An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
A response to Kathy LaPan's essay: "Why I am
Praying for You, Even if you Don't Want Me To"
If Praying helps you feel better, then do it.
This essay is a response to Kathy LaPan’s essay, "Why I am Praying for You, Even if you Don’t Want Me To."
If praying helps you feel better, then do it. I will keep writing and hoping that my message gets through to you.
People don’t have to be Christians, or believe in Jesus, to be "good" people.
I have said it before and I will keep saying it: It isn’t what religion you follow or whether you follow any, all that matters are our day to day actions, how we treat our fellow man, especially those that are different from us, and how we treat our planet and other living things. 1
Steven Weinberg, American physicist and Nobel laureate once said:
"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil -- that takes religion."
Blaise Pascal said:
"People never commit evil quite so fully and joyfully as when they do it from religious conviction."
Christianity as with all other religions can help people become better people it can also help people become worse people: more self-righteous, judgmental, hypocritical, intransigent.
Religions can be used to reinforce prejudice and ethnic hatreds, fear of the unknown, and fear of the "other" -- the person who is different. They can encourage ignorance, and the spread of outright lies and misinformation. Religion can be a powerful tool for good or for evil in the hands of those that don’t have your best interests at heart.
All the world’s religions can help people find what they seek or they can lead them astray.
All the world’s religions have been used to justify and sanctify evil actions as well as inspiring some people to great actions.
Einstein said this about religion:
"The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, which is continued in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient are primarily moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a great step in a nation’s life."
"Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. Only individuals of exceptional endowments and exceptionally high-minded communities, as a general rule, get in any real sense beyond this level."
This passage is from "The World as I see It". 2 You might get this book if you are curious about what else he has to say on this topic.
What might he mean by "beyond this level"? I think he is talking about a higher level of spirituality that moves above and beyond the doctrine and dogma of organized religion, beyond the concept that my religion is better than your religion, that my people are better than your people, beyond the concept of an anthropomorphic God created in man’s image, to a connection of oneness with the Universe.
I know that when I said "higher level of spirituality" I angered many people. Einstein as well as philosophers and theologians, gurus and religious teachers across time and from many different faith traditions have long accepted that people are at different stages of their life or spiritual journey AND they recognize that some progress at a faster pace than others AND that some will never be able to move beyond the point they are at now.
I think the best religions have taken this into account and simplify or modify their teachings for people at various stages of their journey. For example there are simple yoga practices for beginners and the poses get more difficult and complex as the student develops his skills. Some of the most difficult theological concepts were traditionally reserved for those in monasteries or religious institutions where the seeker could spend the time needed to fully contemplate and come to grips with concepts that were too confusing for the uninitiated.
So people can pray for me if it helps them feel better, maybe in the process they will gain the insight they need to be able to move above and beyond what I see as their narrow vision of what is and is not important. For me I have no intention of back sliding to what would be for me a more primitive understanding of spirituality, religiosity, and our universe. I prefer to keep advancing, onward and upward.
Some might wonder why I am not bothered by someone praying for me. There are two reasons.
- For prayer to have any meaning or impact it must be believed in by both parties, the one praying and the one being prayed for.
- In my mind her action of praying for something so trivial and unimportant cheapens, demeans and belittles the whole idea of prayer.
Why do you need to pray for people that are happy, well adjusted, good people to join your church? Praying for people to believe what she believes shows to me that she has serious doubts about her own beliefs and can’t accept that others have found their way through other religious practices or through secular ideas.
It is similar to Mormons baptizing the dead. That action turns what should be a meaningful sacrament for the one choosing baptism into a meaningless and disrespectful gesture. It is like giving someone "the finger"!
Instead of spending her time doing something worthwhile she chooses to waste it on meaningless gestures. Prayer and Baptism as with other sacraments are symbolic actions designed to bring the person performing the action closer to their God. The meaning is only what the person performing the action puts into it. What comes from the gesture (sense of peace, of oneness with God) means something only to them. Unfortunately some people will only make symbolic gestures and never do things that really matter, such as treating all people with respect.
- [Inserted by the webmaster who couldn't resist interjecting his thoughts] Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) may have agreed with Ms. Humphreys. In the "sheep and goats" section of Matthew 25, he described the Final Judgment where billions of people of all nations -- and thus presumably of all religions, and none --are directed either to Heaven or Hell. In the passage. he describes his sole criteria for judging. It is whether the person has engaged in good works: helping the poor, sick, naked, hungry, imprisoned and other hurting people. On the other hand, Paul and the author(s) of the Gospel of John may have agreed with Ms. La Pan because both of them promoted salvation based on beliefs, not good works.
- Albert Einstein, "The World As I See It," Open Road / Philosophical Library, (2011), Page 25 & 26. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store It is available in Kindle format, hardcover, three types of paperback and audio cassette.
Originally posted: 2013-JAN-13
Latest update: 2013-JAN-13
Author: Susan Humphreys