Thursday, October 30, 2008

Really, you can't make this up ...

Seems that the good folks at the 700 Club have called for prayers for the economy, so the "faithful" gathered at the bull on Wall Street to pray. Did these people never read the Exodus story? Does the word "idolatry" ring a bell? The prosperity gospel has run amok. "Lord Jesus, protect us from your followers."


RedeemedbyGrace said...

"Did these people never read the Exodus story? Does the word "idolatry" ring a bell?"

It's likely "these people" did indeed read the Exodus story, and that they know what idolatry is.

Are you suggesting that they prayed to the bull on Wall Street? The story you link to makes it clear that they gathered on Wall Street to pray -- to God.

Are you suggesting that they were wrong in praying to God?

Would you have preferred that "these people" not pray to God in times of economic turmoil?

Is someone who prays to God in the hopes that his neighbor does not lose his house a follower of the "prosperity gospel"?

Didn't Jesus have something to say about removing the speck in your own eye before attempting to remove the speck in someone else's eye?

Christian Wright said...

I'm just saying that they appear a little irony-deficient to me.
I showed the picture, without comment, to my kids and my 14-year-old just said, "golden calf story?"
Whatever their intentions, and to whomever their prayers were addressed, the folks in the picture can not be too surprised that the act of gathering in prayer around the figure of a cow is likely to raise precisely the kinds of questions this picture has.
And, no, I don't think they were praying to the bull any more than I think the children of Israel were praying to the cow; they were praying to the god it represented during a time of turmoil when they felt alone and abandoned, afraid of what the future might hold.
The problem was, they wanted control of the situation rather than putting trust in the sovereign lord of history even and especially when a particular moment in that history feels out of control. The were putting their faith in the creature rather than the creator.
I certainly don't know the content of the Wall Street prayers, but I'd have felt better about prayers at the local unemployment line, or at the retirement home where folks have lost their savings due to the greed and corruption on Wall Street.
I'll freely concede that I read this story with a hermeneutic of suspicion. But, honestly, what could they have been thinking? Gathering around a cow to pray? As my own kids' response underscored for me, a huge number of people who have heard the Moses story were bound to think of it upon seeing that picture.

RedeemedbyGrace said...

Since you say that you don't really know the content of the Wall Street prayers, isn't it just possible that the people you are so willing to condemn and make fun of might have been praying for the hearts of those on Wall Street? It seems to me that your real concern was to hold these people -- these fellow believers in Christ -- up to ridicule ("Really, you can't make this up...") because you somehow felt that they don't conform to your own notion of what a "true" Christian is.

Isn't it just possible that these people who you think are praying to a false god might have been praying that God would melt hearts of greed? Or would that have been them trying to control the situation, instead of trusting in the Sovereign Lord to handle things His way? Why, some would suggest that those evil, greedy and corrupt people on Wall Street should be made to suffer! Pray to God for them? Why, perish the thought!

So much easier, isn't it, to pray to God at an unemployment line or in a nursing home, and to pray for the people who are out of work or who have lost money. Now those are people who God really cares about!

But let's just be really smug when it comes to people we are sure are (1) not "real" Christians (they belong to the 700 Club, for Heaven's sake!), and (2) pray in places we judge to be inappropriate places. And let's play God and roundly condemn the greedy -- without any concern at all for the redemption of their souls.

What would you do, Pastor, if a person who had been involved in greed and corruption on Wall Street wanted to worship at your church? Would you say that you would really feel more comfortable praying for people who lost money than you would praying for the hearts of the people who were greedy?