In a recent op-ed, writer Matthew Archbold decries the modern tendency to avoid religious language in public, promising “good thoughts” rather than prayers for people, in a bow to a secular environment where Christianity is seen as “the new secondhand smoke.”
Archbold relates a series of instances where even religious people are cowed into offering a “good thought” rather than a prayer for people in need, for fear of appearing to “impose their values” on others, anathema in today’s social climate.
In an effort to explain the underlying suppositions behind the new trend, Archbold offers three hypotheses as to why people are suddenly offering “good thoughts” and “positive waves” for people.
On possibility, the author suggests, is that people now believe in their “supreme ability to nurture positive energy and aim it at their intended target.” In other words, rather than appeal to an external divinity to beg for blessings, people now think they are capable of altering the state of affairs just by willing it.
A second option is that people are just trying to say something nice without offending anybody else, even though the thought itself is completely meaningless. “They just don’t care about anyone else and that’s a good quick end to the conversation,” Archbold proposes.
The third alternative, which Archbold believes to be the most probable, is that people are simply too scared in today’s world to say, “I’ll pray for you.”
The author suggests that American society may have slid so far into secularism that offering prayers for others is seen not only as ineffective, but downright irritating and dangerous, like “secondhand smoke.”
The accusation of “imposing one’s faith” on others “are the scare words used nowadays,” he asserts. Promising prayers has gone the way of the now-forbidden greeting of “Merry Christmas” in exchange for the politically correct “Season’s Greetings.”
A number of reactions to the recent massacres of San Bernardino and Orlando revealed the deep-set hostility that many harbor toward Christian prayer—accusing those who promised prayers as avoiding action and taking refuge in pipe dreams.
Popular hashtags on Twitter included #actionnotprayers and #nomoreprayers, among others.
Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine how “one nation, under God” will fare when that God is banished as somehow dangerous to polite conversation.
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