The Great Courses

Lip Service

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:07 AM
2 years ago

I don't know why it bothers me like it does.
Well, actually, I do know. It bothers me because, simply, it's insanity.
Three days ago, a family member was rushed to the hospital with a collapsed lung. She, her parents, her immediate family, her extended family, and pretty much all of her friends are devout Christians. So the announcement was made (in texts to loved ones and on social media) that she was being rushed to the hospital, and that prayers were needed.
Cue the avalanche: Prayers. Praying. Sending prayers. We're praying. Prayers for your healing. Praying praying praying!!!
Of course, I'm reminded of this meme:

if prayer worked, no 911
So she was diagnosed with "spontaneous pneumothorax," and she had to have a chest tube inserted (to great discomfort). Even as they were aspirating the chest space, she asked for prayers that it would "get done." (I'm guessing she thought Jesus needed to guide the obviously ill-qualified doctor's hand?)
After a tense 36 hours, she improved and was sent home.
Dozens and dozens of Facebook replies poured in, and the word "pray" (in all of its forms) continued to be offered and gobbled like candy. But guess how many posts/people mentioned the doctors, nurses and medical staff who diagnosed and treated her condition?
Zero. Zip. None.
Trained medical experts received her, discovered the issue, intubated her, monitored her, solved the problem, and stand ready to receive her again if the condition recurs, and they get not one syllable of gratitude on the Wall Of Praise.
Yeah. This bothers me.
Despite the "mainstream" label given to Christianity, this rings suspiciously like cult-speak. A physical problem is discovered and treated in the physical world as the parroted platitudes fly toward empty space, and the true champions in this tale are completely ignored.
surgeon threatens to put tumor back in
Yeah, prayer gives them comfort. Yeah, prayer makes 'em happy. But it's also a cop-out...a way for people to do absolutely nothing substantial and yet feel as if they've moved mountains. As the gears of medical science get down in the trenches to win the battle, the vacuous chanting sits on the fringe until the fight is over, ready to step in and take the credit.
And the hard truth remains: If my family really believed in an omnipotent Healer and the power of prayer, they wouldn't have driven her to a hospital. They'd have driven her to church. Their reliance on science-based medicine betrays a decided lack of trust in God as they live practically secular lives and seek real-world solutions decorated by theological lip service.  We all know without a doubt that, had the procedure gone awry and produced a tragic outcome, the (dis)credit wouldn't have gone to God, but would have instead become a white-hot light of scrutiny, blame, and condemnation upon the doctors.

It's a rigged game, where everything good is divine, and everything bad is a human failing.  Wouldn't it be nice to have such a cushy job as Jesus?
All you folks in the medical profession? Allow me to give you the salute of gratitude that so many have not.  You are the true healers.
-Seth Andrews

seth meme on prayer
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