JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

A problem I have with religion

So the family and I just returned from a four-day trip to Buffalo. Despite the fact that I have an opposite impression in a poorly worded column, I actually dig Buffalo. Great friends live there, tone of excellent restaurants, a stone’s throw from majestic Niagara Falls.

What’s not to love?

Anyhow, yesterday morning, after a brief Easter egg hunt, we visited a majestic church, Our Lady of Victory Basilica. Although this might surprise some, I love churches. Love them. The history. The archetecture. The depicions of Jesus. I’m not being sarcastic—I find them amazing and breathtaking and wonderful (in many respects). In my travels to Rome and Barcelona, I tried to take in as many churches as possible. Just to sit in the pews and gaze upward … fantastic. If nothing else, it makes me understand one of the reasons why people follow. Churches call you.

Alas, I digress. While strolling around the church I picked up a small rectangular card featuring the image of someone named Nelson Baker, aka “Venerable Nelson Baker.” On the back side, it says this:

O God, Our Father, we praise and thank you for the gift of Father Nelson Baker, priest and disciple, who lived your will in faith and trust, and lived your love in service to the poor, the sick, the homeless and the young.

I pray in confidence that through his intercession, you will grant me the favor which I request. You who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

Kindly communicate any favor obtained to:

OUR LADY OF VICTORY

HOMES OF CHARITY

780 RIDGE ROAD

LACKAWANNA, NY 14218

(716) 828-9640

OK, here’s the thing. I looked up Our Lady of Victory, and it’s clearly a worthwhile charitable foundation. But, unless I’m mistaken, these rectangular cards are asking people to pray for, eh, money, and then pass the money toward Our Lady of Victory. They’re not asking you to pray for health or happiness or peace or love. Literally, pray for money—then pass it to a church agency.

Does this not strike anyone else as a tad odd?

Personally speaking, I’m not a prayer guy. Have I ever prayed? Yes—but not out of faith. I prayed once or twice because I thought, “Well, what do I have to lose?” Which seems completely against the dogma that inspires/enforces prayer to begin with. One is supposed to pray out of faith, not pray in search if lightning in a bottle.

Furthermore, I find prayer to be, well, silly. I can ask God for $100 to help a charity, and he’ll deliver. Meanwhile, 6 million Jews died at the hands of Nazi Germany. I can pray to have a great job interview. Meanwhile, nobody in Japan is quite sure about the air they’re breathing. It’s weird. Odd. Something that’s been accepted because we encourage it over and over and over again—yet something that makes no sense. Which, I suppose, is where faith comes in. But I don’t have much faith, So, hey.