In Defense of The Lord’s Prayer

As part of this age of stupidity and denial, a coalition of busybodies, politically-correct liberals, Christianity-bashers, Jew-haters, and radical atheists continues to wage war against what is, to me, the most obvious of all overarching facts of modern Western history: that the sustained periods of freedom, innovation, fairness, justice, and prosperity that have been enjoyed in our gilded age were created and defended by the Judeo-Christian moral code, and by leaders who were strong believers. Today’s battle by these folks: the Jihad being waged by Dalton McGuinty and Ontario’s governing Liberal Party against The Lord’s Prayer. Curmudgeonly liberal-minded Jewish commentator Larry Zolf does a nice job defending the centuries-old daily recital here. The Oakville Beaver did a hilarious re-writing of the prayer back in February, found here.

I fear that the vast majority of those who believe it should be expunged from public life have never stopped to consider exactly what The Lord’s Prayer actually says (a hint: you won’t find a single sectarian word). Here it is:

Our Father, who art in heaven,  Hallowed be thy Name.

(Yes, indeed, it accepts the concept of a singular supernatural God, which horrifies atheist absolutists, but should offend no one else.)

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

(A call for man to work towards making life in this world as heavenly as possible – the noble aim of every idealistic public servant, whether religious or not.)

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

(Humility, contrition, and forgiveness: what controversial concepts!)

And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

(A reminder that doing the wrong thing is highly seductive, and that doing the right thing requires strength and guidance.)

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

(Another call for humility – a reminder that there is something much bigger and stronger than our own egos, intellects, and material desires – a message any politician needs to hear few minutes.)

Amen.

(That’s a religious word. AHHHH!)

My question to those who wish to make this prayer illegal in the public square: which of the sentiments expressed is offensive to you? If you’re intellectually honest, you’ll say: the acceptance of the concept of God. If you’re a muddy-thinking liberal, you’ll say: “it’s not offensive per se, but, you know, like, separation of church and state, right?” If you’re a knee-jerk secular Jew, you’ll say: it’s a Christian prayer, can’t you see? (no, I can’t…Jesus must be between the lines). If you’re a conventional soulless non-practicing-Christian-Canuck, you’ll say: we don’t need these old concepts and corny sentiments, and go back to getting your news from Jon Stewart and your moral compass from Gray’s Anatomy.

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23 Comments

Filed under Left-Wing Causes Celebre, Ontario Politics, Political Idiocy, The Confusion of The Left, Words of Wisdom

23 responses to “In Defense of The Lord’s Prayer

  1. I don’t consider myself a “radical atheist”, but I’ll answer your question anyway. Which part of the prayer is a problem?

    The real crux is this:
    “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

    A parliamentary body shouldn’t be declaring that the “will of God” be done. If you would take the time to read the bible, you’d realize that the will of God includes:
    1. virgins marrying the men who rape them
    2. execution of homosexuals
    3. execution of witches
    4. execution of those who gather firewood on Sundays
    5. something about not wearing clothing of mixed fabrics and boiling baby goats in their mother’s milk.

    And that’s just off the top of my head. You have the right to believe your religion and I the right not to believe it. We also have the right to criticize each other’s beliefs or lack thereof.

    A parliamentary body, however, shouldn’t be invoking the will of a deity (real or imagined) that advocates the things that the biblical God does.

  2. There’s not a single example of a Judeo-Christian country that advocates, for example, stoning of adultresses. Your argument is cute, but nonsensical. To the contrary, societies that cast out their Judeo-Christian heritage for the false Gods of Marxism or National Socialism are guilty of the greatest mass crimes in human history.

  3. You’re right. Christians don’t generally follow the rules of the bible (although there is degree of bigotry against homosexuals and a thing against working on Sundays). That’s because they’re smart enough to realize, for example, that women aren’t unclean for seven days after their periods.

    So the question becomes: why not?

    In the Lord’s Prayer, you ask that the will of God be done on Earth, and yet you’ve just admitted that you have no intention of instituting God’s will.

    Isn’t that hypocrisy?

    Why start off a parliamentary session with hypocrisy?

    (And can the Hitler stuff. We’re only at two posts and we hit Godwin’s Law already? Sheesh.)

  4. You miss the point about religion. Hypocricy is human nature, not a single one of us (for example, enviro-pimps flying in jet planes) is immune. However, religion provides morals and ideals to strive for. Biblical punishments are harsh to stress the point of what’s right and what’s wrong – not to prescribe literally how to deal with these problems today.

    Your cavalier dismissal of my point about Marxism and National Socialism is quite convenient for you; however, I’d like you to address the substance of the point, if you will oblige.

