|Oped from Wednesday May 30th Globe and Mail
Please forgive our sister, Lorna Dueck, for the hateful assumption implicit in her article, "Liberia proves the power of prayer," published in yesterday’s Globe and Mail.
God, I am sure you were as moved by the first person who prayed to You for help in that first moment of pain committed by that dreadful warlord, Charles Taylor, as you were by the many women who worked together and sent out prayers in Monrovia after this depraved man and his henchman had murdered tens of thousands. It shatters me to think a woman who professes to believe in A Loving God could believe Your help was based on some kind of numbers game, a sort of celestial version of “Who Gets to Be the Fulfilled Petitioner?”
I prefer to believe, if I can believe in You at all, that You were simply unable to act to prevent pain, suffering, and loss. A God of Lost Powers suits me better than a God who could ignore the suffering of millions and millions in favour of granting the prayers of “broken, war-weary women [who] received divine strength as they gathered in Monrovia’s fish market in 2002 to pray for peace. They dressed in emulation of the Hebrew Bible’s Queen Esther, who mourned as she prayed God would save her people’s lives.”
Dear God, in my synagogue, many of us don’t even believe the story of Queen Esther—not to mention every supernatural event related in The Five Books of Moses--could possibly have happened. But I digress.
Help me, Oh Lord, to overlook the appalling ignorance and the “blame-the-victim” mentality implicit in the theology of people like Lorna Dueck. And help me to remember that such disgraceful sanctimony doesn’t only exist among people who consider themselves good Christians: for example, I’ve been told that there are streams among Orthodox Judaism who blame the Holocaust on the failure of all Jews to follow the 613 mitzvot.
Above all, God, please help me to remember that even in the face of my own powerlessness—of Your powerlessness—to try to choose to do only good, to be compassionate to all my fellow humans, and to erase my hideous and ongoing judgmentalness, as this prayer makes obvious.
PS Oh and please give my best to Hitch and tell him we miss him still.