Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is it okay to pray for me?

I'll be honest - sometimes I get really ticked off when people say that they'll pray for me. Other times, I have absolutely no problem with it at all. So, when is it okay and when is it not? While I certainly can't speak for all atheists/agnostics, I think that it might be safe to say that most of them would agree with my assessment of when it's okay and when it's not.

My son, Logan, has been sick lately. Poor little guy has Bronchiolitis, which involves a lot of coughing, a fever and some diarrhea. As of right now, he's on the upswing, but as we were going through this little ordeal, I'd post some status updates on how he's doing - for the benefit of family members and friends who'd like to know what's going on (anything to save me from having to talk on the phone, ya know).

Between my wife and me, we got quite a few people letting us know that they were praying for him. Both of us had no problem with it. I mean, I don't personally think that it's going to do any good, but these folks are letting us know that they care, and how am I going to fault that? What, am I going to respond, "Hey, take your bullcrap and shove it!" Absolutely not. I'd be a total monkey-butt if I did that. After all, it wouldn't really help the situation either if a person simply said "My thoughts are with you," but who in their right mind would reprimand a person for that?

Christopher Hitchens, who's known for being a somewhat pompous and occasionally surly atheist, has been rather gracious, at least in my mind, regarding all of the people who have said that they're praying for him while he battles cancer. It's been a while, and I don't remember his exact words, but he didn't have anything bad to say about people who did that. Of course, he did have something to say about those who claimed to be praying for him to die, but you can't really blame him for that.

That's my attitude as well. If something's wrong with me and you want to pray, hey, don't let me stop you. What's the worst that could happen? If I'm wrong about this whole god thing, then at least I've got some people willing to talk to the big invisible dictator in the ether on my behalf. Now, I suppose that if I had a splitting headache and somebody hid all my Tylenol and said, "No, you can't have it; I'm just gonna pray for you." then that would be another matter.

So, when do I get ticked off when somebody says that he or she will pray for me? Honestly, the only instance I can think of this is when I reveal to them that I'm an atheist and that's their immediate response. Honestly, I feel like telling those people to cram their deity up their posterior. It's just so damned condescending, isn't it? "Oh, obviously there's something wrong with you if you don't believe in the god that I was indoctrinated into believing, so I'm going to have to tell my imaginary friend to make you see things my way."

Of course, if I'd respond with, "Okay, I'll be sure to THINK for you." then I'd be regarded as the asshole of that situation. Do I respond with that? No, but it's awfully tempting. The main reason I don't is that I doubt they'd even understand what I meant.

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