do you not accept that it was God's will that the child fell ill in the first place? You don't know God's point of view, and presuming to ask for something could be risky, even with disclaimers such as "if it is thy will" and so forth. You don't know.

rocketeer67 said...

Ugh. "Prayers," not "prayer's." Perhaps I should offer sacrifice to the god of apostrophes.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

My cult leader Byron Katie says, if you pray, answer whatever part of it you can for yourself.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Dear landlord,
Please don't dismiss my case.
I'm not about to argue,
I'm not about to move to no other place.

edutcher said...

God loves His children, whether they tweet, twit, Survive, or anything else. Sometimes His purpose can be very unclear, as in this case, but, if we're lucky, it may be divined.

My wife lost her son at six months. Ever since, she has looked out for her nieces and nephews, sometimes better than their parents. When her great-nephew was born, she picked him up and said, "I'm your Great-Aunt X and I'm a great aunt".

I often wonder if she would have devoted that kind of time and money (and angst and effort) if she'd had one of her own.

Windbag said...

13And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

14And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?


So, on the eve of the battle of Jericho, when questioned who He was rooting for, God says "No one." Go figure.

Windbag said...

Sorry...that was from Joshua chapter 5.

Coach Sal said...

I thought about prayer and football when Alabama beat Florida for the SEC title. You would think that God would have pulled a few strings for Tebow.

However, it's obvious that there is a God, and that He has a great sense of humor. Witness all the snow every time the global warming folks get together.

Original Mike said...

Lily Tomlin's character on the West Wing said something along the lines:

"I'm not much of a believer, so if there's a vengeful God it (praying) might be taken as an afront, in which case I would be doing more harm than good."

Good advice. I usually think it's best to keep my mouth shut.

rocketeer67 said...

"So, on the eve of the battle of Jericho, when questioned who He was rooting for, God says 'No one.' Go figure."

That's not the way I interpret it. I always thought that he was clarifying for a confused Joshua that he was no mere mortal, and was not there to fight, but to deliver a message.

AprilApple said...

I missed it. Who got booted last night?

Bissage said...

[Our scene is the dinner table of a working class, Italian-American family.]

FLORENCE MANERO: Will you walk me to church?

TONY MANERO: Haven't you been today?

FLORENCE: Confession. I must go back and pray.

TONY: For what?

FLORENCE: For Father Frank Junior to call me.

TONY: Why not call him?

FLORENCE: A son should call his mother.

TONY: You'll ask God to make Frank call you?

FLORENCE: Right.

TONY: I don't believe it. You're turning God into a telephone operator.

-- Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Diamondhead said...

*Spoiler*


Shambo. Made it farther than I thought she would...

traditionalguy said...

Many Catholic friends have expressed to me the thought that "their problems and needs are to insignificant to expect God to answer their prayers". To me that sounds like a humble way to be too proud to humble ourselves by asking in desperation for a specific named result. Their fear that not getting an answer will upset their last remaining faith may play into that attitude. The protestants use prayer over small and specific requests as if God is a loving parent that would not give his child a snake or a stone when asked for a good gift. As I grow, my Grandfather instincts are getting stronger these days. When a grandchild makes a sweet request, much less has an emergency, she will not be given the "You don't exist treatment". My answers will be what is best for her , and that is "no" sometimes, but if I can swing it ... maybe with a small wait needed ... her specific request will be granted exceedingly abundantly above all that she could ask or think. Am I angry for her playing me sometimes? Why no, I love it.

Michael Hasenstab said...

My suggestion was that there IS a risk. In prayers, people ask for special favors. That could be a terrible error.

IS. Could be. Why do you suggest that either one is the case?

It seems to me that a human fallacy is to presume to know the mind of God. It is unknowable, and the question of whether or not prayer carries a risk is God's to answer, not ours.

Brian said...

Well, of course it's fun to sit around and speculate. But as my wife would remind me, it can be much simpler to read the directions:

"This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."

So on the one hand, we are meant to be supplicant ("your will be done"); but on the other, it looks like special pleading is allowed ("give us today...").

Paul Snively said...

*sigh*

As if there weren't 2,000 years of Christian theodicy to refer to in all of this.

For Luther, it was pretty simple: the only thing you can ask for in prayer is what God already promised, which is essentially faith and strength, in which case you can, and should, demand it, since it was promised to you. The only other legitimate kind of prayer is one of thanksgiving. Period, the end. Precisely because "God, please do what's best for me" is wholly redundant.

Rick said...

"If God made the universe, he still has to follow His own rules. Otherwise it won't work."

Well, he apparently made 'heaven' too. Why did he create it like it is here with all of the pain and suffering?

Whose morality goes God follow?

Christian said...

Do you have children? Would you be irritated if your child was suffering and pleaded to you for help?

Would you be annoyed if your child was playing a game that meant a lot to them and asked for your help?

The only irritation you're imagining is a reflection of yourself. But even when you think about the above two questions, most decent people would have sincere feelings of love in heart if they placed themselves in the parent-child relationship (ie. Father in Heaven)

Another aspect is to understand what prayer is -- God wants us to pray to him for a variety of reasons. Two purposes are to ask for blessings he already wants to give us, but are conditional upon our asking for them. Another purpose and one that usually develops over time as faith grows (and biblical support is available for both) is to align the will of the son/daughter to the Father.

vbspurs said...

Why do you think your child and not some other child should be saved?

But who says that it's either/or? That's what people who don't understand the prayer impulse believe.

For example, when you pray for a good grade in an exam (there's a good joke about this, to follow), does that mean that you are asking God to fail others so you can pass? No. It is a simple request to allow you to have the best possible outcome at that moment. It becomes murkier for many when athletes or soldiers pray for a victory, because that BY FORCE does mean there will be a loser. But again, though we may ask for specific things like victory or a good grade, that is not what prayer is about. It's about hope and supplication, not certainty and insistence.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

The joke to follow was this:

So long as there are exams, there will be prayer in school.

vbspurs said...

I often wonder if she would have devoted that kind of time and money (and angst and effort) if she'd had one of her own.

An absolutely touching example, Edutcher. Thanks so much for posting it.

Chip Ahoy said...

God, do you care about prayers organized across twitter?


*drums fingers*
*waits*

God says yes. But stop asking about coconut competitions.

SteveR said...

Prayer is a way to express your thoughts, feelings and desires and it helps others to know people are praying for them. Of course, God won't change the outcome of an event based on prayer. That bad things happen to good people are the laws of nature. Evil exists as does gravity, exothermic reactions, etc.

Bad reason to not believe in God.

kynefski said...

I've always been bothered by alternative medical claims that prayer has a positive effect on health outcomes. The God I was taught to love would never have favored the person with numerous friends over the friendless.

bagoh20 said...

What's the alternative to prayer?

exhelodrvr1 said...

"does that mean that you are asking God to fail others so you can pass?"

God doesn't grade on a curve.

vbspurs said...

What's the alternative to prayer?

Good question, Bagoh. I would put it to you it's animistic practises like ritual sacrifice, etc.

This allows me to link to this sad story out of Brazil (one of the countries I've lived in), specifically out of Salvador, Bahia the State which has the largest amount of black Brazilians and therefore, has the largest amount of voodoo priests and priestesses.

A 2-year old had to be rushed to emergency to remove 50 needles from his body, after his step-dad forced him to swallow them. You know why? Because a Candomblé priest told the step-dad that doing so would ENSURE that he and the child's mother would stay together, during a rough patch in their relationship.

This isn't about hope anymore, which is what prayer is about. It's about certitude, which is what sacrifices are supposed to do.

