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BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?

SharonA 08 May 02 - 06:22 PM
SharonA 08 May 02 - 06:08 PM
Deda 08 May 02 - 04:55 PM
Uncle_DaveO 08 May 02 - 04:30 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 08 May 02 - 04:22 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 May 02 - 04:03 PM
sophocleese 08 May 02 - 03:59 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 May 02 - 01:20 PM
Wolfgang 08 May 02 - 12:27 PM
Wolfgang 08 May 02 - 11:42 AM
SharonA 08 May 02 - 11:10 AM
Terry K 08 May 02 - 10:06 AM
kendall 08 May 02 - 07:39 AM
Terry K 08 May 02 - 03:39 AM
Amos 07 May 02 - 11:25 PM
Kaleea 07 May 02 - 10:37 PM
SharonA 07 May 02 - 05:36 PM
Little Hawk 07 May 02 - 04:39 PM
kendall 07 May 02 - 02:23 PM
Little Hawk 07 May 02 - 02:02 PM
Mrrzy 07 May 02 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,ernie 07 May 02 - 01:02 PM
Little Hawk 07 May 02 - 11:51 AM
RichM 07 May 02 - 11:35 AM
JulieF 07 May 02 - 08:32 AM
Wolfgang 07 May 02 - 08:22 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 May 02 - 07:55 AM
RichM 07 May 02 - 07:11 AM
JulieF 07 May 02 - 06:21 AM
Wolfgang 07 May 02 - 05:50 AM
fat B****rd 07 May 02 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,wvpreacher 06 May 02 - 11:19 PM
GUEST,katydid 05 May 02 - 06:23 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 May 02 - 06:18 PM
SharonA 06 May 02 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,kendall 06 May 02 - 03:07 PM
Bill D 06 May 02 - 02:22 PM
Little Hawk 06 May 02 - 01:48 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 May 02 - 01:24 PM
Little Hawk 06 May 02 - 12:59 PM
SharonA 06 May 02 - 11:51 AM
wysiwyg 06 May 02 - 11:40 AM
Amos 06 May 02 - 09:45 AM
sophocleese 06 May 02 - 08:25 AM
sophocleese 06 May 02 - 08:23 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 May 02 - 08:15 AM
catspaw49 06 May 02 - 08:07 AM
kendall 06 May 02 - 07:50 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 May 02 - 06:32 AM
hesperis 06 May 02 - 03:03 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: SharonA
Date: 08 May 02 - 06:22 PM

This thread has over 100 posts, so it's time for the sequel: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?Part2 (thread ID 47416) CLICK HERE

Please do not post any further comments to this thread (as it is difficult or impossible for some computers to open long threads at all), but post to the "Part2" thread instead. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: SharonA
Date: 08 May 02 - 06:08 PM

Thanks, Deda. I'm not sure that I should have shared that experience in such detail (even so, I only skimmed the surface!), but the question that opened this thread was compelling. Others have expressed various levels of discomfort at hearing people tell them they're being prayed for, and I wanted to point out that in some cases that discomfort can reach the level of gut-wrenching fear. It's hard when the "bullies" are people you love, people you're supposed to honor and respect.

I'm sorry if anyone on this thread feels that I was belittling them personally. I have a looooooot of anger about this subject, and sometimes I suppress that anger better than at other times! Still, as WVPreacher said, communication is preferable to the "violence of silence", so please understand that I'm trying to make the healthier choice of communicating. If I cross the line into unhealthy communication, let me know, but please try not to smack me back into silence! Thanks.

Sharon


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Deda
Date: 08 May 02 - 04:55 PM

Little Hawk -- I think I've come to a very similar religious understanding of things to yours and I enjoyed reading your explanation.

Sharon A -- I was really sorry to read about the religious abuse that you went through at the hands of your parents. It sounded nasty, and I'm sorry that the stress and pressure has cast such a long shadow in your life. I think any kind of proselytizing or pressuring others to accept one's own version of the "truth" is a sure sign of a bad belief system, one that is trying to cover up its own internal failings and weaknesses. It's a form of bullying, and bullies are always weak, flawed, unhappy, usually scared people, imo.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 May 02 - 04:30 PM

Amos and Wolfgang discussed the "effectiveness" of prayer.

This comes down (as almost all religious-related discussion does) to definitions.

"Effectiveness" in doing what? If one claims that praying for rain is demonstrated to be effective, I'll have to respectfully disagree. If someone says that praying for patience and the ability to tolerate fools is effective, it may well be true for that speaker.

Now we have to draw the distinction between prayer-as-petition ("God, please have somebody give me a Porsche 911 for my birthday"), or even (more realistically), "God, please let my child get well", and that kind of prayer (and I can't think of a name for it) which focuses on the praying person's own intangible inward being (ability to tolerate fools), and then the praise and glorification prayer, which may serve some of the same this-world purposes as that second type I mentioned.

The clergyman's-wife mother of my boyhood best friend once said that "God answers all your prayers. But 'No' is just as valid an answer as 'yes'."

I'm convinced there is no more way to PROVE the effectiveness of any of these types of prayer than there is to PROVE the existence or non-existence of God (or a god). Believe what you will, but realize that it just can't be proved.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 08 May 02 - 04:22 PM

Hi, Wolfgang: Well-measured, thoughtful posts that leave room for diametrically opposed views without belittling anyone. You're my man, Wolfgang... And you are right, of course. It is futile to try to prove God's existence, or lack thereof. That's why they call it faith. If someone could prove that God exists, but you felt nothing in your heart, what would be the point? The sun also rises. For many people who DO believe that God exists, it has very little impact on their life. It's not something they even think about. That's why the polls that say that 78% of Americans believe in God don't really mean much. If it doesn't transform your life in a positive way, then it's just a little fact tucked away in the corner of your mind.

