No, they're not. Not mine at least.
That's what goes through my mind whenever I hear someone say, "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." Which has happened a lot after the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon.
I can understand why people say this. But it grates on me.
For one thing, that "our" seems to imply that anyone within reach of the speaker's voice, such as those listening to President Obama on radio or TV, share those sentiments. And if you don't...
Well, you must not care about the dead and injured. Not true. Actually, I do.
Yet I haven't prayed at all for the victims, because I don't pray in the way "Our thoughts and prayers are with you" implies. I don't ask God for favors, blessings, help, or whatever, because I don't believe God exists.
Now, if "prayers" mean something else than an entreaty to God, I guess that's another thing. Yet then we're in the realm of thoughts.
Of course, a prayer is a special kind of thought.
So saying "Our thoughts are with you" strikes my atheist/agnostic self as more appealing. That would include prayers by the prayerful, and other thoughts by non-praying people like me.
Yet if a public figure like Obama started using that language, there would be a massive outcry from the hyper-religious citizenry in these overly God-fearing United States. Not nearly so much if this happened in Europe, from what I understand.
I've also got a problem with the "are with you" language. What does that mean? It implies some sort of magical telepathy between one human mind and another. I'm in Oregon. The victims of the Boston bombing are in Massachusetts.
My thoughts aren't with them. They're with me. So it would be more accurate to say, "Our thoughts are about you." Which probably is what people mean when they say "with you." If so, let's say what we mean.
i realize that many people feel comforted by the idea that someone is thinking about them, or praying for them. Me, not so much. If at all.
Really, I only care if someone I know well is thinking about me.
Why? Because there's an excellent chance I'll see them in person one day soon. Then their thoughts about me likely will translate into actions directed toward me. Hopefully, kind words, behavior, whatever.
After the bombing I came across a Twitter Tweet by someone I follow, "scriptdave" here in Salem. He's a screenwriter with a great sense of humor. Also, some wise observations. He tweeted:
I respect the need people have to pray. But that prayer is meaningless unless you get off your knees and do something.
To which I Twitter-replied, "Amen." Later someone else commented on scriptdave's tweet. He told them:
I hear you. People need to reflect, meditate, process tragedy. But prayer being the end all is ludicrous. Do something real.
A double Amen to that.
I don't pray in words; so no, I'm not praying for anyone. My thoughts are about the idiot marathoners who are saying they now want to run Boston either in memory, for peace or for defiance of bombers.
But really, the "thoughts and prayers" phrase is just a platitude which is meaningless and said just to say something and look good.
Posted by: Laura | April 18, 2013 at 07:31 AM
Don't you think you are being a little bit churchless bias picky here?
What does it mean if someone said "I am with you on this"? It is an expression of support. Similar with, "my prayers and thoughts are with you". It is an expression of support. Why rant against such things?
Posted by: Shawn | April 18, 2013 at 08:48 AM
I am with Shawn as far as the use of language in terms of critique of the choice of words is concerned , but I am also with Brian if the real message is about actions speaking louder than words - and if the critique of the choice of words is just to make the argument stronger and/or make the post look more interesting!
Posted by: Avi | April 18, 2013 at 11:39 AM
why do you call your site "church"? this
site has absolutely nothing to do with
church. It's an atheist left wing blog, that's all.
Posted by: Cyfer | April 18, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Yes, Blogger Brian is an atheist/agnostic left winger. That's how God manifests as his appearance. Relatively, this can be irritating to manifestations of a different persuasion such as myself. That is, my relative personalized self. But, Absolutely, none of it makes any difference. So, try not to take it too hard. It is via polarity/duality I-God know Myself by playing the game of hide and seek with Myself.
Blogger Brian says, " I don't believe God exists."
This may be because he is looking for God where God is not as God...meaning objectively.
God is the inclusive dimension which is perceived intuitively and directly from an angle free of split-mind dichotomy that creates pairs of opposites rather than ubiquitous wholeness.
Where is this ubiquitous wholeness? Everywhere. There is no 'where' where it is not because the center of Infinity is ubiquitous, simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. The Universe has as many centers as there are apparent entities to perceive It.
What makes all the phenomena and shapes that are apparent? God does. What else is there to be or do anything? Shapes and phenomena are whatever God is.
You might ask, "Where am I in relation to all this?"
I might say, "Who is asking anyhow?"
Well, I AM!
I AM, whoever says it.
Why is that? Because the Asker is the Answer.
I AM the Answer. I who AM no 'thing' and Everything!
Posted by: tucson | April 19, 2013 at 09:49 PM
I can understand your point, but wow, I have to say this... you are quite so full of pessimism. I'm sure you know there are so many different perspectives in all ways, but if people have a right to say that they want to use their prayers and thoughts, then so be it. It's called freedom of speech. You have a right to vent out your feelings, awesome for you! Look at the whole picture - Do not practice what you preach.
Posted by: Jen | June 11, 2013 at 05:10 AM
It's Really quite simple; praying with the EXPECTATION your prayers will be answered; in fact, they are ALWAYS answered.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Posted by: William Keyes | March 26, 2014 at 06:20 PM
my thoughts and prayer are with the blogger
Posted by: zee | July 22, 2014 at 07:26 AM
Zee, mine are too. But of course, I don't have any choice in the matter.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 22, 2014 at 08:15 AM
Thanks for such a rational and logical posting. Good to know there's an increasing number of likeminded thinkers out there.
Posted by: Anthony Nalli | October 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM
Apparently theists seem to have to come and detract from something that is completely irrelevant to them ? Is the blogger too pessimistic or not religious enough for anyone here ? WTF ? It is an Atheist site. He speaks with truth and and honesty. It's about being responsible for words spoken or posted online. This is an overwhelming occurrence on social media. People use "prayers" to make them selves look and feel better. They do not blink twice at the thought of another's suffering. Yes, do something. Step out form behind the keyboards, christian brawlers. Help people and stop the faith without works meme.
Posted by: John | June 19, 2017 at 06:30 PM