Cheers,
Victoria

Paddy O. said...

"This isn't about hope anymore, which is what prayer is about. It's about certitude, which is what sacrifices are supposed to do."

Very nicely put.

chuck b. said...

Some of you make God sound really passive-aggressive.

****

vbspurs wrote:

"Prayer is man's way of tapping into the unknowable."

For the rest of us, there's particle physics. :>


"I just don't feel like taking up His time with lesser requests"

What is time to God?

chickenlittle said...

The other day my son's middle school went into lockdown after a student was reported carrying a handgun in a backback. I heard about the incident on Twitter via a local newsgroup that I follow. I tweeted a link to the story after trying to reach family and friends and while I monitored the situation from a distance. Thankfully, the incident concluded without harm to anyone. Several Twitter followers offered supporting thoughts and even prayers during those few hours for which I was very grateful.

Elliott A said...

@windbag- a similar sentiment is in Exodus (I forget the specific verse) where the angels are singing following the successful passage of Moses and the Hebrews through the parted Red Sea and the drowning of the Egyptians who chose to pursue them. God orders the angels to stop singing because "My children are dying". The lesson to me is that God respects all life, but lets individual chips fall where they may

Superdad said...

Many have missed the point. God answers every prayer - it’s just that sometimes we don't like the answer. The answer to the prayers of healing for that little boy were, "it is my will that he die to you so that he may live with me forever." The key to prayer is found in the examples of prayer in the Bible. God has made certain promises to us and on those we can count. Several times in the Old Testament God told Moses, I done with Israel these "stiff-necked people" don't get it. I am going to kill them all and start over with you as the Patriarch. Moses prayed to the Lord by invoking the promises the God had made to Abraham about his children being the Chosen people and God's anger cooled as he recalled his promise. God is true to his word. But other things we have no promise of. The New Testament makes it clear to us that the life of a Christian will be hard, full of problems, etc. and that we will die. But we will live with Christ forever. So, should you pray for healing, etc. Sure, but be forewarned that you may not get the answer you want - instead you will get the answer you need.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

My contention is that the only alternative to prayer is dispair, and so we all pray in some form. It is what you do when you got nothing else. It is defiance within submission.

Henry said...

What's the alternative to prayer?

One alternative -- and the one I'm predisposed towards -- is heroic fatalism.

Here is Tolkein on Beowulf:

"[The Beowulf poet] is still concerned primarily with man on earth, rehandling in a new perspective an ancient theme: that man, each man and all men, and all their works shall die. A theme no Christian need despise. Yet this theme plainly would not be so treated, but for the nearness of a pagan time. The shadow of its despair, if only as a mood, as an intense emotion of regret, is still there. The worth of defeated valour in this world is deeply felt."

Original Mike said...

The lesson to me is that God respects all life, but lets individual chips fall where they may

That Red Sea thing isn't a big thumb on the scales?

DADvocate said...

I know Jesus said that God pays attention to every sparrow that falls, but he said nothing about coconuts.

Quote of the week!

ken in sc said...

I used to be in a position of authority. I’m retired now from two careers. I told people what they had to do and when to do it—what shift they had to be on and what were their responsibilities. I determined who had to work weekends and who didn’t. Who could take vacation days and when they could take them. In other words, I was like a little god. Sometimes people would ask for special favors, a change in schedule or an exception to the normal rules. These were like prayers. If they did not interfere with my overall plans, I would grant them, but not every time and not too often. That’s because I knew if I made too many exceptions, discipline would fall apart and nothing would get done as planned. On a much larger scale, I think this is how God and prayer work. I have had prayers answered and others ignored. BTW, I don’t think God holds it against us for frivolous prayers as I might have for a frivolous request from an employee. I’d like to think God is a better boss than I was.

Peter S. said...

@Ann: "My suggestion was that there IS a risk. In prayers, people ask for special favors. That could be a terrible error."

Indeed. I used to pray, but my prayers were always answered in the most ironically grotesque and literal fashion, giving me exactly what I wanted, only horribly so....

No wait, that was the monkey's paw.

kynefski said...

The answer to the prayers of healing for that little boy were, "it is my will that he die to you so that he may live with me forever."

I remember hearing, on the radio, Christopher Hitchens offering that particular sentiment the respect it deserves. You can imagine.

Superdad said...

Elliot A - I like the sentiment, but that account is not part of the Exodus. After the crossing, the Isrealites sang and Miriam and the women sang yet another song. Not account of angels singing is found in the text and God did not order any of the signing stopped.

Flexo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
exhelodrvr1 said...

"I know Jesus said that God pays attention to every sparrow that falls, but he said nothing about coconuts."

African, or European?

Darcy said...

Thanking God that I came here and read supportive comments regarding this poor mother's plea.

Loving this thread.

Flexo said...

Regarding inappropriate "prayer" by idiots who cause scandal by their coconut idiocy while claiming to be Christian --

Notwithstanding the widespread assertion that God listens to and answers every prayer, but sometimes says "no" -- actually, sometimes He does pay no attention. God is under no obligation to listen to or answer a "prayer" that borders on being blasphemous by being so improper and inappropriate. Consider what happened when Herod effectively prayed that Jesus perform tricks for him --

"When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer." -- Luke 23:8-9

Jesus, that is, God, gave Herod the attention he deserved -- none.

AprilApple said...

-Diamondhead
Thanks.

traditionalguy said...

Flexo...Maybe that is why Mrs Herod was asking 5000 others with a credit balance of loving God's people instead of the mark of mudering God's favorite prophet, John the Baptist (now known as Crack Emcee) to use their prayers at the Throne of Mercy and Grace where they are invited in at all times.

Peter S. said...

"I know Jesus said that God pays attention to every sparrow that falls, but he said nothing about coconuts."

Or maybe that dumbass sparrow -- or was it a swallow? -- fell because he was trying to carry the coconuts.

Flexo said...

Regarding prayer for the life or health, etc., of another person --

No, prayer has no effect, and
Yes, prayer does have an effect.

(1) On the one hand, God is going to do what He is going to do, such that He does not change His mind, but that is because, being eternal, He has already done it. God exists outside of time, so that whatever might happen in our future has already happened for Him. All of human time is in God's present. One consequence of that is that Jesus was not simply crucified 2000 years ago, rather, He is perpetually hanging on the Cross. Another consequence is that He knows what will happen because it has already happened.

Moreover, God being perfect, does not make mistakes. To change one's mind is to say, to some extent that one was wrong before.

So, in these senses, prayer does not lead to God to do something, like save someone's life, if He was not going to already do it.

(2) On the other hand, prayer does have an effect because God made us as social beings, He made us to exist, not in isolation, not in individualistic solitude, but in communion -- in communion not only with Him, but if each of us is one with Him, we are necessarily one with each other. Although God, and God alone, provides us salvation (in Christ), and although He is all-powerful, dependent upon none, He has chosen to need the assistance of humanity to accomplish the work of salvation. God has chosen not to do it all by Himself -- He wants our help. He wants us to participate in saving others by, among other things, praying for them, which has the transcendent effect of joining all the faithful together as one in communion with God.

Indeed, in these days before Christmas, we see that God has very much chosen to need the help and participation of humanity in saving others. We see this in the very fact that He depended upon Mary for His very life, and depended upon her and Joseph to raise Jesus.

In like way, God, that is to say, Jesus Christ, needs our help as well. The Jesus who saves by the Cross and Resurrection is always the Baby Jesus as well. The Baby Jesus who requires us to help Him.

Prayer for other people helps Him. Not because He needs our help, but because He wants our help. He wants that help, He wants us to love one another and care about the welfare of one another.

