Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prayer At The Democratic Convention

Delivered by Don Miller.

Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future. We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation. We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy. Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left. Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them. Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions. Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle. Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education. Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony. We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help. Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world. A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American. Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world. Help us be an example of humility and strength once again. Lastly, father, unify us. Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common. And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish. God we know that you are good. Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.

Two thoughts. First off, NO Republican minister could ever get away with a prayer that blatantly political. It would raise cries of "theocracy" from EVERYONE in the media and Democratic party. Sheesh, George Bush couldn't even cite Jesus as his favorite philosopher with more outcry than this raises. More importantly, this is, as far as I can tell, an abuse of God for political purposes. I subscribe to the Dennis Prager interpretation of the idea of "taking the Lord's name in vain" (That the Hebrew more accurately means "carrying the Lord's name. The idea is that the commandment condemns acting in God's name falsely, not just saying his name inappropriately.) and this seems like a clear violation.

Secondly, it's interesting that he ended with an invocation of Christ. In most political circumstances, that's frowned upon as exclusive, since only Christians pray to Christ. If you keep your god generic, a pastor can lead a prayer including Jews, Muslims, and various other theists. Once you insert Christ though, it becomes a Christian prayer. I wonder if that was a conscious effort to court Christian voters, or if he just invoked Christ because that's how he's used to praying as a Christian?

I think this prayer is indicative of something larger than just the prayer itself. I think one of the fundamental divides between left and right is the left's idea that there is no sphere of life that politics should not inhabit. That's why when liberals took over college campuses, they started inserting politics in the classroom and squashing opposition, something you never saw prior to the 1960's. It's why Hillary Clinton felt entirely appropriate in writing a book advocating that the entire society should be involved in raising children. It's also why Britain is currently considering the idea of removing fat children from their parents, and the leftwing state feels completely comfortable lecturing people on their personal health habits. Someone should write a book...