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Christmas Question …

godI have a serious Christmas question, and I mean no offense to Christian readers.

OK, here I go: Every year, at thousands of Christmas masses around the world, prayers are offered for world peace. I mean, literally, these prayers have been repeated over and over and over and over again. They’re stated inside churches, with millions in attendance and, oh, millions more watching on TV. They span the centuries, the decades, the years. They’re uttered by popes and cardinals and priests and nuns and clergy of all sorts.

And it never happens.

By never, I mean—literally—never. World peace has never existed. At least not in the modern history of man. I keep waiting for God to come along and zap the world with peace dust … but, no. Nations fight nations, powerful kill off weak, rich batter poor. We fight and fight and fight and fight—and peace just … doesn’t … happen.

So—and I’m being serious here—why do we keep believing? And asking?

I swear, I’m not trying to belittle. I’m just lost.

22 replies on “Christmas Question …”

So because something has not happened yet, you stop wishing, hoping, and praying for it? What type of outlook and attitude is that? Defeatist and pessimistic, I would suggest.

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Think of it this way:

Yes, everyone knows the Christmas hymn, “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

Maybe more people should take to heart the important second half of that verse.

“Let there be peace on earth // and let it begin with me.”

I guess people keep forgetting the “Let it begin with me” part.

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Actually, yes. It’s a waste of time and energy which could be better spent doing something actually useful and effective. Prayer: the original slacktivism.

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Ben, I call bullshit—and I fucking HATE when people use “trolling” as some thin insult. I wonder these sorts of things all the time. Prayer, as an example: What keeps people praying, when it simply doesn’t seem to work? It’s a toughie, and a real question. You’re smart enough to see this.

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It’s much like being a Chicago Cubs fan, you always root for your team to win the championship every year but (1) you know it’s not really gonna happen and (2) nobody is alive since it last happened.

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A co-worker was recently struck by a drunk driver. Was T-boned on the driver’s side. Knocked out cold for four hours. Placed in critical condition. Everything worked out fine, amazingly. He was out of the hospital in a few days and back to work in about a week.

When he was out of the woods, I heard people talk about his miraculous survival and recovery and say “The angels were watching out for him…”

It was all I could do to keep from yelling “Where the #$%# were they when he was going through the intersection — taking a piss?”

It’s the eternal question asked by intelligent people.

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Let’s take this back to the biblical angelic announcement, often translated, “Peace on earth and goodwill to men.” Here’s the best explanation I’ve heard, from author and minister Rubel Shelly’s book “What Child Is This?”:
“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the world was at peace. The far-flung Roman lesions enforced the famous Pax Romana that had been declared in 29 B.C. with the closing of the temple of the Roman god of war. This peace lasted until the empire began to crumble from internal decay and external conflict nearly four centuries later.
“It is difficult to think that the primary purpose of the coming of Jesus could be conceived in terms of peace on the political scene. For one thing, during his adult ministry, Jesus predicted that ‘wars and rumors of war’ would continue to haunt humanity. For another, the worst wars that have ever been fought have taken place after his coming.
“Properly translated from the original text, the angelic statement to the shepherds was this: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.’ Practically all translations other than the King James Version, whether Catholic or Protestant, following this reading.
“The difference between the two readings is the difference between the unrealized promise of social peace to all persons on the one hand, and the more practical prospect of personal peace to those who receive divine favor on the other. It is the difference between public policy and personal commitment, between sociological comment and evangelistic prospect.
“Although the Pax Romana assured political stability and freedom from war at the beginning of the Christian era, other wars raged in the human spirit. Epictetus, a Roman philosopher of the late first and early second century, observed, ‘While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.’
“It was this inner peace of the human soul that the birth of Jesus made possible. Even in times of war and turmoil, believers in him have testified to inner peace attained through spiritual resources.”
So if the peace that Jesus’ arrival heralded was personal and spiritual not public and political, why do we keep seeking and asking for the other? I’d say it’s a refusal to accept human strife of any sort as the status quo, even if we know it’s not going away while humans live on this earth. Perhaps it’s even some sort of shared subconscious memory, a yearning to return to the world as it was originally conceived, before we broke it beyond all human repair.

