a prayer…

While cleaning out my filing cabinet, I came across something that reminded me of a hilarious incident with my friend’s father, the Rev.

A few years ago I was invited to regular dinners with a group of friends at the home of a minister and his wife. The minister was the father of a friend and fellow student. We were all ‘lapsed Christians’ and his father, the Rev., had taken it upon himself to try and win us ‘back into the fold’ by holding these dinners once a month or so. He had an annoying habit of asking one of us to say the ‘blessing’ before dinner, which I found stunningly disrespectful since we were no longer Christian. After all, that was the reason we were invited to these re-conversion dinners. In any case, I made it very clear that I would not agree to say a prayer. I am the master at avoiding the guilt-trip, his method of choice, which I can only assume annoyed or challenged him. Because, a few days before one of the dinners, his son let me know that the Rev. was not going to let up on me this time. Luckily for me, I was just getting to the point in City of God (the book – not the movie) where the main character says what has got to be one of the best prayers ever. I decided then and there that I would memorize the prayer, put up my normal level of resistance, and; if the Rev. pushed too hard, say it as the blessing. Oh the sheer joy I felt in my heart of hearts when the Rev. proceeded to lay things on a little to thick. I reluctantly took my place and humbly recited the following:

“Dear Lord, blessed be your name, there have been monstrously evil mortifiers of humanity in the historic generations of every person in this room, in our lives and the lives of our loved ones and family. Evil debasers of human life have been responsible collectively for the enslavement and horrible death of many tens of millions of human beings. An exponential murder of souls has gone on, a torture and agony of demolishment, in wars, in genocides, with the masses of the violently dead over the centuries consigned by their very numbers to the lists of anonymous oblivion. And they are not resurrectable, they cannot and will not resurrect even in the imagination of your Christian faithful. I am not going to get into the question of how a supposedly omniscient God such as Yourself would allow these human catastrophes to occur, though your record throughout time has not been all that commendable, but I will tell you the relentless and unimaginable genocidal cruelties shuddering across the world in our age have brought You into disrepute, and the uninhibited degradation of the idea of life has thrown some of us into the despair of cursing Your name and impugning Your existence. Even among those clinging to a love of You and an irrepressible longing for Your love there is a risen suspicion, that You are part of the problem.

Men use You at will for their most hideous purposes. You do not seem to resist anyone who wants You, and for whatever foul murderous reason, can have You. You are bought and embraced like the lowest, most pathetic streetwalker. And the world You have created, or that has used You to create itself, suffers not only the headline killers, the contemptuous rulers of tribes and nations, but the miserable , wretched number of the rest of us, who inhabit the back pages and work in symbolic emulation of their spirit, living fervently to enrich ourselves at the expense of others, so that even in our most advanced industrial democracies life is adversarial, and the social contract breaks down continually, as if we were not meant to be justly governed nations but confederacies of murderous gluttons.

And so as I consider the headline killers, the dictators, despots, homicidal tribalists, generals, colonels, and ministers of righteousness, the carelessly murdering kings and revolutionists who have taken our lives and assassinated our souls, I know in my own sinful heart and from the depths of my craven being that they are cast in history from the human die. They are my kind, stamped out of my genetic code with a family resemblance so unmistakable as to set me to weeping in terror and despair.

Do you not find this a grave challenge to your existence, Lord, that we do these things to one another? That for all our theoretical excuse making, and despite the moral struggle and the intellectual and technical advances of human history, we live enraged – quietly or explosively, but always greedily enraged?

Do you not find it an unforgivable lapse of Yours that after these thousands of years we can no more explain ourselves than we can explain You?

Lord, if you were to give evidence of a real hell, not the invention of our inflamed imaginations, but a real one, with the right people in it, I would have some hope for You as You have been traditionally conceived. If You were to cause the odious monstrous being of Satan to flourish in the nether depths of the superstring universe, and devise him of such mass, so huge and cold and of such gravity that nothing could ever escape from him that is drawn into him as into the black holes of the universe. And if You were to let him be anguishedly made of physical self-contradiction, ice and flame, peculiarly crustaceous but pulpy skin and multiple eyes cataracted with congealed blood and with slimy claws and tendrils to reach his every extremity, all of him stinking and loathsome.

And if You were to show us the headline killers, the murderous rulers of the tribes and nations, agglutinated in his embrace while over billions of years he roared his sickening excoriating breath into their faces, and vomited his foul waste alive with squirming larvae and dung beetles over them while languidly absorbing them into his hideous being. And if You were to make him particularly solicitous of that gibbering, bug-eyed, teeth-gnashing asshole of the German national religion, and that steely-eyed peasant shit brain of the Russian revolutionary religion, and that little colonialist bastard exterminator-king of the civilized Belgians, and that stone faced rouge-cheeked killer cretin of the South Asian islands; as well as all of the torturers of the banana republics, island tyrants, tribal thugs of Africa, and the ethnic cleansing goons of the Balkans – and if, for good measure, You were to throw in all of their bankers and arms suppliers and their loyal legions of rapers, impalers, beheaders, bludgeoners, machine gunners, death squad kidnappers, crematoria builders, and slave camp administrators. And let them suffer agonizedly and in ever increasing torments of consciousness slowly over thousands of millenia until they become one with Satan, alive and screaming in the hell of his being forever and ever; well, then Lord, I think I could be Your Christian servant.”