I think that it's very humorous, by the way, that this thread has treatened to spin off into "what is an Atheist." I realize that communication breaks down when a word means different things to different people. The Atheists and Agnostics that I know seem to have a pretty clear idea what the words mean. Friends of mine who are Atheist think that God doesn't exist. Agnostics don't believe that God exists, but they admit the possibility. Some shift back and forth between the two beliefs from time to time. My best friend most of my life has mostly been an Agnostic, occasionally seeming to lean toward Atheism. I have a son who is an Agnostic, who was a strong believer as a kid. I love 'em both, and they are both fine people.

You're also right, Wolfgang. Faith is a very private matter, and no one knows another person's heart. That's why it's best to enjoy people for who they are and how they live, and be thankful that something in them leads them to try to live a good life.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 May 02 - 04:03 PM

Well, sophocleese, he's no Zeus.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: sophocleese
Date: 08 May 02 - 03:59 PM

What, Lonesome EJ, you have problems with Neptune?

Wolfgang, I like your posts. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 May 02 - 01:20 PM

It doesn't make me uncomfortable. I'm always a little taken aback when I congratulate someone for something he or she achieved, or some positive thing that happened, and they say "Praise Jesus!" But I figure that's my problem not theirs.

Now if I tell a friend I have a problem, and they say "I'll sacrifice a virgin to Neptune for you", that's where I draw the line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 08 May 02 - 12:27 PM

I maybe should clarify that I feel annoyed if more or less strangers say "I'll pray for you" to me. That's how I understood Dan in the first post, but that understanding might have been too narrow. If close friends say that my feelings are different for I know them much better and can understand how they mean it.

It seems to be very difficult to understand that we look at the same world, the same stars (more or less) and all that and yet come to completely different conclusions about it. But that's how it is and most of us are so old that the basic view of the world won't change by arguments. Therefore any request of the type 'show me", "prove me", "explain me" is completely futile. Let us have more tolerance for those whose world view we do not share. And that includes the knowledge that the own world view could be wrong and that the respective other is not an idiot who closes her mind to obvious and evident truths.

Terry, I have overlooked that possibility. I better should have let that post alone and concentrated on the other posts that are much more tolerant.

Rich, if you have meant among others me with Rationally, you should just ignore it. After all, your emotional response affects only you. I won't let that stand uncommented. You don't know me good enough to be able to say that. How I come to conclusions in my world view and under which circumstances I have which emotions or not is a very private thing I do not like to be taught about by someone who has close to no knowledge of my world view. Would you e.g. like a Non-Christian to tell you in one situation 'now you should turn the other cheek' shouldn't you?

Let's make a deal, Rich: I won't try to teach you how to be a good Christian and you stop telling me when my world view should lead me in your opinion to something else than I post here.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:42 AM

Amos,

sometimes I wonder if my main problem is with your language. When I read your Prayer is demonstrably effective I sit there and wonder whether you do not know that that is a minority position and whether you just are uninformed about opinions to the contrary or whether you are informed but choose not to tell us.

I have read a lot about that field (from both sides) and have come to a different conclusion so far (see this post for instance) but I never would state bluntly 'Prayer has been shown to be ineffective'. I would say for instance 'has not been demonstrated yet convincingly in controlled experiments' or 'the experiments so far have failed to convince critics' or words to similar effects. And I usually try to inform that there are other opinions.

You read a lot and are a very clever man so you must know the difference between data and interpretation. So you also must know that the data on this field so far can be interpreted by assuming that prayer works but that other interpretations are also possible and have been made by others. I do not mind at all that you come to a different evaluation of the evidence than I do but your very wording makes it clear that you do not present an informed opinion or evaluation. You state what a minority opinion is as if it was a fact beyond doubt. This is not the first time I see this, but it puzzles me every time anew.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: SharonA
Date: 08 May 02 - 11:10 AM

Kendall says, "We lack the brains to imagine something without a beginning or end..." Huh? A circle has no beginning or end! Or are you talking about a timeline? If so, maybe a timeline is a circle! There's plenty of Christian dogma to the effect that God has existed eternally and will exist eternally, so people have been imagining that concept ever since someone wrote it down. On the other hand, some of those same people imagine that this God gave the universe a finite beginning, and they see no contradiction in that.

The point is that we can imagine anything we want to, and we can explain it in a way that will be acceptable to some people, while others will inevitably imagine something else. There was a time when people imagined that the world was flat and was carried through the void on the back of a giant tortoise, and it was perfectly acceptable to imagine that. Today we would scoff at that theory, but only because someone imagined that man could travel around the world and into outer space – and imagined and invented ways to do so. Even so, one hears about the occasional person who steadfastly refuses to believe that man travels to outer space or has walked on the moon.

There most certainly are things that are beyond our current level of knowledge, but certainly not beyond our capacity to learn about them. Various cultures have invented various gods to explain those things, while some people within those cultures dare to withstand the accusations of heresy and blasphemy in order to theorize (to imagine how these things could exist or could happen) and to test those theories rather than blindly believe dogma, thereby moving humanity toward greater knowledge.

Will we eventually learn whether (or which) God exists? In some cases, yes; it's pretty safe to assume that the earth-carrying-giant-tortoise god was a figment of ancient Mesopotamians' imaginations. But as long as there's anything that humans don't understand, some of them will need the comfort of referring to (and praying to) some Being whom they believe does understand what we don't yet.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Terry K
Date: 08 May 02 - 10:06 AM

We don't have to explain anything - you are right that we simply do not, and probably will not, know. We certainly will never know how it all started, so my main bitch is with those who have made something up to replace the not knowing and who then have the audacity to claim it as 100% truth. (With the resulting chaos in the world caused by religious differences). Why can people not accept that there are some things which have no answer.

