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Such Empty Thoughts And Prayers

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Such Empty Thoughts And Prayers


Reprinted with permission from Creators.


No matter how great one’s faith in God, after yet another massacre of innocent people, it’s impossible to believe that prayer alone is going to save us from ourselves.

We’re living and grieving this essential truth, no matter how many times we try to tell ourselves and anyone who will listen that with God, all things are possible. The older I get the more that sounds like blame, not credit. I’ve always thought of God as a partner who expects us to do our part, which involves a whole lot more than singing, chanting or fingering the rosary and then thanking him for listening.

God alone will fix this? We know better, if for no other reason than we know too many fellow humans. One massacre after another and one day-to-day senseless murder at a time have laid it out for us in the starkest of terms. “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough to change the hearts and minds of those determined to harm innocent people.

It is especially galling when elected officials who tether their careers to the National Rifle Association predictably offer their “thoughts and prayers” to cast themselves as Christians in talks with God whenever gunmen render another patch of America into a war zone. I don’t believe in hell, but I confess to low moments of hoping that if it does exist, there’s reserved seating for the likes of them.

My intention here is not to mock people of faith. The phrase “practicing Christian” was made for people like me — if by “practicing,” we mean clinging to the hope that we’re stumbling in the right direction. My mother’s faith was sturdier. She was a born-again Christian who, long before it was a bumper sticker, insisted that God loves everybody, no exceptions. The bumper sticker on her Dodge Dart assured everyone braking for sudden stops behind her that her boss was a Jewish carpenter. She was that church lady.

We just passed the 18th anniversary of my mother’s death, at age 62. That’s just two years older than I am now, and you can imagine how that’s playing with my head, but anyway. A conversation I had with my mother just weeks before she died has most likely done more to fuel my faith than any sermon I’ve ever endured. She was a hospice home care worker full of wondrous stories about other people’s last days. Still, this time, she was facing the end of her own life, and I wondered whether she was afraid to die.

She shook her head and smiled at my puzzled face. “I know things you don’t know yet, honey,” she said, grabbing my hands with both of hers. “It’s not your time.”

I don’t know what she knew, but the look on her face was a lesson in grace.

I don’t judge those millions of Americans who, feeling helpless right now, are offering their prayers for others. In this current political climate, it is easy to feel small and pointless. As I tried to explain to a fellow journalist in a Facebook thread yesterday, offering our prayers is a way to acknowledge others’ pain, a way to say “I see you.” It is an attempt to abide, to maybe help someone feel a little less alone.

There is no doubt in my mind that if my mother were alive, she would be offering up a steady stream of prayers for the dead and wounded victims of the Las Vegas massacre and for those who love them.

I am just as certain that my mother would have no patience for those cowards in Congress. She probably wouldn’t call them that, because she was not a fan of name-calling. But she would be full of opinions and a willingness to share them with those men and women who claim to love Jesus but won’t even try to limit the number of deadly and oh-so profitable weapons sold in this country.

Faith is a duty, she once told me, not a hobby.

She had her ways, my mother.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.


Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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  1. dpaano October 6, 2017

    So very true…our government is being run by an extremely Godless group of hypocrites! True Christians see this very clearly!

    1. Thornton October 7, 2017

      I thought I would put my two cents worth in on this one…..and I was not kind. It might even get deleted. HHEHEHHEHEHE………Thornton

  2. latebloomingrandma October 6, 2017

    The Gospel of Matthew requires a response, an action, putting the lessons given by Jesus into practice. I see no courage at all from the “Christians” in Congress or the Republican party in general. They can pray all they want, and it’s for show only if there is no positive action towards righting wrongs.

    1. Dapper Dan October 6, 2017

      Those individuals are the hypocrites that Jesus spoke of. He said that when you pray to the Father do it in secret not these empty platitudes so many pols do publicly. I just gag that they send their thoughts and prayers after a gun massacre knowing full well they did nothing to safeguard Americans against this type of tragedy kowtowing to the almighty NRA

  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 6, 2017

    As I as a Baha’i see it—and fellow Baha’is across the world concur—a substantial number of followers of Religions previously revealed have evolved an erroneous view of God and what their relationship to this “unknowable Essence” should be.

