Prayer is a deadly menace to society. Therefore Western Society has opted to regulate its’ use and practice. While there are some who wish to ban it completely, most of us know that such prohibition usually leads to an increased usage of any thing made illicit by the law. So many people who wish to have prayer regulated argue for its’ use in social contexts and cite health reasons for keeping it available.
The argument for banning prayer is that it is ineffective. There is no purpose to prayer. It is like talking to an imaginary friend. And it would be dishonest to teach people the imaginary friend exists. But, then what if the friend is not imaginary? There is no dishonesty. True, claim the prohibitionists. But, does it help to give in or even to encourage a delusion? So, those who would prohibit prayer do so for the sake of public mental health.
The regulators of prayer claim that there is something healthful and helpful to the individual and the public in prayer. Public events, meetings, sports matches, and picnics are special times for prayer to promote good feelings and attitudes that contribute to social cohesion. If there is a delusion involved it is harmless in these small doses.
The third group are deregulators who believe prayer is meant to be a menace to society. When an individual prays, the person knows he is not alone. The prayer can be in a group of other people doing the same or alone in a “prayer closet” situation. If the person praying believes the words or meditations are being heard or shared how can that person ever be stopped. A person may pray out of compassion. A person may pray for courage to perform a right action. A person may pray because every aspect of a given situation is outside the person’s power. We deregulators ask where is the harm?
The response of regulators and prohibitionists is that people who pray could become dangerously disobedient and disrupt the engineering of society. As an advocate for the deregulation of prayer, I respond I hope so. As a prayer practitioner I have learned many things (some good and some bad) about myself. I have learned I am not bound by anything other than my loyalty to truth. I have learned while praying I can become a Self and not a cog in the machine of production and consumption.
Learning these things makes the use and practice of prayer a menace to the society which only wishes for ordered movement of money, goods, and services with no question about spiritual wealth. Prayer is a menace to society because it helps liberate the person from the grind of society.
C.S. Lewis’ demonic instructor Screwtape discusses how the minions of hell kept human history in constant flux. “In cruel ages we make liberalism the prime bogie” he tells his nephew Wormwood. Lewis was definitely on to something here.
The recent outrages committed in the name of righteousness and “teaching bums a lesson” in Utah serve to prove the point. A school lunch account is an amazing thing in our day. A student’s family puts money into the account. When the student buys lunch she gives her account/student i.d. number by use of a keypad. At the Uintah Elementary School, the decision had been taken to forbid students who had negative balances on their accounts to buy a full school lunch. The problem was simple. The lunchroom workers who had to enforce the ruling would not know which students had negative balances until the student keyed in their numbers. When the worker discovered the offending balances the lunch which had already been collected and tallied up was then taken by the cashiers and tossed in the trash. Yet, the students with offending balances were not left without any food. They were given a half-pint of milk and a piece of fruit.
So then, the minimum wage school workers were put into the position of segregating students into lunch-eaters of two distinct classes. Those persons who made the decision likely dined out for lunch that day. I hope they enjoyed it.
I would like to say this is the only time such a thing could happen. However, many students all over the country who are on “free lunch” status due to their parents’ income statements are often summoned to account for why they do not pay for their lunch because of some person who cannot be bothered to keep track of the data. In other words, parasites must be taught a lesson. But, do not expect school system bureaucrats to do their jobs or get their hands dirty with their own cruelty.
Cruel people do not see what they do as being cruel. No. They see themselves as gatekeepers and bouncers for right. They see themselves as righteous and truly just. Until one is touched by the suffering his or her “righteousness” has caused will the cruelty of his or her own actions be known. Bureaucracies and hierarchies are good at insulating cruel policy makers from subordinates who make themselves callous in order to carry out their actions.
Our culture is a meritocracy. There is little room for grace to be practiced or appreciated. Like our Roman forebears, we believe a decently ordered society is more important than the people who make up that society. The benefactors believe they have the right and duty to make certain the less fortunate are kept in place and do not get any ideas. Hence the meritocracy believes in making a permanent underclass. Therefore cruelty is mistaken for righteousness.
Jesus is the true opponent of cruelty. No thing is more important than the person. And likewise no person is a thing to be caged or chained. Jesus opens hearts to make five loaves of bread into enough to feed many with baskets full of bread left over. Jesus asks for food, clothing, shelter, and relief from sickness and prison on behalf of those who suffer from them.
How else could the issue at Uintah Elementary been handled? If funds were short, could an appeal for donations have been made? Could the Superintendent of Schools take a short-term pay cut? Could the County Sheriff have done without a new toy? I wonder what could have been done. I know this it is against all sense of righteousness and godliness to take away the food and publicly humiliate the children. And yet only the children have paid the price for cruelty masking as righteousness.