21 May 2013
Praying for Oklahoma is worthless
Posted by Callan Bentley
I’m dismayed at the news yesterday out of Oklahoma – the violent storm that ended lives.
This morning on Facebook, I noticed that many of my pious friends were letting the rest of us know that they were praying for Oklahoma, or more specifically, for the victims of the storm. At the same time, the hashtag #prayforoklahoma is trending on Twitter with all sorts of people dropping that phrase into their communiques, including the official White House account.
It perplexes me why anyone would think prayer would do a bit of good when it comes to tornadoes, physical phenomena that occur in certain areas under certain conditions with a high level of predictability. Meteorologists identified this storm as being dangerous, then saw (via physical instruments) the tornado form, and predicted where it would go with accuracy. They warned people in the path, and many of them heeded that warning and sought shelter. Science works well in dealing with physical phenomena like storms. But what about gods?
When it comes to the influence supernatural deities have on storms, there are three possibilities of which I can conceive:
- The god cannot control or influence the storm. In other words, the god finds it impossible to ‘reach across the void’ and perturb the physical world.
- The god can control or influence the storm, but is indifferent as to its effects. In other words, the god can’t be bothered to mess about with the physical world, for instance for the sake of saving human lives, though it is in the god’s power to do so.
- The god can control or influence the storm, but opts not to, intentionally. In other words, the god takes a ‘hands-off’ approach to the physical world out of principle, or the god intentionally sent the storm for some purpose.
If a storm is bearing down on you, and you are praying, which of these options is it you’re looking for? Certainly there were prayers being desperately generated by the people of Moore, Oklahoma, as that monster tornado was bearing down on them. Some of those who were praying were lucky enough to survive. Some were killed outright.
Another possibility occurs to me. That is that the prayers of one person or group of people worked. These prayers were effective enough to push the storm on a different track, and divert it from the humans who generated the effective prayers. Perhaps it was the strength of the prayers in a location a half-mile south of the elementary school that diverted the tornado over the elementary school instead. Is that how the power of prayer plays out? That is, it saves the pious prayer-makers, but kills innocent children instead? Or does it just not work at all?
Praying for survivors in the aftermath of a storm like this is even weirder. Now that the damage is done, what role would prayer have on influencing the outcome? Again with my three possibilities:
- If the god cannot control or influence the aftermath due to a natural / supernatural barrier, the prayer is worthless.
- If the god can control or influence the aftermath, but is indifferent, then the prayer is worthless.
- If the god can control or influence the aftermath, but opts not to out of intentional pursuit of some godly goal, then why would a devotee think their entreaties could change the god’s mind? If the god has intentionally chosen to kill a group of innocent people, is prayer the day after really going to convince that god to switch up their lesson plans? It seems astounding that a person could convince their god that the god’s murderous actions should be changed. If I were the god of such a devotee, I’d probably find that galling. Maybe the person’s prayer isn’t “worthless” per se in this scenario, but it certainly seems presumptuous. It implies that (a) the person who is praying thinks that they can change the god’s mind (i.e., that they know better than their omniscient deity), and that is worthwhile to attempt “making the case” via prayer because (b) their god is really into killing people, including elementary school children. This is a tacit admission that they are worshipping a murderous god.
Either prayer is worthless, or else the aim of the prayers is to get the god to stop acting like Adam Lanza. Either way, that’s pretty bleak.
Scientists watched for the tornado, spotted it, and raised the alarm. Those scientists saved lives. The members of the media who communicated their message saved lives. As far as I can tell, those who prayed added nothing of any value*. The prayers may well have made those who whispered them feel better, but that’s a self-indulgent delusion, and it appears to be logically incoherent that the prayers would influence the physical course of events in any positive way.
* This sentence appears to be causing some consternation and accusations of me using this blog to denigrate those who pray, so let me clarify: the act of prayer alone adds nothing of any value, so far as I can tell (please prove me wrong). I make no claims beyond that, and certainly don’t want to make any statements about the people who practice the act of prayer, beyond pointing out that they are likely wasting their time.
If you want to help the survivors in Oklahoma, they can use some money. Money can buy them food, water, shelter, and materials to start putting their lives back together. Two places where you can donate to relief efforts are the Red Cross or the Foundation Beyond Belief. If you want to influence events so they save lives, write to your elected representatives and encourage them to fund NOAA’s National Weather Service as fully as possible. Encourage your local politicians to invest in disaster preparedness. But when it comes to influencing your preferred god, it seems to me that you’d be better of saving your breath.
