Ask and ye shall receive

Sandy Lopez sent me an email at work.  It is a prayer, which she urges me to pass along.

Pass it along if you want.  I just thought the words had a lot of merit all by themselves…

Well Sandy, I don’t think the words have merit.  I think they’re pretty damn silly, actually.  But I will pass it along.  I’ll pass it along to a bunch of atheists with a caveat: if you comment, you must take out a single paragraph from this prayer (at least one, you can do more) and explain why you find it beautiful or not beautiful.  Will post the best comments.

Have fun and shred without remorse.

Go forth my friends and enjoy this day Our Lord has given us.  Blessing to you all.

Beautiful Prayer…

Relax your mind and humble your heart to focus on Christ. Allow God to be the only person on your mind while you read this prayer. If we can take the time to read long jokes, stories, etc., we should give the same respect to this prayer. Friends, who pray together, stay together.
If you pray this prayer, change the number.

Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.

Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You.

Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of God.

And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus’ example — to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can’t pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.

Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak.. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know You intimately. I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others. I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.

I believe that God changes people and God changes things. I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met.

I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly..

This is my prayer.
In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

DON’T FORGET TO CHANGE THE NUMBER IN THE SUBJECT BOX.

No one stands as tall as a Christian on his knees
Have a GREAT day!

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “I just thought the words had a lot of merit all by themselves…”

    Really? You thought these words had merit, even without the assumption of God’s existence that pervades them?

    What merit would that be, exactly?

    Let’s do as JT requests, and take a sample paragraph:

    “Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You.”

    Here’s how this atheist views this paragraph:

    There is no magical creator protecting me from danger and harm. And assuming that there is one would make me less likely to act on my own to protect myself from danger and harm. If I am to be protected from danger and harm, I want to rely on myself, and on the people in my life who have shown themselves to be worthy of my trust.

    I value both new attitudes and gratitude. I endeavor to keep my mind and heart open, to see the world with fresh eyes as much as possible. And I feel intense gratitude towards the people who have worked hard to make life better. But I assume you mean that I should feel grateful to your god — and I don’t, since I don’t think he exists. And I don’t need help from an invisible magical creator to feel either gratitude or newness. These are emotions and experiences generated by my brain.

    I find it useful to clear my mind from time to time. But there is no magical creator speaking to me when I do so. And when I do clear my mind, pretending that the ideas and feelings my brain comes up with are actually coming from an infallible magical being… to me, this is an extremely dangerous concept. It would make me less willing to question these ideas and feelings — even when an overwhelming body of evidence contradicts them. I do not want to deceive myself into thinking that my brain is perfect.

    Seriously: What part of this did you think had merit without the assumption of God’s existence? What part of this did you think an atheist would agree with?

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

    It sounds beautiful in some ways; it resembles the kind of prayers I used to say and brings back memories. I would say what makes it not beautiful to me is that someone is sending this along with instructions for others to say it. Formulaic prayers or those assigned by others always seemed rather impersonal to me; when I believed in God, I thought that personal prayers meant more.

    Then, there’s the following:

    Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.

    What if this email was sent inadvertently to someone who cannot “see and hear”? They might find it uncomfortable rather than beautiful. (See above about personal prayers vs. those assigned by others.)

    And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus’ example — to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can’t pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.

    Doesn’t sending this email contradict the “slip away and find a quiet place to pray” part? I know there was no internet in Jesus’ time, but does sending someone prayer emails contradict the part about praying in secret (Matthew 6:6)? Rather than slipping away, the person is slipping their prayer into someone else’s inbox. So, rather than this being a beautiful example of someone finding comfort in prayer, which even I can appreciate (especially in circumstances when there’s nothing else that can be done), it becomes an example of proselytizing, especially if sent to someone who does not share the same faith.

  • Keljopy

    “Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of God.”

