We have reached a new low. Or high. Depending on how you look at it. I was reading the newspaper this morning when a particular article caught my eye. It was titled: Pray-in at S.F. gas station asks God to lower gas prices. It’s not every day we get prayer meetings in San Francisco. Well, at least not for things like this. We’ve had our fair share of people who have made the trek to the City by the Bay to pray for the worst of all lost souls, the gays. But, this is a new one. I guess if you’re going to pray for gas prices to come down, you might as well come to the place with the highest prices in the nation, right?
I find it very interesting that an east-coast based activist/community organizer/church choir director, who also started a petition to get Oprah nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (which failed), would come to SF for a pray-in. I mean, seriously, Washington D.C. is a lot closer than San Francisco. And, really that’s where he should have gone. I realize that as a “public relations consultant” (he has like 4 jobs) this is his way of petitioning Washington and God at the same time. It’s a publicity move. I get it. Send a message to Washington by praying over the costliest fuel, literally. It’s just funny to me. Someone probably spent hundreds of dollars to fly him all the way across the country to say a prayer that he could have said from D.C., whose prices aren’t cheap either, by any means.
I suppose that I should be glad he is supporting the airline industry by flying. But, let’s cut the crap, I’ll just be honest. I have issues with this kind of prayer. I think the real power in what Twyman did was in the underlying statement he was making: We don’t trust our government to do something about gas prices. If he did, he would have been in D.C. And, honestly, I think our government needs to hear that message: We don’t trust you.
Check out this approval ratings chart from PollingReport.com. (Just click on it for the link) It’s pretty sad, Bush’s approval rating has consistently hovered from 30-35% for over a year. Most people would be fired for that kind of performance. I’m getting sidetracked, aren’t I?
I should get back to my real issue, public prayer. I think personal and private prayer as a means of meditation–focusing one’s mind on something for relaxation or other purposes–can be helpful. If prayer for you is a personal conversation with God, great, that helps focus the mind as well. But, I don’t believe that publicly (i.e.-at a gas station) presenting a request to a higher power has much benefit beyond the obvious benefit of getting your message out to the masses.
This is something I know a thing or two about. I personally have been the subject of these types of prayers before. Prayers that are a means of gossip–getting the message out to the masses. I’ve been mortified more than once to find that a deeply personal experience of mine was shared in a prayer group or at a church. If someone wants to personally pray for me, I can certainly appreciate the heart in that. When someone publicly brings up my private stuff, on no level could I ever appreciate that.
Now, I have to admit that this is a very sensitive subject for me. I have rewritten this post about 10 times over the course of a week, trying to soften my tone. And, I’m glad that I took my time with it, because, it caused me to think about this in a rational way–to come to terms with my real issues. I detest preachy, public praying.
Ultimately, I think that Robert Twyman looked a little ridiculous standing, hands outstretched over the gas pump, praying. I can’t help but think that was part of the point. He got his message out there, though, even if the powers that be weren’t listening.
In the end writing this was therapeutic for me. And, there’s a part of me that feels bad for dragging you through my therapy. I guess that’s just the nature of blogging. Some days this is what you get.
Amen. So be it.