And as for eternity, I have always believed that if the "soul" is eternal, then I will be as conscious of it after death as I was before my birth, i.e. not at all. Don't forget that eternal means "for all time" and not merely "until the end of time". So what was your soul up to before you were born, answer me that!!

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: kendall
Date: 08 May 02 - 07:39 AM

I'm not talking about everyday annoyances like getting pounched in the nose. I'm talking about the very existence of the human spirit. This body and all its problems fade away in time, but, the essence, spirit, soul, life force, whatever you call it continues throughout eternity. We lack the brains to imagine something without a beginning or end, but, how else can it be? Try to picture the end of space, go ahead...now explain it to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Terry K
Date: 08 May 02 - 03:39 AM

"This life is the blink of an eye in eternity"

- so apparently is belief in a god. Those who know about these things think it pretty conclusive that the world has been around for about 4,600 million years and the concept of god as a creator and a deity for about 4,000 of them. And all good blinks come to an end.

Wolfgang - your comments about GUEST wvpreacher and how how he puts down beliefs as if they are facts - I thought it was just someone taking the piss, acting the part of the ridiculously extreme bible basher just to inflame us.

Clinton - you really nailed that one about the cook!!

Cheers, Terry


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Amos
Date: 07 May 02 - 11:25 PM

Wolfgang --

I recommend Dr Dossey's book, because it ofers a wide survey of well-done and not-well-done controlled experiments and some well reasoned examination of them, not just one recent one.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Kaleea
Date: 07 May 02 - 10:37 PM

Each one of us (or at least most of us!) seems to have a differing view of what the definition of "prayer" is. We also seem to have a preconcieved notion that the way we "pray" is how all others should "pray." When we find out that there are actually people with whom we may have contact with in our lives who do not "pray" as we do, then many of us are scared! We might be most scared at the posibillity that said differing persons might be the ones praying. Ah . . . . "therin lies the rub." Most folks I know (I am in the midst of the above mentioned "Biblebelt".) would be completely aghast if it did happen that someone who believes in a manner other than they do would be . . .dare I say it . . ."praying" for them! Someone once asked me to sign a petition to force the state to allow "prayer" in the public schools. I asked that person, "If you have 'prayer' allowed in school, then persons with beliefs other than yours would have to be allowed to 'pray' in the school where your child attends." She was shocked! "I never thought about it like that!" [Obviously persons who believe that prayer is not allowed in schools has never seen students immediately prior to a math exam!] One must ascertain that it is not the "prayer" but the person doing the "praying" which scares people. I recall the Rabbi in "Fiddler on the Roof" being asked if there were a prayer for the much-hated Czar. The Rabbi replied:

"God bless the Czar, and keep the Czar . . .

Far away from us!" . . .it is now one of my favorite prayers! I merely insert the name of someone I wish to go away for the name "Czar!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: SharonA
Date: 07 May 02 - 05:36 PM

Little Hawk: Well, at least I'm making sense; glad to hear that. I'll check back in a few years and let you know if I have any personal experiences that move my perspective any closer to yours! But... uh... don't hold your breath *G*


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 May 02 - 04:39 PM

Or else everything matters within its own context.

The question is, what good is a life devoid of all meaning? And if your philosophy leads you to that, then it is a useless philosophy, even from the point of view of a life that IS only the blink of an eye.

Put it another way...if some guy you don't know rings your doorbell, and when you answer the door he punches you in the nose...does it matter? If not, what happens next?

Or just stop breathing. Now. Keep holding your breath. How's it going? Does it matter yet? Get back to me in 3 minutes, and let me know if it matters yet. :-)

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: kendall
Date: 07 May 02 - 02:23 PM

Nothing on this earth matters; and, it doesn't matter that it doesn't matter. This lifetime is a blink of an eye in eternity.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 May 02 - 02:02 PM

Prayer IS a way of concentrating on this life. Well, for me it is, anyway.

If you want to avoid reality, watch TV.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 May 02 - 01:07 PM

(Admitting to not reading the entire thread first) My main fear is that people will pray when they could do something constructive instead. Kinda like why are cathedrals beautiful and schools ugly - wouldn't it make more sense to concentrate on THIS life, and on reality, and get our priorities straight?


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: GUEST,ernie
Date: 07 May 02 - 01:02 PM

pardon me, my two cent's worth:

I think personally I'm very selective. I'm only comfortable with certain people, whom I know really have my wellbeing in mind and know exactly what I perceive to be wellbeing,praying for me. As for the concept of a Divine Being, I believe in one for the following reasons:

1. Just as a monkey or some other animal cannot create a computer, and only a human can, we all need someone more superior to create us, whether or not we come from pre-existing components I don;t know.

2. The "natural" tendency of the universe is chaos, not order. Things tend to fall apart and disintegrate: Metals rust, we age and our body deteriorates. So order cannot occur randomly, but it;s got to have been planned.

That's my own personal rationale. One other thought, which never fails to freak me:

If death is really the end, and after that there is nothing, then life is really devoid of meaning. You may do a heck of a lot of good in this life, be a Nobel Prize Winner, Conquer Everest, be Mother Teresa... But what is all that about? and for what? It will be ....using a crude analogy....like masturbating. No ultimate purpose. Be a doctor? Noble profession? save lives? why the hell bother? everyone dies anyway. Everyone, atheist or believer, fears death. Admit it or don't, it doesn't matter. Why? becos we don't know what happens after that for sure. We can only believe/have our own conviction about it. When someone you love dies, (it happened to me), then you really start to seriously think about these things. Believers may sway to the atheist point of view, fear they will never see that departed person again and staunch atheists may start to believe in the life hereafter...where they hope to see whoever it is they have lost.

