Give us this day our daily unleaded
July 30, 2008 9:10 AM   Subscribe

St. Louis group Pray at the Pump is trying to lower gas prices the old fashioned way - by praying for them.
posted by ericbop (144 comments total)

 
I'm not sure that's how the invisible hand works.
posted by boo_radley at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


God - grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know -

What? We got it down to $3.89?

PRAISE THE LORD!!!!
posted by yhbc at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2008


LOL SUVIANS, AMIRITE?!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:19 AM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I do not remember which of us was first to remember a well-known, though not very respectful school story, in which we at once saw an illustration of this law.
The story is about an over-aged student of a seminary who, at a final examination, does not understand the idea of God's omnipotence.
'Well, give me an example of something that the Lord cannot do," said the examining bishop.
"It won't take long to do that, your Eminence," answered the seminarist. "Everyone knows that even the Lord himself cannot beat the ace of trumps with the ordinary deuce."
Nothing could be more clear.
There was more sense in this silly story than in a thousand theological treatises. The laws of a game make the essence of the game. A violation of these laws would destroy the entire game. The Absolute can as little interfere in our life and substitute other results in the place of the natural results of causes created by us, or created accidentally, as he can beat the ace of trumps with the deuce. Turgenev wrote somewhere that all ordinary prayers can be reduced to one: "Lord, make it so that twice two be not four." This is the same thing as the ace of trumps of the seminarist.
P.D. Ouspensky "In Search of the Miraculous"
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 AM on July 30, 2008 [29 favorites]


A very appropriate prayer, given Bush's hypocritical admission from his 2006 State of the Union Speech:

"Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances."
posted by ericbop at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2008


You know, if I were Christian I'd be seriously pissed at those people for making a mockery of my faith.

As it is, I'll just point and laugh.
posted by Caduceus at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Praying to the Supreme (Unleaded) Being I presume?

*rimshot*

posted by rooftop secrets at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2008


Well, that'll do just about as much good as drilling in ANWR.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:22 AM on July 30, 2008


Given Exxon's profit margin since the war started, they'd be better off sticking with waiting for Jesus to come back.

They'll have better odds.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:22 AM on July 30, 2008


Oh, so we're a cargo cult now. Nice to know.
posted by no_moniker at 9:23 AM on July 30, 2008 [13 favorites]


Maybe we should also turn the gas pumps to face Mecca. Praying is praying, right?
posted by grounded at 9:24 AM on July 30, 2008


So somewhere a homeless man or a family struggling to put food on the table will see a group of middle class suburban Christians gathered around a gas pump, praying that God will have mercy and get things back to where we can all go about our business.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:27 AM on July 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


Ah prayer. Like patriotism, the last refuge of scoundrels.
posted by aramaic at 9:30 AM on July 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


they're doing this wrong - they're supposed to find an oil field and fuck in it to make the oil crop grow
posted by pyramid termite at 9:36 AM on July 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


If it worked for rain, surely it'll work for petrol!
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 9:38 AM on July 30, 2008


This is the same thing as the ace of trumps of the seminarist.

Well, God invented/made the game. Let's use a baseball analogy: the original rules of the game did not allow for a designated hitter. But someone REALLY REALLY wanted one. So the people in charge of the rules changed it. Likewise, God, if he is omnipotent, could change the rules of his game if he wishes. Theoretically speaking. So in fact, an ordinary deuce could be made to beat a trump, if the keeper of the rules so wished. To claim that a being who created the entire universe is omnipotent except in regards to being able to adjust the original rules of his creation is kind of ridiculous no? In other words, the omnipotent made a rule that even he can not change, thus he is not omnipotent.
posted by spicynuts at 9:38 AM on July 30, 2008


To be fair, if you're one of these people, and you believe that God made you in His own image, then naturally, He must be a petty, shortsighted asshole, too. So the odds are good that He'll respond to this. "Holy shit, my precious snowflakes are being inconvenienced in an excruciatingly minor way! I better do something about it before they're forced to confront the consequences of their own choices!"
posted by uncleozzy at 9:39 AM on July 30, 2008 [14 favorites]


These are the same people who, when a lightbulb goes out, sit there and curse the darkness, instead of changing it.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:40 AM on July 30, 2008


Now I don't feel so badly about praying for poon.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:40 AM on July 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


As an atheist, I'm always amazed at the number of Christians who have a lower opinion of their deity than I do.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 AM on July 30, 2008 [42 favorites]


If this worked, wouldn't it have already done so?
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on July 30, 2008


True story: when I was younger, my folks and I were driving back home from a trip to Disneyland. It was a long, long drive and we were dead-dog tired from the journey. It was late at night and we were extremely hungry, too. We decided to stop at a KFC a few miles from our house to grab some dinner before we got home.

My mom and I walk inside the KFC and start ordering. After we're done, mom confesses to me that she was really worried they would be out of Extra Crispy (her favorite) because it was so late. She told me that she had spent the last few miles on the road silently praying for God to make sure that the KFC would be well-stocked with Extra Crispy chicken.

I was still a Christian at this point in my life, but I was infuriated. "Mom", I said, "How on Earth can you pray for God in all his power to provide you with your favorite flavor of KFC when there are at least 20 million people, many of them Christians, who are starving to death in Africa at this very moment?"

"What do you mean?" she asked, puzzled. "God wants me to be happy."

"What about those Christians in Africa who are picking seeds out of cow dung because they don't have enough to eat? Does got want them to be happy?" I shot back.

She thought about that for a moment.

"Obviously not." she said matter-of-factly. "He must be punishing them for their sins or something."

That wasn't the exact moment when I lost my faith, but it was one of the moments that eventually lead me to that decision. I'll never be able to reconcile myself with a God who seems to dispense blessings based largely on geography, or His followers who believe that their relative wealth and comfort are a result of their clean living, rather than an accident of their birth.
posted by Avenger at 9:50 AM on July 30, 2008 [54 favorites]


These are the same people who, when a lightbulb goes out, sit there and curse the darkness, instead of changing it.

If God would use that "Let there be light" trick of his a little more often, that wouldn't be a problem either.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:53 AM on July 30, 2008


That's not how god works. They should steal the gas and then ask god to forgive them.
posted by bondcliff at 9:53 AM on July 30, 2008 [14 favorites]


I just can't wrap my head around a belief set in which this makes sense.
posted by diogenes at 9:54 AM on July 30, 2008


Hah. They think their prayers did that?

Little do they realize that the shift was due to my sacrifice of a fatted calf on the altar of Octaneus, the Roman god of gas prices.
posted by XMLicious at 9:55 AM on July 30, 2008 [12 favorites]


Besides, everyone knows God prefers original recipe KFC.
posted by Floydd at 9:56 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is so stupid. Praying to bring down the price of oil.