Very well said. One of the most useless expressions ever coined is ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.’
As a native of New Orleans I’ve been amused on more than one occasion over the years when hearing ‘prayers’ being issued up to Heaven by people I know praying that a hurricane on track for a direct hit on New Orleans would be turned by God at the last second toward Mexico and/or Texas. Shortly after Katrina I spoke with a former co-worker (who often used to pray for hurricanes to hit any land mass other than New Orleans) who lost his house and everything else to Katrina why his prayers in that situation didn’t work. His response was: ‘Well, James, i guess there were more people in Texas and Mexico praying that Katrina would hit Louisiana or Mississippi. Their prayers were strong as Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, with a little bit of Alabama thrown in for good measure.’
Obviously, based upon the close personal relationship with Jesus that my former co-worker down in New Orleans has the Force is strongest among those who pray the hardest for hurricanes to hit the other guy.
On a more personal level I’ll add that New Orleans didn’t need thoughts and prayers after Katrina. It needed a Noah boatload of cash to restore the millions of acres of wetlands lost through the exploitation of the oil and gas industry that dumped mere thousands of political contributions into the hands of a handfull of God fearing politicians that prayed (pun intended) upon the citizens of the Pelican State by arguing that Louisiana could only have economic progress and jobs if it were willingly to sacrifice useless swamp land to the God of Natural Gas. The only problem is that useless swamp land helps mitigate the impact of hurricanes, so that when that useless wetland is lost that means greater damage is sustained when a hurricane does strike.
Louisiana is without a doubt a perfect example of paying for what you pray for. For far too many generation more people were praying more for oil and natural gas jobs offshore and in the wetlands, as well as praying for the election of a political class that would support that objective.
I think that what happened in Oklahoma is terrible. I also think that perhaps the victims and survivors may want to reconsider during the next election cycle where their favorite politician stands on the subject of climate change, as well as the federal funding of services such as NOAA. I pray that they do.
This has to be the most insensitive thing I’ve seen anywhere near the AGU website. When people are in crisis, degrading their personal values is worthless, I would argue in response. The author wants to suggest that reflecting spiritually on the event and contributing to relief cannot happen simultaneously, which is purposefully simplistic and frankly not true. To attempt to shame people for practicing their own personal spirituality under the guise of speaking as a scientist is a shabby use of a professional forum. Does the author believe he may have convinced even one person to contribute money or volunteer by spouting out six bullet points against “god” and venting his spleen against Facebook? As a dues-paying AGU member, it’s my opinion that this is content is much better suited for a personal blog.
Thanks for expressing your viewpoint. I’m sorry you found it insensitive, as I’m really pretty upset over the whole thing. You should bear in mnd that this IS a personal blog, and that in no way do I represent the views of AGU, just like every other blog here. I don’t claim to have convinced anyone of anything, but I see a logical inconsistency in the discourse, and I hereby call it out. If that offends you, please accept my apologies. But prayer for Oklahoma doesn’t make any sense insofar as I can tell. Please feel invited to convince me otherwise.
“You should bear in mnd that this IS a personal blog, and that in no way do I represent the views of AGU, just like every other blog here.”
Are you *sure* this is a personal blog? I note that the address starts out with an agu.org address, and that the banner icon is the official AGU which links me directly to the official AGU website. Are you really saying that you expect readers to read this and assume it has nothing at all to do with AGU?
No one wants to have their beliefs dictated by others. Atheists don’t appreciate being told to believe. Believers don’t appreciate being told not to believe, is an obvious corollary. Such is the basic sensitivity one expects to find on a professional society’s website. Get it?
I don’t represent AGU in what I write here. Here’s an excerpt from the AGU Blogosphere’s “About” page:
Not sure that will do the trick in convincing you it’s okay for me to write about what I want… Tell you what, why don’t you draft a list of topics that you think are “off limits” for anyone writing a post on a blog that is hosted on the AGU Blogosphere? That would be a helpful guide so I can avoid stepping on any toes in the future.
I believe that AGU has already given you this list:
“By supporting this blogging community, AGU also fosters greater public awareness and understanding of Earth and space sciences, and facilitates more effective use of scientific knowledge to address society’s needs.”
