Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We British pray better than Americans

Some interesting thoughts on American public prayer and Britain's lack of the same. From the Telegraph in London-

Amid all the human dramas of yesterday’s US presidential inauguration – the fluffed swearing in, Senator Kennedy’s collapse – there is one further human question to ask: Why are Americans better at praying publicly than we are?

Actually, it may not be a question of them doing it better. It’s the fact that they do it at all. And with such gusto and lack of self-consciousness, when at a British public event about all we can muster is a bishop firing off a grace before a state banquet.

At Obama’s big day, Pastor Rick Warren gave a barnstorming invocation, calling down justice and forgiveness, reciting the name of Jesus in several languages and declaring his certainty that Dr Martin Luther King “and a great cloud of witnesses” were “shouting in heaven”.

Civil-rights campaigner Rev. Joseph Lowery gave the blessing at the end, giving thanks for “this extraordinary event” and then made it more extraordinary by asking God for the day “when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.”

Throughout all this heads were bowed, eyes were closed and hands were clasped, though I did see one woman move her daughter’s stars-and-stripes flag from her face when the television cameras were on her, which probably tells us something about the vanity of American public prayer.

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