So, yes, pray for others. Even if they inappropriately are typing away on Twitter instead of attending to their dying child.

Henry said...

Flexo wrote: Even if they inappropriately are typing away on Twitter instead of attending to their dying child.

Flexo, your remarks are very well put -- but please be aware that the woman twittered from a hospital waiting room waiting to find out of her child would survive.

chickenlittle said...

I second what Henry just said. The hospital staff may very likely excluded her from the efforts. Part of what's wrong with hospital HC in my opinion.

But your 1:04 was very well put Flexo.

Der Hahn said...

As a Christian, I'd just like to say that if making inappropriate prayer requests is the number one concern someone has, they've got bigger problems...

(Luke 18 - 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!')

chickenlittle said...

I also can't help but detect a very anti-Twitter sentiment among a few of Althouse's commenters as well.

Mike said...

Even if they inappropriately are typing away on Twitter instead of attending to their dying child.

Do you think ER staff are going to let the mother in while they try to resuscitate the child? Not likely. So she dealt with her fear and helplessness by reaching out to as many people as she could, as quickly as she could.

I don't personally believe in God or prayer, but I'm not going to begrudge this mother her way of dealing with one of the most devastating losses imaginable.

Beau said...

Everyone is doing it. Freaky stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuHgeGtyes8&feature=player_embedded

traditionalguy said...

Flexo...That was beautifully written. It is all about fellowship it seems. God wants our fellowship close to Him for us to enjoy the relationship and to praise Him, but then he wants to clean us up. Thank God that He sent his Son as our Christmas gift from God to do all of the clean up by His grace. Merry Christmas.

Flexo said...

There is a time and place for everything -- even Twitter.

vbspurs said...

Ken in SC wrote:

BTW, I don’t think God holds it against us for frivolous prayers as I might have for a frivolous request from an employee. I’d like to think God is a better boss than I was.

Since it was mentioned by another poster, let me clarify my position about praying for parking spaces, and similar other minor requests in prayer form. It's not that God adheres to the time-line continuum as we mortals must. I understand that the God of Abraham is not bound by earthly restrictions.

In a sense, it's my human humility kicking in (for a change). I feel that MY prayers should be worthy of God's time, not the other way around.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

One consequence of that is that Jesus was not simply crucified 2000 years ago, rather, He is perpetually hanging on the Cross.

Flexo, your post was beautifully written. Truly. It made this great thread even better.

I highlight this one quote of yours, because I once used this reasoning to explain to an anti-semitic person (who, with the irrationality of man, was an atheist, yet he was using a religious point to bolster his arguments) how odious his views were.

I said, "According to you, the Jews crucified Jesus and they should be hated for that. Well, we Christians crucify Him every day, and I know Jesus loves us all."

I don't think I changed his opinion. But I made my point.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There is a time and place for everything -- even Twitter.

Would it have been alright with you if she used her cell phone instead to call people?

On the other hand. Perhaps if she weren't so involved with anonymous people on the internet, she might have been able to pay more attention to her child's whereabouts.

Either way it is very sad.

Who knows if prayer works, but it certainly is worth a try if you truly believe and not just using it as a cynical backstop ploy.

vbspurs said...

On the other hand. Perhaps if she weren't so involved with anonymous people on the internet, she might have been able to pay more attention to her child's whereabouts.

I KNEW someone was going to say this, I just didn't think it was going to be you, DBQ. LOL. :)

Listen, do we know about this woman and what she does? I put it to you that we don't. Maybe she's a loving, caring mother who pays attention to her child 99% of the time. But children are amazingly cunning. Did you read today's headline about a 4 y.o. boy who got into drag, and stole his neighbour's Christmas presents? I love this story! The kid escaped from his home around midnight, despite his mother having baby-proofed the front doorknob and everything. The mum says that she is divorcing her husband, who is in prison, and that's why her kid wants to get into trouble -- to be with his dad there! This is all kinds of sad, this story.

Are there some people who would blame the mother for this? Sure. Especially online, where the blame game is at a premium.

But sometimes kids will just get into trouble, despite their parents' best efforts. Perhaps this drowning kid story was just that.

Darcy said...

That's so well said, Victoria. (And welcome back, belatedly!)

I was criticized mercilessly by my friends and family for being an overprotective mother during my son's toddler years. And even with that hyper-vigilance, I couldn't have my eyes on him 100% of the time.

And it just takes an instant.

And thank you, DBQ, for the comment about the cell phone. I think it's just pure meanness to second guess a waiting room plea for prayers.

DaveW said...

Believers don't seem to worry too much about the possibility that their invocations displease God.

My experience is quite the contrary. The appropriateness of a given prayer is something that comes up often in my group - whether it is OK to pray for XYZ, etc. We talk about it, worry about it, some of us agonize over it.

I certainly worry about it. Last year I expressed to my group that I was concerned my prayer was focused too inward - too selfish. I seem to have gotten past that roadblock and am settled in a much more satisfactory prayer life now.

My suggestion was that there IS a risk. In prayers, people ask for special favors. That could be a terrible error.

Depends on what you mean by terrible error. This is also something we talk about - one of my favorite prayer jokes is that you can ask God for a Mercedes Benz if you want but be careful because He might give you a $2,000 oer month car payment.

Synova said...

"...friends have expressed to me the thought that "their problems and needs are to insignificant to expect God to answer their prayers". To me that sounds like a humble way to be too proud to humble ourselves by asking in desperation for a specific named result."

I think that there is some significantly poor doctrine out there... the prosperity and victory stuff as well as "softer" error that ignores the process of sanctification. Feeling that ordinary problems are too insignificant for God might be a reaction to that.

"Their fear that not getting an answer will upset their last remaining faith may play into that attitude."

It might. I usually hear it from non-believers who, for some reason, are absolutely certain that they understand the nature of God and that God views us "from a distance" or "I don't get into details." Yes, the basis of doctrine is movie comedies and pop songs and some overheard "you know, Jesus was a feminist" that just *sounded* so true.

Really. How *special*.

"The protestants use prayer over small and specific requests as if God is a loving parent that would not give his child a snake or a stone when asked for a good gift."

And children *often* want something like a "stone" or "snake" that is either bad for them or that they really can not have. If I, as a parent, am wise enough to refuse the unwise requests my children make, why do people insist that God is going to give us what we want, even if it turns out to be a bad thing?

OH NOES! What if we foolishly ask for something foolish or harmful? What if we are not wise enough and we just jump right in there and ask God and He *helplessly* is forced to give us what we want? Really?

Back to the poor woman who lost her child.

Prayer does something important and powerful, no matter what ultimately happens. In a situation where a person is helpless and utterly powerless, it gives them something constructive to *do*. Anyone who disparages this is the worst sort of hateful jerk. Particularly when very bad things happen, people have a need to have a way to *act*, to take action. And while people may pray for specifics that don't happen there may still be miracles. The person going through the ordeal may feel less alone, may be better able to accept comfort or help from others... lots of small graces could be the result of prayer. Asking others to pray, to ask for help that way and for support, also means a person is reminded to look to God for strength. It also helps when someone feels like they can depend on God, to lower anxiety to a level that makes it possible to think and to function, even just a little bit.

Oh, but that's not GOD, right? But scripture tells us to pray and to let God carry our burdens. Is it really *not* God answering prayers when He told us to pray because he knew it was a good thing for us to do?

Synova said...

"The kid escaped from his home around midnight, despite his mother having baby-proofed the front doorknob and everything."