    Not beautiful. Many of the things defined as “sin” by Christians are perfectly natural, normal, and non-harmful aspects of human behavior (most things involving sex, choosing not to worship imaginary beings or follow their rules).

    Those that are not are those that harm other people, in which case, instead of repenting to an imaginary being and receiving imaginary forgiveness, one should instead try to make amends in whatever way possible to the person or people harmed.

  • http://skepticfreethought.com Ellen

    Response from the point of view of God:

    “Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning.”

    Oh, you mean, thanks evolution for taking millions of years to craft the finely tuned cochlear and inner ear, and making it so that your retinas can see color without the use of faith or planning or magic? Also, you’re welcome for the nerves connected to the brain that let you carefully control the muscles in your arm so you don’t stab out your eyes with a fork at dinner.

    —–
    “I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God.”

    Forgiving of what already? God damn it! You sinned again already! Shit, I suck at these rules. Why did I design these humans to LOVE having sex, tell them that it’s bad, but then require it for reproduction??

    —–
    “You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me.”

    You mean that I let you live…? Oh, yeah sure. That can be fixed you know… that’s what I invented hell for. It’s fun to threaten humans and watch them freak out even though it doesn’t exist… oh sh- I wasn’t supposed to day that.

    —–
    “Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.”

    Always whiney and groveling… seriously, why did I make humans so complaining and needy? No, you can’t have a damn plasma TV, I’m trying to stop droughts in Africa right now. Fuck off.

    —–

    I had a rough night. I feel much better now. Thanks! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/sid.fisher Sid

    Any meditation that is more than four words long is too long. None of that word allotment should be wasted on “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Vishnu,” or “Allah.”

    “Cthuhluh don’t eat me.”

    Now there is a goddamn prayer.

  • http://blog.barrypearson.co.uk/ Barry Pearson

    “I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.”

    Paraphrase:

    I thank you that I was not among the 63% of all conceptions that are naturally aborted.

    I thank you that I was not among the 3 million children stillborn each year.

    I thank you that I was not among the 18 children who die every minute.

    I thank you that I do not suffer any of the large array of genetic disorders which would have prevented me from even knowing about you.

    But I have a question: “what did those others do that you couldn’t forgive them for, and so had to eliminate them, even though you are a loving God?”

  • Liessi from BC

    “I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God.”

    This reading eye agrees wholeheartedly with one thing in this prayer — as long as there are people out there waiting for some imaginary being to solve their problems or rescue the helpless, or believing that the hurt we cause one another can be absolved by asking that same imaginary being to cleanse us through the shedding of blood, then there is certainly no problem greater than “God” in this world.

  • penn

    I took the prayer and turned it into a sort of secular meditation or affirmation. It may flow kind of awkwardly at parts because I was trying to remain true to the original. It felt like I was translating from Christian to godless. The new version is somewhat inspirational and has a number of beautiful thoughts in it.

    I am thankful for this day. I am thankful for being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because my loved ones are forgiving and understanding. I have so much going for me and I expect continued blessings in the future. I hope that those I have wronged forgive me, and I shall openly seek to earn their forgiveness.

    I hope to be kept safe from all danger and harm and I shall work to maintain my safety. I start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each day to relax and clear my mind.

    Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of those I have wronged.

    And when this world closes in on me let me slip away and find a quiet place to clear my mind. It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits.

    I share my blessing with others. I help the weak. I offer words of encouragement to others. I help those who are lost and can’t find their way. I help those who are misjudged and misunderstood.

    I believe that people and circumstances can and do change in unexpected ways. I love all my sisters and brothers and every family member in their households. I hope for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met and I shall help them in any way possible.

    I hope that every eye that reads this can find the help they need to lead them through whatever problems, circumstances, or situations that causes them to suffer. Every battle is in our hands for us to fight. I hope that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly.

  • http://journal.nearbennett.com Rick

    “I believe that God changes people and God changes things. I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met.”

    So much that is not beautiful in this prayer that others have already touched on. I’ll have a go at this one.