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Absolute peace on earrh wont be established until Christ returns. He came the first time to offer peace with God. He used his authority to offer us forgiveness. Next time he is coming as judge and king. He will establish peace on earth forever. Until then, ultimate peace isnt going to happen. However, it is still up to Christians to find ways to bring peace to the world…to bring Gods kingdom to earth.

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So Ben, you’re saying every Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, Unitarian, Hindu, etc, is wrong? That we’re all born sinners? That Xristians bring peace to the world? Please.

I find you judgmental, your beliefs anti-intellectual and fear-based, and the EXACT reason this world knows no peace.

How many countless wars have been started religion?

I find a beauty and truth in saying “I don’t know” rather than making something up.

It’s almost like a Twilight Zone episode, all these crosses hanging from necks and rear view mirrors; a belief, a FAITH of something you can’t prove, yet holds science and progress back. Get enough people believing something and it becomes valid.

Who’s the better individual: the non-believer who does good just because it’s the right thing to do and doesn’t need a reason, or the person trying to get into “heaven?”

Sanctimonious much?

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Who knows maybe it would be worse without the prayers.
Since the bulk of mankind is faithless peace will not happen.
A careful study of the bible shows that peace only came when everyone turned to God.
When the people turned away from God then calamity followed.

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Although I’m not religious in any traditional sense, I nevertheless think prayer is a great idea. You should always try to manifest whatever positivism you want in the world first through concentrated thought and meditation, then action. There have been studies that show that prayer has made a difference in healing sick folks, though maybe statistically small in some cases, even for non-believers. Perhaps we can harness the power of the mind for change through purely physical ways we don’t yet understand. It certainly can’t hurt. Besides, statistically-speaking, we are living in the most peaceful period in human history, proportionally. Maybe prayers for peace are working but we can’t see it because we know too much about every single bad thing that happens in the world because of technological connectivity. Anyway, for every prayer for peace, that person experiences less selfishness, if only for a moment. I can’t see how that’s anything other than good.

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A wordsmith such as you should know better than to leave an opening such as “it never happens”. Anytime you use “always” or “never”, you aren’t going to win. So we will stipulate that “it never happens” could easily be disproven, and let that go.

To the gist of your argument, that despite centuries of prayer we still see centuries of strife – I am reminded of Andy Rooney and his “lucky” Giants jacket that he wore for every game. Some years the Giants would go 4-12 – and he’d hate to see what would have happened without that “lucky” jacket. Yes, there is violence and war, but how is it you know the prayers are completely unanswered? Not to mention – where is it written that all prayers must be answered in our time frame. Centuries? That is nothing when look at it in the context of eternity.

Pick a random number – say….721,467 years from now. If we have had a good half million years of world peace at that juncture, would these centuries of “unanswered prayers” seem like much?

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The efficacy of prayer question. Many of us struggle with that. As a Christian my take on prayer is this : I try not to pray for specific results. Instead I pray for the strength to deal with any problems and the guidance to do the right thing. That is in my life. For others I pray for the same.

It might surprise you Jeff but I know a lot of Christians that do the same.

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Blame the so-called Christian nation (I don’t believe it to be) of the United States of America. What country is a bigger warmonger?

You’ve probably heard the term “salt of the earth”, right? A lot of scholars believe what is meant by that is when believers leave this realm there will be total chaos and no morality whatsoever. We shall see if this is true so to answer your question, maybe prayer does indeed work and if people were not praying there would be wars on every continent…

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The efficacy of prayer ? Good question. My take as a part time Christian : I try not to pray for specific results. Instead I pray for the strength to face whatever problems I might have and for guidance to do the right thing.
I pray the same things for those in power and those close to me.
Does this make sense ? I don’t know. But the alternative seems unacceptable. (Goodness comes from somewhere.)

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The thing is we pray because we know that we can’t do it on own own – That the task is too big and we need help from above.

Prayer is not something you do to earn “heaven”. We already have ‘heaven’ that’s why we pray. Its for others, not for oneself.

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Jeff- You do realize that prayer is not like going up to a Starbucks counter and asking for a decaf chai soy latte with skim milk, right? The only people that think that are those fundamentalists that believe prayer heals all and those that mock it.

Even the writers of Evan Almighty understood that-

Make fun of the source material all you want, but that is some theologically heavy and sound stuff there.

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