If you're gonna pray for a miracle, why not pray for free fill-ups? And a free Big Gulp to drink whilst standing at the pump. Surely the omnipotent God who created the heavens and the Earth can manage that.
posted by three blind mice at 9:57 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well clearly the reason petrol is much more expensive here in the UK is the decline of the Church Of England
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:00 AM on July 30, 2008


The group mixed prayer with song. "We Shall Overcome" became "We'll Have Lower Gas Prices," and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" was changed to "He's Got the Lower Gas Prices in His Hands."

That has got to be some of the dumbest shit I've ever read.
posted by The Straightener at 10:00 AM on July 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


For that matter, why not pray to teleport where you are going? Or to be so rich that THEY have to come to YOU?
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on July 30, 2008


Well clearly the reason petrol is much more expensive here in the UK is the decline of the Church Of England

Well, just go to the Netherland with all their gays and drugs - gas prices are proportional to the sinner count per thousand citizens.
posted by uncle harold at 10:04 AM on July 30, 2008


To claim that a being who created the entire universe is omnipotent except in regards to being able to adjust the original rules of his creation is kind of ridiculous no? In other words, the omnipotent made a rule that even he can not change, thus he is not omnipotent.

Wouldn't an omnipotent making a rule he/she cannot change be proof of his/her omnipotence?


Wait...


...head esplodes...
posted by cosmac at 10:05 AM on July 30, 2008


I'll never understand this concept.

Some group of Christians probably more interested in being in a few news articles than they are in sharing their faith (or, more importantly, here, sadly enough - bringing gas prices down), and its already time to talk about what a bunch loons those crazy Christians all are. Point and laugh, point and laugh.

Some psychopath homosexual-hating bigot shoots a couple people at a church and suddenly anyone who is dumb enough to believe in God (including his victims) is tossed in the same box as the crazy, and we can rail at them all again, conveniently.

But a religious fanatic flies a plane into the side of a building in my town, killing a couple thousand of my neighbors, and somehow its insensitive and stupid of me to label Islam a religion of hatred? (Hint: I don't.)

But the irony here is staggering.

There's nothing wrong with religion. There's nothing wrong with having a belief in something, even if that belief is agnosticism, or atheism. Our nation was designed by our founders to be one where we could all live in harmony, safety, and mutual respect of each other, with our myriad different beliefs.

Its fanaticism - the radical fundamentalism - that's the scary part.

And don't for a second think that because you're not a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Nazi, or a Jew, that you're somehow above the possibility of fanatically hating some group of people unlike yourself. Fanatically pointing and laughing at how small-minded they are. Fanatically blaming them for everything that you think is wrong with the world.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:06 AM on July 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Could God give himself properties so contradictory they would cause Him to vanish in a puff of logic?
posted by DU at 10:09 AM on July 30, 2008


'These are the same people who, when a lightbulb goes out, sit there and curse the darkness, instead of changing it.'

I usually just light a candle.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:13 AM on July 30, 2008


well, there's a lot of this going around - i know of people who think they can manipulate world events by poking holes in pieces of paper or flipping levers up and down - or by typing
posted by pyramid termite at 10:14 AM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, it's said that God helps them who help themselves, and this is the argument I plan on using when I'm finally caught for stealing gasoline tankers.
posted by quin at 10:14 AM on July 30, 2008


Well, that'll do just about as much good as drilling in ANWR.

You know, I used to be entirely anti-ANWR drilling, but Robert Rapier changed my mind with this piece.

The gist of it is: that oil will be drilled, someday. Shouldn't we make sure it gets drilled in such a way that the benefit accrues primarily to us as a whole rather than to the oil companies who will eventually drill it (e.g. by putting the vast bulk of the money towards renewables research/rollout)?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:19 AM on July 30, 2008


Wouldn't an omnipotent making a rule he/she cannot change be proof of his/her omnipotence?


Wait...


...head esplodes...


ha! exactly!
posted by spicynuts at 10:19 AM on July 30, 2008


Just wait for the part of the movie where Cheney leads these chosen drivers to the Promised Refinery.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 AM on July 30, 2008


He stood on the lot of a Mobil gas station at Jefferson Avenue and Delmar Boulevard Friday morning, clasping hands with seven other "prayer warriors." They pleaded with God to shower compassion on oil-rich Arab nations. And he is asking those in Saudi Arabia to follow the precepts of the Quran, which, he said, emphasizes reaching out to the poor and the downtrodden.

So which is more tenuous, their grasp of theology or of the oil industry?
posted by butterstick at 10:28 AM on July 30, 2008


Fry: Is there anything we can do to help find my friend?
Priest: Well, we could join together in prayer.
Fry: Yeah, but I mean anything useful?
Priest: No.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:31 AM on July 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


butterstick : So which is more tenuous, their grasp of theology or of the oil industry?

There are lots of iffy-looking precepts in the Quran, but it definitely requires the faithful Muslim to aid the poor and downtrodden. Among other things it mandates that the believer give one fifth of his wealth in alms.
posted by XMLicious at 10:33 AM on July 30, 2008


Well, God invented/made the game. Let's use a baseball analogy: the original rules of the game did not allow for a designated hitter. But someone REALLY REALLY wanted one. So the people in charge of the rules changed it. Likewise, God, if he is omnipotent, could change the rules of his game if he wishes. Theoretically speaking. So in fact, an ordinary deuce could be made to beat a trump, if the keeper of the rules so wished

I think that clearly analogy breaks down here, wishful thinking aside. If you change the rules mid-game, the game being played is automatically rendered invalid or at best unfair. Changing the rules of the game in this sense would mean radically altering the laws of physics, gravity, space, number, linear sequence, et al. At the very least there would be weird energy ripples, tidal waves, and unexplained reconfigurations of historical events.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 AM on July 30, 2008


I was still a Christian at this point in my life, but I was infuriated. "Mom", I said, "How on Earth can you pray for God in all his power to provide you with your favorite flavor of KFC when there are at least 20 million people, many of them Christians, who are starving to death in Africa at this very moment?"

For a long time, your quandary was one of the biggest stumbling blocks in praying for help. Everything in my life did- and still does- feel so insignificant to what is going in the rest of the world. I always felt weird and pathetic when praying for help in lieu of how good I really had/have things.
The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that Jesus died not only for them, but me too, and to not ask for help was as lacking in faith as I could get. Couple that with the idea that does God helping me mean He magically isn't going to help others now, like it's a zero-sum game? I tend to think not.

So, yes, I can pray for help (OK, probably not for a KFC chicken strip), but that doesn't detract from praying or God's will towards your 20 million starving Africans.
posted by jmd82 at 10:34 AM on July 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is praying for cheap gas prayer? From my p.o.v. it isn't.