  5. Actually, I think I get the point of religion: obedience and submission, especially moral submission. That is the lesson of Original Sin – that you should not strive for (the tree of) knowledge but prefer obedience and ignorance. That is the lesson of Abraham, that you should be willing to kill your child without question in obedience to God.

    That is the message of the Lord’s Prayer. Obey God. Do his will. Either you obey those rules or you’re a hypocrite. Thankfully, most people are hypocrites. Explain how it’s right to make a rape victim marry her rapist. There’s no wiggle room where you might just be “stressing right and wrong”. That’s just a horribly misogynistic rule that I’m glad everyone disobeys.

    As for atheism and Nazis, I don’t buy that. Every German soldier had “God with us” emblazoned on his belt. Hitler, in Mein Kampf, felt he was doing the work of the Lord in “defending” himself “against the Jew”. I don’t think the point is worth arguing.

    Both atheist and religious world leaders have done bad things. Religion is no protection against evil but it is a good way to convince those doing evil that it’s acceptable because God is with them (again, read the bible and you’ll see all sorts of atrocities and massacres committed because “God told us to do it”)

  6. “That is the lesson of Abraham, that you should be willing to kill your child without question in obedience to God.”

    Your understanding of the bible is extremely shallow, if this is what you believe to be the message of the covenant. And, your misunderstanding of the nature of Nazism would be humourous if it wasn’t so destructive. I’m not going to address every smear and distortion in your response, but the bottom line is, I believe good religion (particularly Judaism and Christianity) makes both people and societies better. You clearly don’t.

  7. Now who’s dodging? You take me to task for not addressing the atheist roots of Naziism, and then you ignore the very Christian roots of both the Nazi party and antisemitism.

    Then I point out the blind obedience demanded by your religion, as directly stated in the Lord’s Prayer, and you tell me that my understanding is “extremely shallow”.

    I’ve read your bible. I’ve read ALL of it, believe it or not. That’s how I became an atheist. If my understanding is shallow, you’ll just have to educate me in how the story of Abraham is anything but a lesson in blind, amoral obedience.

  8. The whole point of the story of Abraham is that, in an era where blind adherence to bloodthirsty deities was the norm, that the God of Israel is a compassionate one who REJECTS human sacrifice! It’s no coincidence that every other surrounding culture burned itself out into oblivion, while the Jewish nation survives to this day stronger than ever.

    God used Abraham to teach that human sacrifice, under any circumstance, is wrong. In an era where this was the norm, he needed to create an extreme example to demonstrate the rule. Just as he used Noah and the flood to demonstrate that this God does NOT condone collective punishment for sins performed by a few. At the end of the flood story, God says: I will never do that again, it was wrong.

    There’s no doubt Christianity holds a great stain in its past for its demonization of Jews. But the driving force of the Nazis was Germanic nationalist superiority by means of extreme socialism and violent Nihilism. They used the church where they could, and destroyed it where they couldn’t. I could find you countless examples, but I must work now…

  9. I believe you are projecting your own desires upon the story of Abraham. After the Lord, at the last minute, stays Abraham’s hand, this follows. Genesis 22:12
    “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

    It goes on in verse 14 to say that God will make Abraham’s descendants numerous “because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son.”

    There is absolutely nothing in there, anywhere, that says God is preaching against human sacrifice. No, it is Abraham’s willingness to blindly kill his son that is rewarded. Any other lesson you take from this is not found in the words of Genesis 22. If you can see another lesson, please provide a biblical reference.

    As for Noah, God makes the promise not to kill every living thing ever again in Gen 8:20. This you interpret as a condemnation of collective punishement.

    Yet in Numbers 31, many years later, God commands the destruction of Midianites and Moses adds, in verses 17-18:
    “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”
    This sounds a lot like collective punishment to me.

    I agree with you that the problem in Germany was extreme nationalism brought on by way WWI ended. So we can leave it out of this discussion of whether or not the Lord’s Prayer and its invoking the “will of God” is appropriate in a Parliament?

  10. On Abraham: God did not have to “preach” against human sacrifice in this story; his actions do the preaching for him. And he is consistent throughout biblical times, that all innocent human life is equally valuable and must be protected, starting with “Thou Shall Not Murder”. Of course there are exceptions, but only where it is impossible to avoid – like in existential wars, or like in Sodom, where Lot couldn’t even find a handful of innocents to convince God not to destroy the entire city.