Well, I hope all of us find the truth.

ernie


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 May 02 - 11:51 AM

Sharon - Everything you say is well thought out and makes very good sense. I once had exactly your viewpoint, and would have made precisely the same argument. I changed that viewpoint due to certain personal experiences which there would be no use explaining here...because they are only persuasive to the one who actually HAS them. They don't provide physical or quantifiable evidence which anyone else can measure, because they are inner experiences of an individual nature.

I can readily understand your viewpoint, and it is no doubt appropriate to your own experiences in life thus far, and that is the one thing on which you can absolutely depend when perceiving reality as you see it...your direct experience.

I belong to no religion that any one out there has a name for. I have studied many of them, as well as studying science and rationality, but I belong exclusively to none of them. I find some truth in all of them, as I do in science and rationality. No one religion has all the answers, no one discipline of science has all the answers, and I don't have all the answers. I just have my direct experience of life, and from that I have acquired some spiritual beliefs.

Among those are:

that I have lived numerous physical lives, which all ended in what we call "death"

that those could be called "incarnations", if you like that word

that the spirit which took those embodiments is the real "me", and that it is (as far as I know) immortal, and not "physical" on this level of reality

that my present body is like a suit of clothes...or more than that, it is like a "vehicle" which allows me to move around here and have many life experiences here on Earth

that there is a totally present and purposeful intelligence in all things by which they are given form, characteristics, cohesiveness, and function...from the individual atoms to the associations of atoms which form cells which form plants, animals, human beings, etc...

that in beings like animals and humans that indwelling intelligence produces consciousness, nerve energies, and an awareness of individual identity and a measure of free will. The greater the arising forth of the indwelling intelligence, the wider is the scope for the USE of free will...and for the MISUSE of free will. Misuse is temporarily disadvantageous and painful for self or others...but leads eventually to greater awareness, which leads to more intelligent use of free will in the future. We learn from our mistakes.

I call that indwelling intelligence which is in everything (and IS everything) "God". Since it IS everything, it is both personal and impersonal, it is both finite and infinite, it is everything we observe and can talk about, and it is also everything we fail to observe and are incapable of talking about. It is Wolfgang's belief in concrete reality and my belief in an unseen purpose behind concrete reality. It is inexplicable, inexpressible, totally obvious, and absolutely unknown to people simply because it is so huge and so obvious.

They don't see it because they've never stopped looking at it since the first moment they opened their eyes. They've never stopped breathing it, walking on it, touching it...and there is no place they can go to get away from it. Thus they do NOT see it at all.

Since people are inclined to divide and distinguish between specific things, rather than experience life as a single unbroken Unity, they tend to focus on fragments of reality and build around those fragments religions...and sciences. They work with partial understandings, and attach themselves to those concepts and things with which they are most familiar and most comfortable.

I do that. You do that. We all do that. This is the process of establishing an individual identity.

Each one progresses in this way, slowly, toward a greater understanding of their function in the one Unity that is Life. When you can be an individual...and at the same time be at one with everything...be the Unity...then you are, in effect, God.

That's what I figure.

Can you imagine loving everything at all times in a completely equal fashion? And being EVERYTHING? It would be quite an unusual state of mind wouldn't it?

If it every happens to me, I'll let you know. If I remember to... Of course, then I WILL be you, so why bother? :-) Each one be happy in what you are, and keep on progressing toward what you think is the best for you. All the time and all the possibilities have been provided.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: RichM
Date: 07 May 02 - 11:35 AM

Good move; you both neatly sidestepped the gist of my comment.
So, here's my point, rephrased.

Rationalists who display annoyance about something like (letting a person know that s/he is being prayed for), amuse me. Rationally, you should just ignore it. After all, your emotional response affects only you.

I repeat: Relax. Ignore it. Go to another thread. It's not worth stressing yourself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: JulieF
Date: 07 May 02 - 08:32 AM

Thanks Wolfgang

I didn't make that clear myself. After all it's no skin off my nose if people pray for me in private - I might even find it amusing or touching - its the ones that tell you and either assume that you appreciate it or who tell you knowing very well that you don't appreciate it. I have many friends who are confirmed and strong believers but they don't persume to pray for me. They do as I do, they tell me they are thinking of me and send me their love.

Julie


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 May 02 - 08:22 AM

So people who pray for you are annoying?

No, Rich, people who tell me that they pray for me are, like said in the first post of this thread.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 May 02 - 07:55 AM

I dunno... Maybe Guest Dan has done us all a favor, although I wonder what his motives are. I believe(whoops, think) that if you start a thread, you should participate on some level. This thread might have been a little more focused if he had clarified his choice of words like "scared." But then, maybe we all owe him one. For a newer member like me, it's helpful to know who would be offended by someone telling them that they are praying for them. The purpose of prayer is not to offend folks. For people who find prayer a natural part of their daily life, it's good to know who is of a kindred Spirit, just like it's good to know who likes bluegrass, or blues. Maybe he should have just posted a questionaire for all of us to check off:

Don't Pray for me __
Don't tell me you're praying for me __
It's allright for you to pray for me if you know me __
I'd appreciate your prayers for me __
I'll pray for you if you're suffering __
Clap-trap __ :-)

I don't come here for spiritual conversations and at first I wasn't even going to post to this thread. But, it seemed that there should be a full range of conversation so that we might all understand each other better, whether we agree with each other or not. If agreement was a requirement of Mudcat, it would have died long ago.

