I firmly believe people are well intentioned. Â We really want to be good and do the right thing. Â One thing that helps to guide us through life are our beliefs: Â Who is in charge? Â What does this all mean? Â Why are we here?
It is a faith in our own answers to these questions that guides us through decisions in what to do with our life. Â It also acts as a filter on our experiences that colors our perception of those experiences. Â We’re stubborn creatures, and we’re particularly good at attributing the cause of an event to make it fit within our personal faith structure.
- "Haitians made a pact with the devil, therefore there was a giant earthquake there."
- "You insulted a man last month so Karma is paying you back with financial woes."
- "I helped an old woman cross the street, so God is rewarding me with this job promotion."
- "We prayed that the police would find that girl, and they did. Â Prayer works!"
A particularly interesting faith-based behavior I’ve taken note of lately is that of the last example – prayer. Â I can fully get behind the “let’s stay on the righteous path” or “rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub” kind of prayer, but I have issues with prayer whose intent is to actually affect change in the world. Â This hits the point of the title of this post – do practitioners of this type of prayer really think that God is a democracy?
For example, I have a friend who was traveling. Â She asked her friends on Facebook to pray for a safe flight.
Really? Â So without your friends begging for your safe passage over the Pacific, God would smoteth that 757 deep into thine salty waters in a ball of hellfire? Â Do rational people actually believe that this is how their all powerful God works?
Another example is praying for a diseased person to be well again. Â I’m all for lending support to people or families going through difficult times, and donating to organizations who are advancing the science of wellness. Â But again – without your votes of prayer, God will decide that not enough people care about this sick person’s well being and let them wither away in a hospital bed? Â Or that now more than ten people have gathered in a circle in a church basement, joined hands, and asked for the sick to be healed (visual: blue beams of light emanating from each person’s head rising to the heavens in a majestic column of Want), so he is now obligated to banish the tumor from the sick person’s brain. Â Really?
If there is an all powerful supreme being sitting on a cloud somewhere with angels brushing his golden beard, I think the last thing he will do is to run his universe as an episode of American Idol, with only the most voted-on causes moving on to the next round and everything else getting booted from the show.
Please let me know in the comments if I have completely missed a crucial point in understanding this phenomenon.