Please feel invited to convince me that your poorly-written blog about the worthlessness of people’s spiritual practices goes any distance towards this? Twenty-two years of participating in AGU has convinced me that the Union can do better.
First off, it’s not “the Union” who “can do better” at writing blog posts – as I’ve pointed out, it’s not AGU writing this blog. It’s me, an individual Earth scientist with his own quirks, reactions, background, guiding principles, and even pitfalls. And you’re certainly right that I can do better – always. I wish I were smarter, and had more time, and was able to run potential blog posts past a review panel before I posted them. They would certainly be less poorly-written were I lucky enough to have those advantages. …Does that mean I’m wrong, however?
But perhaps I’m misunderstanding you: when you say “the Union can do better,” perhaps I’m misinterpreting your meaning when I think you’re referring to the writing to blog posts. Perhaps instead you mean AGU’s support of the blogging community. I think it’s exemplary and laudable that AGU supports a blogging community, even if some of the bloggers there post things that are uncomfortable to talk about or are controversial in some way. AGU’s get-out-in-front approach to embracing social media makes conversations of many sorts possible, and that’s a good thing in total, even if some of those conversations tease ideas apart in a way that takes cherished beliefs (geocentrism, miogeosynclines, phyletic gradualism, supernatural influence over terrestrial events) and shows them to be less likely or false. By discussing things, we agree to have open minds, to present our case, and to judge the ideas by how well they pass muster. By having that conversation, we may come away with our minds changed. Or we may not.
I guess the key question is this: Is it within my purview as an Earth scientist to critique ideas about the nature of the universe?
As one who is often urged to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, I can see the distinction this author makes between the action and the one doing the act. I believe all he is saying is that the simple act of prayer confers no real advantage to the one being prayed for (except, perhaps, for the comfort in knowing that one is cared for enough to be the subject of a prayer). I don’t see him making any judgment or inference about the person doing the praying.
Thanks Ron. That’s certainly the way I intended my comments. It’s interesting to me that the readership split cleanly into the “he’s insulting people” group and the “he’s attempting to debunk an idea” camp.
Some others have made this point as well and have started the trend of #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma. The Red Cross have picked this up as well. A much better response.
I have to say that I do like the “Actually Do Something For Oklahoma” tag, but that does not mean that those that continue to deal with everyday crisis and loss cannot use our prayers and any emotional support that we can offer.
So how can they “use our prayers?” I’m sure you’re right about the second part: they can use our emotional support, but is “use our prayers” basically synonymous with them using “any emotional support?” If not, how exactly are the two differentiated?
I think you make an interesting point, one that each “believer” should seriously consider. However, I think you have crossed the line and are simply disparaging a group of people you know nothing about. How can one say the individuals that tweeted #prayforoklahoma did not offer more than just a tweet? Flatly, one cannot. It is likely that many people did simply “retweet” a hashtash to give their followers a false sense of their sympathy and spiritual fortitude. However, one cannot however blindly apply this belittling comment to everyone with the desire to tweet. Doing so, seriously inhibits one’s authority as an unprejudiced spectator.
Religionists and atheists often alike share an ineptitude of awareness and hypocrisy. When one compares themselves to the other, a whole suite of suppositions are made with little justification for such an attack. It is impossible for us to know the content of a persons heart or to understand their intent. The moment one claims to have such an understanding steps bold-faced into the subjective darkness while diminishing their credibility as an objective observer. I would hope the academics who claim to stand on the pillars of societal intellectualism would refrain from denigrating a group of people they simply do not and cannot comprehend.
Simply, grinding the axe of subjectivity and insensitivity does not sharpen one’s objectivity but destroys it.
Thanks for chiming in.
I make no claims as to whether any prayer-makers did X, Y, or Z. I have no information about their actions beyond praying. If they did something useful as well, that’s great. Nowhere do I imply that those who prayed did only that. My point is merely that the prayer itself appears to be non-effective and logically incoherent.
As for the second part of your critique, I don’t claim any authority, and I seek only to call a spade a spade. I am not setting out to belittle anyone, disparage anyone, denigrate anyone, or deprive anyone of comfort in a stressful time. I’m only saying that the action of prayer appears not to have any useful function for the people of Oklahoma.
Get it? It’s the action I am critiquing here, not the people who practice it.
In an ironic phrase: Amen, brother!
