Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Please bow & empty your head for Reverend Bugger’s invocation.”


Whether at a graduation ceremony or some solemn public gathering it’s not uncommon for a clergyman to be invited to deliver an invocation to launch the event. Although they may exist, I have yet to hear one that is anything more than the shaman calling upon a magical spirit to bless the assembly, and other wise invoke his/its supernatural guidance.

Invocations sometimes precede governmental sessions. While they are suppose to be generic, the occasional fanatical pulpiteer will thrust his preferred deity’s name into the script in violation of the 1st amendment prohibition on the endorsement of a specific religion by the government. The fact that some of the attendees don’t recognize said deity and find it exclusionary, or even offensive, is lost on the Bible thumper. More likely, the sky pilot couldn’t care less if it irks some, perceiving it as his divinely directed duty to shove his god down peoples’ throats welcome or not.

Of course, if the invocation is delivered by a pagan , AKA non-Abrahamic religionist (which happens about as frequently as Halley’s Comet, albeit, it’s far too often if you ask the followers of the predominant faith), and the deity mentioned happens to be one with four arms and an elephant’s trunk, you can be assured the howls of disgust and the cry of “blasphemy!” would be deafening. This is never perceived as hypocrisy by the offended shepherds and sheep of the one “true” faith.

This sectarian tradition isn’t disappearing any time soon in the US. After all, it would be political suicide for a public official to come out against religious invocations. But this doesn’t mean religionists have to own the right to deliver invocations at public events by default. Atheist activists have the opportunity, indeed the duty, to get onboard the invocation train.

What would an atheist’s invocation sound like? How about an appeal to reason; a wish for respect for attendees’ opposing positions; an imploration for community, civility, compromise, goodwill, empathy and logical discourse? All of those things are grounded in realism and foundational to productive discourse. It’s what the thinking in an advanced society do.

A word of advice: unless your invocation precedes an atheist meeting you’ll want to suppress the urge to blurt out - "Thanks for coming. I have no supernatural horse hockey to feed you as though you are a herd of mindless medieval peasants. I have too much respect for your intellect. So, let's get on with reality and the event." After all, you’ll want to be invited back hopefully before Halley ’s Comet’s next appearance.

15 comments:

longhorn believer said...

I noticed that Pres. Obama acknowledged non-believers in his inaugural address. That's a small step forward I guess. Maybe some day atheists will at least get equal time at such events and be allowed to deliver an invocation. One can only hope! In the mean time, I will keep up my quiet protest at family dinners. Last weekend, I sat on the couch while the prayer was said at the table. After all, there was something much more important happening on TV......Texas vs Nebraska!

Dromedary Hump said...

Rachel..you need to ask for equal invocation time at these family dinners. Hell, I'd write the script for you.

gristleoflife said...

Separation of Church and State should be extended to inaugurations. If a president really feels the necessity to be "blessed" (whatever that means), then it should be done in private, not in front of millions of people comprising numerous religious backgrounds and non-believers. It's offensive. Make it generic and all-inclusive - or not at all.

Mac said...

I agree and would add that there are other factors involved as well. For example, people in general are afraid of public speaking, so the pulpit dwellers, who love stage time, are ready and willing to take every opportunity to spew their swill.

LaurieB said...

Ok Hump,
Since you offered, let's have a script for a Thanksgiving Atheist/Humanist invocation please.

The innauguration was, as someone else put it, a religious ceremony with a few odd bits of political procedure thrown in for good measure. God botherers.

Dromedary Hump said...

Laurie...ah! So you want me to come to your TG dinner? :) OK, here...and besure to give me proper credit.

"It is an American tradition that on the fourth Thursday in November family and friends gather together to give thanks for the bounty we enjoy as a free people. It is proper that we should.
But as modern thinking people, the thanks belongs not to some mythical sky being... it belongs to the brave men and women who founded this nation on principles of common law, reason and morality that has evolved over time to insure continuity of society, and hopefully deliver the best possible well being for everyone. No demands for obedience to some magical higher power; no threats of retribution for freethinking; no kowtowing to any man or fable.
And so we are gathered here, believers and non believers alike ... to thank our founding fathers for their foresight; and more than that to enjoy the warmth and love of family and friends and thank them for making our lives more full and happy.
A toast to our forefathers, To those who have given so much to keep America free; to America, to reason, to good will, and to our everlasting love and happiness.

David B. Appleton said...

Hump, that is a truly _great_ invocation! Thank you. I hope to use it at the earliest opportunity.

Den!s said...

I love the invocation Hump

Dromedary Hump said...

David / Den!s: Thanks!!

Texas Mike said...

My wife and I both enjoy cooking and entertaining and it's become somewhat of a tradition for my Dad and Stepmom to enjoy Thanksgiving with us. My Ded is a former Baptist minister and I've always difered to him for the traditional invocation. This year it's my turn. Thanks, Hump.

Dromedary Hump said...

Great, Mike. You're welcome and good luck. :)
(PS: If my TG invocation is likely to promote discourse at the table, perhaps "thru the teeth and over the gums, look out stomach here it comes" may be the wiser choice ;)

longhorn believer said...

Hump, awesome! I will work on getting my gumption up to stir the pot at dinner. The believers in my family, which is everyone but me, would find that offensive. Why their feelings get more respect is just a matter of brainwashing and tradition. But nevertheless, it is what it is

LaurieB said...

Hump,
I'd sure as hell rather have Thanksgiving dinner with you and any random bunch of atheists than the Methodist/Baptist crowd that I'm stuck with. The invocation is very nice but I wish we had a freethought holiday to use it at instead of Thanksgiving. I have a lot of negative thoughts about Thanksgiving and don't enjoy it one bit. So instead of inviting you to our bickering, sniping Xgiving, why not come south a bit to a cozy pub dinner with your fellow rational freethinkers? Now that would be a wonderfully positive gathering. And even if Xgiving is just a chore to me, I still hope you have a great day with friends and family.

Dromedary Hump said...

Laurie,
I sympathize. Can't imagine what it's like having to hold back and bite your tongue among a pack of howling theists.
Hang tough; enjoy the turkey et al; and know they love you inspite of their infirmity.

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