Prayer is first of all, private. The only reason I can think of for telling someone that you're praying for them is because many people appreciate knowing it. Not all of them are even believers. They understand that you are praying for them because you love them. Many people ask to be prayed for. If they don't, and you don't know them, it's probably better to get to know them before the subject of prayer comes up. I don't think that there's anything wrong with expressing your beliefs, whether it is that God exists, or that you don't think He does. If you find that something that you are saying is offensive, it's best to leave that part of your conversations alone, whether you are a believer or an un-believer. People who ridicule your faith aren't high on my list of people I want to be around, any more than people who get "preachy" are high on the list of people non-believers want to be around.

You can wish people well, and care deeply about them without believing in God. You can live an exemplary moral live without believing in God. Those of us who do believe in God sometimes are over-zealous because we find such joy in our faith that we want to share it. Like a good book, multiplied a thousand fold. But, you can't share something with someone who doesn't want to hear it. If I've expressed my prayers for anyone who I've offended, I'm sorry... I'll try to get to know people better before I even mention prayer.

On the other hand, when I know that people would welcome prayer, whatever their particular belief, I'm happy to remember them in prayer.

Sly said it best. Different strokes for different folks.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: RichM
Date: 07 May 02 - 07:11 AM

So people who pray for you are annoying? Rationalists who display annoyance about something like this, amuse me. Rationally, you should just ignore it. After all, your emotional response affects only you.


Relax. Ignore it. Go to another thread. It's not worth stressing yourself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: JulieF
Date: 07 May 02 - 06:21 AM

To go back to the point.

Prayer doesn't scare me - its the assumption that annoys me.

If people want to pray for groups of people, which may include me, I have no problem. No doubt there would be people in the group who would appreciate it.

If someone prays for me directly- I find it annoying

If it is someone who doesn't know what I think - the assumtion is that every one appreciates prayer.

If someone knows me personally - they are implying that what I think doesn't matter.

I will wish people well, hope things get better, send all my love .

Julie


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 07 May 02 - 05:50 AM

To state that Prayer is demonstrably effective as Amos has done without disclaimer you must either have selective forgetting or read a heavily preselected set of articles and books. Those who want to be fully informed should also read the more recent article

Aviles JM, Whelan SE, Hernke DA, Williams BA, Kenny KE, O'Fallon WM, Kopecky SL. Intercessory prayer and cardiovascular disease progression in a coronary care unit population: a randomized controlled trial. Mayo Clin Proc 2001 Dec;76(12):1192-8

and some of the references there.

Same as others have said, the sentence 'I'll pray for you' doesn't scare me, it annoys me. I'd wish those people would keep it to themselves.

There are a couple of fields in my life where I have beliefs (politics, personal values,...), but this ain't one of them. I don't fall in the belief/disbelief in No God dichotomy. For me, the supernatural is an unnessessary hypothesis that's all. The question of belief or not doesn't come up.

Those believers in God as wvpreacher who speak about their beliefs as if they were facts I find both amusing and annoying.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 07 May 02 - 03:10 AM

The lack of response from guest Dan is a bit like the bloke who knocks somebody's beer over and leaves the pub during the ensuing fracas.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: GUEST,wvpreacher
Date: 06 May 02 - 11:19 PM

SharonA, You said: "What frightens me about some people who pray is that they hold the sort of "it's-all-for-me" attitude implied by kendall's statement. Our guest, "wvpreacher", makes a similar assumption when he says "God wanted me to be happy so much that God would shake history to make me happy." My problem with that assertion is that history involves other people whose lives would be affected by that shake-up. One person gets a life-saving transplant while another person dies waiting for the organ that went into the first guy. One person eats a banquet while others starve. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. So when a person asks his God to "shake history" to grant him a favor, it frightens me to think that that person has more concern for some people who need that favor than for others in the same predicament." That "it's-all-for-me" is your assumption about what I said. Unfortunately, your assumption is correct for much of North American consumer-based religious shallowness. God did shake history for me. It did have implications which others had to live with. We've all ended up the better for it. And what's even more weird is that I did not pray for it. In fact I was blind-sided by it. God literally intervened to remove me from a life that I had created that only reenforced my lack of self worth. Many people experince this with things like getting fired, being divorced, serious illness, accidents, and ultimately in death. It wasn't easy for me. I did have to face my worst fears. I did have to walk through much pain. I suffered much more than anybody that suffered the implications of God's shaking history for me. Suffering is probably the wrong word. Grieved is better. I finally allowed myself to feel and accept the hurt of all the big HURTS that parents and people can pile on us as well as took responsibility for creating situations in my adult life that reinforced and (even reenacted) every false belief I had allowed myself to be programmed with from all the HURT. Daily I have to live with accepting that responsibility and living in a new awareness of myself and my actions and reactions within a whole new set of relationships. God gave me an empty slate to work with and choices of how to fill it. I chose and still choose to put my negativity behind me as best as I can. I choose to face my fears instead of hide from them. I choose resolving hurts rather than hiding from those who hurt me. I choose communication rather than the violence of silence. I know without a doubt that God is for us not selfishly simply for me. Implied within saying that God is for us is the secondary thought that God is for each of us. Yet, God's being for each of us does not mean that God caters to our whims or that God will bless us if we do such and such or believe this or that. That's when you start getting into religion and religion simply put is human response to God so no wonder humanity speaks of God in human and animal images and concoct after death experiences. Religion is humanity's way of trying to understand and even manipulate the Mystery of God and other things that we cannot know. Science is even a religion. It has its idols, beliefs, and rules. Religion - God says, "Be still and know that I am God." and the next thing you know rather than being still we try to figure out who said that. After deciding it was the tree next to us because it has a knot that looks like a human face, we build temples around trees, employ priests, sacrifice things, disagree, build different temples, then disagree more, develop new techniques and rituals, only to disagree more. It would have been so much easier (and friendlier to sheep, goats, bulls, doves, and not to mention virgins) to have been still and gotten caught up in the renewing wander of God's presence with us. God wants happiness (Shalom, blessedness, etc.) for each of us - for you, for me - and God will shake history to give each of us happiness because it is the way God is for all of us. The secret is to watch and be ready - to actually let ourselves have hope.