I think your comment was well within the bounds of polite commentary. There is no scientifically verifiable evidence that prayer has any effect. You argue that there is no logical reason to pray.
The only way I can see that this would be offensive is if it suddenly made one realize that one’s religion was useless. But being forced to face one’s false beliefs is ultimately a good thing – even if it is a bit distressing.
hmm….what you also don’t know is how much worse it might have been had people NOT prayed! I’m just sayin’…
Right – but one of the limitations of science is that you can’t prove a negative. I cannot conclusively demonstrate that prayer was 100% ineffective in the case of the Moore tornado. But can anyone conclusively demonstrate that prayer is even 1% effective in changing physical outcomes? That’s a positive, and if the effect exists, it is demonstrable in principle. The fact that no such evidence exists is a scientifically valid argument that prayer is no more a real phenomenon than ESP or telepathy.
Bottom line, we’re left to discuss the logic behind these ideas, and the evidence (or paucity thereof) which supports them.
There have been a few studies done on the efficacy of prayer and the ones worth their salt have either shown no difference between prayer and not prayer or have shown that those knowlingly being prayed for have done a bit worse.
well put Callan! From an Okie.
You claim that you don’t want to denigrate people who pray, except that in the same breath you say that “they are wasting their time”. Earlier you use some screwy logic to say that they are “worshiping a murderous god”. These are strong words, and I think that people of many “faiths” could feel offended by this language.
Plus, I think many communities of faith use the term “pray” in many different ways – it means different things to different people. Some people may feel that praying helps control outcomes (this is what you suggest that they are doing), while others may have a more abstract view of god, and others may be merely trying to express a collective sympathy and/or solidarity with the Oklahoma victims on their facebook page. There is likely a whole range of intentions in between, and outside of these examples. But in your post you are pigeonholing all people who pray under the same “worthless” category, without really understanding their personal reasons for doing so. That seems rather callous to me.
Furthermore, how are people that are praying doing anyone any harm? They are not criticizing your beliefs. Yet you are criticizing theirs!
One more point: Like you, I’m a scientist who hopes that my research will someday make a difference to society. I hope to convince others that topics like climate change, evolution, etc. are important to society and that we can use science and technology to produce a much better world for everyone. I think that posts like yours do real damage to these goals. How can we convince the public that the work we are doing is important when we needlessly insult the beliefs of large segments of the population? (That’s not even to mention paying for our work!) This is especially problematic because this view is being posted on the website of a professional scientific society (AGU).
Thank you for the feedback. I view it this way: in science, we can criticize ideas directly and clearly without criticizing those who generate those ideas (our colleagues). One could take offense at these criticisms if one’s skin is insufficiently thick, but the rational examination of evidence is how we advance our collective understanding of the world. My intention, whether you believe it or not, is not to denigrate my religious neighbors, friends, and family members, but to criticize the idea of prayer, sensu stricto. My goal is to show that prayer is illogical and ineffective for the purpose of changing the physical world in a positive way.
I am criticizing an idea. If you still retain a belief in that idea after I have criticized it, you can show where my logic is wrong, and therefore my criticism is invalid. However, it is the criticism that should be criticized, not the criticizer. Our discourse should ideally focus on the concepts in question, not the people generating, critiquing, or defending them. Yes, I am criticizing their beliefs, and I am permitted to do so, since I am convinced those beliefs are incorrect.
If people are offended, is it because I personally am a jerk, or is it because my plain talk lays bare some sloppy thinking?
Sympathy and solidarity are great, and so is the comfort people derive personally from directing their thoughts at a supernatural deity. But sympathy and solidarity need not be mediated through a religious filter, and the comfort of praying is an act of self-soothing, not distantly efficacious. A secular version could be termed meditation or reflection. And those work just as well. The people of Oklahoma deserve our sympathy and our solidarity. Making ourselves feel better by indulging in reflection, meditation, or prayer is fine, but we shouldn’t think it does anything beyond the confines of our own minds.
As for your final point, I would say this: just because the public is paying for much of our research, and just because a majority of the public is theologically-inclined, that doesn’t mean that scientists need to kowtow to the prevailing notion that gods aren’t imaginary, or that prayer actually does what it purports to do (communicate with gods in a way that influences the outcome of events on Earth). Paying the bills doesn’t mean a group of people gets to dictate reality. Being large in numbers doesn’t mean a group of people gets to dictate reality. Being sensitive when invalid ideas are shown to be invalid doesn’t mean a group of people gets to dictate reality.