I woke up at 2am once, because my oldest daughter had climbed out of her crib and was running the pop-corn toy up and down the hallway. What if she had decided to leave the house or simply played with something less noisy that could have hurt her? Parents have to sleep. They have to pee. Between 2 and 4 kids are pretty capable and entirely without reason.

Henry said...

Between 2 and 4 kids are pretty capable and entirely without reason.

And if you add to the 2-year-old a 5-year-old who can't seem to remember to close the front door when she's the last one in, and an 8-year-old always ready to share the small hammer from his tool box, you reach the limit of parental alertness pretty fast.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Victoria

I don't mean it in a mean or judgemental way about being overly involved with the net at the expense of her child. We don't know that it is the case. And I'm sure that this poor woman may be thinking something on these lines.

Whenever something terrible happens it is so easy to second guess yourself and try to blame yourself. "What if I had/hadn't done such and such." "What if I had been better at such and such." You can drive yourself nuts going down that road. She surely doesn't need us doing that for her.

And yes, your child can disappear in an instant. It doesn't take long for disaster to occur no matter how hypervigilant you are.

However, the level of techonology and involvement that people are putting into communicating through inanimate objects at the expense of paying attention to their surroundings (Althouse had a blog post on this topic I believe) is leading us to become more and more disconnected to and oblivious of reality. Texting while driving or walking oblivious to traffic or people. Twittering daily about banal activities to anonymous strangers instead of dealing with real live people in your life. Talking on cell phones while ignoring the person standing in front of you. Listening to music while walking in a fog through dangerous traffic and ignoring the people in your immediate vicinity.

Time goes by while you are doing those activities and you are dulled and numbed to reality. I'm not saying this is what happened in this tragic case, but it is something that we see happening daily in society.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Victoria said:
"Did you read today's headline about a 4 y.o. boy who got into drag, and stole his neighbour's Christmas presents? I love this story! The kid escaped from his home around midnight, despite his mother having baby-proofed the front doorknob and everything. The mum says that she is divorcing her husband, who is in prison, and that's why her kid wants to get into trouble -- to be with his dad there! This is all kinds of sad, this story."

That's my town, baby! Stuff here hardly ever makes the national news, and we are all kinds of proud right now.

Flexo said...

Perhaps I was uncharitable with respect to this particular mother's tragedy.

But that partly would be because everywhere you look, wherever you go, you see somebody plugged into their i-Pod or cellphone or Blackberry or video game or this device or that device. ENOUGH ALREADY! Put the damn thing away before I take it and throw it out the window!

chickenlittle said...

Things happen even when they shouldn't. I lost a cousin once to drowning. He was 5 or 6 and went fishing with an older brother. He fell off a bridge into a river. A cop happened to be at the scene but nobody could rescue him because none of them could swim.

chickenlittle said...

Put the damn thing away before I take it and throw it out the window!

OK, you first though! :)

Darcy said...

DBQ and Flexo: Those are good points about getting lost in technology rather than real life. A wise caution.

Penny said...

Life is difficult enough. Do we really have to pass judgment on how, or in whom, people place their faith?

For some, it's God. For some, it's family or community, yes, even online communities. For some, it's science. For some, it's faith in self...or any combination of the above.

Do you know anyone who lives without faith?

Shanna said...

I can't imagine posting, or twittering or anything else in such a situation, unless maybe she was alone (ie, family and friends were unable to get to the hospital at that point). I can imagine just wanting to reach out to someone at the moment, if they weren't there with you. I'm not sure I would do it on something so open as twitter, but I'm not going to condemn her for it.

I will say that "pray for x" is kind of a shorthand way of both informing others about something and just knowing that those people will be thinking about you or wishing you well. And I don't see any harm in that, truly. Maybe it's because I'm in the south and this is pretty much HOW people communicate bad news and illnesses...pray for so and so.

bagoh20 said...

Penny, I agree. It appears that the last two people on earth will be a judge and the judged. And of course, one of them will have to go.

Michael said...

So Professor Christians is not the only UW Law Prof that watches Survivor.

Titus said...

My British/Indian husband and I talk on the phone all the time.

We also ask each other to take our dicks out and pound them against the receiver for each other.

Are we pervs?

Titus said...

Coconuts=Tits.

Thank you.

Remember when Ginger in Gilligans Island had a coconut bikini. that was hot. I like how the coconut shells seperated her tits.

Mike said...

My British/Indian husband and I talk on the phone all the time.

We also ask each other to take our dicks out and pound them against the receiver for each other.

Are we pervs?


Probably not, but if we ever meet, I'm for damn sure not asking to use your phone.

chickenlittle said...

Probably not, but if we ever meet, I'm for damn sure not asking to use your phone.

Note Meade: when you guys meet up over Christmas, be sure to at least get a photo of Titus's cellphone.

Titus said...

I have to admit I am sick of Obama.

I voted for him but he is tiring me out.

I don't want to see his face on the tele all the time. I guess I don't want to see anyone's face on the tele that much.

I don't want him traveling all over the world telling everyone how fab he is. Get to work here. This country needs more jobs. It's the economy stupid, focus on it, or you are going to be gone.

Titus said...

I miss the 90's.

What a great time to be in the workforce, huh.

Jobs everywhere. People spending money. All kinds of new companies, etc.

I was speaking with a friend of mine and he doesn't think we will ever have that kind of prosperity again...

Titus said...

The movie Startup.Com captures that decade perfectly.

Also, the guy was hot.

Ron said...

I wonder if the deities take turns covering different social networks, you know, like Customer Service calls that go to India.

This week, Shiva's on Twitter, Jesus is on Facebook...Zeus still covers AOL for obvious reasons...

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

"My suggestion was that there IS a risk. In prayers, people ask for special favors. That could be a terrible error."

It wasn't a special favor. It was the same favor/sentiment any other parent would have asked/had.

My thoughts are, anyone criticizing her for her actions during that kind of situation are simply asses.

Almost Ali said...

Twitter was an accessory before-the-fact, i.e. the mother's OCD.

Almost Ali said...

Shiva's on Twitter, Jesus is on Facebook...Zeus still covers AOL

While Allah plots on the sidelines.

traditionalguy said...

Ron...LOL, The idea that God is a supercomputer that contains all information from all over for all the time about every Particle and attraction between Particles of energy that make things form, tends to demand a digital explanation. In the beginning (which means in the Book of Moses called Beginning or Genesis) was the Word. Suppose that the Word is an information data base of everything analogous to DNA to a human being. The more science trained thinkers analyze and use super computers, the more many of them start saying that such astounding complexity out of order out of chaos could not be an accident and totally laugh at Darwin's guesses. The thinkers then go directly into the theory that Space Visitors at one time must have brought the super computer codes containing all information (The Word)here to earth and implanted it as a gift, and we will soon find archiological evidence of that. Science with an open mind is very freeing.

Almost Ali said...

Did you read today's headline about a 4 y.o. boy who got into drag, and stole his neighbour's Christmas presents?

Anything to be with his father, even if it means going to prison.

In the eyes of this 4-year-old, there's only one Santa.

rhhardin said...

OMG 2yo fell in pool and drowned (frowny face)

Almost Ali said...

I don't mean it in a mean or judgemental way about being overly involved with the net at the expense of her child. We don't know that it is the case.

Very strange behavior for one not overly involved with the net.

In fact, she was on auto-Twitter.

While 2-year-olds are known for their exemplary behavior.

thefewandtheplenty said...

Didn't Monty Python already settle the question of sparrows and coconuts?

vbspurs said...

Lyssalovelyredhead wrote:

That's my town, baby! Stuff here hardly ever makes the national news, and we are all kinds of proud right now.