Your cravings as a human animal do not become a prayer just because it is God whom you ask to attend to them (Dag Hammarskjöld)

To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention--on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God--that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying. Choice of attention--to pay attention to this and ignore that--is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. The primary task of the schoolteacher is to teach children, in a secular context, the technique of prayer. (W. H. Auden)


> You know, if I were Christian I'd be seriously pissed at those people for making a mockery of my faith.

I save up the anger for the ones who knowingly do actual evil and paper over it with pix of jesus; they are not different from the ones who do evil and then wrap themselves in the flag. Folks who believe God can get gas prices down aren't either of these, they're just a bit off the beam--like children who believe dad can do it or voters who believe changing the government can. All touchingly faithful, all easy to forgive.


> As it is, I'll just point and laugh.

Will you also be pointing and laughing at the nice brown people of Vanuatu who (as no_moniker points out, above) believe basically the same thing? If not, you'll need to gin up a reason.
posted by jfuller at 10:38 AM on July 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


XMLicious: yes, and good on them. However, I doubt that should a hypothetical OPEC decide to sell oil wholesale at a loss(or hell, even well below market prices) that the sentiment would be maintained by Exxon or any of the refining middleman between the desert and the pumps.

Men of the cloth often look for opportunities to minister outside of their churches, and during off-hours. I'm sure this guy is really just using this as an opportunity to increase his ministry. It's a little misguided, but it looks patently ridiculous to non-believers.
posted by butterstick at 10:43 AM on July 30, 2008


For that matter, why not pray to teleport where you are going?

Joking aside, that's not really how most people who pray think it works. For most people I think the idea is that you pray for something that is very important to you, and God helps you in some vague and mysterious way. Obviously doing actual things yourself to fix your own problems is a more scientifically valid way of getting things done, but for a lot of people prayer is an activity that is consistent in their own personal belief system.

He must be punishing them for their sins or something

This is the kind of reasoning that I think is damaging, rather than the concept of prayer in general. Saying "If I pray, maybe I will get some help" is one thing, but saying "Those people aren't getting any help because they are evil" is something completely different. It's fairly obvious that bad things do in fact happen to good people, so if your concept of God includes preventing every kind of injustice from happening anywhere then it will be hard to reconcile that with the real world.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:45 AM on July 30, 2008


allkindsoftime, I think the point here is more LOLmisguidedassholes than LOLXtians. I'm pretty sure we'd all still be laughing if they set up a protest march or a petition for cheaper gas.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:45 AM on July 30, 2008


What butterstick said -- I think (and hope, and -- gulp -- pray) that it's just an enthusiastic reverend who wants to get people thinking about God through a catchy and kinda-funny kinda-topical hook, and who hasn't really considered how it might be viewed outside the religious community.
posted by Shepherd at 10:47 AM on July 30, 2008


Will you also be pointing and laughing at the nice brown people of Vanuatu...

Yes: HAHAHAHAHAHA THAT'S AWESOME
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on July 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


butterstick : I just wanted to point out that they weren't displaying any erroneous grasp of Muslim theology, at least not in what you quoted there, which is what your words seemed to me to suggest.
posted by XMLicious at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2008


As an atheist, I'm always amazed at the number of Christians who have a lower opinion of their deity than I do.

I have similar thoughts all the time.

I just don't understand how people can miss the message of the New Testament so completely. Yeah, I know, there are always doctrinal disagreements out there, but if you read the NT and somehow miss that God was manifest as a poor homeless guy who gave up his prerogatives in favor of a life of sacrificial service, and that he calls his followers to do the same, you're just not paying attention. I can't think of anything more diametrically opposed to the scriptures than asking God to help some of the world's most economically privileged people keep buying things at a cheap price. That's completely upside down.

One of life's ongoing frustrations is that I'm increasingly convinced that on a percentage basis, more agnostics and atheists have a decent grasp on what Jesus' priorities were (even while treating him as, at best, a fiction) than the Christians who worship him and claim him as Lord, but never seem to notice his relentless, in-your-face concern for the poor and oppressed.

So, put me down as another Christian who just wants to punch the walls because of stories like this. Or make whips and overturn tables, maybe.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:10 AM on July 30, 2008 [16 favorites]


jmd82:
So, yes, I can pray for help (OK, probably not for a KFC chicken strip), but that doesn't detract from praying or God's will towards your 20 million starving Africans.
Um. Maybe. But it still doesn't answer the implied question: Why does God help you (or Avenger's mom) but not the Africans?

Let's say Avenger's mom's prayer worked. After all... she asked and she received. The "logic" of prayer says that, indeed, her prayer was answered. In fact, the Bible says that all prayers are answered so long as one has a bit of faith and possibly at least one partner who agrees with them (Matthew 7:7, 17:20, 18:19, 21:21; Mark 9:23, 11:24; John 14:12 - 14, James 5:15-16; and Luke 1:37). Many of the verses are supposedly direct quotes of Jesus.

So, Avenger's mom's prayer for extra crispy is answered. Now, if she prays for the starving people of the world to be lifted out of starvation; does it not follow that this prayer, too, shall be answered? We've already established that she meets the requirements: she has faith, and little Avenger is there, too and would obviously like to see the Africans starvation end. We've seen that her prayers are effective.

Would it work? Do you think God would answer the prayer?

What if you and some friends said that prayer? Actually... why don't you go ahead and try?

While you're at it, why don't you pray that an amputee's arm grow back? Heck, since you're at it, why don't you just go ahead and pray that God grow the arms back of all amputees, cure all cancer patients, remove the HIV virus from the world; and clean up all the pollution.

He can do anything, He answers all prayers said in faith and communion, and he wants all of us to be happy.

So why doesn't it work?
posted by vertigo25 at 11:13 AM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Among other things it mandates that the believer give one fifth of his wealth in alms.

The Quran doesn't mandate what you say, nor does it require any specific amount to be given. The Zakat "tax" that Muslims voluntarily pay is, put simply, 2.5% of the wealth that they have owned for at least one year (provided they don't owe more than they own). The rules of Zakat were/are derived by Islamic scholars from the Quran and authenticated Hadiths, but they were not spelled out explicitly in either.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:15 AM on July 30, 2008


XMLicious: wrong theology. I contend their grasp of their own theology is what is lacking. As well as their basic understanding of the oil industry. Not sure where you got the Islam from....
posted by butterstick at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2008


Instead of pointing and laughing, I'm trying to think of some positive aspects to this story:

1. At least they aren't sacrificing anything-- no burning of little lambs or sprinkling the pumps with the blood of virgins mingled with the ashes of credit cards.

2. I don't see any graphic posters that will scare the children.

3. If they keep busy praying at the pumps, there will be less time for more objectionable behavior- no adultery or embezzlement opportunities, no time for beating the children or downing quarts of ice cream.

4. Media coverage will mean more opportunities for parents to have serious discussions with their teenagers about the abuse of religion.

