The Prayer that was Anything But It is no small wonder that as our secular government continues to find it’s feet outside of expressions of faith that a renewed kind of Civil Religion would rise. Example #1: The “prayer” given at Obama’s second Inauguration. Myrlie Evers-Williams was the first woman to give an Inaugural prayer. That… Read more

The Prayer that was Anything But

It is no small wonder that as our secular government continues to find it’s feet outside of expressions of faith that a renewed kind of Civil Religion would rise. Example #1: The “prayer” given at Obama’s second Inauguration. Myrlie Evers-Williams was the first woman to give an Inaugural prayer. That is remarkable. But honestly, it’s no where near as remarkable as the “prayer itself”. First off, she only and consistently addressed “America”, never God or Jesus, or Allah, or Yahweh… just America. Second, at every turn that she could have addressed God she consistently did not. Evers-Williams said that America was gathered that day in order to ask for blessings… blessings for everything and everyone in America. But from whom do you ask to receive blessings? Well, she leaves that to your imagination.

Now, it’s understandable that anyone of faith would be bothered at such a “prayer.” Let me say clearly that I am not bothered. Here’s why: It is a product of a secular society seeking meaning outside of itself. This society understands how meaningful prayer can be for individuals. This society knows that faith inspires people to be larger than themselves. And this society wants both of those desires (meaningfulness, and inspiration) to be pointed towards civic duty. That is a remarkable and valuable desire for a society. It just gets really uncomfortable when the language and rituals are bound up in a long Judeo-Christian tradition.

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