Uhh. Okay. :)

c3 said...

My two cents:
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
Note prayer in "everything" and note "thanksgiving" prior to answer. And yes as the passage suggests it doesn't make humanly sense but it works for me.

vbspurs said...

That comment, Lyssa, reminds me of talking to Bulgarians during the 90s, during CNN's heydey. CNN Int'l used to have (still has?) a Bulgarian anchorwoman, and every single Bulgarian I met then used to mention her with evident pride.

vbspurs said...

Almost Ali wrote:

In the eyes of this 4-year-old, there's only one Santa.

And the Easter Bunny, and also apparently given his penchant for drinking beer, St. Paddy.

There is no substitute for daddy. Still can't explain the dress though. That bears watching.

vbspurs said...

Don't worry, DBQ. I got it. :)

Twittering daily about banal activities to anonymous strangers instead of dealing with real live people in your life.

It seems to me that we want to reach out, to get that human contact, that human feedback, but let's face it -- the carnality is missing, and some people are glad that it is. By carnality I mean all the chemical interactions we have next to a living-breathing human being, including the oft-times petty observations we have about our physiques which influence our opinions even unconconsciously. It's quite possible that many of the people who like me here, or who I like, would not like me or I them if we were to meet in real life. A lot of that is down to chemical reactions between two people, which are unpredictable.

Twittering, Facebooking, Bloggering, MySpacing and before, Friendstering, Usenetting, IRCing, everything related to virtual-world interaction removes us from those hidden obstacles, but still allows us to be social animals.

Twitter is like having an instant printing press at your disposal, with no need to wait for a delivery boy on a bicycle. It's a heady concept.

vbspurs said...

Thanks for your kindness, Darcy! :)

MamaM said...

"Deflectives" seems more fitting than pervs.

Depending on the motive or intent, pervert might also apply.

To pervert: to cause to turn away from what is right, proper, or good; corrupt.

The perversion involved with adding off topic comments about dick beating preferences in order to create a diversion or gain attention seems more about unmet personal needs than sexual orientation.

EDH said...

Well, asking for prayers on Twitter for her two year-old son is certainly a more acceptable way to "tap" into the spiritual world than sticking him full of sewing pins.

Steven said...

Believers don't seem to worry too much about the possibility that their invocations displease God.

Well, the Bible comes out and tells people to pray for what they want. So, a believer in the Bible isn't going to worry about that, no. They're going to pray for what they want, lest their failure to do so ticks off the Big Guy.

chickenlittle said...

vbspurs wrote:

It's quite possible that many of the people who like me here, or who I like, would not like me or I them if we were to meet in real life.

Well I guess if you looked like Trooper York there'd be an issue, but otherwise, I think not.

(apologies in advance to Ron :)

ethan said...

What are you, Althouse, fuckin' retarded?

Matt Eckert said...

That's not fair, Meade is not retarded.

chickenlittle said...

ethan wrote:
What are you, Althouse, fuckin' retarded?

Are you the same ethan who has been doing the same schtick for almost 4 years now? I think your development is retarded.

Michael Hasenstab said...

vbspurs said: [A]delivery boy on a bicycle. It's a heady concept.

See what can happen to things one writes on a social blog?

kentuckyliz said...

My peeps are more on fb than twitter. We ask for and offer prayers back and forth all the time.

They demanded that I post my PET CT scan results immediately.

A worldwide network of friends and relatives rejoiced in thanksgiving with me. It was awesome.

Prayer isn't just asking Santa for goodies.

Prayer is the presence.

Emmanuel--God with us.

He didn't promise that we'd never have problems and things would always go our way and he'd give us the best parking space if we just ask.

He promised to be with us.

I had my agony in the garden prayer the night before the PET CT that surprise surprise dx'd my breast cancer.

I blogged about this powerful experience of prayer...it became clear that it really wasn't all about me and what I want--id driven creatures that we all are. When you can pray "thy will be done" with joy and praise, even when staring into the abyss, it's a beautiful thing.

Not like I'd expect this mother to do that. I had a long time to anticipate and develop.

We can't see across time and alternate realities--what if the child was the next Jeffrey Dahmer? Or would have otherwise died a long, painful, lingering death from some disease in a few years' time if not for this quick passage? God knows all the possibilities.

Why do we fear and loathe the very thing we keep saying is so wonderful and much better?

tradguy, you crack me up with your Catholic comments. It's funny how Catholics are criticized for doing just the opposite of what you say.

Pray unceasingly
Ask, seek, knock
Rejoice and thanksgiving

Interesting note about thanksgiving--we don't say God, thanks for already delivering what I'm about to ask for. That's presumptious. It also blames the person for failure. They didn't have strong enough faith. That mother should have just really BELEEEEEEVED when she thanked God for saving her son's life when the ER team was at work. Scandalous.

Thanksgiving in Greek is Eucharist. Offer prayers and petitions with the Eucharist. Happens at every Mass.

Pop quiz:
what's the best parking spot?

The one that gives you the most exercise. Maybe God wants you to park far away and walk and take care of the body He gave you. Especially all these fat Americans.

;-)

ricpic said...

I never understood prayer. If it is "Please God, make this happen" or "Please God, don't make that happen" it is childish. That is why I found the comment by Paul Snively helpful:

For Luther it was pretty simple: the only thing you can ask for in prayer is what God already promised, which is essentially faith and strength, in which case you can and should demand it, since it was promised to you. The only other legitimate kind of prayer is one of thanksgiving. Period, the end. Precisely because "God, please do what's best for me" is wholly redundant.

This makes sense. Prayer becomes adult. One either prays for strength, which is in one to begin with, or one gives thanks, which is also in one. Prayer is a getting back in touch with both.

Irene said...

@kentuckyliz, Thanks for that last comment. It went a long way here.

Steven said...

For Luther it was pretty simple: the only thing you can ask for in prayer is what God already promised, which is essentially faith and strength, in which case you can and should demand it, since it was promised to you. The only other legitimate kind of prayer is one of thanksgiving. Period, the end.

Which, of course, is yet another case of Luther ignoring the Bible and substituting his own imaginings. The Bible has Jesus giving explicit instruction in how to pray, and one of the lines of that prayer is specifically asking God for bread.

chickenlittle said...

Steven wrote:
The Bible has Jesus giving explicit instruction in how to pray, and one of the lines of that prayer is specifically asking God for bread.

I always thought "bread" was metaphorical? cf: Genesis 3:19:

In the sweat of thy brow shall you eat your bread

Jesus didn't change that too did he?

MamaM said...

A song from my past brings these words to mind:

"Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed..."

Words: James Montgomery, 1818, written at the request of Edward Bickersteth, for his book Treatise on Prayer.

The act of realizing or expressing a sincere desire to others who care or a loving power perceived to be higher than oneself seems positive to me regardless of which form it takes.

This woman's hastily twittered prayer request has generated hundreds of thoughts and stimulated thousands of electrical connections in human brains and machines around the globe.

kynefski said...

Ah, the touching humility of extraordinary knowledge.

Lem said...

People are praying all the time.. they just dont call it that.

Alex said...

Sorry, but from where I come from if something devastating is happening, one is NOT tweeting, IMing or anything else. One of wailing and gnashing teeth, rending garments, that type of thing. Very biblical.

Alex said...

question nobody wants to ask - "was mommy tweeting on her laptop instead of watching the 2yo so he didn't fall into the pool"? Yeah FUCK ME for even daring to imply guilt!

Alex said...

Prayer is about as useful as dog feces. Dog feces at least feed the flies.

traditionalguy said...

