Wednesday, 18 April 2007

I Handed Him the List of Names...

Every Tuesday I teach a bunch of disadvantaged kids who are struggling in school and are in danger of exclusion or legal action for poor attendence, my aim is to inspire them to stick at school and to help them get some work experience so that their CV has something on it when they go out into the job market.

Hard work but I love it and the kids are already burrowing their way into my heart.

We're based at a place called Pilgrim's Hall on the out skirts of Brentwood, which is a religious retreat but have no fear my secular friends, big baby Jesus is not foisted upon them but these chaps kindly offered us a base for the Tuesday sessions (or Mong Club as one of the kids has kindly Christened it...).

I went into the office to give them the full term dates for the classes and after I'd done the guy in charge asked me for a list of names of all the young people taking part, when I asked him why his answered:

"Because we would like to pray for all of them."

Partly this freaked me out, like the children were terrible sinners or something but then part of me thought that it could do know harm and was worth a shot. I suppose these born-again Christians have such an intensity and over powering sense of rightness that I find it hard not to get defensive when they offer their hand in help.

12 comments:

  1. It is difficult, isn't it? I've found that by thinking of prayer as just a form of positive thinking I'm able to be more accepting when people tell me they'll pray for me. Also, mathamaticians have shown that observation changes te nature of whatever is being observed. I don't know how that all works out with prayer, but people have been praying ofr my sister (terminally ill) for years and she is still alive. I attribute that more to modern medicine than anything else, but the unknown can't be completely discounted. Couldn't hurt.

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  2. Interesting ....

    I don't recall hearing Jews or Muslims or even Buddahists offering to pray for anyone ...

    But I don't really pay attention. Just strikes me that Christians seem to put a whole lot of stock in their prayers.

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  3. Prayer never hurts, but I would like to know exactly what they're praying for. If it's that they find Jesus, that's one thing. Whenever anyone offers to pray for me, I usually request that they pray for something specific. Next time, perhaps you could ask them to pray that they find peace and contentment, and are able to fulfill their potentials.

    Keep up the good works!

    yeharr

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  4. As a born again Christian who regularly reads your blog, I can say that most born again Christians know that we, ourselves, are terrible sinners and want to pray for those in need because we care about them, not because we look down on them. It is wrong when Christians get on their moral high-horse. Every single time it is wrong. When we stop and think about it, we realize that. I may not agree with everything everyone is doing, but I also know that it is no worse than the things I do or think or say every single day, whether I want to admit it or not. I personally pray that God will richly bless you, DHG, and those children with whom you work. I pray that those that have given you such a mistrust of Christianity will see the error of their way. I hope you can understand that just because someone takes on the name of Christ they are not always speaking on His behalf. Just like I could say that you would be angry at someone out of turn, so can Christians get haughty, when Christ would not have. He who has not sinned, etc. God does love you, and you are His favourite :0) Thanks for allowing me to read your great blog daily. I really enjoy it, even when I disagree.

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  5. I love when the self-righteous tell you they'll pray for you "anyway."

    Fuck them up the goat's ass.

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  6. Be very wary of of born agains asking for names....

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  7. You are always doing an interesting project. Are you going to do theater games? Those were the highlite of my public school experience.

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  8. UWL: couldn't hurt is the attitude I've decided to take.

    Renegade Eye: yep, I'm doing business stuff in the mornings, getting them to think about setting up their own businesses and then in the afternoons we do drama and acting based work, certainly keeps things fresh and my brain busy!

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  9. Yes, I would only give first names, if any. "Praying for" is often code for something more than simply reciting prayers and meditating. It can be the first stage of recruitment.

    Usually in this case, prayer implies praying to a deity. But prayer is really simply a kind of meditation, a focusing of the mind, which predates its incorporation into religions. It does work in some way that is not well understood by science. Using a deity to focus ones prayer is helpful, but not necessary.

    "Praying for" as the first stage in recruitment takes this kind of logic: First is the idea of not just praying, but praying "for" someone, which implies a kind of petitioning, and implies petitioning "to" someone, such as God.

    Next: If my prayers to God on your behalf are so helpful, would it not be even better if you did the praying yourself? Or you prayed for me like I pray for you? Hence the names are needed for recruitment.

    When looking at cult recruitment, it is well known that people with strong religious upbringing are most immune to cult recruitment. It is those with no religious background at all that are most easily sucked in. Those raised to think for themselves have some defence, though recruiters are well trained in the "logical argument" method of recruitment.

    Disadvantages kids would make an especially target rich environment, if you assume they have little religious background. The ideal in my view is to be raised in some religious tradition, coupled with being taught to think critically. So when the cult recruiter tries "love bombing", you will recognize it as the same thing that goes in in revival meetings and even regular church services. You will not see the cult as having some special spiritual connection that any church can give you.

    Then, with the manipulation techniques, such as love bombing and general fellowship out of the way, you can look more critically at what the cult/religion will demand of you in exchange for that feeling of belonging. If it demands you be a good person and do charitable works, that is a fair trade. If it demands you beg money at airports and have sex with the senior members of the cult/faith, then you might look for a less intrusive and less abusive group.

    But all in all, DHG, you have to decide based on the situation at hand. There are a lot of good religious people, many who are as appalled as you are at the abuses that go on in the name of religion.

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  10. Your timing is apt, given the family statement of Sun-Kyung Cho, sister of the Virginia Tech killer. I actually thought she could not have written a better letter. What touched me most was the third paragraph:

    Every day since April 16, my father, mother and I pray for students Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Brian Roy Bluhm, Ryan Christopher Clark, Austin Michelle Cloyd, Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, Caitlin Millar Hammaren, Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, Rachael Elizabeth Hill, Emily Jane Hilscher, Jarrett Lee Lane, Matthew Joseph La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, Lauren Ashley McCain, Daniel Patrick O'Neil, J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Minal Hiralal Panchal, Daniel Alejandro Perez, Erin Nicole Peterson, Michael Steven Pohle, Jr., Julia Kathleen Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Joseph Samaha, Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, Leslie Geraldine Sherman, Maxine Shelly Turner, Nicole White, Instructor Christopher James Bishop, and Professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Kevin P. Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan.

    A name is a powerful thing.

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  11. Ace stuff working with these kids - thank (God?);-) There's people out there who always believe in them..that's the main thing for me..Good luck Dan

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