    “God changes people” is perfectly indistinguishable from “people change themselves”.
    “God changes things” like what exactly? The weather, like hurricanes? The tectonic plates? The seasons? The quantum foam? Here God of the gaps…. come here boy. Sit. Good god..

    “For all my sisters and brothers. For every member in their households.” I assume the sisters and brothers are metaphorically either “every human” or “every Christian” If every human, then the second part is redundant. If every Christian, then how quaintly tribal–”I’ll pray for everyone like me, but you nasty muslims can fuck off.”

    “I pray for peace love and joy…” How’s that working out? Divorce gone? Foreclosures gone? Domestic violence gone? How does a prayer make someone out of debt? Chapter 7 bankruptcy gets a person out of debt–is that what you’re praying for?

    The whole thing was just so colloquial and self-righteous and nauseating. Here’s a more effective “prayer”:
    Dear friend, I hope you’re doing well. You are important to me. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

  • unbound

    Overall, every paragraph is laced with laziness in my eyes. Each paragraph is asking for some super being to do something for you. This is the context of the entire prayer.

    “Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.”

    Are you not taking care of yourself? If there is a problem with your sight or hearing, are you not going to go to a doctor to have it investigated? You’re blessed because someone said you are…how is that inspirational? What exactly has your super being done for you that you owe so much? Take the time to think about it, and you’ll start remembering that it was actually yourself and others around you that did so much for you…you need to be thanking them. Asking for forgiveness? How about just striving to be a better person…you have that ability if you would stop being lazy and asking someone imaginary to do it for you.

    “Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You.”

    Ever notice that being safe from danger and harm seem to coincide with what you do yourself? And for those things that you don’t control, your super being never intervenes in anyways (note the National Cathedral was one of the few buildings damaged in the recent quake). Why are you asking for help to start the day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude? Stop being lazy and fire yourself up to do the right thing and be appreciative of those around you. If you are starting to hear voices in your head, you probably need to see a psychiatrist.

    “Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of God.”

    You do realize that no one is stopping you from controlling your own whining or whimpering. Ever notice that you can control this entirely on your own? Why do you need “God’s eyes” to acknowledge sin? Why do you think you can’t see evil on your own…such as the child rape done by others (including priests)? We all know it is wrong. When you do sin, you absolutely should apologize…but why would you apologize to the invisible super being? Why wouldn’t you apologize to those that you did wrong to? Don’t you think that is more important?

    “And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus’ example — to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can’t pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.”

    Sorry to point this out, but Jesus had a lot of examples to follow. I would point to his example of knocking over the tables of the money changers (yes, most atheists are very familiar with the bible). Stand up and be a part of the solution. Take the time to calm down when needed, but the best response can be to confront as often as not.

    I would continue thru the prayer, but what I have to say would just become repetitive. Stand up and become the person you desire to be…stop being lazy and expect something else to do it for you.

  • http://plus.google.com Noah the epistemic pinata

    “I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly..”

    This particular paragraph is frightening.

    Certainly, a charitable interpretation can gloss over the creepy figurative language: eyes that know and hearts that listen. And yes, under certain conditions, it might even be possible to accept that “there is no problem [...] greater than God.” As always, however, it’s hard to tell without a clear definition for “God.” Some god concepts are quite beautiful, actually, regardless of whether or not I believe in them.

    But “Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight” suggests a militaristic mindset that perverts any goodwill message. We have seen practical, real-life examples of battles fought by people following “orders from God.” This isn’t just a story of religious warring, either. Religious beliefs have split families apart; innocents have been murdered in the name of God; and even the tolerant have been unjustly persecuted.

    If we fight our battles based upon interpretations of the supernatural, we necessarily allow undue suffering. This is not beautiful. We can’t allow the supernatural to take precedence over positive human qualities like sympathy, empathy, and kindness.

