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Prayer
Posted: 29 August 2009 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hey folks;

Yesterday, here in Western New York, we had the funerals for two of our firefighters who died in the line of duty this past week.  At the close of the evening news on one the local stations the Firefoghters Prayer was broadcast.  It was a beautiful and moving expression of the sentiments of the the community.

As a non-beliver, I have often been contempuous of prayer, however this moment made me stop and think.  I have more or less regraded prayer as either a rater ridiculous plea to and non-existant higher being for intervention on my behalf for advantage to myself in human affairs, or possibly as an expression of emotions in some uncontrolable circumstance, or possibly, at best, as a means of contemplation.

However, after hearing this prayer last evening, I have begun to think that prayer serves a broader prupose than this.  It,  IMO , can serve as a means of solace, as a method of recognition, a call for action (of humans) and to express thanks, among other things.

Now as secularists, I am beginning to think that it might not be a good idea just to eliminate prayer without developing an equivalent substitute, possibly poetry would help, as this is what many prayers seem to be. 

My point is that prayer seves many puroses for humans and their communities and perhaps we secularists may need to build our own traditions to serve these purposes.


The prayer is as follows:

THE FIREFIGHTERS PRAYER

When I’m called to duty God
wherever flames may rage
give me strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help me to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable me to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

I want to fill my calling and
to give the best in me
to guard my neighbor and
protect his property

And if according to your will
I have to lose my life
bless with your protecting hand


Gary the Human

All the Gods and all religions were created by humans to serve human purposes and meet human needs.

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Posted: 29 August 2009 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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garythehuman - 29 August 2009 09:28 AM

All the Gods and all religions were created by humans to serve human purposes and meet human needs.

Sure, but that was a long time ago. Some of us have evolved and find now prayers not only unnecessary but also ridicules. I personally get very uncomfortable whenever I end up surrounded by people who get emotional after babbling some nonsense. I prefer to sit around a campfire with a guitar or with a piano at a dinner party, and “synchronize” with family and friends through music.

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Posted: 29 August 2009 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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George
How does sitting arround a campfire playiing a guitar expreress the griief and condolenses of a community over over a mllion people?

I’m not saying we should pray to the supernatural.  But that we need to find an alternative way to prayer of expresiing these feeling by and to the human community.

Gary

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Posted: 29 August 2009 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I agree that it was written well to describe their duties and evince an emotional response, however I believe it could be just as powerful without bothering with a theistic bent.  For example:

THE FIREFIGHTERS COVENANT

When we’re called to duty
wherever flames may rage
give us strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help us to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable us to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

We want to fill our calling and
to give the best in us
to guard our neighbor and
protect his property

If one of us has to lose his life
while performing his duty
we know his sacrifice
was for a noble cause.

Occam

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Posted: 29 August 2009 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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garythehuman - 29 August 2009 01:35 PM

George
How does sitting arround a campfire playiing a guitar expreress the griief and condolenses of a community over over a mllion people?

I’m not saying we should pray to the supernatural.  But that we need to find an alternative way to prayer of expresiing these feeling by and to the human community.

Gary

A community of a million people expressing a grief over a death of two firefighters are not really expressing a grief, but a mass hysteria. So perhaps a prayer is necessary in these situations. I dunno, not my cup of tea…

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Posted: 30 August 2009 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Occam - 29 August 2009 02:48 PM

THE FIREFIGHTERS COVENANT

When we’re called to duty
wherever flames may rage
give us strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help us to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable us to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

We want to fill our calling and
to give the best in us
to guard our neighbor and
protect his property

If one of us has to lose his life
while performing his duty
we know his sacrifice
was for a noble cause.

Occam

After reading this, I think it points out the basic problem I have with prayer.  It lets gods steal all of the power and focus.  The above is a much better expression of empowerment and communal interdependence.  Very nice!

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Posted: 07 September 2009 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam - 29 August 2009 02:48 PM

I agree that it was written well to describe their duties and evince an emotional response, however I believe it could be just as powerful without bothering with a theistic bent.  For example:

THE FIREFIGHTERS COVENANT

When we’re called to duty
wherever flames may rage
give us strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help us to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable us to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

We want to fill our calling and
to give the best in us
to guard our neighbor and
protect his property

If one of us has to lose his life
while performing his duty
we know his sacrifice
was for a noble cause.

Occam[/quote


I can agree with this without any problem.

Gary

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Posted: 07 September 2009 12:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Chicken - 30 August 2009 12:39 PM
Occam - 29 August 2009 02:48 PM

THE FIREFIGHTERS COVENANT

When we’re called to duty
wherever flames may rage
give us strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help us to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable us to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

We want to fill our calling and
to give the best in us
to guard our neighbor and
protect his property

If one of us has to lose his life
while performing his duty
we know his sacrifice
was for a noble cause.

Occam

After reading this, I think it points out the basic problem I have with prayer.  It lets gods steal all of the power and focus.  The above is a much better expression of empowerment and communal interdependence.  Very nice!

George:

A god stealing alll the power & focus.  Excellent point.  Thanks, I think I will be using this often, if you don’t mind.

Gary

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Posted: 07 September 2009 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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George;
“A community of a million people expressing a grief over a death of two firefighters are not really expressing a grief, but a mass hysteria. So perhaps a prayer is necessary in these situations. I dunno, not my cup of tea…”


There was no mass hysteria involved.  It was an outporing of the WNY community expressing their well deserved appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice of two of their own.

