Prayer and Key Lime Pie

Can you hear me now?
Can you hear me now?

I’ve been prayed to before.

Once upon a time, in the dusty town of Spencer, IN, I used to work at summer camp. I worked in the kitchen, which was a little bit like all of the camp and none of the kids, so it suited me just fine. Every day revolved around getting the food out on time and slowly evading the ever-present possibility that we would become the targets of a revolt of 150 militant and starving children led by their equally starving staff members.

Much like the great breadstick massacre of 2012… which we don’t speak of.

Working in the kitchen does give you certain powers, some celestial, and some diabolical. You stare down people when they come in for a mop and after they’ve taken it, you follow them with your eyes all the way out the door, so they know the DEAL. You yell at people when you’re moving hot things, cuz that’s clearly more important, and if they don’t move, just give them a little love tap with the sizzly corner of a tray of waffle fries. They’ll move. You own the kitchen as your hallowed space, a place not of undue clutter, and you can even kick out the director if he’s getting in your way.

But mostly, my powers over my three years at camp morphed into this: the kids didn’t know that “Tim” was a person. Over time, they came to understand “Tim”, rather, as a magical word, one that would make whatever food they wanted appear, like abracadabra. We had a ceramics god, a horse god (or rather, The Grand Empress of Equestrian Affairs), and I ended up as the Norse god of Food.

…you can even kick out the director if he’s getting in your way. (But he’s so nice that you just let him eat grapes and laze about.)

“Tim” The Incantation led people to the land of chocolate milk and honey for their biscuits and gravy, as well as washed away the sins of the people in time for lunch. Sometimes the spell would scarcely leave someone’s lips before the apple juice was back or more breadsticks were available to all. So the children were naturally conditioned to think that “Tim” solved any problem, a form of omnipotence, if you will.

So this kid sidles up to the door one day at high noon and asks, “Do you have any watermelon?” This is a question that he might not have asked if he knew anything about the constraints of my job. If he knew anything about stocking or ordering. If he knew that my supervisor had instructed that we only serve watermelon at dinner instead of lunch. But he doesn’t know anything about this; he only knows that “Tim” can do anything. I tell him that unfortunately, we’re not serving watermelon at this time, and without missing a beat, he hits me with, “That’s okay…do you have any Key Lime pie?”

Oh yes, watermelon takes 59 seconds to cut up and I told you I don’t have that. But I TOTALLY have Key Lime Pie.

So clearly he doesn’t understand magnitudes of complexity, either. But you have to hand it to the kid, his logic is consistent. He just believes that I can do anything. And despite the ridiculous difference in prep time between a watermelon and a Key Lime pie, he thinks I can do both. You can already see where I’m going with this. None of the constraints of my job are visible to that child, and as long as they remain invisible, he will become increasingly disappointed when I fail to meet his requests. The only thing that lessens that sense of disillusionment is the truth – that I can’t do everything.

That’s the whole point of this, and it’s why prayer is ultimately so disappointing. In the comments under my last post, I had someone compare God not answering prayers in the way we expect as akin to a parent not honoring their child’s request for chocolate cake for breakfast. But as I pointed out in that post, not all requests are so trivial. There is no good reason why a God of infinite love, who is present everywhere, and able and willing to protect His children and provide them with things that they need would turn a blind eye to them when they call. There’s no reason why God would be present at a rape, but not doing anything, only assuring, “You’ll understand later, I promise.” You have got to have a better god than that.

Don’t make me renounce the higher harmony, brah. – Brosky Dostoyevsky

I think we can upgrade the status of things that God ignores above "chocolate cake."
I think we can upgrade the status of things that God ignores above “chocolate cake.”

My point is that God cannot be all of the things that Christians want Him to be simultaneously. It is impossible, and something’s got to give. The reason I didn’t have a Key Lime Pie that day was because I’m not omnipotent.

So what’s your god’s excuse?

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2 thoughts on “Prayer and Key Lime Pie”

  1. The parent analogy has been used so often because while applicable and Biblical, it is also so very convenient to view a God as a parent figure and a wish grantee. What many Christians also conveniently forget that in the Christian worldview there is also something called Sin. All the parental allowance or fixing can only go so far if there is a bully they can’t control at school. Aka in Christianity, there is supposed to be a nemesis to God. But more importantly, what makes me furious is how trite it is for someone to say, “God said no because you asking for your cancer or that rape to not happen is just you asking for things you don’t really need.” Apparently all one needs to pray for is a non-self serving prayer that pleases everyone, apparently. If one is to actually believe in a God one must also have to accept that the violence that occurs in the world means there may be other players in the game–at least if one believes the biblical version of history (if not, well, different worldview) If there is one invisible player, logic says there may be more. But honestly, the triteness and such Western civilization dumming down of a God annoys me. You have a MAJOR point, if He were omnipotent, why the hell isn’t He doing things and preventing things? A close friend’s dad just died and just MAYBE praying that they could find their dad out on the road somewhere and that he might still make it and not die before they got there was just asking for some sugary sweet for breakfast. Cake with frosting, far too rich for one’s tummy and health, right? But honestly, if one is to actually believe in a God they had better believe in a God who is more than a one dimensional people pleaser. Honestly, the “heathens” have it right to fear their gods because they at least acknowledge their gods have tangible powers. If one is to punify a god they believe in as much as modern Christianity, and disturbingly Adventists too, then they are better of not believing in a God, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mmmhmm. I tried to point out in this and the last post that sometimes people earnestly pray for things that they do need, and their prayers go unanswered. They aren’t the same as asking for frivolous things, but they are genuine pleadings of the heart, and the only response possible is, “Well, would you give a child everything they ask for?” Give me a break.

    “Punifying God” seems like an adequate way to put it. The problem is that nobody really seems to understand what this God thing is that they want to tell everyone about. He can do everything, but only around the constraints of our free will. He loves, but condemns others to death for not loving Him. He is all powerful and created all and knows the beginning from the end, but is not ultimately responsible for the end, leaving our free will intact. And we know everything about Him, down to how he wants baby goats cooked and his motives for using a human sacrifice to save humanity, but whenever He does something people don’t like, He works in mysterious ways that we can’t really understand now, but which will be revealed to us later.

    Utter madness.

    Liked by 1 person

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