    Yes, Abraham is rewarded by God for not witholding his own son; but that is a different issue. That is the COVENANT, which requires give-and-take – you commit your children to the Lord, and he will make your descendants numerous and your nation eternal. But the commitment is not literal, it is spiritual: commit your children to the law, the philosophy, the moral code – which is, to come full-circle, the law, philosophy, and moral code that is the foundation of modern Western society.

    I don’t understand why people like you choose to twist the Abraham story so negatively. God stops Abraham from sacrificing his child, and never again allows anything of the kind to go unpunished. This shows nothing but compassion.

    I’ll gladly drop German National Socialism, if you’ll discuss the atheistic Soviet Union, the ultimate example of a state stripped of religion, stripped of the fear of God. Dostoevsky was proven correct – “Without God, everything is permitted.” Mass starvation, ethnic cleansing, slave labour camps, environmental destruction, elimination of personal freedom – the list goes on and on.

  11. Look, let’s stick to the topic of the Lord’s Prayer and whether the “Will of God” is something that should be invoked in Parliament. Going off on tangents of blaming atheism for Nazism (which you’ve dropped), the Holocaust (which you’ve dropped) and now the Soviet Union isn’t helping you. I could also blame Christianity for the Crusades, the Inquisition, anti-semitism, any number of holy wars and a host of other things. So what? You’re just going to say that those weren’t real Christians. Let’s stick to what the bible says about the “Will of God”.

    The point is: is this call to do the “Will of God” acceptable? What is the “Will of God” as defined by the bible.

    Again, please remember that I’ve actually read the bible so trying to tell me that the God in the bible never calls for wanton murder and rape is ridiculous. (You’ve yet to explain: “but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”)

    For Abraham, you’ve given up on backing up the “no human sacrifice” theory because there’s nothing in the biblical text to back this up. You’re changing your argument now to say “it’s not meant to be taken literally”. “Committing your children” to the Lord is now “spiritual”.

    What possible indication can you find anywhere in Genesis that says “this Abraham/Isaac story is a metaphor” for something else? Please use a biblical quote, not an interpretation from elsewhere. It certainly appears to be a part of the linear story of Abraham’s life.

    As for the city of Sodom. You’ve got to be kidding. If ever there was a case of wartime propaganda … not a single one week old child in an entire city is innocent enough to save? Could you possibly believe this about any place in the world? What about the unborn children? And in this city of debauchery, there isn’t one forcibly confined minor who ought to be rescued?

    Why would you even mention Sodom when you’re trying to prove that God stopped with the collective punishment after Noah?

    And let’s not forget good ol’ Lot, who offers his daughters to a mob so the mob won’t bother the angels staying with him:
    Gen 19:8
    “Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

    That’s the kind of parenting that ought to be punished but … wasn’t.

  12. Do you look at every work of literature – divine or otherwise – in a completely literal fashion? There are IMPLICIT messages in all great literature, including the Bible. Do I need to find a quote from, say, Naomi Klein, to determine that “Global Warming – er, Climate Change” activists care far more about the solution (internationalist and statist intervention against capitalism and the bourgeoisie) than they do about the problem?

    Anyway, I appreciate the lively debate, and the fact that you are a literate person who writes well and can carry a conversation. I do, however, disagree with most everything you say, and I don’t see that changing, so it’s time to call this one off. I’ll check out your blog and perhaps engage in debate there next time.

  13. John Wilson

    Flaggman tsk tsk… I just discovered this website through your brilliant deconstruction of Avi Lewis’ fatuous adherence to leftist dogma in the face of the modest skepticism and intellectual honesty of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and I was impressed. But after surfing around, I found this pathetic display of your own fatuous adherence to right wing dogma in the face of your opponent’s modest skepticism and intellectual honesty and buddy… you lost. You and Avi are one in the same my friend. Cheers Greg, well done.

  14. Sorry, folks, but I’m proudly not an objectivist/Randist/atheist, not even an agnostic. I am what I am and if you don’t like it…tsk tsk on you. But NEVER compare me to Avi Lewis! I’ve never been so insulted.

  15. Further: if belief in God, expressing the opinion that good religion makes for better societies, and exposing the fact that it is nihilistic atheists who have created the most vicious failed societies in the history of humanity constitutes “right wing dogma” – guilty as charged! But, since everything Greg wrote was simply reactionary atheist dogma, I guess you could just call it even.

  16. John Wilson

    What ever you say Avi.

  17. Ah, I see…I’m a Jew, Avi Lewis is a Jew…I think I know where you’re coming from now. There’s a word for people like you.

