Let Us Pray

Cruising by the TV this morning during a post-inaugural C-Span call-in program, I heard an "independent" from Minnesota ask, "Why did there have to be so many prayers?"

As I watched the proceedings this morning, I thought about the same phenomenon. Actually what I was thinking was, "My atheist friends must be getting vertigo from all the eye-rolling they're doing this morning."

I should say, my fellow atheist friends. Because I, too, do not believe in the existence of an extra-terrestrial god. Nevertheless, I cannot think of any way that we can get by without one. Perhaps someday we can bring it all back down to earth. But today, to borrow from my favorite fictional king, is not that day.

Every football team thinks god is on their side. It doesn't make any sense, but that doesn't make it any less so. As I listened to the invocations and evocations and the blessings, I heard hopes, dreams, recognition of limits, understanding of weaknesses, affirmation of strengths. You could take the word "god" out of those prayers, and those hopes, dreams, recognitions, understandings, and affirmations might still be there but, I was asking myself, would they have the same power? I don't think so. So I ask myself why.

Maybe it's because "god," whatever that is, belongs to everybody. Whenever god is invoked, that god is actually your god. It is Allah or Jehovah or the Buddha or Athena or the wonder of science. To me, it is a construct that I understand people have made and used to express needs, desires, sorrows, and longing for generations upon generations in every hut and hovel, high-rise and cul-de-sac. Prayers are the almighty wishes of human beings the world over.

And that being said, I wish all the best for President Obama and Vice President Biden on this inauguration day and for them and all of us in these next four years.