Peace,


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: GUEST,katydid
Date: 05 May 02 - 06:23 PM

I'm not scared by prayer, but as an atheist I am happy for someone to 'be thinking of me' (after all, I do that too) but would rather not be forcibly dragged into someone else's belief system. I do not believe in a god, but I do not attempt to force my ideas onto those who do - I might well be wrong in my conceptions, thaey work well enough for me but I'm certainly not arrogant enough to try and make others agree with me. I would hope for the same respectful treatment in return (which, from most of my religious friends, I usually get).

Because of a wrong date setting on a Mudcat server, this message may appear out of order. It was actually posted on 6-May, not 5-May. --JoeClone, 7-May-02.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:18 PM

"God schmod, I want my monkey-man!"

-Bart Simpson-

;-)

Because of a wrong date setting on a Mudcat server, this message may appear out of order. It was actually posted on 6-May, not 5-May. --JoeClone, 7-May-02.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: SharonA
Date: 06 May 02 - 03:49 PM

Kendall: Oh! Thanks for that clarification. I didn't "get" that from your word to the atheists. I thought the cook in your analogy was your concept of God.

Little Hawk (re your post of 1:48 PM): Wow, that's very interesting – and I mean that seriously; I'm not being sarcastic. I say this because my view is just about the opposite: I see the mortal mind and ego as being "so clever and simultaneously so ignorant as to take delight, or at least cold comfort, in concocting" the various stories of after-death experience (eternal reward and punishment, reincarnation and so forth) and in inventing the various gods, most of which have the characteristics and/or personality traits of humans or animals (right down to the gender!). I don't see the "story of reality" that ends in one's inevitable demise as a concoction, but as the natural conclusion to be drawn from observation of the world around one.

Likewise, I don't see that inevitable demise (without thought of or planning for an afterlife) as "defeat and extinction" but as part of the cycle of nature that constantly renews itself and evolves itself. To label the end of mortal life as a "defeat" implies that "victory" is only to be found in immortal life of some kind, hence all the theories about how to achieve that immortality. It also assumes that there is a game to be played, and won or lost. But not everyone sees life as a game one is playing, even with oneself, or as a competition to outlive someone else. Some of us are just living, determined to choose kindness over cruelty and love over hatred for the sake of one's own happiness in this life, not for the sake of winning a game that someone else invented long ago.

Your reference to "a mere biological machine" being worse than a worm puzzles me. "Destined to be thrown on the junkpile"??? IMO, this devalues all of nature, not just humans. Whether or not you believe in a God that created the "biological machine", each machine (human, worm or whatever) is a marvel in its own right. Part of the mechanism is (or at least is supposed to be) that the human is eventually eaten by the worm, and it's only the mortal mind and ego that has such a problem with that concept that it stores its dead in impenetrable boxes in the ground – or burns its dead – so that the worm can't eat the bodies before they're resurrected by their particular god. The mortal mind and ego seems to be obsessed with breaking the cycle of nature because it presumes itself to be immortal – or at least hopes and strives to be immortal – and to my mind that is a "most unfortunate attitude", when the mortal ego is more concerned with its own perpetuity than with that of the natural world. When the survival or extinction of other species at human hands is less important to man than his soul, IMO he has already lost his soul, and no amount of praying is going to bring it back.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 06 May 02 - 03:07 PM

For some reason I feel obligated to clarify what I said. (I sound like Barry Goldwater)! In the first place, where did the cook GET all those raw materials? Let me be quite clear on this: To me, GOD is not a personal diety.He/she did not create the world for us. We are all Johnnie's come lately. God is a force, an energy, a creative energy. God is the source of the universe, and it all boils down to one word, ENERGY.That energy created the favorable conditions for the universe to come into existence. The problem is, mankind in his supreme arrogance has to believe that God is a big brother, and, in my opinion, that is simply the wrong slant. God doesn't cause horrible things to happen, WE DO! Hitler, Stalin, poverty, hatred, war, none of those were caused by the creator God Bless America. Ok, GOD HAS blessed America by creating some of the most favorable conditions on earth. This is the core of my belief, and, like anyone else, I could be wrong, and, in the end if I find out that GOD is a Muslim not a Jew or a Christian, I can say "well,I'll be damned."


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Bill D
Date: 06 May 02 - 02:22 PM

well, I did it..I composed a longish follow-up to my own post about why & how I got to this point and pointing out some logical problems.......and I somehow hit "clear entries" during the last sentence..*sigh*..

perhaps later.....

(I have BEGGED Max & Pene to move the "clear entries" box way over to the right where you have to work to hit it!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 May 02 - 01:48 PM

Here's another thing to consider.

How would we even know what "cruelty" and "kindness" are, had we not been given opportunities to actually experience them? Would we even have such words or concepts, in the complete absence of the actual experience?