5. Getting their pictures in the paper mean they will be recognized by neighbors and co-workers as the self-centered wackadoos that they are.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:30 AM on July 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Could God make an oil tanker so heavy he couldn't lift it?
posted by trondant at 11:37 AM on July 30, 2008


"We Shall Overcome" became "We'll Have Lower Gas Prices,"

BOGGLE

BOGGLES AGAIN
posted by vorfeed at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2008


So why doesn't it work?

Good points, and you've probably rationalized why I, myself, don't pray that often anymore. I was merely speculating that I don't other people's plights don't mean I can't pray for my own well-being at the same time.
Ultimately, I do think God hears our prayers. However, He obviously doesn't answer then in a humanly-favorable way and it seems completely fucking random to me, so I've basically given up.
posted by jmd82 at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2008


At the very least there would be weird energy ripples, tidal waves, and unexplained reconfigurations of historical events.

Are you saying that these are not things that an omnipotent being could fix/handle/eliminate? Or did the minute this omnipotent being created his machine, he became powerless to alter it's running? Cuz that would mean that he was once omnipotent and then become immediately impotent. Or, at minimum, less potent.
posted by spicynuts at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2008


They are praying at a gas station in a crap area of town. I'm surprised no one has gotten shot yet. The gas station is at 2608 Delmar. Whenever Google street view took the picture, gas was at 2.59.
posted by pieoverdone at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2008


You know, some of those Africans pray for US. Seriously. They see us as being so overwhelmed with material goods that we don't know how to rely on God. That it is hard to have faith when it is so easy to do things for ourselves. That it is much harder for us to be Christians than for them. (I know this for a fact, as we were told this by an African pastor who ministers in Uganda.) In their opinion, and in the opinion of other Christians around the world who live in poverty-stricken areas, there is such a thing as a curse of too much prosperity for a Christian.

Many of them have very little of the world's goods, but are really rich in faith. Rich in relationships. Rich in love. When Jesus comes back they'll be in the good neighborhoods when it comes time to pass out the new mansions. ;-)

As for prayer in general-I have had God miraculously enable my car to start when the starter was dead and I wasn't able to start it for over an hour. Long story short, a guy in the parking lot who came over to ask me if I needed help got drafted by me to pray for the car. Turned out he was a pastor. He tried to start the car himself-no go. I then told him-just pray. He did.

I turned the key. Engine roared to life. I drove home.

And it never worked ever again unless my hubby stuck a screwdriver in some part or other under the hood every time.


I have other stories where God had my back, because I humbled myself and asked Him, and because my back was against the wall and I had no other way to BE helped. In the previous example, we were really broke, husband was home with our three babies, there was no one to come get me, and no money to have the car towed or to fix it.

The Bible says we have not because we ask not- or we ask amiss, wanting to spend on our own foolish pleasures. God said He would meet the needs of His children, not necessarily their wants. And He expects us to help others.

God's pretty cool.

And, by the way, I am not praying at the pump but if they want to, okay by me. When and if prices go down, anyone who buys gas benefits, including the poor. Hopefully this group is also putting feet to their prayers and doing other things as well. It's not either/or but both/and.
posted by konolia at 12:03 PM on July 30, 2008


Vertigo25, you ask valid questions.

We are to pray in faith, and that faith is a gift, but also something that has to be developed, like a muscle. People need to start small-praying for colds and headaches. They also need to be holy. Because God's power poured out on a human vessel is not something to be contemplated casually. He doesn't allow people to work those kinds of miracles if they aren't keeping themselves clean before Him, walking in constant repentance and fellowship with Him. Because it would wreck the human if He did.

And don't forget, God is God so He can say no. Even Jesus did not heal every single sick person around Him when He walked the earth. There were times when He simply healed one person in a crowd. Other times the Bible says He healed few in a given area because of the unbelief in said area. Even this is something God requires and expects human cooperation with.
posted by konolia at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2008


The only reason these people have to pray for lower gas prices is because I've been praying for exorbitant gas prices for the last 10 years.
posted by Darth Fedor at 12:16 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


butterstick : Not sure where you got the Islam from....

From, uh, this sentence that you quoted above:
And he is asking those in Saudi Arabia to follow the precepts of the Quran, which, he said, emphasizes reaching out to the poor and the downtrodden.
Immediately after which you made the statement about theology. But if the two were unconnected, cheers.

Burhanistan : The Quran doesn't mandate what you say, nor does it require any specific amount to be given.

It seems that you didn't look very thoroughly at the Quran for this, or even type the word "fifth" into a Quran search engine for that matter:
Know that whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for Allah, for the Messenger, for the near relative, and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah...
                                                                                Quran 8:41
This duty is referred to as khums. The word that is above translated as "a thing you acquire", غَنِمْتُم, is sometimes translated as "spoils of war" because that section of the Quran is talking about warfare.

And of course "alms" which I used above is an English word with its roots in Christianity but I think it's an adequate translation. If you disagree feel free to regard my statement as claiming that the Quran mandates Muslims to give 1/5 of their wealth in khums.

Which is still debateable - there are all sorts of legalistic interpretations of it and certainly only some Muslims interpret this as a mandate to give 1/5 of their wealth. But whatever its "true meaning" the Quran says it right there, and I think that supports the above statement that Islam "emphasizes reaching out to the poor and the downtrodden."
posted by XMLicious at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2008


I only wish someone would lead this Prayer at the Pump (courtesy of Rabbi Jack Reimer)

We cannot merely pray to God to end war;
For the world was made in such a way
That we must find our own path of peace
Within ourselves and with our neighbor.

We cannot merely pray to God to root out prejudice;
For we already have eyes
With which to see the good in all people
If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to God to end starvation;
For we already have the resources
With which to feed the entire world
If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to God to end despair;
For we already have the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to God to end disease:
For we already have great minds
With which to search out cures and healings
If we would only use them constructively.

Therefore we pray instead
For strength, determination, and will power,
To do instead of merely to pray
To become instead of merely to wish;
That our world may be safe,
And that our lives may be blessed.
posted by ericbop at 12:27 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


My mom konolia wrote: When Jesus comes back they'll be in the good neighborhoods when it comes time to pass out the new mansions. ;-)

Wow. Don't worry poor folks, you'll have a big house and plenty of food when you die! Are you trying to prove Marx was right about religion or what?

God said He would meet the needs of His children, not necessarily their wants.

It seems that this God you speak of has a new and interesting definition of "wants" that now must include food and water. Either that, or you can take the path my mom took, and just assume that everyone who starves is, by definition, not one of His children.

You're not a bad person, konolia. And despite what other atheists say, I don't think that Christianity is inherently evil. But your particular brand of Christianity leads you to believe very evil things.
posted by Avenger at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


It seems that you didn't look very thoroughly at the Quran for this, or even type the word "fifth" into a Quran search engine for that matter:

Know that whatever of a thing you acquire, a fifth of it is for Allah, for the Messenger, for the near relative, and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah.
..

