Today, apparently, is the National Day of Prayer. I wasn’t aware of that. I was completely and utterly ignorant that the United States has a National Day of Prayer. I’m not at all sure why we need a National Day of Prayer, but we have one and it’s today.
I learned today is the National Day of Prayer when a friend asked me, saying “Hey, Greg, did you know today is the National Day of Prayer?” He then urged me to go to the National Day of Prayer website and “leave a snarky comment”. When I asked why I’d want to do that, he said “You’re good at snarky comments.” Which didn’t really answer the question (does that count as a snarky comment?).
I did go to the website, on account of I’m curious about stuff like this. And I discovered the mission of the National Day of Prayer, which is
[T]o communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families.
Well. Okay, then. Good on the Christians, I guess. Very thoughtful of them to pray on behalf of America’s leaders (seriously, it IS thoughtful, though I’d be interested to hear some of those prayers involving President Obama). The website also states:
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds.
All Americans. Transcends differences. All backgrounds. Unless, it seems, you’re not Christian. That difference, not quite transcended. (Is that snarky? I guess it’s kind of snarky.) Still, thoughtful and all that. The website also includes the official prayer for the National Day of Prayer. Which is pretty old school, with bits about being humbled and broken, and cries for mercy, and a reference to ‘you are our only hope’ (and I’m sorry, I cannot hear that phrase without mentally adding ‘Obi-wan’ and c’mon, you did the same thing, fess up).
There’s a National Day of Prayer video, because you can’t have any sort of national day without a video.
It’s a racially diverse video. There’s young white woman whose boyfriend tells her he just wants to be friends, there’s a hard-working white laborer whose boss tells him he has to work late, there’s a middle-class white woman whose middle-class white husband doesn’t believe in the Bible, and there’s a black kid in sneakers who lives in a neighborhood where other black kids gamble on the sidewalk. The National Day of Prayer apparently allowed the black kid to walk right through a group of thugs shooting dice, caused the middle-class white husband to join his wife reading the Bible, informed the hard-working white guy that he should work even harder, and…well, the young white woman still doesn’t have a boyfriend, but at least she’s white and has a nice sofa on which to cry. So there’s that.
I noodled around for a bit on the National Day of Prayer website, but I didn’t leave a snarky comment. Not because there’s no snark-worthy material there, but because why should I go out of my way to offend Christians? That just seems silly and spiteful. Yes, there are Christians who, despite the fact that we have an actual National Day of Prayer (not to mention national Christian holidays), continue to believe Christians are somehow being suppressed and victimized. And yes, there are a lot of Christians who are astonishing hypocrites.
But so what? Most of the people I know are Christian in some sense, and most of them are good people. I can’t blame them because they share some religious beliefs with people who are total assholes.
But you know what would be cool? If we, as a nation, had a National Day of Not Being a Dick. That would be cool. Or a National Day of Maybe We Should Trust Women to Make Their Own Reproductive Decisions. I’d also like to see a National Day of Get Off Your Ass and Take a Walk or Ride a Bike. Or how about a National Day to Eat Vegan? I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but I think it would be worthwhile for people to consider the moral consequences of their food choices. I can think of a LOT of national days that seem more relevant and important than a National Day of Prayer specifically for Christians.
If I prayed — if I believed in Something or Someone to pray to — I’d pray for something like that. Even if there wasn’t a national day for it.