I’m here to talk about reality, as best we can determine it. Last time I checked, AGU was reality focused too.
You say that you are criticizing an idea – that’s fine, but I have two problems with the way you are going about this:
First, you are using rather insulting language – comparing god to Adam Lanza, saying that people who pray are wasting their time and accusing them of “sloppy thinking”, for example. In using this language, I think that many people who pray would claim that you are criticizing THEM instead of just their ideas – even though you say that this is not your intent. I wouldn’t necessarily say that you are “personally a jerk” (your words) but I do think you are being insensitive and condescending.
Second – and I expect that you will disagree with this – I don’t think that it is useful to use logical arguments to criticize religious beliefs – because many religious beliefs are not built upon logical arguments to begin with (hence the term “faith”). So to many religious people, I think your arguments may come off as hollow because you are attacking religious faith using a framework that is external to it.
Of course you are entitled to your own views – and I don’t think anyone is arguing that you are wrong to have your beliefs. However, you do seem to be arguing that others are wrong to have theirs, and I just wish you wouldn’t use the AGU website to do that. Actually, that’s my main concern – if you posted your views about praying on twitter (e.g., as Ricky Gervais did), then I’d have no problem. But AGU is supposed to be an inclusive place, and it doesn’t seem that your post reflects that spirit.
I think you make a couple of really good points here. My counterpoint, for the sake of advancing the conversation:
1) You’re right that the language can be perceived as offensive to those whose beliefs are being criticized. But is it wrong? That’s the more interesting question to me: where have I got my thinking wrong – not my style, but my way of perceiving and making sense of the world. Still, it calls into question what the purpose of my post was – is it to convince someone? Is it to foster a sense of connectedness? Not really, I suppose: I’m frustrated by the silliness I see around me daily. The key word (for me) in my post is “perplexed” – I’m exploring a societal reaction to a natural event, and it makes no sense to me. I may not be making a thousand new friends, but I feel like someone has to point out that the Emperor has no clothes.
2) You’re almost certainly right that I won’t convince any seriously committed believer with a logical treatment of their claims. You’re right that my arguments will “come off as hollow” to them as a result. But is that a reason not to make the argument? I’m not too concerned that my arguments against leprechauns seem hollow to leprechaun believers, since they believe something that holds no merit insofar as science is able to determine. Leprechaunists have ‘faith’ in their little green men, and my arguments are using a framework external to it. Should I therefore not address such a baseless notion? (Probably not – considering how few people believe in leprechauns; it’s not worth my time. But there are a lot of believers in gods – and their actions are a major thread in our society.) The post was not motivated to convince anyone – it was an exploration of what appears to me to be a pervasive but bizarre practice. It’s fine with me that some people agree with my ‘analysis,’ and some people don’t. What I would love is for someone to poke holes in my argument, to show me where I am incorrect or illogical. Because science is the framework that I use to make sense of the world.
3) Not wrong to have their own beliefs, but the beliefs themselves do not make sense (to me, for the reasons explained in the post). Everyone is free to have whatever belief they deem valid. But the belief itself: is that immune from critique? Yes, AGU is an inclusive place – and it’s also a place where we expect ideas to be challenged on the basis of their merits. If I made a claim that mantle plumes exist (or don’t exist), you should be free to challenge me on that idea.
Finally, I get that you see my post as inconsistent with the mission of AGU. On the organization’s “about” page, they list the following core principles:
The scientific method
The generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge
Open exchange of ideas and information
Diversity of backgrounds, scientific ideas and approaches
Benefit of science for a sustainable future
International and interdisciplinary cooperation
Equality and inclusiveness
An active role in educating and nurturing the next generation of scientists
An engaged membership
Unselfish cooperation in research
Excellence and integrity in everything we do
I would argue that my post fits very nicely within these parameters (in particular the bolded ones), and so does your response. So thanks for continuing to chew on this with me.
I don’t have a problem with you writing whatever you want on your blog, as long as it is done in a professional way. The problem that I have is that your post comes off as insulting and denigrating to religious people. If you had used a title such as “I’m trying to understand how praying helps” – which is more in the spirit of scientific inquiry that you purport as your intent – then that might have been better, but you compared god to Adam Lanza, used the term “worthless” in the title, and so on. This is not the language of scientific discourse – this is language that tends to put down a group of people (people who pray). I don’t know if this was your intent, but that’s how it comes across.