Gary

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Posted: 09 September 2009 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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garythehuman - 29 August 2009 01:35 PM

I’m not saying we should pray to the supernatural.  But that we need to find an alternative way to prayer of expresiing these feeling by and to the human community.

Gary

I agree that Humanism could use a venue, conduit or (gasp!) ritual for expressing some internal warmth and fellowship (gasp2!!) for each other. Brotherhood has never really been the long suit of the killer apes, but I think that might change some day soon.

As a writer of speculative fiction I try to portray the positive aspects of Humanism, and am attempting to address just this emotional void cited by Gary here, in what I expect will be a perilous approach. A major character in my new book is a Jesuit “admonitor” out of Boston College, a close advisor of the Pope, who is leading a search by the catholic church for a way to reinvent itself, to take advantage of Humanism’s new-found popularity in 2020 to recast its teachings outside the necessity for the supernatural. In essence Christ is then seen as the founding Humanist who instructed or updated our species on the new urban living rules. As Mohammed and Buddha et al. can also be viewed.

I try to meld together the faith and solidarity of the Jesuits with the species-centered vision of Humanists, to the point where catholic churches become gathering places on Saturdays for Humanists.

I see Humanism as being an “inclusive sensibility” and am always looking for value in our long serving institutions, be they the law, the family, the church - to recycle all that masonry and tradition and keep the baby. Maybe drive away in the fundies’ own church bus, as well, sneak up from behind…

I’m having fun reading up on the Jesuits, they always were a practical bunch, especially the Irish NE ones. ;-)

[ Edited: 09 September 2009 12:23 PM by Martinus ]
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Posted: 09 September 2009 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Martinus - 09 September 2009 12:16 PM

Brotherhood has never really been the long suit of the killer apes, but I think that might change some day soon.

What do you mean? Even though our species can sometimes be pretty nasty, I believe we have also shown we get along most of the times. The chimps are the “killer apes,” not us. We have come a long way.

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Posted: 09 September 2009 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I had a short classic prayer that I said nightly to myself for years when I was young, even though I wasn’t really a believer. It was comforting to whisper at night, especially as a teen when I had a bad physical trauma.

As I matured mentally, the language changed to remove a creator and replace the creator with confidence in myself. This was a big confidence builder for me, recovering from trauma, to take control out of the hands of someone I cannot see and place that control in my own hands.

It went from the classic:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Then to:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

And finally to:

I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Those first couple of words don’t seem like much - but to me as a fragile teen it was really empowering to “give myself the control” and it gave me confidence. This little transformation coincided with my becoming agnostic, and eventually more atheist. (I’m still not sure how to categorize myself, or if I even have to have a category!) But those little changes to words were part of a personal journey, that I will never forget. I still whisper the little “prayer” at night, even though it’s now just a little motivational phrase. It’s calming to me, it makes me smile, and helps me to remember my personal journey.

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Posted: 09 September 2009 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Jules - 09 September 2009 01:40 PM

I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Those first couple of words don’t seem like much - but to me as a fragile teen it was really empowering to “give myself the control” and it gave me confidence. This little transformation coincided with my becoming agnostic, and eventually more atheist. (I’m still not sure how to categorize myself, or if I even have to have a category!) But those little changes to words were part of a personal journey, that I will never forget. I still whisper the little “prayer” at night, even though it’s now just a little motivational phrase. It’s calming to me, it makes me smile, and helps me to remember my personal journey.

A touching anecdote that bespeaks the softer side of Humanism, as a personal journey, that is all too rarely heard.

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Posted: 09 September 2009 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Quoting George:

Even though our species can sometimes be pretty nasty, I believe we have also shown we get along most of the times. The chimps are the “killer apes,” not us. We have come a long way.

I agree, George.  When I, as I often do, become discouraged at some terrible thing some humans have done, I just think back to the much worse things we humans have done in the past, and with much greater frequency.  It’s awfully slow, but we humans are crawling toward actually being a civilized species.

I agree that this is an excellent example of Jules’ journey toward thinking maturity.  I’d suggest only one tiny change that might help other young people who may be on that same path.  Quoting Jules:

I have

to “I’m developing”. 

Occam

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Posted: 09 September 2009 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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What a very nice idea for the wording, Occam.  smile

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 18 October 2009 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Occam - 09 September 2009 03:51 PM

Quoting George:

Even though our species can sometimes be pretty nasty, I believe we have also shown we get along most of the times. The chimps are the “killer apes,” not us. We have come a long way.

I agree, George.  When I, as I often do, become discouraged at some terrible thing some humans have done, I just think back to the much worse things we humans have done in the past, and with much greater frequency.  It’s awfully slow, but we humans are crawling toward actually being a civilized species.

What was the opening to Fallout 3?

“War never changes. Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first discovered the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled in the name of everything, from God to justice to simple, psychotic rage.”

I question whether or not we really are moving forward. It seems that there is more sparatic violence in the world today, mostly in the Middle East which we hear about all the time. Some will say, that really not that much compared to the past. But what about the continued violence in Africa that NO ONE ever talks about. EVER. Why is that?

Any hoo. Violence in our schools, streets, countries. What about violence that does not result in Death? That’s still violence too right?

As for praying? Well, I’ve always felt that acts of men, are worth much more than acts of God. This is because I have a good list of people who have actually done something to stop something else, or help someone else. As for God…I’ve got nothing. Nothing on his list at all, save for hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, ect (The Acts of God Insurance list).

I prefer DOING to PRAYING. Tends to work better the first way.

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