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petdance (2468)

petdance
  andy@petdance.com
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I'm Andy Lester, and I like to test stuff. I also write for the Perl Journal, and do tech edits on books. Sometimes I write code, too.

Journal of petdance (2468)

Friday March 07, 2003
10:09 AM

Insight from an unlikely source

[ #10935 ]
This excerpt from a recent essay by Roger Ebert so beautifully draws the line on government-sanctioned prayer.

This is really an argument between two kinds of prayer--vertical and horizontal. I don't have the slightest problem with vertical prayer. It is horizontal prayer that frightens me. Vertical prayer is private, directed upward toward heaven. It need not be spoken aloud, because God is a spirit and has no ears. Horizontal prayer must always be audible, because its purpose is not to be heard by God, but to be heard by fellow men standing within earshot.

To choose an example from football, when my team needs a field goal to win and I think, "Please, dear God, let them make it!"--that is vertical prayer. When, before the game, a group of fans joins hands and "voluntarily" recites the Lord's Prayer--that is horizontal prayer. It serves one of two purposes: to encourage me to join them, or to make me feel excluded.

I'm still surprised when I'm reminded that Roger is a newspaperman first, and a movie critic second.

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  • When, before the game, a group of fans joins hands and "voluntarily" recites the Lord's Prayer--that is horizontal prayer. It serves one of two purposes: to encourage me to join them, or to make me feel excluded.

    How big an ego does he have to think that it in any way has to do with him?

    I agree with him on many of the points, but the primary purpose of group prayer is merely the shared experience of the members of the group. That he happens to be passing by or in the general vicinity of the prayer isn't