    If any among you would reflect on the attitudes of most Christians, for example, you will note a sentiment suggesting a casual and shallow connection with the Creator. The responsibility to act on what you believe has been lost; the performance of deeds which match our beliefs aren’t in synch; and God has become this notion that “He” is the Divine micro-manager, stepping in at all times to correct what we shouldn’t have erred on if we were cognizant of what is expected of us as humans.

    This out-of-synch dynamic between faith and action most likely began when certain church leaders like Martin Luther began branching off into myriad denominations, each leader/thinker in the matrix of the growing Christian community developing his/her own sect, arising due to conflicting views over serious doctrinal issues. One such bone of contention was whether faith alone was sufficient, and therefore works/actions were unnecessary to show one’s allegiance to God, and therefore all who said “I believe” were guaranteed salvation.

    Such a simple-minded idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Faith has to be complemented with action, and no action will be fully beneficial without a firm understanding and conviction as to why such an act should be performed. This is a kernel and cornerstone of Religion which a majority of Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. have lost sight of.

    Another example is this: In Islam, a similar mistaken notion of the responsibility of the individual to act has evolved to the point where it is culturally a norm to say “Inshallah”(If God Wills) when hoping that a result would be forthcoming. Another example of abdicating responsibility to act by sitting back and expecting God to always save the day. Of course, there is another reason for saying “Inshallah”, as a sign of one’s implicit acceptance that the Creator is aware in advance what would be the best response to a wish or request.

    And now, Baha’u’llah very clearly and repeatedly emphasizes a harmony of Faith with Action, and that reliance on God must be reflected by deeds performed. In a manner, the individual sets out to do a task which is consonant with the intent of the Baha’i Faith, and hopes that by taking action, God will assist the endeavor.

    A verse in the Qur’an, which is in harmony with what Jesus aforetime had expressed, and which many Muslims conveniently ignore, I paraphrase” “When the individual takes one step towards God, God will take 10 steps towards the supplicant.”

    Of course, God doesn’t “walk” as we humans or any other creature moves, but this is a metaphor of a relationship.

    1. Sand_Cat October 6, 2017

      Anton LaVey said most Christians were actually Satanists according to his version of the latter, i.e., they are (usually) good to people who are good to them, usually indifferent to the great mass of those they do not know, often “a terror to their enemies,” and unwilling to sacrifice what they want for others besides close friends and family, and often not for them. He also said his religion was Ayn Rand’s philosophy dressed up with ritual, another way of affirming the above. When I look at all the “Christians” talking about how god intervened personally to save America from Hillary Clinton, who hate brown, gay, trans-gender, and Muslim people and a host of others, it seems to me he got that exactly right. I’m sure there are many good Christians out there, such as the author, who attempt to stumble as best they can in the right direction, but it seems to me they are a largely hidden and probably dying breed.

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 6, 2017

    “O Son of Dust! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning”. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, pp. 23-24.

    “O Son of My Handmaid! Guidance hath ever been given by words, and now it is given by deeds. Every one must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones. Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds. In this wise We counsel you in this holy and resplendent tablet”. – Ibid., pp. 48-49.

  5. Thornton October 7, 2017

    If I may take this moment to steal what was said on Funny or Die regarding these empty thoughts and prayers. Take your empty thoughts and prayers, write them on some paper, shove them down your throats and choke to death on them….or…take those written messages and shove them up your fat @$$es. Actions speak louder than words, so take your words and shove them up your @$$es, you F*ckTard hypocrites.

    1. dpaano October 9, 2017

      Oooh, Thornton, I like your ideas!!! Only problem is that I don’t think Trump and his cronies can find their a$$es with BOTH hands!!!

      1. Thornton October 9, 2017

        HEHEHEHEHEHE…..Glad you like my comments but the praise should really got to the Funny or Die website. Will Ferrell, originally from Saturday Night Live, is the guy who has the website. It is funny as all get out….on many subjects and current events.

  6. ralphkr October 7, 2017

    I am reminded that when my father was young the pastor assured the congregation that God only listened to prayers in German. (German Lutherans officially known as Missouri Synod).

    1. mary5920 October 10, 2017

      Yep. My mom grew up going to the Norway Lutheran Church in S. Dakota, and don’t know if her pastor thought that, but it wouldn’t be too far fetched that God only spoke Norwegian. 😉


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