Needless to say I was never invited to pray again.


Si iam via, quam ad haec ducere ostendi, perardua videatur, inveniri tamen potest. Et sane arduum debet esse, quod adeo raro reperitur. Qui enim posset fieri, si salus in promptu esset et sine magno labore reperiri posset, ut ab omnibus fere negligeretur? Sed omnia praeclara tam difficilia, quam rara sunt. -Spinoza


~ by aikaterine on July 22, 2007.

11 Responses to “a prayer…”

  1. That is, without doubt, the most awesome thing I’ve heard all week.

  2. haha, I’m glad I could be of service.

  3. Oh my “god!” And I can’t even believe you memorized that. I have declared that I am an athiest on my blog but I don’t push it or preach about it. I have been to places of worship before but I also refuse to pray and sing hymns. The same goes for going into any household where people pray before dinner etc…

    I respect peoples’ right to practise faith, religion…whatever. That is fine but what I don’t appreciate is someone trying to “convert” me to their belief system. We should all respect each others’ choices.

    My ex-partner is Jewish but she does not practise her religion. She may “celebrate” the High Holidays with her family but more as a cultural tradition and perhaps more out of guilt as her mother would freak! I had done this with her family and also gone to Synagogue a couple of times. I was curious as I’d never been.

    I did participate in Pesach and Rosh Hashana…I even read Hebrew during the Pesach (Passover) Seder but that was more of a political tactic to endear me to my ex-partner’s mother! I didn’t mind doing it. Hey, I like foreign languages and if it got her mother to like a lesbian goy?

    Judaism is kind of interesting…there have been debates over history where the question has even been raised about a belief in god or some kind of higher power in order to even “be” Jewish with some Rabbi way back when. I read this in a book that my ex-partner’s mother gave me. It was called, “What Do Jews Believe.” I could barely get past the first chapter it was so dry. My ex-partner retorted to me when I told her I was having so much difficulty with it, “Do you want to know what Jews believe? You don’t have to read that book!” I laughed so hard!

  4. I believe in a universal consciousness, of a sort. Actually, I kind of like Einstein’s take on the whole thing. He called his conception ‘the old one’ because the only two things we can reasonably claim to know about whatever the energy ‘is’ is that it is old and that it is one with everything – or something like that. I forget how he put it, exactly.

    An easy way to sum up my belief on the matter is that the consciousness is in everything. So, there is not really a distinction between the phenomenal world and the spiritual.

    In my studies I found that Judaism, Gnosticism and Buddhism focused more on teaching the foundational principles and philosophy of their doctrine to followers. Followed by Islam, Taoism and the other Eastern Religions. Christianity; unfortunately, largely fell far behind the other major world religions in this aspect. There is so much guilt in it. And it saddens me, because I believe that Moses, Jesus and Mohammed were three extremely brilliant and enlightened men. In fact, I would love to be a fly on the wall in a room with those three talking to each other. I wonder what they would say? The Christians have really taken the focus off coming to a deeper understanding of the lessons Jesus taught, which is tragic.

    But the Rev. was way out of line. And he was a very haughty man. He had that fake humility I see so often in men of cloth. A righteous piety, if you will. I knew that he would not interrupt the prayer because it would make him “look bad”. The whole situation was so much fun.

  5. I agree with you katface,
    I have read a lot of interesting stuff about the early church elbowing aside the gnostic sects and generally creating the christian message to suit their aims. There’s a lot of evidence that Jesus was far more of a gnostic than a so called ‘christian’…

  6. katface? I can honestly say that no one has ever come up with that one. I agree with you. Jesus appears to have leaned more towards gnosticism than he did the doctrine practiced by modern christians. Which has always fascinated me, I just do not get how someone can read the words attributed to Jesus, look at the doctrine of modern christianity and say “they have got it right”. It does not make any sense.

  7. The closest I’ve ever got to any sort of “belief system” that has appealed to me is probably Buddhism as it is a non-theistic philosophy–not a religion, I will argue. I’ve tried to tell a lot of Christians that it can be practised in a Western sense alongside any religion but nope–a lot of them won’t budge.

  8. Having been raised Maoist I’m happy to announce that all of you have been preregistered for re-education camp. You’ll each be issued two red scarves, a pick and your very own copy of The Little Red Book. Brothers and sisters let a hundred flowers blossom, a hundred thoughts contend. Line starts on the left.

  9. can I lead the blessing? oh, wait Maoist are not so big on the praying. well…nevermind.

    FYI – I already have a copy of the little red book.

    It is both little and red.

  10. patientanonymous –

    You are beating your head against a brick wall. Western discourse just does not understand eastern mysticism. It is apples and oranges.

  11. […] those of you who found this with that search term. Yeah, sorry about […]

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