Chapter 8 of the Quran is entitled Anfal, or Spoils. That would refer to booty of victory, not regular charity.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2008


This is why you don't cherry pick scripture and try to sound clever.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2008


Praying to God for favors always struck me as incredibly selfish. Better to pray in gratitude or in repentance. Praying for material things is saying that you prefer Earthly materialism over the Kingdom of Heaven. It's like you didn't even bother to read that Bible you're thumping.

It's no wonder Christianity gets such a bum rap these days when its most vocal proponents make claims that it's a great way to lower gas prices or get your dead car battery to start. Do they really think that's how God works?
posted by turaho at 12:41 PM on July 30, 2008


Avenger, get back to me when you have talked to African Christians, or someone from the Chinese underground church.

I have.
posted by konolia at 1:15 PM on July 30, 2008


By the way, I will say this and say it loudly....GOD DOES NOT EXIST TO DO MY EVERY BIDDING AND HE DOES NOT EXIST TO MAKE MY LIFE HAPPY, STRESS FREE AND WONDERFUL ALL THE TIME.

I exist to serve HIM. I exist to follow His Son. You know-the guy who served His father all the way to the cross...we are called to walk in His footsteps.

But this same Jesus prayed for his tax money and sent Simon Peter to pluck it out of a fish's mouth. So, there's precedent.
posted by konolia at 1:17 PM on July 30, 2008


Oh, and one reason I hang around here is to make sure I know and remember how stuff looks outside my sheltered subgroup of humanity. I wish others of my crowd would do like wise. It would be eyeopening...
posted by konolia at 1:18 PM on July 30, 2008


"God miraculously enable my car to start when the starter was dead"..."And it never worked ever again unless my hubby stuck a screwdriver in some part or other under the hood every time. "

uh, yeah you might try describing that scenario to a mechanic without the prayer part and see what (s)he tells you. I would explain but you wouldn't listen to me.
posted by 2sheets at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2008


make claims that it's a great way to lower gas prices or get your dead car battery to start. Do they really think that's how God works?

This is a stupid, intentionally assholish attack on a particular person. She did not simply say "God started my car". She said that her husband was home alone with babies and they were broke and she prayed for help and the car started. This is not 'God exists to start my car'. This is "when I needed him and I had faith, he was there'. Try to at least engage fairly.
posted by spicynuts at 1:24 PM on July 30, 2008


A few weeks ago, I discovered that my car wouldn't start, so I phoned my boss and asked her if she wouldn't mind coming by and giving me a jump. While I was waiting for her to arrive, I pulled out the jumper cables and connected them to my car battery. A few minutes later, I realized that you're not supposed to do that, so I reached in to remove the jumper cables and noticed that they were extremely hot. They were so hot, in fact, that I had to wrap an emergency blanket around my hand in order to touch them.

At that point, I realized that by the laws of thermodynamics, the fact that the cables were hot meant that they had taken on energy from somewhere, and the battery seemed like the most likely suspect, even though I believed it to be dead. So I got back in the car and turned the key, and the car started! Shortly thereafter I went to my mechanic and he replaced one of the battery connectors.

I did all this without consulting, petitioning or invoking even a minor god, never mind an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent monodeity. I may not know what caused my battery to start working, but I'm pretty sure that whatever it was, it could be detected by careful application of the scientific method.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:25 PM on July 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


konolia - skeptic though I am, thanks for sharing a personal and articulate experience and rationale of this.

Burhanistan : That would refer to booty of victory, not regular charity.

I take it you didn't Google up anything about khums, which is not something that is only ever paid out of war booty. I would not claim to be a professional scholar of Islam but what I said about the Quran is accurate.

This is why you don't cherry pick scripture and try to sound clever.

Better simply to try to sound clever, like you, eh? Your inability to recognize the passage of the Quran to which I was referring or recognize that I was talking about khums - you basically declared "the Quran doesn't say anything like that" then dropped a Wikipedia link to the article on Hadiths - doesn't exactly indicate a really deep familiarity with Islam from which to disagree with the statement that Islam "emphasizes reaching out to the poor and the downtrodden." If you're asserting that's untrue you're talking out of your ass. (And of course this passage is a mandate of the Quran about charity, whether it's about financial gains in general as is the khums practice or only about war booty - so the "cherry picking" thing is just a clumsy attempt on your part to be pejorative.)

And if you are not saying the "poor and downtrodden" statement is untrue - if you just piped in because you thought you saw a chance to show me up in knowledge of the Quran - well then you were the one trying to sound clever, weren't you?
posted by XMLicious at 1:25 PM on July 30, 2008


XMLicious, khums is not a part of the overwhelming majority of Muslim's affairs. Charity is extensively enjoined in the Quran. I never said Islam doesn't emphasize reaching out to the poor and downtrodden, only that the original statement that Muslims are required to give a fifth of their earnings in charity was mistaken, and not indicated in the Quran. Khums and Zakat are two very different matters. Have a nice day.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:43 PM on July 30, 2008


So, put me down as another Christian who just wants to punch the walls because of stories like this. Or make whips and overturn tables, maybe.

Smash up the temple, Pater!!

God's pretty cool.

I'll admit your alleged "God" may be many things (omnipotent, omniscient), but "cool" is probably one of the last adjectives I would use. What makes Him or Her "cool," please? (Or is it just a synonym for "great"?)

When and if prices go down, anyone who buys gas benefits, including the poor.

Not in the long run. We'll be better off with gradually increasing gas prices then a hitting a huge wall one day. Their time would be better spent (or equally wasted, ymmv) praying for the increased efficiency of alternative energy technologies.


fwiw, I thought that Islam was basically a socialist/communist religion. A Muslim is supposed to forgo individual benefits if by doing so those benefits will instead go to the community at large, right? See the Islamic Socialism chapter here. (I guess Christianity is socialist/communist at its core as well, what with the tithing, rich men, and camels, etc.) That would go along with "helping the poor and downtrodden," but that argument going on seems totally inane.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:43 PM on July 30, 2008


"We Shall Overcome" became "We'll Have Lower Gas Prices,"

How... how does this even work? I'm going to need some sheet music here.
posted by unixrat at 1:44 PM on July 30, 2008


You guys godless wankers are all just pissed because it's working: Less driving forces gas prices down.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:45 PM on July 30, 2008


(by the way, I define "cool" people by the original definition, i.e. "someone who I would like to smoke marijuana with" or simply "not a cop")
posted by mrgrimm at 1:46 PM on July 30, 2008


You guys godless wankers are all just pissed because it's working: Less driving forces gas prices down.

Yes, the higher prices are working. That's why praying against them is a sin.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:48 PM on July 30, 2008


How... how does this even work? I'm going to need some sheet music here.

I would suspect that "Gas Prices" would get crammed into the space of "come", with "gas" getting the dotted quarter, "pri" the remainder eighth, and "ces" the remaining half note.

