Nothing Fails Like Prayer
I grew up around the corner from a Christian Science church which my grandmother attended. For a few years from about nine to twelve, I went to that church to make her happy.
At a “Testimonial Meeting” one Wednesday evening, a man got up and held his left arm high in the air. He said a week ago it had been cut off in an accident at his job. He told us he knew the truth about Mary Baker Eddy, and her book, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, and since we are all made in the image of God, there can be no error – like a missing arm. He said his arm grew back. Everyone applauded.
I was impressed. As the session drew to a close, I realized I wanted to testify. With my ten-year-old heart pounding in my chest, I slowly rose to share MY testimonial, “A week ago, I got a bad cold. I prayed and knew the truth from Mary Baker Eddy, and now my cold is all gone.” I was cured. Again, the elderly blue-haired ladies applauded. Several came up afterwards to compliment me on my amazing story of healing.
It was clear to me that prayer works! I also realized at that moment, that this public speaking stuff is fun.
A few years later in 10th grade biology, I found out about my immune system and its white blood cells. Apparently, that is what really did the job. So, what I learned is that prayer + my immune system + the white blood cells cured my cold. Whenever I tried prayer alone, nothing got cured. Hmmm?
Guess the old ladies were feeding me a line of bullshit.
Dignified. Admirable. Credible.
What I liked most about Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was an exchange she had with an antagonistic committee member. He said to her, “Thank you for you service.” She retorted, “Thank you for your service.” We hear that phrase used a lot for veterans, but in this case, for an ambassador in the State Department.
The phrase is patronizing and demeaning. It seems to imply that veterans are donating their time, as if working in a homeless shelter. These people are not Mother Theresa. Often they join the military because they have no other options in life. The military can give them training in a skill, health care, home loans, and education benefits.
Note that the elites’ children are not signing up for the military to “serve.” No, they are more likely signing up for an MBA at Harvard.
A similarly offensive cliché we hear tone-deaf politicians use after a mass shooting is, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” Really? How is that “thoughts and prayers crap working for you? Any reduction in gun violence? Well, Mr. or Ms. Politician, why don’t you skip the thoughts and prayers bullshit, strap on a pair and defang the NRA. Oh, wait, I forgot. The NRA might primary you and you’d lose your $174K job.
Let’s stop thanking vets for their service and start making sure that when they leave the military they don’t decline into homelessness living in a tent under the freeway, or sitting on a milk crate at an intersection begging for money with a sign: “Vietnam Vet. Please help.”
So I was glad to hear Ms. Yovanovitch challenging this nonsense. Her comments were filled with irony if not sarcasm.
Hats off to Marie Yovanovitch.
4 thoughts on “Nothing Fails Like Prayer”
When I hear, “our hearts and prayers are with you” from NRA apologists after yet another mass shooting I do not hear a plea for us to seek solace from a higher power in a time of need but rather an abdication of responsibility under the guise of religion by people who actually have the power to do something about it.
On the other hand, I am not ready to come to the same conclusion you make in your title, Nothing Fails Like Prayer. Even for those of us who stick strictly to the laws of nature, we have to admit that we really don’t know all of the laws. Maybe we need to consider what is meant by prayer. And by how many. A prayer by a single 10 years-old. That’s one thing. The same prayer by thousands, perhaps millions! Who’s to say that the collective conscious intentions of millions of people cannot change what seems unchangeable?
Hey, they knew you would figure it out in time, and they could see real potential in your presentation. If you had taken their picture, you would have sealed the deal.
Paul Simon may have said it very well: ” – – – -people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening – – “.
Just a thought, which I purposely didn’t post (that’s up to you): Most of us who “served” (I don’t think any other word fits) in the mid-’60’s to early ’70’s did so because of the draft — whether drafted or like me, volunteered to get a better assignment than if drafted. I have no idea how many current veterans come from that era, but our number among today’s veterans must be huge. I think most of us had grave reservations about the Vietnam War, and I am certain I am not alone in if not concealing, at least refraining from any mention of my service, even long after wearing a uniform in an airport could cause pretty young girls with flowers in their hair to spit on you.
I was just plain stunned in 2018 to walk in to the San Francisco Veterans Hospital, when after getting directions, the receptionist said “thank you for your service.” I know it’s a trite phrase, but it’s not patronizing or demeaning to me. It’s a hell of a lot better than getting spat on.