  18. John Wilson

    Wow you play dirty. It’s funny. Your deconstruction of Avi Lewis was so rational – I’m so surprised the person who wrote that could stoop to such a low blow as pulling the anti-Semite card. but maybe I was asking for it – I was baiting you a little with the Avi thing not because you’re both Jewish (I had no idea and I don’t care), but because he’s an unabashed leftist and you’re obviously not. It was juvenile I admit. Did you know however that your response was telling; it’s typical of irrational (and often uneducated) people to use character assassination as a tool of debate when all else fails. But we’re not really having a debate here are we? I’ve got nothing better to do right now though so I’ll press on. So, let me get this straight… Are you on Hirsi Ali’s side because she condemns Islam or because she makes a rational argument against theocracies? BTW She’s an atheist who advocates for the separation of church and state and the rule of secular law – just to try to retain some semblance of the original thread here.

  19. I’ve been called an anti-semite and a radical pinko communist, but “reactionary atheist” is a new one. I’m not sure that’s even possible, seeing how hard it is to match atheism and conservatism.

    I believe the bible and all books can have implicit messages. I just don’t see any evidence of such in the Abraham story. The text simply states that God rewards Abraham for being willing to kill his son. I think that’s morally repugnant.

    The fact that you feel the need to find some rationalization that makes “here’s a reward for being willing to kill your son” in to an implied lesson against human sacrifice means you aren’t morally repugnant. So congratulations, you’re a decent moral person rather than a fundamentalist.

    Eventually you may realize, as I did, that your own moral centre (the one that forces you to rationalize the Abraham/Isaac story) is actually enough to get you through life morally and you can detach yourself from the awkward baggage of the bible.

    I won’t hold my breath, naturally, but it’s the second most common way to make atheists.

  20. How could one assassinate the unknown character of an anonymous “John Wilson”? By offering a bald assertion that I was somehow the same as Avi, without offering a shred of evidence, you left it up to the reader to determine what you meant. And since there is nothing remotely similar between Avi and myself, other than our religion, I filled in what appeared to be your point. If you say it wasn’t, then I believe you.

    As for Ali Hirsi Ali, I have read Infidel, I have viewed her speeches, I have enjoyed her appearances on radio and TV. I know she is an atheist, but she also continuously praises Judaism and Christianity as practiced in America, and does not try to push her own personal atheism on others. She deals with it when asked. She also abhors those ACLU-types who attack America’s Judeo-Christian culture. She’s smart enough to understand that what we need to fight is BAD religion; atheists like you and Greg can’t seem to understand the nuance, so you end up wasting your time on the religious traditions that have given us every bit of freedom and prosperity that we enjoy today.

    In other words: it takes courage to take on the head-choppers; it takes no courage whatsoever to take on the Lord’s Prayer.

    To answer your question: I’m with Ayaan because she condemns Islam. She would tell you that this is indeed her mission; she’s never mushed up her message to be “against theocracies”. She has said repeatedly that she is very grateful for the overwhelming support she has received from America’s right-leaning Christian and Jewish communities, and receives it without the slightest worry of some sort of sinister ulterior motive.

  21. Greg: you repeat what I believe is the great logical fallacy of atheism – that, somehow, our moral centres are programmed to be good by nature or evolution or whatever, without the influence of the family we grew up in, the congregations we were raised in, the schools we went to, the friends we kept, the societies we inhabited, etc. There is no evidence in science, history, anthropology, or elsewhere, that shows man’s moral centre is much more than a blank slate.

    Goodness needs to be taught. Cruelty is more natural than generosity. Whether you like to admit it or not, your moral centre is made up primarily of influences handed down for generations, based heavily on the divine commandments, the golden rule, and the examples of history and mythology as passed down through the Bible. These things just aren’t part of human DNA; that’s why they needed to be written in stone, and reinforced regularly.

    Don’t hold your breath. I’ve considered all possibilities, and found the following: there’s no scientific proof that there is or is not a God, and there never will be. Closing yourself off to the possibility of God is, to me, a spiritual dead end that makes cynicism a virtue, science a religion, and ultimate happiness virtually impossible. Therefore, I take the leap of faith, and open myself to a world of philosophical, intellectual, and spiritual exploration – and to the possibility of ultimate meaning in life.

  22. John Wilson

    Flagg… you are not rational, you represent the worst of the right like Avi represents the worst of the left. You have a lot in common with him. Logical argument is lost on you – though you claim it’s in your corner. You are a moron…. science a religion? you just slandered science by calling it a religion you cretin! Does anybody else notice this… I feel like i’m taking crazy pills here… buh bye!

  23. Proof-positive that atheism is a closed-minded intellectual dead end.

    That’s the last word for this degenerating thread. Hope you’ll enjoy my future postings on the subject of faith in the post-modern world.