I'm almost more insulted by how much they f'd the meter than by their bastardization of the original's message.

But not really.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:03 PM on July 30, 2008


Konolia, while I disagree with you about most things, I always appreciate your point of view.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:18 PM on July 30, 2008


This is a stupid, intentionally assholish attack on a particular person.

konolia, I apologize for the personal attack. You are entitled to your beliefs, even if I think they are incorrect, just as I feel you would extend this same courtesy to me.

One thing I will not do is pretend that I believe your view of Christianity (and that of many Americans) isn't a perversion of the lessons offered in the Bible. I believe that the purpose of prayer is to recognize and appreciate the presence of God.

1 Corinthians 2:11 tells us that "no one can know the thoughts of God except God's Spirit." So when someone claims that something good happened to them because they prayed, they're implying that they know how God works. I say that faith in God is its own reward and that the ways of God are unknowable. When someone boasts that good things happen to them because of their faith, I consider that presumptuous, smug, and antithetical to God's message.

Again, these are my beliefs. I do not think you are a bad person for not sharing them with me.
posted by turaho at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2008


You guys godless wankers are all just pissed because it's working: Less driving forces gas prices down.

It *was* working: Oil prices soared over $4 higher today, halting a dramatic two-week slide, after metafilter atheists made dismissive and mocking comments about the power of prayer.
posted by sfenders at 2:29 PM on July 30, 2008


As for prayer in general-I have had God miraculously enable my car to start when the starter was dead and I wasn't able to start it for over an hour. Long story short, a guy in the parking lot who came over to ask me if I needed help got drafted by me to pray for the car. Turned out he was a pastor. He tried to start the car himself-no go. I then told him-just pray. He did.

I turned the key. Engine roared to life. I drove home.

And it never worked ever again unless my hubby stuck a screwdriver in some part or other under the hood every time.


Oh. my. non-existent god.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:34 PM on July 30, 2008


I did tell the ten cent version of that. The expanded version is really cool (to me, anyway) but you folks got the main points.
posted by konolia at 2:45 PM on July 30, 2008


uh, yeah you might try describing that scenario to a mechanic without the prayer part and see what (s)he tells you. I would explain but you wouldn't listen to me.

I'm about to walk out the door,but my expanded explanation would get into the precise timing and everything else that happened...if you want the expanded version Memail me.
posted by konolia at 2:47 PM on July 30, 2008


konolia: please read this Wikipedia article.
posted by vertigo25 at 3:01 PM on July 30, 2008


And also try cleaning your battery posts. A miraculous fix is guaranteed.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:04 PM on July 30, 2008


They're doing it wrong.
posted by zardoz at 3:12 PM on July 30, 2008


I *love* The Onion Radio News NPR!
posted by Perplexer at 4:33 PM on July 30, 2008


If you want to believe in daily intercessions, you can't go wrong with the classical gods. Capital-G God is like an HMO. You can't expect personal service there.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:41 PM on July 30, 2008



O Lord, won't you buy me enough gasoline
To get me to Toronto, I must make that scene
It's time for a road trip, so don't let me down
O Lord, won't you buy me some sweet gasoline.
posted by sfenders at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2008


O Lord, won't you fill up my Mercedes Benz,
She's running on empty, and so are my friends
Drive me to heaven, don't mind ethanol blends,
So Lord, won't you fill up my Mercedes Benz?
posted by sfenders at 5:15 PM on July 30, 2008


Once again, I must state my embarrassment to be living in Saint Louis, thanks to these people.

Note that I said "living in," and not "from." I can never answer that stupid ass-highschool question, and for that, I offer thanks and prayers, but I avoid doing so around gas pumps for my own safety.
posted by stannate at 5:53 PM on July 30, 2008


"Obviously not." she said matter-of-factly. "He must be punishing them for their sins or something."
That this is not necessarily the case is one of the arguments of the Book of Job. Here's the description from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
After much discourse (iii-xxii) Job finally succeeds in silencing the three friends, although he is not able to convince them of his innocence. In a series of monologues (xxiii-xxxi), interrupted only by a short speech by Baldad (xxv), he once more renews his complaints (xxiii-xxiv), extols the greatness of God (xxvi-xxviii), and closes with a forcible appeal to the Almighty to, examine his case and to recognize his innocence (xxix-xxxi). At this juncture Eliu, a youth who was one of the company of listeners, is filled by God with the spirit of prophecy (xxxii, 18-22; xxxvi, 2-4). In a long discourse he solves the problem of suffering, which Job and his friends had failed to explain. He says that suffering, whether severe or light, is not always a result of sin; it is a means by which God tries and promotes virtue (xxxvi, 1-21), and is thus a proof of God's love for his friends. The sufferings of Job are also such a testing (xxxvi, 16-21). At the same time Eliu emphasizes the fact that the dispensations of God remain inexplicable and mysterious (xxxvi, 22; xxxvii, 24).
posted by Jahaza at 6:00 PM on July 30, 2008


And also try cleaning your battery posts. A miraculous fix is guaranteed.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! 3 ¼ hours ago [+]


It wasn't the battery. The car needed a new starter, which we already knew. We know all about cleaning battery posts...years of being broke and driving beaters taught us a lot about keeping a car moving.

I literally had spent an hour in that mall parking lot trying to start that car (which had been having starter trouble for weeks and weeks.) I literally had a blister on my hand from trying to crank the car. I prayed, and I felt like the Lord wanted me to ask someone to pray besides me. The gentleman who had parked near me and gone into the mall (one of many patrons who walked past during all this) eventually came to the car and asked if he could be of service. I just came straight out and asked him if he were a Christian. He looked at me funny and said yes. Then I asked him to pray. He asked first if he could try to start the car. I said sure, slid out and let him at it. He tried and failed. He asked me to try again. I tried. I failed. (boy my finger hurt by then.) I then said, "Look, I just need you to pray." So he did. Nice prayer along the lines of "Well Lord, this lady believes...yada yada yada." The minute he said amen I turned the key.

Engine roared right up.

The guy muttered something about having a sermon illustration for Sunday and then asked me who my pastor was. I told him. Then he told me he knew him and to tell him that So and So (his name, which I have long since forgotten) said hello.

I got home and looked him up. He was a Presbyterian pastor.

Once I got safely home that car never ever cranked up again till my husband used a screwdriver under the hood in some convoluted maneuver. Not too long after that we wound up getting another car-iirc that particular car was the one he accidentally rear ended a nun with....
posted by konolia at 6:22 PM on July 30, 2008


konolia -- I hope you find this as insightful as I did a dozen or so years ago.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:27 PM on July 30, 2008


"We Shall Overcome" became "We'll Have Lower Gas Prices,"

How... how does this even work? I'm going to need some sheet music here.


I'm here to help.

(or was that rhetorical?)