Does a rock worry about cruelty or kindness?...most probably not (as far as you or I can tell). It probably has absolutely no awareness of such things. We do. But if we had never witnessed or experienced either cruelty or kindness, and if no one else we knew or heard of ever had either...then we would have no conscious awareness at all of either concept. We would be ignorant of such issues, and not prepared to make intelligent decisions regarding them.

This may provide you with one clue as to precisely why cruelty and kindness are both known to occur in this world of manifestation and experience. Not because God is punishing anyone or showing favoritism, but because it is incumbent upon us to know the difference between cruelty and kindness, and we seek out (usually unconsciously) situations that will provide us with the opportunity to learn about these things firsthand.

We have to work too, in order to accomplish something. Why? How cruel of God, when he could just give us everything! Well, try just giving your child everything, from day 1 till the day he (or you) dies, everything that child can possibly think of or desire...and see what happens as time goes by. The child will become a helpless, hopeless, useless lump of boredom, despair or something worse. That's why we have to work to get things. It strengthens us and brings forth our hidden potential, which is really quite marvelous.

Of course, you can, if you want to, believe that this whole Universe and cosmology and YOU YOURSELF with all your ideas and concepts just happened by accident...blind chance...and natural selection...in which case you are playing in a self-created game (your little scrambling mortal life) which is guaranteed by its own chosen rules of play to end finally in your defeat and extinction (like a pinball game). If that makes you happy, well, okay. It's your game.

This is a case of a god imagining that it's a worm...or worse yet, a mere biological machine, destined to be thrown presently on the junkpile. Gods can imagine anything they want to. They are very powerful. Only the mortal mind and ego are so clever and simultaneously so ignorant as to take delight, or at least cold comfort, in concocting a story of reality that ends in their own inevitable demise. They figure they win if the "other guy" meets his demise first. A most unfortunate attitude. There is no "other guy".

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 May 02 - 01:24 PM

"A word to the athiests; To look around you and witness the wonderful things we see every day, and say there is no God, is like getting up from a banquet and declaring, "There is no cook." "

Tppppppbbbbbbtt!

You can take a quick walk into the kitchen and see the cook there, in all his glory... And it's not a one way trip...

*walks away singing*

"Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
Revolving at 900 miles an hour...."

;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 May 02 - 12:59 PM

Sharon - You say "To imply that God has created, or altered a pre-existing creation of, an entire world full of plants and animals surrounded by an entire universe of other worlds with the single intention of pleasing the human beings who see it is, to me, extremely arrogant."

I agree entirely. It would be extremely arrogant on the part of people to assume such a thing. I have never assumed that God created everything simply to please human beings! On the contrary, everything has been created in an entirely egalitarian and democratic way...and is pleasing in its own right by virtue of its own nature. Whether it pleases people is a moot point. There is no particular preference given to human beings.

Plants, animals, etc...are also provided liberally with what pleases them and is appropriate to their needs.

Let's face it, humankind in general tends to be just a little self-centred in their view of the world...if hamsters were to form a dominant civilization on this planet, they would probably make the same error.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: SharonA
Date: 06 May 02 - 11:51 AM

What sophocleese said at 8:23 AM today. I'm not "scared" of prayer, but some of the pray-ers (those who pray) frighten me!

I feel the need to take issue with kendall's statement, "A word to the athiests; To look around you and witness the wonderful things we see every day, and say there is no God, is like getting up from a banquet and declaring, 'There is no cook.' " I find this to be, at best, a faulty analogy. A cook takes pre-existing raw materials (food) and prepares those raw materials with one intention: to please the palates of the diners. To imply that God has created, or altered a pre-existing creation of, an entire world full of plants and animals surrounded by an entire universe of other worlds with the single intention of pleasing the human beings who see it is, to me, extremely arrogant. I'm assuming that it wasn't kendall's intention to be arrogant, just appreciative of the wonders of the world we live in, but an atheist is well within his rights to acknowledge those same wonders without assuming that there's a god who created them just for him.

This sort of "proof" of God's existence reminds me of Josh McDowell's book, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict", wherein McDowell purported to present a defense for the fundamentalist view of Christianity as if he were in a courtroom. But so much of his "evidence" consisted of statements quoted from religious tracts and other such non-proofs that the book was simply laughable. Here's a short critique of McDowell's book, which mirrors the attitude I hold toward the "banquet" analogy: http://www.islandnet.com/~luree/evidence.html

For those who are interested enough to wade through it, here's a very thorough, chapter-by-chapter, point-by-point refutation of McDowell's assertions: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/index.shtml (entitled "The Jury Is In: The Ruling on McDowell's 'Evidence' ")

What frightens me about some people who pray is that they hold the sort of "it's-all-for-me" attitude implied by kendall's statement. Our guest, "wvpreacher", makes a similar assumption when he says "God wanted me to be happy so much that God would shake history to make me happy." My problem with that assertion is that history involves other people whose lives would be affected by that shake-up. One person gets a life-saving transplant while another person dies waiting for the organ that went into the first guy. One person eats a banquet while others starve. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. So when a person asks his God to "shake history" to grant him a favor, it frightens me to think that that person has more concern for some people who need that favor than for others in the same predicament.

I'm also frightened by the people who believe in a God who has to be cruel to be kind, who strikes people down with illness or adversity in an attempt to "bring them to Him" (which I read as "break their spirits" like breaking a horse). When these people pray for my spirit, it scares me to think that they would wish for bad things to happen to me for the good of my supposedly immortal soul. It also scares me to think that they might feel "led by the spirit" to take some role in "bringing me to God" by causing me adversity of some kind. As a matter of fact, in my early twenties I had the experience of being verbally abused by my Bible-thumping father (for dating someone with beliefs that differed from his) to the point that I developed ulcerative colitis (the only outlet for stress that was "safe" in that household), only to have my father tell me that the colitis was God's punishment for my romantic involvement. Later, I overheard him talking with my mother about how fervently they were praying for me. Brrrr.