  • Eric Riley

    So, rather than tear down, I tried building up – what could I find that I liked/agreed with?

    I liked, “Go forth my friends and enjoy this day”. So, half a sentence – I tried finding something else to hold up, even a part of a paragraph, as something I would say to a friend or to myself… About halfway through i did also manage to find, “Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over.”, which is not a bad thing to keep in mind, although I think a little venting and whining is ok now and again (as long as I don’t let it become a habit).

    That was it.

    If I went to a slightly deeper level of meaning, I could get behind the sentiment of, “Keep me strong that I may help the weak.. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood.”, if I may rewrite it as:

    I will use my strength to help the weak. I will share words of encouragement with those around me. I will help guide and comfort those who are struggling to find their way. I will try to understand and show justice to others and actively work to avoid abusing my privilege and allowing my prejudices to drive my thoughts.

    Not the change from a vague appeal to an outside force to give me something to a more active decision to do something.

    Similarly,the sentiment of caring shown by, “I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met.” can be rewritten as:

    I will keep in touch with my family, and work to support their needs both emotional and physical. I hope that their lives are filled with peace, love, and joy.

    Although, I might want to extend that caring beyond my family and friends to cover as many people as I am able – especially to hope that *everyone’s* lives are filled with peace, love, and joy.

    I really couldn’t get behind the rest.

  • Dhorvath

    “Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.”
    Okay, now that’s just not nice. What about people who can’t hear or see? Inclusive much?
    Doesn’t look up from there either. I’m happy because I am not blessed, my life is my own and no sky daddy is looking on to give me an unfelt guidance which has no discernable impact, yet still requires my gratitude and groveling. Yes, groveling, what else can one call a sentence with so broad a topic as forgiveness for every slight you may have performed at another. Be specific, tripe isn’t comforting.

  • http://untheist-priest.blogspot.com/ Sigmaleph

    Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.

    The entirety of this paragraph is basically saying that people do terrible things continuously and are in need of forgiveness by default, and implies that we do not deserve to be alive or possessed of hearing and sight, etc. How would anyone who doesn’t share the idea that humanity is by nature depraved and sinful find merit in this?

    Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of God.

    The spirit of this paragraph is that we are incapable of seeing sin as evil unless we do so through God’s eyes. Which either means humans are incapable of recognising evil by themselves, or that sin isn’t actually evil, just something God dislikes. In either case, it’s an abandoning of your own sense of right and wrong for someone else’s.

    And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus’ example — to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can’t pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.

    And this is just a declaration of giving up, of abandoning your own will for someone else’s and not facing problems but just hoping they’ll go away.

    Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak.. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know You intimately. I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others. I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.

    I don’t disagree with wanting to be strong to protect the weak, etc., though I don’t think prayer is the way to go about it. It’s the the second half of the paragraph that I object to, where the author equates those who don’t believe, etc. with those who are lost, misunderstood and whatever. It’s condescending, not beautiful.

  • https://www.facebook.com/lukegyure Luke Gyure

    As usual, Greta Christina nails all the key points and the best combination of understanding and criticism necessary to help a believer “get it,” should they be open to it.

    As a side note, I think the gesture of prayer can be easily adapted to an atheistic worldview by simply getting rid of God. This will be over the head of many believers (and maybe some nonbelievers too), but it’s not fundamentally impossible. The language Buddhists use is, “May this… May that…” This can be used for oneself, as a meditative practice “May I be focused and strong today” or just to express goodwill or concern, either publicly or mentally “May my father have a safe and successful surgery,” “May you have lifetimes of happiness together”, etc. It creates a linguistic vehicle to “put something out into the universe” without necessarily invoking magic. Unlike theistic prayer, an atheist praying that their father have a safe and successful surgery is not really about the surgery, or even the father – it’s about the person praying. And that distinction, between fostering compassion and channeling magic, is something I think even children could get. Anyway, I’m all for mocking the ridiculous in prayer, right down to the word “God” itself – and I do – but I think prayer, as a gesture or a practice, is one of those things, like yoga or meditation, that moves from ridiculous to brilliant once you strip of the Woo. Which, as it turns out, is not only possible, but rather easy! Food for thought for the firebrand in all of us.