Kentucky Liz...I agree with all of your observations. My apology to you once again for reporting my experience with a few Catholic friends as if they have a characteristic common to all Catholic believers. You can help me with my blind spots whenever you please.

Lem said...

When Althouse kept falling learning to ski.. she prayed at least once.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Why would God help you win games? And, for that matter, why would God save a dying boy based on whether he had someone who knew he was dying and thought prayer might help? Why wouldn't He be irritated that you imagine him making decisions like that? Believers don't seem to worry too much about the possibility that their invocations displease God. In the case of the coconuts, maybe God actively preferred the people who declined to seek divine intervention. In the case of the boy, why must any child die?"

I like how these first two questions are kind of atheistic, but then the third just keeps the charade going - anything but just accepting/stating there is no God.

When I was about 13, I had a foster sister who almost lost her hand one night after walking through a plate glass door. My foster mother at the time grabbed her Bible and started praying over this terrified kid as her blood was spurting everywhere, and I remember thinking, "That's a stupid thing to do", before going for the phone, myself, to call an ambulance. Those kinds of experiences stick with you.

I think most people believe in things because they probably haven't lived a life that's taught them the proper lessons. There ain't no God - it's just you and your beliefs - but, once you whittle it down to being just your sorry ass, beware:

Most of those God-is-Omnipotent types will be out to get you.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I have buried a child, and I built the coffin for my sister's child. That does not mean that God is not good ... it means that life is tough.

God gave us free will, because if we did not have it, our declarations of love to God would mean jack-shit.

The hard side of that, for us, is that often the world makes no sense.

We give genuine thanks to God for the wonderful things in our life ... not because God has blessed us in particular, but since life can be so fucking hard, He appreciates a sense of gratitude that it isn't even worse, for us at this time.

Don't worry. It will be, at some point. God's heart is that we learn from Paul's Second Letter to the church at Corinth -- probably his Third, because one was lost -- about how we are to deal with hardship. See chapter 1.

Those of us who follow Christ are not exempt from troubles, and we sure as shit aren't perfect ... but God understands our suffering, has suffered Himself by the hands of a free-will world, and quietly encourages to turn it all to some good.

Christianity isn't some candy-assed faith that makes everything right for Christians...

It does ask us to consider a larger picture and to do the best we can in view of our own sinfulness -- mine for sure -- and the general tragic messiness of life.

All the other religions have all the pat answers. We don't, and we know it. What we have is the one and genuine God of comfort, who for no valid reasons of our own chose to come alongside us, good times or bad.

Alex said...

Bart - you only hurt yourself with the God-delusion. Why believe in millenia-old man-made myths instead of embracing reason! Religion is for fools.

bagoh20 said...

Althouse commenters have always impressed me, but I had no idea how much they knew about God, what he wants, needs, does, requires, thinks, etc. And apparently some know these things without any doubt or question whatsoever. It's truly amazing.

vbspurs said...

Well I guess if you looked like Trooper York there'd be an issue, but otherwise, I think not.

LOL! How sweet. Thanks to Trooper for his kind memoriam post -- in fact, Faces is one of my favourite Sundries' posts ever, so the man certainly knew me well.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

I think your development is retarded.

In fairness, Chicken, the remark allowed Matt Eckert to leave a hilariou reply. ;)

Michael Hasenstab said...

KentuckyLiz, Bart Hall. Thanks for your thoughtful posts.

Matt Eckert said...

Well he is kind of slow but that is not officially retarded.

vbspurs said...

KentuckyLiz wrote:

We can't see across time and alternate realities--what if the child was the next Jeffrey Dahmer?

I really liked your reply, Ky Liz, and felt the power of your words about your experience, but I will throw this out there, because I know the arguments non-believers make (my father, for one, who is agnostic).

Why would God "allow" this child to die? Your response is maybe we don't know, the kid might've become a monster like Jeffrey Dahmer.

So the reply atheists and others give is, why did He allow Jeffrey Dahmer to live in the first place?

For a Christian like me, this is one of the most difficult questions to rebut, even given all my understanding of my religion, all the absorbed classes of cathechism, and the instant knowledgebase my mother has when asked (a much better Catholic theologian than I).

I once had a long conversation with a Holocaust survivor who didn't believe in God (because of his experience). The arguments of Free Will only go so far when having to discuss evil in this world, and why God tolerates it. I, for one, could state what I know about my religion only so far, before I forced myself to shut up in the face of his pain.

Cheers,
Victoria

traditionalguy said...

Alex...Wise men still seek the God revealed in His creation. See my comment @ 3:57 about reasoning men examining creation. Bart is being honest about his experiences, rather than being unreasoning. The schools and Universities in America are primarily a legacy from a protestant Christian culture's need for adult literacy to affirm each man's faith in the Bible's actually always up to date teachings. Reasonable men today are not fully educated until they know for themselves what these Scriptures say about them and their purpose in this life.

Alex said...

tradguy - tell me how God-belief has anything to do with scientists working on gene-sequencing algorithms or nano-fiber medical apps? Sorry, but the most intelligent people in the world are 100% atheist!

vbspurs said...

And apparently some know these things without any doubt or question whatsoever.

Oh we doubt and question, Bagoh. But God has incredibly left quite a paper trail. Call it the Bible, the Qu'ran, whatever, we were given insight into what He approves of or not.

It seems to me that this jesuitical need to question is perpetual for intellectuals and non-believers, and the basis for their judgementalism about religious people.

The point is, when you have faith, given the understanding of your religion, at some point you are going to have to accept.

I can't speak for others, but I for one have accepted.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

wv: bleive! God = dyslexic...

Matt Eckert said...

I for one am very impressed that the Crack Emcee had his first tweet when he was five years old.

kynefski said...

All the other religions have all the pat answers.

Where does that come from?

Matt Eckert said...

From Pat.

traditionalguy said...

Alex...You are correct that a God belief is not necessary for a technical science application. However, the complexity of the organised systems inherent in the DNA sequences being discovered must beg from you some wonder of what those systems were purposely made to do for a time, and likewise what our consciousness was purposely made to do eternally. If you do not know any intelligent and educated believers of the revelation made by God of Himself in the Scriptures, then that is the Church's fault.

Becky said...

My initial reaction to the prayers about the game/contest was the same as yours. But then I put myself in their position. They've been in the jungle for more than a month without food. The reward involved a meal. I can't say I wouldn't have prayed for food under those circumstances.

exhelodrvr1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Alex: intelligence and intellect are not the same thing. You posit:

Sorry, but the most intelligent people in the world are 100% atheist! yet the provost of UCLA declares that "When I need an atheist for a debate I have to ask the Department of Philosophy ... because Physics is now a lost cause."

There is plenty of opportunity to find God in what we know, rather than confine Him to that currently unknown. Both cosmologists and quantum physicists tend to be well populated with the faithful.

I carry several degrees in the hard sciences, so I'd prefer if you not make a fool of yourself by branding me as "irrational."

Unlike you, I don't have enough faith, confidence, self-assurance, or arrogance to declare unequivocally that God does not exist ... or for that matter does exist.

The difference between us is that if I'm wrong, I'll never know. I'll just be dead and that's it. I will have lived my life largely at peace and following the wisdom of a great teacher ... good night.

If you are wrong, no matter how fine a life you may have lead, your reaction within two seconds of death will be something on the order of "Oh, fucking, SHIT!"

The great strength of Christianity is that it is not all tidy and fuzzy. Many heroes of the faith were obvious shitheads. The witnesses to the resurrection were a handful of women nobody would believe in the first place.

