Every time I write a column about the decaying PTL Tower, I feel like Pavlov ringing a bell to feed a pack of conditioned lab dogs.
You see, in the aftermath of those columns, I inevitably get canned responses that focus on two points: That God put the tower there, and that people feel the need to pray for me.
I really don’t think I have to focus too much on the first point. If people truly believe God erected the tower instead of cranes and workers through the instructions of a manipulative televangelist convicted of crooked dealings with his ministry’s books, I really don’t know what to say. I might as well have Technicolor dreams about unicorns and fairy princesses and live in a fantasy world.
The second point, I take more offense.
Are people really going to pray for me because they have a different opinion than I do? What do they say when they exalt the Great One, “Oh, Dear Gracious God, please have Scott agree with me, and when he doesn’t, take pity on his poor soul?”
Unfortunately, this type of thinking is pervasive among many people who think of themselves as pious. Someone has a different take on things; better ask somebody to help them out because clearly something is wrong. Somebody has a different lifestyle; better threaten them with a trip to hell to get them to “reform” their ways.
Only smug arrogance will have people use prayer to settle differences of opinion. Shouldn’t it be used for actual times of need? For those who are sick? For those coping with loss, depression or other times of trouble? For those who are seeking spiritual guidance?
On the list of prayer targets, those who disagree with you should be somewhere near the bottom. So why does it usually seem to be close to the top?
Let’s face it: “I’m praying for you” has become a colloquial way of politely saying, “Take a hike.” A snooty yet ignorant tactic. I don’t even get the motive here. Suppose the power of prayer gets me to magically reverse course and think that a decrepit building is the greatest thing since sliced bread, what do the people supposedly praying for me get out of it?
If I pray for a friend with cancer and the disease is cured, they get their health back and I retain a friend. The only outcome I can think of that my prayees would get is silence regarding the tower. Is that really worth troubling God over? I guess it is less trouble than actually doing the right thing and tearing down the darn eyesore.
Save your prayers for the times I will actually need them.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to ring bells for Pavlov.