  • Lana C

    “May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind be always at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
    Until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

    This is one of the most famous prayers of all times. It is short, beautiful, and lyrical. It is often sung, and sticks in the mind, with imagery that describes and a fully thoughtful message. While I don’t agree with the very last line, the others make up for it in their warm and loving thoughts. I can excuse that last part for all of that. This is my personal jumping off point to compare words that deserve merit, because religious or not, this is a pretty group of words. Now, let us examine a sample from the above home-made prayer:

    “Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak.. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know You intimately. I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others. I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.”

    There is so much wrong with this, I can’t even say. Let me sort the problems out as best I can. First off, it’s clumsy. Try to sing it, it has no rhythm or pattern, it’s just someones personal rant. Further, it reads like a laundry list. The words have no merit, they are boring and nondescriptive. Eg, “I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others.” It seems as though this is a line meant to guilt people into spreading it around like some kind of religious herpes, it has no real contribution other than this. Second point, it reads like a laundry list. Dear God, things I want today: Strength, encouraging words for others, to be uplifted, Blessings, (whatever they are), the lost to be found, help for the misunderstood and misjudged, Etc. Please help me and everyone else, Kthnksbye. The language doesn’t deserve any merit, because it is boring and badly written: “I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know You intimately.” The writing here is choppy, and inventory like, I would expect this sort of writing of a child who was writing to Santa. Thirdly, the message is insulting. This paragraph seems specifically designed to do three things. It starts out with a nice enough sentiment, specifically, let me be strong and help others. That is a worthy request. Then it degrades into a pity party for anyone who doesn’t have the same basic dogma as the speaker. “I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.” It is a way for the person praying to bolster their self confidence at the expense of stating that others who don’t believe are less fortunate and deserving of their oh, so special prayers. It is insulting and degrading to people who don’t want those prayers, and don’t wish to be treated as lesser people because of a difference of religious opinion.

    All in all, just from this one paragraph alone, there is a sense that the prayer is not in any way for the sake of helping the person praying, but attacking everyone else who isn’t saying this prayer, and worst of all, it’s very poorly written.

  • Robert B.

    Linked here from Greta Christina’s Blog, though I’ve lurked around here a little bit before.

    It’s actually hard to believe that this was sent deliberately to a known atheist in the honest expectation that he’d like it. If I found out that Ms. Lopez didn’t know JT was an atheist after all, I’d think “oh, that explains it” – though the fact that she felt the need to make an excuse implies she did know. I suspect she was caught up in the chain-letter-ish memetic triggers, and went against her better judgement.

    I have to say, some of the prose does sound pretty nice. I’ve always admired the intensity of feeling in some religious art. On the other hand, the meaning of the words… well, here’s my chosen paragraph:

    “Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of God.”

    It may be hard for a Christian to understand how disturbing the concept of “sin” is to some atheists. Some people consider it to mean the same thing as “wrongdoing” or “crime,” which would be fine since those are useful concepts. But my understanding of “sin,” as it’s usually used by believers, is a thing that’s wrong just because God says so, a violation of divine law. The concept of sin is almost always backed up by the threat of hell, which is a horrifying psychological manipulation designed to hack one’s moral reasoning with the threat of an infinitely negative value.

    It might be tolerable if sinful actions were always actions that I could confirm were wrong my own moral judgement and values. But in fact they don’t match. Good things are labeled sinful (like making love,) bad things are labeled non-sinful (like faith) and some of the rules are just bizarre (like the requirement to execute witches – is it logically vacuous, or encouraging violence toward the mentally ill?)