If you're going to fabricate an heroic fable, I guarantee you, the Bible is most certainly not how you'd do it.

kentuckyliz said...

Bart Hall--I appreciate your comment very much--and I am very sorry for your loss.

Some of the most faithful people I know are scientists. They know where the science ends and the mystery begins. Their knowledge, their explorations, lead to awe.

Part of God's paper trail is the lived experience of faith in his community throughout the ages. Just giving a shout out to my homies of faith. Even those who were trained up by the apostles themselves left behind writings. I would be much the poorer without St Clement of Rome, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Justin Martyr, St Irenaus of Lyons, St Teresa of Avila, St Therese of Lisieux, St Edith Stein, St Maximilian Kolbe, St Francis of Assisi, St Augustine...so many more. I have an Orthodox friend helping me to get to know some of the Eastern saints...it feels like breathing with both lungs.

Beyond just words, faith expressed in the arts, including so many anonymous ones. Cathedrals--prayer in stone. Stained glass. Sculpture. Iconography and painting. Beadwork! ;-) Music. Herr Handel, Mozart, de Palestrina, anonymous composers of chant.

So great a cloud of witnesses.

vbspurs said...

The story of the mother is a little complicated. As many suggested, she was an avid Twitter user. Just a minute before her posting that prayer SOS, she had commented on the weather -- one of over 70 tweets that day. SEVENTY TWEETS.

But there are mitigating circumstances, should you want to view them as that. Her husband is deployed abroad serving our country. She's got two other kids.

This article on Jezebel argues the case for charity to this grieving mother better than I can:

"Let's say, for the purposes of argument, that [Madison] McGraw, a woman who's never met this mother, is absolutely right: Ross had an internet addiction that made her neglect her family and led indisputably to her child's death. Are we pointing fingers at the bereaved mother, or at the technology that lured her away from her place at her children's side? Is she suggesting that this was an unstable, easily-influenced woman unfit to care for children (in which case surely she would have fallen prey to other distractions, right?) or that it was demon technology that led her astray? And let's say, which we cannot and should not, that all or some of that was true. It's just as true that this was a case where we saw the good of these same networking sites: thousands of strangers reaching out in prayer and comfort and solidarity, providing a community that one can only assume Ross - who has two other children and whose husband is deployed - valued. You couldn't have that good without the evil the critics claim. And if that comfort means nothing, well then, the criticism of strangers should mean even less."

Cheers,
Victoria

The Crack Emcee said...

Matt Eckert,

When you're a child, abandoned to the ways of the world, anything can happen to you. I'm an adult now, and, in case you can't tell by my posts, I don't find such things impressive in the least. Many of them, actually, are quite shameful to me when I'm alone to deal with them, which is often these days.

Bart Hall,

"If you are wrong, no matter how fine a life you may have lead, your reaction within two seconds of death will be something on the order of 'Oh, fucking, SHIT!'"

Sorry, dude, but - while I think Alex is the kind of jackass atheist who gives the rest of us a bad name - this bit of arrogance, of yours, is just the kind nonsense that drives him to it.

If I die and discover there's a God, Devil, Heaven, Hell, angels, etc., I'm not gonna be all "Oh, fucking, SHIT!" - I'm gonna start kicking ass to such a fucking extent God is gonna wish he'd never bothered to create a damn thing in the first place! Fuck that - "He" abandoned me! - and I'm gonna demand my piece of flesh, just as I did my own father when I finally had a chance at his ass (His girlfriend at the time had to hold a gun to my head to stop me from killing him). So, to anybody who thinks they're going to some other-worldly Paradise when this stage is complete, I got some news for you:

1) If you get there before me, you better warn somebody.

And

2) If you're coming after me - you lose!

Just me said...

May this child rest in peace wherever he may be. May the Mother find peace, comfort and solace in her loss.

elHombre said...

@Crack: The natural person does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.1 Corinthians 2:14

And besides, He's not God. You are! Right?

Cheryl said...

Seems to me that the purpose of Twitter in a situation like only appears on the surface to be a solicitation of prayers. In reality, it's a way to get emotional support from the people one is connected with at a time of critical need.

vbspurs said...

I'm gonna demand my piece of flesh, just as I did my own father when I finally had a chance at his ass (His girlfriend at the time had to hold a gun to my head to stop me from killing him).

The rejection of the temporal father and the spiritual one.

Fen said...

Sorry, but the most intelligent people in the world are 100% atheist!

These are the same people who redirect their religious energy into Global Warming, Humanism, Micheal Jackson.

And lets not forget, they are the same idiots who have a need to constantly tell everyone who will listen how "sophisticated enlightened intelligent" they are.

Its almost cute.

(1) If you get there before me, you better warn somebody.

2) If you're coming after me - you lose!


Oh please. I already own your soul. You will spend eternity begging for Light.

The Crack Emcee said...

@elHombre,

Yea, you can find a quote for anything in that book - and always in defense of it's point of view. It's almost like it was it written by AGW scientists,...

And, no, I don't think I'm God - that's a NewAge idea. You don't know the difference between NewAge and atheism, do you, Smart Guy?

@vbspurs,

"The rejection of the temporal father and the spiritual one."

Not true:

My Old Man and I ended up on great terms, and I miss him dearly to this day, but wrong is wrong and kids need fathers - and answers. I prefer the direct approach. It's not about rejection but responsibility. I think the problem with most believers is they ain't taking any, no matter what they do, and leaving it all up to Him. Goofy.

@Fen,

"[Atheists] are the same people who redirect their religious energy into Global Warming, Humanism, Micheal Jackson."

Again - no, those are NewAgers, not atheists. Sheesh. I think I'm beginning to understand the contours of the problem here,...

"Oh please. I already own your soul. You will spend eternity begging for Light."

Atta Boy, Satan - come and get me:

I got "special plans" for YOU!

elHombre said...

Crack wrote (8:27 AM): Yea, you can find a quote for anything in that book - and always in defense of it's point of view.

Amazing isn't it? And after 2000 years.

You don't know the difference between New Age and atheism, do you, Smart Guy?

I do, but I can't imagine why the difference would be important to God.

I think the problem with most believers is they ain't taking any [responsibility]... and [are] leaving it all up to Him.

I think the problem with most non-believers is they ain't taking any responsibility, and [are] leaving it all up to government.

(On the Sunday morning after the tsunami our medium-sized, largely blue collar church gave $16,000 in offerings for flood relief in Muslim Indonesia. This is one of thousands of examples available every day of Christians taking responsibility.)

"[Atheists] are the same people who redirect their religious energy into Global Warming, Humanism, Micheal Jackson."

Again - no, those are New Agers, not atheists.


Michael Jackson aside, Global Warmist scientists and Richard Dawkins and other such secular humanists are New Agers? Who Knew?

Atta Boy, Satan - come and get me:

I got "special plans" for YOU!


Dueling with Satan, eh? Like I said: "And besides, He's not God. You are! Right?"

Your political commentary and your assessment of Alex are first rate, Crack, but on the subject of God you are all sturm und drang. I wish it were otherwise.

Cut It said...

Bart:

I'm, I guess, agnostic. But I appreciate alot of the spiritual discussion here.

But your description of how you'll be better off in the end if there is a God-- well, it sounds like you're just hedging your bets.

"Better safe than sorry, homes!"

Perhaps you can understand that that sort of thing doesn't exactly inspire those of us who question.

wv: monster (I'll leave it to you all what this made me think.)

vbspurs said...

My Old Man and I ended up on great terms, and I miss him dearly to this day, but wrong is wrong and kids need fathers - and answers. I prefer the direct approach. It's not about rejection but responsibility. I think the problem with most believers is they ain't taking any, no matter what they do, and leaving it all up to Him. Goofy.

