It’s hard to believe that this was the basis for having a National Day of Prayer. This country was founded on the idea of religious freedom. But shoving one’s beliefs down the throat of all Americans is just the opposite. Laurie and Barton are so far from the mainstream that they are only representative of a very few Christians in this country, not to mention those of other faiths and no faith.
Whatever happened to inclusiveness and pluralism?
If we are to have a National Prayer Day, we need to redefine prayer. Carol Zaleski, who wrote the book, “Prayer: A History,” with her husband, Philip, says “prayer comes in many forms (verbal, wordless, spoken, sung, danced) and has many registers including petition, thanksgiving, adoration. Almost always prayer has an I-thou” structure, even when it is wordless contemplation.” Zaleski says that “prayer is a fundamental human activity, found in every human society at every period in history, and weathering all the changes in the religious landscape. Prayer gives human beings, in [Blaise]Pascal’s words, ‘the dignity of causality,’ a sense of being in a meaningful communion with the powers that give life shape and direction. It links human to divine, and, (in many kinds of prayer,) the living to the dead.”
My feeling is that we really don’t need a National Prayer Day, no matter how inclusive it is. Nor do we need a National Day of Reason.
Laurie says that his most fervent prayer today “will be for a spiritual awakening. With all of the problems in our country – political, economic, moral and social – the only lasting solution is to run back to God.”
My most fervent prayer is that people of differing faiths pray to their gods and not try to proselytize to the rest of the country, which has no place in the public square, especially with government sponsorship. I also pray that whatever we do, we do it reasonably.