    The whole “sin” concept is downright Orwellian. Usually when I encounter it I just dismiss it as an obsolete ethical system and go on with my day. When I seriously engage with it, though, I do not find that it has value, and I am neither uplifted nor inspired to do good. I am disturbed, creeped out, and generally uncomfortable.

    If Ms. Lopez, or indeed any believer, is reading this, I hope you’ll take this as an example of the differences that can exist between theists and atheists. If you want to convert me, you have the right to try, but if you want to make me feel good, you should be aware that your religious values may be negative and upsetting to someone who rejects religion.

    On the other hand, the line about things one can’t control was a good thought, if a bit harshly phrased.

  • Ambidexter

    No one stands as tall as a Christian on his knees

    Christian women slouch when they pray? Or is the use of “his” just because English doesn’t have a “his and/or her” pronoun? Regardless, that’s just a minor quibble.

    Prayers seem to come in two flavors, often intermixed as in the example above. One flavor is “God, I want you to do this.” The other flavor is “thank you, God, for doing that.”

    At least the thank you flavor is polite. It’s like our mothers (well, most of our mothers) told us to say please and thank you. The problem I have with thank you prayers is often the wrong person is being thanked. “Thank you, God, for curing my cancer” doesn’t say anything about the oncologists, surgeons, nurses, and all of the other health professionals, as well as family and friends, involved in actually getting one healed. These people might be mentioned in passing, as assistants to the sky pixie, but the main emphasis is on God.

    It’s the demands on God I truly find annoying. “God, let me find my car keys” or “God, I need my boss to have a heart attack before she discovers I screwed up the work sitting in her in-basket.” I suspect the “no atheists in foxholes” canard came about because goddists are taught from early on that (a) God loves them and (b) if they pray hard enough then God will save their worthless butts. So the “Oh God, I’m in deep do-do and I need you to save me” prayer comes naturally to them. Whereas atheists know they have to save themselves from whatever deep do-do they find themselves in. Too many goddists forget Ben Franklin’s words: “God helps them who help themselves.”

    So I don’t see Christians as standing tall when they’re on their knees. They’re either thanking a non-existent deity for something that has a different cause or they’re whining about needing something they think is difficult or unattainable.

  • Mattir-ritated

    How about this – completely de-godified. I hate how god-bots make good intentions all about their magic sky fairy, and how this leads me to reject out of hand what may be fairly good ideas.

    * * * *

    I am grateful for this day and for being able to see and hear this morning. I’m fortunate to have received forgiveness and understanding from other people. I have received so much from my friends, community, and world – I hope these good circumstances will continue. I hope other people will forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not ethical. I hope I will have the courage to ask for their forgiveness when appropriate.

    I hope that I will be safe from all danger and harm. I will seek to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude, to make the best of each day and to clear my mind so that I can see the world as it really is.

    I will try not to whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to consider the effect of my behavior on other people and on the environment and recognize how I may cause harm. And when I behave unethically and cause harm, I will try to repent, admit how I have harmed others, and seek to repair the harm I have caused.

    When I feel overwhelmed by my circumstances, let me remember the wisdom of people who have gone before me — to slip away to a quiet place, sit calmly and focus on the present moment. It’s the best response when I’m feel pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can’t remain focused and aware of the consequences of my behavior, I still affect others. I hope that I will affect others for good even in those times.

    I hope that I will continue to receive what I need to help and support others. I hope that I can use my strength to help the weak, that I remain optimistic so as to have words of encouragement for others, and that I can help those who are lost and can’t find their way, those who are misjudged and misunderstood, those who don’t recognize what some call the “magic of reality.” I hope I or another freethinker can help those who are not yet able to accept reality as it is. But I am grateful that I am able to seek to accept reality as it is.

    I recognize that all people, circumstances, and things change. I hope for good for all my sisters and brothers. For every family member in their households. I hope for peace, love and joy in their homes and that all their needs are met.