I've been out of that situation for decades now, but I'm going to have bowel problems for the rest of my life because of it. If my father had left me alone to sort out my feelings about the guy, I would have dropped him eventually without duress and I might have "grown closer" to my parents' God in the process. As it is, I had to drop the guy to keep some of my remaining health while I attempted (and failed) to recuperate at home (I just got more grief, the stress of which triggered the onset of lupus!), and I ended up rejecting all concepts of a God, not just my parents'. So, yeah, I'm scared of pray-ers who believe in "living out their faith" when their faith is that they are in the right so God's blessings are all for them, and that anyone who doesn't believe as they do are in the wrong so God wants the believers to be the instruments of their punishment.

My request of pray-ers: Think good thoughts for me if you want to; send positive energies toward me if you think you can; but if you pray for me, please don't feel that you have to push your God along in order to achieve the results you desire on your timetable just because you think your God exists to make you happy. Like the song says, Let it be.

Thanks for listening,
Sharon


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 06 May 02 - 11:40 AM

Well, soph, what I see is some folks taking the topic that the title lays out, and turning it to another topic instead, which is one we have gone around on quite a few times around here already. A lot of people DO experience this fear, and they act like it, too. I think it's fine to discuss it, and I am glad to see it happening, although I do know that it will not remain positive for long, because Mudcat is not structured for this kind of discussion to remain positive. Even the discussions at Beliefnet, whihc IS structured for a better handling of these topics, fall into destructive forms of negativity before long. I suppose any positive effort to look at this can have a good impact, but I wonder sometimes about what it will cost the community.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Amos
Date: 06 May 02 - 09:45 AM

Hey Bonnie!! Don' be such a stranger!! Nice to hear from you. And I agree with ya, too!

I've mentioned this before, but for a fascinating study on the scientific documentation of the erfficacy of prayer, find and read a book called "Healing Words" by Larry Dossey. Very smart man!

a


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: sophocleese
Date: 06 May 02 - 08:25 AM

Wow I seem to have cross posted with Spaw and Jerry!


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: sophocleese
Date: 06 May 02 - 08:23 AM

Actually there are a couple of strange things happening in this thread. First of all is the assumption in the title that people who don't want to be publicly prayed for are 'scared' of prayer. Most of those who wrote back about it who don't like be prayed for aren't scared of prayer, they suspect the motives of those who are so loudly praying. Nonetheless a lot of the posters writing about the efficacy of prayer are not answering that issue but instead are talking about people being scared of the assumed power of prayer. Which brings us back to the issue of suspect motives. If I tell you I don't like people saying they will pray for me because its a rude intrusion on my own possible relationship with God, or I'm not interested in a relationship with a possible God, and you say I don't want to be prayed for because I'm afraid of feeling close to God, it means that somebody is either not listening or doesn't want to know that some people get along quite fine without talking to God. So if you think that those who don't like being prayed for are scared of the implications of power they don't know think about the idea that those who insist on doing the praying might be afraid of the implications that the people can be happy and complete without knowing about the power they find necessary.


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 May 02 - 08:15 AM

You're right, Spaw: That's the way that threads evolve. Sometimes it seems like we're having consecutive monologues, so it's always good when someone responds directly to someone else. Then it becomes more of a conversation. Misophist is right that there are the two extreme ends of the spectrum, and then the rest of us wandering around in the middle.:-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 May 02 - 08:07 AM

Jerry, I think that you see people posting in both directions here. I personally see a difference in what I'm reading here....Not everyone is addressing the same issue, if you will.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: kendall
Date: 06 May 02 - 07:50 AM

When I said "What harm can it do"? I did not mean to confront anyone about anything. I simply meant the act of praying for someone is, at worst, harmless. Why one would feel obligated to mention it is what I don't understand. If you know the other person is a believer, fine; tell them you are praying for them. If they might be offended, do it but keep quiet. A word to the athiests; To look around you and witness the wonderful things we see every day, and say there is no God, is like getting up from a banquet and declaring, "There is no cook."


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 May 02 - 06:32 AM

Why is it that this whole question assumes that when someone says that they'll pray for you, they mean that they'll pray that you'll be "saved?" That's a mighty narrow definition of what praying for someone is. Most prayers are for healing, or comfort. We're not in the salvation business. That's the Lord's work. I pray mostly for those who are suffering through a serious illness or have had a tragedy in their lives. I pray that they be healed, that they will be given the strength to get through a hard time, that their pain may be eased and that they will be able to see their way forward in a positive way. None of that is condescending. None of that is judgmental. I have seen so many miraculous healings that cannot be explained by science that it would take a whole thread... the Mother of a woman I know who was told that she was blind in one eye and that no surgery could correct it who read the eye chart with that eye a few weeks later... people in intensive care in a coma who were not expected to live through the night who are living a normal life again. Can I prove that prayer healed them? No way. That's why it's called faith. Can you prove it didn't? The medical profession can't. When you pray that someone is released from the pain of the loss of a loved one, it is an act of love. Most people don't find prayers that are loving offensive, even if they don't believe in God. Love's hard enough to find as is. No need to throw it out because you don't believe in God. Many people who are believers love you, whether you believe or not.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Why does 'prayer' scare people?
From: hesperis
Date: 06 May 02 - 03:03 AM

Even a tiny amount of love would seriously rock the world... if it was the right love.


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