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September 27, 2002

Talking to Trey Fred First

Talking to Trey

Fred First has posted part of Mark Twain's war prayer over at Fragments.
It reminded me that surprisingly, I've had to develop a prayer philosophy. It wasn't my choice; I was forced into it by the wife. Proper southern girl that she is, she decided that there are certain forms that must be followed, whether or not you agree with or even believe in them.

"I am not going to raise a child that doesn't say grace at the dinner table," she decreed.

So we say grace at the dinner table, usually more than once. Ngnat has learned "God is great" from her Baptist daycare, which she mumbles while she sneaks glances around the table, hands pressed together under her chin. I'd link to a copy of it, but all the sites I can find it on are distasteful to me.* After all, I'm a Darwin fish man.

Therein lies my conundrum. Grace before meals is nice, but it holds about as much religious significance for me as the 7th inning stretch. I figure that there is or there isn't a God, and if there is then he doesn't sweat the small stuff. If he does sweat the small stuff.......well, if there there is a God and he concerns himself with the things that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson say he concerns himself with, then the hell with him. I'll spit in his face and give him the finger come Judgement Day. Better to burn in hell than serve in heaven, to misquote Milton, if he turns out to be the petty little god they worship. That goes for your god too, Timothy LaHaye.

Hmm, got a little sidetracked there. We do more than "God is Great." There's also the extemporary, everyone hold hands in a big circle that Dad the minister does so well. He's had years of practice, at a rate of what appears to have been 4 or 5 meals a day, so it has a pitch and timbre that I cannot hope to approach, even if all the words have been mostly the same all my life. Ngnat likes to do at least a couple of those as well, if not at the beginning of dinner then scattered throughout it.

"Amen?" She says brightly, holding out her hands to her mother and I. "Amen?"

This despite the fact that she always refuses Amen when offered the possibility of it at the beginning of the meal. She determines the prayer time. I just have to pray it.

So, when this practice first started, I had to decide what to say. I'm a PK, I know the forms; Thanks for the food, God, thanks for the company and the privilege of another day with them, yadda yadda yadda. Guide and protect us in our path through life blah blah blah, bless the food and the people and in thy name, amen. I suppose I should write down one particular pray that covers all the bases and repeat it. Enough repetition, and it can provide a memory anchor for Ngnat when she is grown.

Aside: All three of us, Kehaar, Woundwort and I, are PK's. Odd, when I come to think about it. Perhaps that's why we mention religion so little and boobies so often.

Since I am a PK, I've heard millions of frigging prayers. One thing that struck me when I had to start doing this myself was how narrow the request for blessings normally is. It's always something like "Bless us, and Bob, and Norma Jean who's in hospital with the cancer." Sometimes the President gets mentioned, and in church it normally expands to include the members of the congregation.

I mean, if it turns out that you actually do have the ear of God, is he going to be impressed with you restricting your desire for his blessings to only the people you know? Kinda selfish, don't you think? So when I end up the family dinner chat with old Trey**, I make sure to cover as wide a range as possible.

"Please bless and protect...everybody. Amen."

What else am I going to do? It's not like I know everyone by name, even if I did have the time. It's quick, it's got a lot of coverage and if you're going to bother praying, you might as well pray for everyone.

*So I'll utilize the asterisks and type it here. I don't know how ubiquitous it is, though I certainly don't recall ever meeting a person who didn't know it. The Internet is a big place, so presumably there are those out there to whom this will be somewhat foreign in flavor. Also, it would be nice to have a site that lists it without all the heavy-handed preaching about Jeebus and his 12 popsicles.

God is great.
God is good.
Let us thank him for our food.
By his hands we all are fed.
Give us Lord our daily bread.

**What else are you going to call the Triune God in informal conversation? You can't call him Jesus, he'll be distracted all night long every time someone curses.

Elohim sounds too much like a command to greet somebody. "Hey, you see the fat guy over at the bar? Wander over there and hello him for me."

YHVH has no vowels, sounds like a dog clearing its throat. It's completely unutterable. Probably a formal usage anyway.

El Shaddai. Also too prone to confusion. "What's his name? El Shaddai know?"

Posted by Bigwig at September 27, 2002 12:49 AM | TrackBack
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