    I hope that every person who reads this understands that there are many problems, circumstances, and situations that are beyond the power of any individual or group. I hope that everyone who reads this will experience peace and well-being despite this fact.

    These are my hopes and intentions.

  • Bruce Gorton

    Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for my being able to see and to hear this morning.

    And lets not mention the blind and the deaf, because seriously, eff those guys /sacrasm.

    I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God.

    So, basically you are blessed because God isn’t currently making your life suck for all the shit you have pulled? I mean how does God’s basic inaction (forgiveness being not being willing to press an issue he is pissed at you for) count as a positive blessing? If he was a helpful God maybe, but forgiving?

    You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me.

    Translation: I haven’t been caught stealing from my employers yet. Thanks God!

    Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.

    Doesn’t this strike you as something a pathetically abused puppy would say? Appologising for simply thinking things which might not be pleasing to your master? This is disgustingly servile, and any god who would be pleased by such as prayer is by extension disgusting.

    This prayer is hideous.

  • Bruce Gorton

    And it gets worse:

    Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You.

    Dear God, please brainwash me so that I can be your loving little android instead of a scared little sheep.

    Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrong doing, and receive the forgiveness of God.

    Dear God, please let me be a judgemental little asshole to my neigbours. Let me mutter that the gay people down the road are abominations, let me silently call the Muslim family next door “heretics” and the Catholics across the road “Satanists”, and on the other side, let the Silvermans get the full brunt of my passive agression because they killed Christ.

    And let me give lip-service to this whole repentence bit about how guilty I am that I am busy stealing from my employer. (See Para 1). He’s an atheist by the way.

    And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus’ example — to slip away and find a quiet place to pray.

    Can you unlock the door to the clock-tower?

    It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits.

    Because as we have already established, actually being upfront and dealing with the situation that causes me stress, and standing up for myself so that those who are pushing me beyond my limits may correct their behaviour or at least explain it, doesn’t really suit my passive agressive tendencies.

    I know that when I can’t pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.

    Because you are a creepy stalker dude that makes Edward from Twilight look normal.

    Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak.

    “Help” being of course briefly praying for them, and then voting to cut benefits for those welfare queens.

    Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others.

    Because shit knows I am not actually gonna do anything. If I was into that I wouldn’t be praying, I would be doing it.

    I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way.

    For example, the waiter with my order.

    I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood.

    You know, the people just like me.

    I pray for those who don’t know You intimately.

    Wait, I thought wanking was agains the rules?

    I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others.

    Blessed be the spammers for they shall inherit the internet.

    I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.

    Yeah, could you brainwash them or something? They keep on cheating by using facts and evidence to point out how my arguments are bullshit. Thanks God!

  • Bruce Gorton

    I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight.

    In other words – if they go through this line by line mocking it – is it too much to ask that you show them your smiting hand and smite them smitely?

    I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly..

    My grasp on biology is questionable. Also, that whole thing on the blind and the deaf? Add mutes there too.

  • Ambidexter

    Bruce Gorton wrote:

    Doesn’t this strike you as something a pathetically abused puppy would say? Appologising for simply thinking things which might not be pleasing to your master? This is disgustingly servile, and any god who would be pleased by such as prayer is by extension disgusting.

    Reading the Bible shows us that the Christian god is a sadistic, bullying megalomaniac with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. He kills people because they annoy him or even just because he can.

  • Nathan Hevenstone

    Okay… I’d like to respond to the whole thing, but I’m a noob to this blog, so I have the world’s dumbest question to ask, first:

    How do I format here in the comments? Mainly quotes, but I’ll take a list of all the whole code if it’s available…

  • Ambidexter

    Nathan Hevenstone:

    How do I format here in the comments? Mainly quotes, but I’ll take a list of all the whole code if it’s available…

    This blog uses HTML. To quote something use <blockquote> something </blockquote>. Italics are <i>italics</i>, underlining is <u>underline</u>, etc. Google HTML for a whole range of commands, some of which may not work here. Incidentally, I leave how I was able to show the HTML commands. particularly <, without the software recognizing them as HTML as an exercise for the student.

