2017-11-06 – I don’t mind people sending thoughts and prayers. It gives people comfort during times of sorrow or distress. I respect that. The problem is that it gives some people too much comfort.
I’m speaking of politicians.
You know what I’m talking about: thoughts and prayers instead of action when a shooter takes down a church or a concert or a mall or a movie or a school or . . .
Now these politicians are sticklers for the Second Amendment of the Constitution, even though it is quite likely that the 18th century politicians would be appalled at the bizarro interpretation they give it. I’m not going to talk about the Second Amendment here (I’ve written about that before.)
I want to talk about the Ten Commandments. The politicians who send thoughts and prayers normally express a reverence and allegiance to the Ten Commandments. So I think it is fair to talk about them here.
Now you might think I’m going to talk about the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” which does seem to have relevance to mass murder. But that one is obvious and I’ll leave it on the table. The commandment I want to talk about is the Third Commandment:
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
As a child, this seemed a little obscure to me. We were told that this prohibited lying under oath, and this seems to be a fairly straightforward application, since most people invoke the name of God when they take an oath.
We were also told that this commandment prohibited vulgar swearing. This might have made sense in the old days when swearing invoked the name of God (“god damn you”) but makes less sense today when swearing centers more about rape and feces.
As a grownup, I’ve begun to appreciate a third application of the commandment: to prohibit use of the name of God as a type of clout. None of this “God is on my side” business. The third commandment prohibits using the name of God as a political lever, as a way to get your way, as a way to shut down opposition.
When ordinary people offer each other thoughts and prayers, it can be a heartfelt expression of sympathy. When many of our politicians do it, it’s more than that. It’s a political tool. I’m talking about hiding behind “thoughts and prayer.” These pols are taking the name of God in vain.
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