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Shall we pray.....
Praying in public, and out loud, is offensive because it is most often self-serving and sanctimonious.
Praying in public, and out loud, is simply another form of preaching, sermonizing.
That was the Nazarene's official position, as well. At least that's what the, you know, Good Book, says.
Go into your closet, Jesus said, and pray in solitude......don't pray in order for others to see and hear you. Or words to that affect.
The prayer in the video above was spoken as the Texas State Board of Education convened yesterday. Republicans on that Board helped pass a new, radical makeover of Texas public school text books.....a makeover which the AP describes this way....
The partisan board has amended or watered down the teaching of the civil rights movement, slavery, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items. ... They dictate how political events and figures will be taught to some 4.8 million schoolchildren in Texas and beyond for the next decade.
Some highlights...well, maybe not highlights,.....perhaps lowlights.....
....conservatives added language that would require students to discuss the solvency of "long-term entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare."
....conservatives also have successfully strengthened the requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and attempted to water down rationale for the separation of church and state.
.....the board has added language heralding "American exceptionalism" and the U.S. free enterprise system, suggesting it thrives best without excessive government intervention. It also required students learn to about the Second Amendment right to bear arms specifically,
They also agreed to delete a requirement that sociology students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society."
So, I'm in Hobby Lobby in Stow-Kent.....I'm looking around and I see a rather large display of patriotic items towards the front of the store. Trinket stuff mainly.....July 4th stuff.....baskets and knick-knack dust collectors.....you know the stuff. A couple items stood out. They had the words "god shed his grace on thee" printed on them.....if I remember correctly.....words from the song 'America, the Beautiful.'
Of course, Hobby Lobby can sell whatever they want to....but I thought about those words. Are they true? If there is a god, did he really single out America, and Americans, as special recipients of his "grace", whatever that is? And if so, why would 'god' do that?
The majority of Texas State Board of Education members think god hand-selected the U.S. to be some kind of divine vessel. A national glove which god could slide his omniscient hand into.....in order to work out his ultimate "will" in the world. To the majority of Texas Board members, the United States isn't like any other country. We're unique. We're the only nation (other than Israel, naturally) on earth which god shed his grace upon.....for some specifically divine purpose.
This thinking, misguided as I think it is, makes up the roots of the tree that conservatives call "American exceptionalism." I mean, for crying out loud.....if 'god' hand selected the U.S.A. out of all the world's territories to give his unique blessings to.....then how could America NOT be "exceptional." Right?
If Israel can be 'god's chosen'....then why not America? Settled first by Protestants steeped in biblical verses, America was often referred to as the 'New Israel'. Perhaps that's why the American Protestants eventually drove out all those 'infidel' Indians....just like Israel had done with the wicked Hittites, Amorites, and Amalekites.
Just as the god of Israel had ordered the total annihilation of all idol-worshipping tribes who were unfortunate enough to be occupying their "promised land"....so too, the god of Israel had ordered the eventual annihilation of all savage infidels who were trespassing on the new "promised land" of America. Land promised to god's new chosen people....Protestant Americans.
In other words.....being god's "exceptional" and "chosen" nation.....at least in the, you know, Judeo-Christian tradition, means, first of all, carrying out genocide against any non-chosen folks occupying your "promised land."
I'm not quite sure that's something to be proud of, or something that conservative Texas school board members should be oh-so-sanctimoniously praying about ......but, by god, there it is.