  • Alleyprowler

    The entire thing is one big abdication of personal responsibility. Since JT asked for a paragraph:

    Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak.. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know You intimately. I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others. I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.

    Translation: I am a puppet with no strength or will of my own. The best way to help people is by muttering magic words or thinking magic thoughts for them, not by, y’know, actually doing something. Blind faith is awesome, and people who don’t have it are kinda sad, so I’ll think some magic thoughts for them in hopes that they might develop it. Because it is awesome. Yay, puppetmaster!

    Anyone who thinks this is beautiful has a really alien concept of beauty, IMO.

  • Mr Z

    Is this a prayer or a 12 step self help program?

    “Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak.. ”

    Bless, that’s a good word. How does one have to think exactly to think themselves a blessing to someone else? I don’t think that word means what you think it does.

    “Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others.”

    If you are strong and help the weak, perhaps it is you who keeps you strong – help yourself when you are weak. Words of encouragement come from compassion. Does your compassion wax and wane that you need help? Doesn’t god help them that help themselves? Basically you need to do all the work, just like the rest of us, no matter if you credit some imaginary friend.

    ” I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood.”

    The implication that you are not lost is laughable. Wasting your breathe for those you judge as misjudged and misunderstood neither helps them nor brings you any wisdom. No matter how kind your intent might be, in praying these words you are wasting your time, your breath, and your wisdom.

    ” I pray for those who don’t know You intimately. I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others. I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.”

    Here again you judge and condemn based on your belief in imaginary skydaddy. An intimate relationship with another being REQUIRES being able to see them, you know, have proof they actually exist. Stop wasting your fucking breath praying and do something useful like find proof of god that the rest of us can believe. Oh, this is getting shared alright. Despite your your breath wasting payers, you have nothing to show for your belief. Nothing good has come of it that couldn’t have come from other activities, from other books, from other groups. You may well be thankful that you believe but there is something creepy about that which is best highlighted by asking: Are children thankful they believe in santa claus?

    No matter how old you are, you very well could have spent your entire life praying to an onion bulb and got all the same responses. The condescending attitude in your prayer that screams that you think you are right and anyone who believes other than you do is wrong is disgusting. In one fell swoop you condemn pretty much 99% of all humans who have ever lived.

    So go ahead, pray for the 99% of humanity thus far who do not believe as you do. Pray that they will understand why you are right and they have all been so wrong. Better yet why don’t you pray for evidence of your god that the rest of us can believe in. Without that evidence there is no difference between your god and an onion bulb where prayer is concerned, despite the fact that the onion bulb is far more real.

  • Mattir-ritated

    I should just add to my comment above that the whole damn prayer is appallingly written and clunky. Even edited to take god out and keep the decent ideas, it’s clunky.

    Give me Milton or a psalm any day of the week.

  • Elly

    This prayer strongly reminds me of a blog post written by Richard Beck, called “The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity” ( http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2009/08/bait-and-switch-of-contemporary.html ). Beck – himself a Christian – neatly ID’s how personal piety and “getting closer to god” has replaced any requirement to be a decent human being. The example he uses – the arrogance and stinginess of post-church restaurant customers – draws blood.

    You can see exactly what Beck was writing about in this prayer. The worshipper makes no commitment to help or uplift the lost or the weak… just to pray for them. It deftly substitutes the act of worship (easy and risk-free) for activism (which is neither). As unbound wrote above “…every paragraph is laced with laziness” – an dead-on description.

    It’s a neat trick: by copying this prayer around to your friends (and atheists!!!), the sender can pretend to be a good person, without actually having to be one.

  • mangobingo

    So is Sandy Lopez going to come on here and tell us why we’re wrong, or what?


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