I feel dirty.
posted by Shepherd at 6:27 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


GOD DOES NOT EXIST TO DO MY EVERY BIDDING AND HE DOES NOT EXIST TO MAKE MY LIFE HAPPY, STRESS FREE AND WONDERFUL ALL THE TIME

Shouting your delusions does not make them true.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:30 PM on July 30, 2008


GOD DOES NOT EXIST TO DO MY EVERY BIDDING AND HE DOES NOT EXIST TO MAKE MY LIFE HAPPY, STRESS FREE AND WONDERFUL ALL THE TIME.

ftfy

sorry
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:48 PM on July 30, 2008


If someone actually told you worms the real nature of God you'd be so confused and upset that you'd probably try to strangle that person with your bare hands.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 PM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


If someone actually told you worms the real nature of God you'd be so confused and upset that you'd probably try to strangle that person with your bare hands.

I laugh until I cry every time I hear God-botherers accuse atheists of arrogance.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:34 PM on July 30, 2008


I assumed Burhanistan was speaking as an atheist. Finding out the truth about "God" would surely upset the religionists. No one likes having their delusions destroyed by truth.

The only disappointing thing about the truth in this instance is that the religionists will never know it: it's not like there's anything left to perceive the truth once they're dead. Upon death pffft!, there's no conscience, no soul, no nothing with which to recognize the fallacy of their faith.

Oh well.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on July 30, 2008


If someone actually told you worms the real nature of God you'd be so confused and upset that you'd probably try to strangle that person with your bare hands.

God is an Amway salesman? Because I'd like to strangle those guys, to be sure.
posted by Avenger at 10:41 PM on July 30, 2008


Upon death pffft!, there's no conscience, no soul, no nothing with which to recognize the fallacy of their faith.

What makes you so sure of this? How do you address the argument from simulation: if we are living in a simulation, then that simulation could easily include an afterlife. Therefore, to reject the possibility of an afterlife, you have to also reject the possibility that we are living in a simulation.

The only way you could rule out simulation would be to claim the existence of some evidence that could not possibly be simulated, but that's a claim that's about as hard to prove as the existence of god.
posted by Pyry at 11:21 PM on July 30, 2008


A simulation, riiiiight. That's what it is.

I'd believe in a religion long before I subscribe to your hypothesis. In the meantime, I'll go with the simple explanation that fits best with this immense, old universe: chances are, life would develop somewhere—and it did.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:48 AM on July 31, 2008


"In their opinion, and in the opinion of other Christians around the world who live in poverty-stricken areas, there is such a thing as a curse of too much prosperity for a Christian."

Oh...don't say that. Please don't say that kind of thing, konolia. It makes my stomach turn upside down when I hear other American Christians saying these kinds of things. The starving, wretched masses of humans in poverty-stricken nations are not lifting their hands in praise to a God who has cursed them with the burden of enriching white American Christians. They are not thanking God for rendering them homeless, eternally thirsty, powerless as their children whither and their land is lost forever and destroyed by American corporations.

I'm sorry if this confuses you, but the Christians I worked with in Iquitos - bless them - did not give thanks to the Almighty as their children waded through open sewers, their tiny fingers stripping yellowed pieces of rotten meat from the bloated corpse of a dead dog - stuffing them into filthy plastic bags to cook that evening in the shanties. They did not fall to their knees and praise God for leaving them without the most basic elements of security and health - these things which God, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to give to even the lowest creatures of the wilderness.

And God does not bless you with wealth. God may, if you are lucky, bless you with a cross. And if you live into Christ, perhaps you will someday walk with the poorest amongst you and serve Christ.

But do not say that it is the opinion of the poor Christians that they have been blessed with their poverty. And please be assured that as God watches Rome strip them of their basic needs and leave them to wade through raw sewage, God is not pleased. Rather, God is the first to weep.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:26 AM on July 31, 2008 [16 favorites]


Baby_Balrog, I was QUOTING. These are people who are so sold out to their Savior that nothing else matters. But the rest of us are indeed called to help relieve them of their suffering, I have no quarrel with that.
posted by konolia at 6:04 AM on July 31, 2008


Doesn't seem to really motivate Him to do a damn thing though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:06 AM on July 31, 2008


High five, Shepherd. You've done good work here today. :)
posted by unixrat at 6:10 AM on July 31, 2008


You are called, konolia, to suffer beside them.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:10 AM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Those Africans "over there" aren't some kind of unified strata. Some Africans are poor but otherwise well off and happy and appreciate their uncomplicated situation while shaking their head at some of the material excesses of the west that they see on TV (usually communal TVs). Many others are extremely poor, have less than nothing, and are far too concerned with obtaining a jug of water to even conceptualize happiness, let alone the spiritual staote of those poor overfed Americans. Let's not presume anything about either of them, especially based on hearsay of some arrogant missionary type.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:18 AM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I put some thought into this question today...first of all, yes, there is a lot of evil and suffering in the world. God is not the author of it.

His way of dealing with the problem of evil in His creation takes longer than we think it should. Since He sees the big picture and we don't, we have to realize He does know what He is doing.

He does indeed expect us to cooperate with Him to alleviate suffering, but also at times He calls us to suffer ourselves.

By the way, a lot of people do the spiritual equivalent of playing in the freeway and then shake their fist at God when they get hit by a car. When all along He was telling them not to play in the road...
posted by konolia at 11:10 AM on July 31, 2008


Oh, but one other thought...a careful reading of the book of Job will also reassure you that not all who suffer suffer because of their sin. The answer God gave Job to the problem of suffering was, in a nutshell, "Job, I am God and you are not." This same God rebuked his three friends who were trying to tell him he was simply reaping the result of his own sin.

If I could snap my fingers right now and all suffering would be ended, I would do it. But God is up to something way bigger than I can possibly understand.

And as to working with the poor, no, I don't have the privilege right now doing what Baby Balrog is doing. My role right now is to minister to broken people who have suffered abuse in their past.

We go where we are sent.
posted by konolia at 11:19 AM on July 31, 2008


Oh, and Baby Balrog, why would you be offended at someone thinking someone else could be cursed by TOO MUCH prosperity? People with too much forget what it is like to not have enough. People with too much forget their Creator a lot of the time. People with too much get distracted from what they should be doing. I didn't say that no one should have ENOUGH. There's a difference.
posted by konolia at 11:21 AM on July 31, 2008


I just found this. You guys still hanging around at the bottom of this thread might find it of interest.
posted by konolia at 11:25 AM on July 31, 2008



His way of dealing with the problem of evil in His creation takes longer than we think it should. Since He sees the big picture and we don't, we have to realize He does know what He is doing.

He does indeed expect us to cooperate with Him to alleviate suffering, but also at times He calls us to suffer ourselves.


