Saturday, February 02, 2008

Blessings, Chickens... Whatever

I got an e-mail forwarded to me the other day and it contained a bunch of pictures of families from various countries and they were each sitting around piles of how much food their family consumes in a week and a figure of what that food cost. Naturally the countries you'd expect to have big piles of food and large grocery bills do; America, Germany, etc. And as you go down the list the countries get poorer and the quantity of food is reduced even though the size of the family often increased. By the end there's a family of 6 in Breidjing Camp in Chad with a tiny pile of grains and few dinky veggies whose weekly groceries cost them $1.23.

After you look at all the pictures there's a little note that says, "I don't know about you but right now I'm counting my blessings!"

Now I could be completely misinterpreting the meaning of the little note but I think the general gist of it is that you should take a minute and say, "Thank you, God, for loving me enough to give me a comfy life and thank you for giving the shaft to someone else." I'm not a religious person so maybe I just don't get it but how do you thank your deity for putting you on the "good" list (through no actions of your own) while he lets others suffer (through no fault of their own)? The Spousal Unit and I attribute much of our position in the world to having had good luck in the birth lottery. We could just as easily have been born in Chad. It's not blessings, it's not God smiling down on you, it's not the good grace of the Lord. It's just fucking luck. And you aren't special just because you got really lucky. As did I. And I'm no more special than anyone else either.

OK. Your soapbox.


o'butter said...

I couldn't agree more.

Stepping onto my own soapbox . . .

Years ago, when my daughter was born, she had two serious heart defects, both of which required open heart surgery when she was 6 days old.

So many people told us, in the days before the surgery, "We're praying for you."

I'm not a religious person myself, and while I most definitely appreciated their kind thoughts, the "we're praying for you" thing always struck me as odd.

I imagined this unfair, capricious God, one who saves kids who have lots of people praying for them but lets other kids--those with fewer 'prayer cheerleaders' on their sidelines--die.

The people meant well, so I kept it to myself that I didn't even really believe in their god in the first place. At least not that version of him, if at all.

My daughter's fine, by the way, and I attribute pretty much all of that to the skill and training of her heart surgeons and cardiologists.

We're damn lucky. That's all it is. Born in the right place and the right time.

elle_rigby said...

Well, let's all hope God doesn't strike you down for this one.

If he does, I'll know I'm next.

tysgirl said...

Ok, I'm officially a fan of your blog.

My personal favorite is "God must've had a reason." Living in the bible belt, I hear it all the time. Someone recently said it to me after I lost a baby. I asked them what they thought God's reason would be for killing my baby but allowing a meth junkie to pop out 7 kids....all I got was a blank stare. Go figure.

I am not at all content with the sheep mentality, but living in the South I'm surrounded by it.

Sylvia said...

O'Butter: There was a study done a few years ago where studied prayer in heart bypass surgery patients. Some were prayed for; some were not. Some were told they were prayed for; some were told they might or might not be prayed for. No difference in outcomes for who was prayed for and who was not. But those who thought they were receiving prayers had a larger number of complications (although that could be statistical chance).

Sylvia said...

Sorry that link is not working. And I can not get it to. I googled "heart surgery prayer study" and it came right up.

Zoe said...

Well of course god doesn't give a shit about starving children in other countries, he's too busy giving respek to and answering prayers of the pro athletes here in the US of A don't ya know.

Phollower said...

o'butter: Wow, I didn't know that about your daughter. I'm not sure I knew you had a daughter. I can't believe god didn't tell me about it. And I'm in full agreement on the prayer cheerleader thing. I find it funny that the majority of people who believe in the power of prayer also believe in a god who is all-knowing and can see all of the future forever. If god already knows everything that's gonna happen it's not like you're going to get him to change his mind about something if you just ask nicely enough. Heck, he already knew you were going to ask and took that into account I'm sure.

elle: I'll save you a seat in hell. And, lucky you, I think all of hell is in the smoking section. Ba dum bum.

tysgirl: Alright! My first fan! Yeah, the "god has a reason" thing cracks me up too. Generally when posed with tough questions like yours the believers seem to give the "we don't always understand his plan" answer. Well, you got that right.

sylvia: I prayed and prayed for your link to work. Nuthin'. Could just be statistical chance though.

zoe: My point exactly. Even the athletes who thank god for their victories don't seem fazed by the fact that somebody else had to lose and what they're really thanking him for is screwing someone else.


elle_rigby said...

We should all get together with beer and peanuts and rag on God some time.

o'butter said...

Sylvia: Interesting story!

But don't you see what's happening?

God didn't intervene in those cases because He wanted to test people's faith. I mean, geez, if he did heal those who were prayed for, come on, it'd all be too obvious. You gotta have faith.

I grew up in South Bend, right by Notre Dame. I remember when they won the National Championship in '77, people had "God made Notre Dame #1" bumper stickers on their cars.


Even as a kid I found that distasteful. Starving kids in Africa and all that, and He's involved in the outcome of a football game?

Phollower: Yea, I do have a daughter. And a son, too. They've come to a couple of our games. He learned some new words in the locker room one time, too. That was interesting, explaining to him afterwards why it's okay to use those words in a locker room but not at school or around his friends.

(This is the same kid who told another kid at nursery school, after we watched the original "Planet of the Apes" together, "You get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" The other kid had my son by the collar and was trying to wrestle but got that response instead. I couldn't help but laugh when the teacher told me about it when I picked him up that day.)

Phollower said...

elle: Count me in. If I ever go to NY or Philly or if you ever come to Indy or Chicago we can get together. We'll call it God Bash. It could become an annual event.

o'butter: I imagine teaching kids when it's ok to swear and when it's just not acceptable is a tough one. Especially when your son asks, "But what if my fucking teacher is being a total bitch? Can I call her a douche bag then?"