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Actions speak louder than prayer words

Posted on November 27, 2013 by Taber Times

Given the debate that has been raging this past month over the Lord’s Prayer issue at Dr. Hamman School not only locally, but nationally as well, I find it quite ironic that we just celebrated Bullying Awareness Week which ended this past Saturday in Canada.

The radical fringe on both sides of the argument have driven home the point that perhaps bullying will never  fully be vanquished. Open up message boards on any number of social media sites involving this issue and you will know what I’m talking about.

It has brought nothing to the issue other than more divisiveness among the more rational people both pro and con who brought this issue to the forefront in trying to find a compromise. It’s always the radical fringe on both sides of an argument that torpedoes diplomatic resolution.

According to a radio interview on the Rob Breakenridge Show with the author of the original letter of complaint about prayer in school with Melanie Bell, she has been asked to leave town by at least one person. Open up some message boards and you will see the nastiness with some comments where there is plenty of darkness to go around with supposedly what the ‘light’ of Christianity can bring. It has made me reflect on my own beliefs.

I view myself as an agnostic which many have called your lazy man’s Christian. I stopped trying to call it anything many years ago, seeing how history has proven that usually does just as much harm as good in its quest. I just feel inside me that there is something bigger than myself out there. Hopefully those good ideals inside of me can be nurtured by mankind around me with my evolution of free will from a creator as I make my own choices which have been both good and bad in my past as I strive to be a better person. Call it Christ, call it whatever you want to — I’m just tired of the divisiveness it can cause if you don’t exactly agree to the letter of a person’s interpretation of Christianity where with the vastness of spirituality how can anyone claim to be an expert at it? In my more quiet reflective times I meditate when I feel I need answers at the tougher crossroads of my life and I feel inside me the positive answer as I fight for what I feel is right as I make my way in this world. Call it God, call it whatever, I am at peace with the feeling it gives me.

I wouldn’t say I was your ‘special occasion’ Christian, but was close to that in my youth, periodically attending Catholic church in Lethbridge.

But I remember vividly the exact moment I stopped going to church was at a Christmas mass in Nanaimo, B.C. in the mid 1990s. As we walked into the church I found it odd that many cars in the church parking lot had backed their way into their stalls as if they were getting ready for a quick getaway. That odd feeling continued during mass as I saw numerous people (not everyone) constantly scanning their watches as if wondering when the mass was going to end.

The mass ended and I was at the back of a line filing out when I spotted a man in a wheelchair trying to exit the church by trying to prop open the heavy door with one hand while wheeling himself out with the other. His struggle continued in the one lane while others filtered out right beside him with the door right beside it already open. Dozens of people walked right by this man as his struggles continued, oblivious to the fact he was a man in need of help. Finally as I reached the front of the line I propped the door open in the other lane for the man in which his thank-you nod and smile was quickly replaced by a shove in my back and a comment of ‘hurry up’ as I was blocking foot traffic.

Like a bolt of lightning it struck me that we just had this long sermon about helping out our fellow man and being kind etc., looking our fellow parishioners straight in the eye while shaking their hands and telling them ‘peace be with you.’ Yet dozens upon dozens of people could not be bothered to stop for five seconds to hold open a door so a handicapped person could get through in their mad dash to wrap up those last-minute gifts of Malibu Staceys. For me from that point Christ wasn’t found in any one building, but within myself and my interactions with my fellow man and woman.

This is no attack on organized religion as I very well know lots of people who are far better than I that use church to recharge their spiritual batteries regularly, it’s just I use the example as a cautionary tale for those who are fighting tooth and nail to ‘keep God in schools’ but given their hateful actions are not seeing the bigger picture.

Should the bigger picture for Christians be not worrying about keeping God in schools and church, but rather in their hearts?

I hope however this issue pans out with Horizon School Division it is not the children that get caught in-between the politics.

I hope Bell’s children or any other parent who may feel the same way do not feel the wrath of spiritual bullying. It is naive to think Bell is the only parent out there that thinks the way she does that religion should be practised in other places than public schools, it just happens to be she is the one who summoned the courage to speak up. Hopefully these parents’ children’s’ playdates do not dry up like in the case of Luke Fevin in St. Albert or their children are teased or bullied on the playground.

Jesus kept company with sinners, prostitutes, convicts, drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers and murderers in his travels spreading his word — I imagine it’s OK if Bell is allowed to be on a parent council to organize bake sales or school plays and all types of kids and their beliefs can play tag on the playground together.

All I say is practice what you preach. If you are cheating on your wife/husband, school prayer shouldn’t be your biggest issue. If you are bankrupting a person you are doing business with through an unethical business practice to gain riches for yourself, school prayer shouldn’t be your biggest issue. If you are constantly complaining about the coach who is donating their time so that your kid can enjoy some fresh air, exercise and build friendships among other players, yet you have never volunteered for anything in your life, school prayer shouldn’t be your biggest issue. If you are doing hateful actions against people who are not saying prayer is bad, but simply it should be done elsewhere than a public school then the Lord’s Prayer is not going to help you make anything better.

Just be cognizant of the fact with some of you out there that Christianity is not found just in the words of the Lord’s Prayer but those actions that are supposed to be encouraged through the Lord’s Prayer in the first place.

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