Crack, I don't mean to belittle your situation in the least, but I've heard this scenarios before. My own father was agnostic (perhaps even atheist, he never clarified fully), but when he suffered his first heart attack, he started relinquishing his suspicion of God. He's still not much of a religious man, and that's fine with me. But he does believe in God now.

The point is, rejection of the Father doesn't prevent reconciliation one day.

elHombre said...

The point is, rejection of the Father doesn't prevent reconciliation one day.

And an excellent point at that!

amba said...

Who thinks of getting on Twitter when their child is dying???

amba said...

Oh, she was in a hospital waiting room. I take it back, then.

amba said...

Was she tweeting when he fell in the pool, though?! THAT is the question.

amba said...

I once knew a Wiccan who prayed to Squat, a goddess of parking spaces that she had perhaps invented. She'd say "Squat, find me a spot!" and she swore it worked!

amba said...

it's obvious that there is a God, and that He has a great sense of humor.

As an agnoptimist, I find His sense of humor perhaps the most convincing argument for God. Or one of them. The moments of tender mercy being the other.

RiceBowlHaircut said...

The Bible implicitly responds to the problem of gratuitous evil. The question is NOT, "Why do bad things happen to good people", BUT RATHER "Why do good things happen to bad people"....because we are ALL bad.

Atheist and agnostics have no ability to recognize sin. The wages of sin is death (even original sin). The only reason WE ALL haven't had holocaust-like experiences is because of God's mercy and grace.

For the person who DID go through the holocaust. Their claim to unfairness is not more valid then Madoff feeling slighted that he's in jail, when social security is the same exact racket. Just because some people get away with it, doesn't make his sentence any more unfair. The punishment fits the crime, regardless of what happens to others.

Judgment Day WILL level the field.

The Crack Emcee said...

elHombre,


"You don't know the difference between New Age and atheism, do you, Smart Guy?

I do, but I can't imagine why the difference would be important to God."

Um, because NewAgers are fighting Christianity for control of what they think of as the spiritual realm? You don't know dick.

"I think the problem with most non-believers is they ain't taking any responsibility, and [are] leaving it all up to government."

What that's got to do with me, I don't know - I've railed against any government take-over for as long as y'all have known me. NewAgers backed Obama and I said so from the start. You're nutty.

"Global Warmist scientists and Richard Dawkins and other such secular humanists are New Agers? Who Knew?"

I did, dumbshit, and said so. Repeatedly.

"Dueling with Satan, eh? Like I said: 'And besides, He's not God. You are! Right?'

I'm an atheist, dummy - there is no Satan for me to duel with. Not only are you an idiot but you're a humorless idiot.

"Your political commentary and your assessment of Alex are first rate, Crack, but on the subject of God you are all sturm und drang. I wish it were otherwise."

You see what you want to see, which is typical of the most stupid believers. You attempt to remove my humanity by replacing it with your own visions of me. You don't know what an atheist, or a NewAger, are but, even when confronted with someone who understands both, won't shut up about either - or admit when you're wrong. You're ignorant, looking for a fight, and as such, are a disgrace to what are supposed to be your core "beliefs".

You're why Christianity gets a bad name.

The Crack Emcee said...

vbspurs,

"Rejection of the Father doesn't prevent reconciliation one day."

My old man was real. The father you speak of is a belief. And there ain't a chance in hell (!) I'll go there.

elHombre said...

Crack wrote: Um, because NewAgers are fighting Christianity for control of what they think of as the spiritual realm? You don't know dick.

What? Are you living in a Ted Dekker novel? If you are using the term "spiritual realm" correctly, to refer to a non-material realm, I think we believers can leave the New Agers to God, Michael and the saints, don't you?

If you are referring to the material realm, New Age religion is one of many forms of syncretism that oppose Christianity as does the New Atheism. Most New Agers are benign when compared to the atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Alex.

Material or non-material, you haven't explained why the distinction between atheists and New Agers would be important to the Christian God. That was, after all, my point.

You see what you want to see, which is typical of the most stupid believers. You attempt to remove my humanity by replacing it with your own visions of me.

Nobody needs to invent you. Your spew renders you transparent as glass. And why would I want to "remove your humanity." What in the hell does that mean anyway. You're getting pretty full of yourself.

Not only are you an idiot but you're a humorless idiot....You're ignorant ... [and] are a disgrace to what are supposed to be your core "beliefs". You're why Christianity gets a bad name.

My, my. Are you Jeremy?

How is it then? You insult Christians and their beliefs (along with nearly everybody else) and offer your sad story as an explanation for your bad manners. And when somebody responds you up the ante with schoolyard name-calling?

Grow up, tough guy!

The Crack Emcee said...

"Most New Agers are benign when compared to the atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Alex."

Have any of those three killed anyone yet? Dawkins and Hitchens write books and articles, while I can show you story after story of NewAgers killing people - repeatedly even - because ignorant idiots like you keep insisting they're benign. It's wonderful cover.

"New Age religion is one of many forms of syncretism that oppose Christianity as does the New Atheism."

Never said I was a New Atheist supporter. I'ved written many posts critical of the movement, and called their antics stupid even. I told you:

You're either delusional - fighting a phantom that exists in your mind and projecting it onto me - or you're just too "slow" to have any idea who I am or what I'm talking about. You're definitely too retarded to try.

Now go read your Bible and leave me alone:

On Sundays I prefer a more legitimate form of religious programming.

The Crack Emcee said...

Oh - you at least deserve an answer to this:

"Material or non-material, you haven't explained why the distinction between atheists and New Agers would be important to the Christian God. That was, after all, my point."

As an atheist, I'm not in a battle with God - HE just doesn't exist, like Santa, or the Easter Bunny - and I'm positive, if he does, "that ass, elHombre, said so" isn't even going to be a convincing reason, to HIM, for me to have changed my mind in this lifetime.

NewAgers, on the other hand, want to destroy your world, wreck HIS kingdom, and rule over the rest of us earthly inhabitants for all time.

if you ask me, that's a big difference - and one that God, and you, should be keenly aware of.

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ElderChild said...

"My G-D, My G-D, why have YOU forsaken Me"?

Thankfully the brethren of The Messiah will never have to experience the anguish of being forsaken by Our Father as The Messiah did.......

Father Help! and HE does.......

The Messiah died for us........ And Our Father, HE raised Him from among the dead.......

Victory over death was assured.......

And today it remains as The Messiah testified:

"Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die".......

And the question then asked by The Messiah was, "Do you believe this"?

And you? Do you believe?

Have you truly have been translated into The Kingdom?

Or are you of those who are yet held captive by of the braindirtying they received from both the secular and religious educational processes of this world? Sadly those who have not yet received "a love of The Truth" but serve 'time' in the prison that is this evil world, a world which is under the dominion of "the father of lies" ;-(

So it is that the brethren of The Messiah are exhorted to "love not the world".......

Are your "affections set on things above?", or are you of those "whose g-d is their bellies, and whose glory is in their shame because they mind earthly things?"

Are you a "pilgrim and alien" on the earth because your "citizenship(country,Life) is in Heaven"?

Sadly, those who "love this world and their own life(self) in and of it" will experience death, forever seperated from The ONE WHO gave them life, the gift of life which they then used against HIM as they denied and/or defied HIM ;-(

Yet while there is breath(spirit) there is hope!

For Miracles do happen.......

Hope is there would be those who experience The Miracle that is receiving "a love of The Truth".......

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(religion) that is of this world, for "the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one"....... francis

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