In fact, is is easy to do use such language in a scientific society, since there are very few religious people in science. But there are a few. Here is one news report (easy to find on the internet) about a study that suggests that about ~10% of scientists believe in god:
Can these 10% still be good scientists? Of course they can! There need not be a conflict between religion and the scientific method – in fact there are entire branches of many religions that accept and cherish scientific progress. I think that many religious people do not adhere to a literal interpretation of the bible and also most scientists do not do work that seeks to understand the actions of a creator. There need not be an inherent conflict between religious practice and the scientific method. I do not think you could distinguish this 10% from the other 90% by reading their scientific output.
(There are a some noisy counterexamples – religious people who reject the advances of science. But I think that such views are opposed within many (most?) churches and are opposed by nearly all of the 10% of scientists that are religious.)
From regular conversations at my workplace, the subject of church rarely, if ever, comes up. Why is this? First, because it is not relevant to the teaching/research/committee work that we do – religious activities are private and personal, so they aren’t relevant within a professional environment. But I’ve had conversations about all sorts of other extra-curricular activities at my workplace – baseball, theater, camping etc. – but rarely church-going. Why is this? Perhaps it is because there is some real hostility by some within the scientific community against religion – and posts like yours (and some of the pile-on comments) tend to propagate this. I think you would never write something in such strong terms against another minority group, so why is it ok to say that the extra-curricular behavior of some 10% of scientists is “worthless”?
I suggest that you try to read your post from the viewpoint of a scientist who also goes to church (or that has friends or family that do) and see if you would still appreciate the tone of your post. I understand that may be hard to do, because this way of thinking may not be part of your belief system. I respect that, but what I mean when I say that we should be “inclusive” is that we should also be welcoming to those in our AGUnion that are not atheists. Your post comes across as bullying toward a minority group within AGU (not to mention a sizeable portion of the taxpayers), and I feel that it is inappropriate to use the AGU website this way – that is why I objected to it.
cc noted: “But AGU is supposed to be an inclusive place…”
What other unfounded beliefs (besides the power of prayer) do you think should be included in the big tent of the AGU? Perhaps Astrology? Or Alchemy?
Obviously Alchemy and Astrology should not be part of AGU because these fields purport to do science but do not follow the scientific method. People who pray are not purporting to do science with their prayer. Scientists who are also religious do not “use prayer” when they do their science – they use the scientific method like others at AGU. I think that these people should be welcome at AGU. I do not think that one should have to be an atheist or an agnostic to be a scientist.
As far as I can see, the function of prayer is to make the person praying feel better. If this makes them feel like they’ve done enough to help, and relieves the drive to take concrete action, then it is indeed harmful to the people most in need of that help. a less politically loaded example might be jeremy jackson’s statement that “beach cleanup” days make people feel they’ve done enough to help the oceans, then they go home and continue to fertilize their lawns, which of course is just as harmful if not more so than the trash they collected. I agree with you callan and i applaud your taking a solid stance in response to comments.
Thanks for your comments, everyone. I’ve intentionally let this sit for a week or so, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it. It bugs me to think I upset some of my readers, like “cc” and “DontAgree.” But I just reread my post with fresh (or at least rested) eyes, and I think it’s solid. The logical underpinnings of prayer don’t stand up to the argument I present. Therefore, I find no reason to think it has any value to the world beyond the person who is doing the praying (to whom it surely offers consolation). Unless someone can knock out a piece of my argument rather than merely criticizing its tone, then the conclusion is clear. So I stand behind it. Maybe, as “cc” points out, I could have used a more oblique title as a way of softening the blow, but it is what it is. I like to cut to the chase. Tone is a hard thing to convey in the written word, and I fear that sometimes when I write about topics like this one, my tone “reads” as harsher than I intended it. Had I spoken these words rather than written them, it’s possible that they may have been perceived as less scathing. Regardless, the people of Oklahoma need our help. If a person opts to spend time generating prayers as well, or meditating, or chanting or practicing voodoo, that’s their business, but it shouldn’t preclude any real help they are able to offer. (“Real help” = influencing the real, physical world, for the better, through your influence of critical actors like policy makers, or by adding resources, like donations of money to disaster-relief charities.)
I’m grateful for everyone who took time to write in with their supporting or critiquing comments. Adios! 🙂