A Prayer for the Dead and the Rest of Us

We first learned of the past weekend’s mass murders in Florida while at our Sunday morning worship services. The very fine fellow who leads our congregation’s singing and offers its closing prayer is the sort of early-riser who eats a full breakfast and drinks a cup of coffee and looks over the day’s song list and catches up with the latest news before arriving resplendent at worship, whereas we’re the more nocturnal types who stumble more or less directly and somewhat shabbily out of bed and into our usual spot in the last row of pews at some point during the opening hymn, so it was news to us when he prayed for the redemption of those souls that had been taken in yet another of those all-too-common tragedies, and for the quick recovery of those who had been gravely injured, and for comfort to all those who know and love them.
Constant scanning of the local radio stations on the short drive home turned up nothing but ads and awful country music, so when we arrived at home we re-heated the coffee we’d earlier brewed but didn’t have time to drink and went to the internet for further details on the latest atrocity. Even the earliest dispatches we found reported that the attack had occurred at an Orlando nightspot that catered to homosexuals, and by the time that very fellow fine who leads our singing had left for the all-too-early morning Bible classes he had probably also heard about the murderer’s all-too-common Islamic beliefs, so we were pleased he had humbly admitted none of us yet knew all the facts and addressed our prayers only to the more pressing matter of the lost souls and the gravely wounded and the suffering of those who know and love them. Now that the all-too-predictably dreary facts of the matter are better established and the inevitable necessary dreary political debates are following, we appreciate that fine fellow’s priorities all the more.
Over on the secular left there’s the all-too-familiar clamor about America’s gun culture and the anti-homosexual stance of America’s conservative Christian culture and even some talk about how the latest carnage occurred because so much of America’s common sense culture has resisted the new rules about men using the women’s rooms and hanging around their public showers. The President of the United States acknowledged that the murders were terrorism but once again wouldn’t go so far as to describe its motivation, the presumptive Democratic nominee at long last called it “radical Islamic terrorism,” but everyone else on the secular left was trying to deny the plain fact that one member of its designated-for-protection minority groups had perpetrated such a horrible mass murder against one of its other designated-for-protection minority groups. None of it, of course, is likely to make any sense to the common sense majority of the voting public.
As usual nothing on offer by the gun-grabbing left would have prevented the murderer from obtaining the mundane weapons he used for his carnage, and he not only passed all the background checks for ownership even after two federal investigations but also passed muster to work for a security company often hired by the federal government, with his outspoken Islamism apparently being more a shield than a signal to investigators, and we’re sure if he’d tried his plot in a gay bar in the more gun-friendly jurisdiction of Wichita, Kansas, even such church-going types as ourselves have some dear and rather formidable homosexual friends who would have been armed and ready to lower the resulting death toll. The idea that western Christianity’s rigidly traditional yet ultimately forgiving belief in procreative sexuality as a social and spiritual ideal is responsible for Islam’s more stern and frequently murderous stance against the alternatives is laughable, and the notion that the ridiculous recent flap over men using the women’s restrooms and showers is more laughable yet.
These days the once-feared looming “Handmaiden’s Tale” theocracy of the “Religious Right” is reduced to defending its right not to bake a same-sex wedding cake or have nuns or Baptist entrepreneurs pay for contraception coverage, and with a presumptive Republican nominee who’s a thrice-married and boastfully adulterous and four-times bankrupt casino and strip joint owner who says he’s good with God because he “eats his little cracker” and “drinks his little wine” on infrequent Sundays there’s nowadays a certain unmistakeable secularism to the rest of the right. That presumptive Republican nominee has little to say about same-sex marriage or the right of people to not be involved in it, and has been utterly worthless on the matter of creepy men hanging around women’s restrooms and public showers on the federal government’s say-so, but he’s bound to gain some ground in the lately unfavorable polls by his full-throated denunciation of the secular left’s obvious nonsense.
Regular readers of this publication already know that we don’t place much hope in the presumptive Republican nominee’s ever-shifting yet always cocksure proposed solutions, either, so for now we’re left with that fine fellow’s prayer. The congregation we worship with is affiliated with one of those “politically incorrect” evangelical denominations that is invariably and and more or less accurately described as politically and theologically conservative, and despite those old-fashioned views we pray the same prayer as that fine fellow we know for the recently deceased no matter what their private lives, and no matter how vigorously we disagree with the religious beliefs of their killer we will pause to pray for their souls and those who were gravely injured and all those who know and love them, not matter what they say on the secular left and the secular right. There seems to be a battle between good and evil looming, and at this point we’re not looking to politics for redemption.

— Bud Norman

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One response

  1. This Christians never seeks redemption in politics. That’s between me and my Savior. But I do seek basic common sense in political leaders rather than fringe enthusiasms enforced by law, which, in the final analysis is: cops with guns if you don’t pay the six-figure fine for not baking gays a wedding cake.

    The other fundamental thing that government officials, elected via politics, is supposed to do is protect us from predators rather than importing them and telling us that it’s the Christian thing to do.

    So forgive me if the guy who seems to realize this and loudly proclaims it happens to be trice divorced and was both rich and good looking and had had sex outside of marriage. I may be what the culture defines as a “fundamentalist” Christian, but my nose has never been that specific shade of blue. I even supported twice married Ronald Reagan, the actor, from that center-of-moral-perversion known as Hollywood. My version of Christianity has its roots in Calvin who said that we are all of us vile sinners who are saved from Hell by the atoning blood of Jesus, not by the perfection of our acts or the proud public display of prudery. I leave that to those who are proud of their perfection and have no need of grace.

    If we are left with a fine fellow’s prayer to save us from people whose Allah tells them to kill us I certainly hope you are right with your God because you may see Him ahead of time, as happened to the revelers in Orlando. I have always found the pious expression of prayer for people whose names we don’t know and who died horribly in places far away to be inauthentic: virtue signaling to those around you. Like the typical moment of silence where my mind goes one-thousand-and-one trying to count how long the speaker decided that “moment” ought to be. Like the names on the front page of the Virginian Pilot of the victims of Muslim rage, as if that does even a speck of good. It’s the bleating of sheep who know that they are unprotected and that the elected shepherd really doesn’t care; he has lots of others and doesn’t want to piss off the wolves, for whom he has expressed a certain fondness.

    Meanwhile the NeverTrumpers point to his flaws and the things he says while simultaneously proclaiming that when he speaks sense you can’t believe a word he says. Check the dictionary for the term cognitive dissidence and see if you see your picture. 

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