If what He is doing ("the big picture") is unknowable by us, then how do we know that whatever we're doing when we "cooperate with Him to alleviate suffering" is actually helping? If it's really unknowable, it seems possible (maybe even likely given the current state of things) that the big picture involves increasing suffering in the short term in order to prevent greater suffering later. In that case would "cooperating with Him" involve increasing current suffering? That's not a plan I want to sign up for.
posted by juv3nal at 11:58 AM on July 31, 2008


I put some thought into this question today...first of all, yes, there is a lot of evil and suffering in the world. God is not the author of it.

Bullhockey. God created all that is, and knew in the instant of creation all that would be and all that would happen. Had God wished it to be otherwise, he would've created creation differently.

Again, the contempt Christians hold for their God, and the power they attribute to themselves, is mindboggling.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:07 PM on July 31, 2008


This is disturbing to watch. The martyr syndrome that Jesus freak churches impart on their ranks makes them extremely difficult to reason with because every criticism is seen as a test of faith and a "blessed are the persecuted" thing, rather than an invitation for self-study.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2008


Bullhockey. God created all that is, and knew in the instant of creation all that would be and all that would happen. Had God wished it to be otherwise, he would've created creation differently.

Well, (except for the bullhockey) you are right. Learned THAT in Systematic Theology class.

But just because He KNEW that people would sin didn't mean He caused it. And honestly, I still can't figure out how Satan could be such a blinking idiot that he would rebel against God...

Yeah, I agree the existence of evil IS a paradox. But the word of God is full of Divine paradoxes.

I know this is hard to swallow but the Bible tells us we have to come to Him as little children. Boy, does this offend the intellect and pride. We think we can figure out everything and meanwhile the result of that is a world that is more and more screwed up every day. I won't say that trust in God is easy, because it isn't. Faith itself is a gift. But faith is the only way we can access Him.

I know that since 1980 when I finally said "enough" to my own plan and "yes" to His, I finally started getting somewhere. And more and more everything has made sense.
posted by konolia at 1:56 PM on July 31, 2008


"Obviously not." she said matter-of-factly. "He must be punishing them for their sins or something."

That wasn't the exact moment when I lost my faith, but it was one of the moments that eventually lead me to that decision. I'll never be able to reconcile myself with a God who seems to dispense blessings based largely on geography, or His followers who believe that their relative wealth and comfort are a result of their clean living, rather than an accident of their birth.


so, you threw away a treasure because mom was ignorant?
posted by quonsar at 2:03 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


quonsar: I'd wager that 75% of the rabid atheists on Metafilter had some kind of similar throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater type of decision.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:05 PM on July 31, 2008


But just because He KNEW that people would sin didn't mean He caused it.

God didn't simply know that human beings would sin, he created them in such a way that they would. Sin is not something that has crept in from without; it is part of how human beings were created. Sin is God's handiwork. Had God desired a world without sin, he could have chosen to create the world otherwise (being, you know, omnipotent and omniscient and all).

And honestly, I still can't figure out how Satan could be such a blinking idiot that he would rebel against God...

Well, unless you subscribe to Manicheanism, and I am pretty certain that you don't, Satan was created by God, who knew in the moment of creation what he had created. Satan is god's creation, doing the work he was created for by God. If God didn't want a Satan, there would be no Satan.

Yeah, I agree the existence of evil IS a paradox. But the word of God is full of Divine paradoxes.

Where do you see a paradox?

I know that since 1980 when I finally said "enough" to my own plan and "yes" to His, I finally started getting somewhere.

Again, the arrogance is staggering.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:03 PM on July 31, 2008


It's arrogant to say I was a total screwup until God got ahold of me? What's arrogant about that?
posted by konolia at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2008


he meant his.
posted by quonsar at 3:37 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's arrogant to say I was a total screwup until God got ahold of me? What's arrogant about that?

It is arrogant beyond belief that you think that you could somehow act in a manner contrary to God's plan.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:21 PM on July 31, 2008


Pope Guilty, I think you are misunderstanding the doctrine of the Divine Decree there...
posted by konolia at 5:33 PM on July 31, 2008


I know that since 1980 when I finally said "enough" to my own plan and "yes" to His, I finally started getting somewhere. And more and more everything has made sense.

Out of curiousity, Konolia, what's this "getting somewhere" that you've gotten to? In what ways has this past twenty years been a rockin' success?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:11 PM on July 31, 2008


Educate me, konolia.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:06 PM on July 31, 2008


I'm not doing drugs, I'm not sleeping around, I'm not paralyzed totally by depression, I have an awesome family, I get along with my peers, I'm not curled up in a ball feeling like the whole world hates me and that no one could ever like me, I'm not cutting myself, I'm not overdosing on prescriptions and being hospitalized...yadda yadda yadda.

I have a purpose to my life. Not that life has been painfree or perfect since 1980, but it is nowhere near the trainwreck it was, even in the rough spots. I have peace.
posted by konolia at 8:30 PM on July 31, 2008


That it very cool, K. I'm glad to hear it's helped you.

Ironically, I am doing light drugs (pot, started very late in life), have never slept around, have been paralyzed by depression. I have an awesome family (though I wouldn't say I really involve them in my life), I get along with my peers, I'm not curled up though once I was, I've never cut myself purposefully, I try to avoid prescription medicine save my anti-depressants.

I now have a purpose to my life and I am in peace.

I'm also wholly atheist.

How very similar our pasts, how very different our solutions.

I wish you could understand why your religious faith will never have any bearing on reality. The very most I could ever grant a notion of spirituality is to agree that it is by its nature not linked to our current reality, and our existence here will never have influence on another existence. There is no carry-through between existences.

I am glad you find yourself improved by your religiousity, though I feel that at the levels of faith in your neck of the woods is unhealthy for society as a whole; in Canada 1 in 4 of us is atheist, and consequently we have less religious influence in our governing laws and a much greater chance of maintaining a long-term successful society.

Anyjoo, thanks for responding.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 PM on July 31, 2008


While I'm happy that you've found happiness, konolia, I was really hoping you'd educate me on this "Divine Decree" that you claim I'm ignorant of.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:58 AM on August 1, 2008


Threads like this one make me scornful of both atheists and religionists, even though I'm almost militantly religious. Alas.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:19 AM on August 1, 2008


An interesting visual just came to my mind while shaving:

The proportion of atheists in Canada is about the same as the proportion of obese folk in the USA: one in four of us is atheist; one in four of you is obese.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 AM on August 1, 2008


And?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 AM on August 1, 2008


And nothing. It just gives a visual image of what's not visible: up here, being an atheist is nothing unusual; we're a significant chunk of society.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:02 PM on August 1, 2008


Being a Christian is like being an electric pickle.

Which apparently is like being stabbed with forks and then electrocuted until your juices leak out...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on August 3, 2008


I guess they didn't consider the possibility that maybe God wants them to consider alternative energy and transportation sources.
posted by deusdiabolus at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2008


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