Thursday, April 19, 2012

“Our Thoughts and Prayers are with Dick Clark’s Family.” Oookay

Sorry Dick died. I don’t mean to sound crass, Dick was a good guy, but as they say, death is just nature’s way of telling us to slow down.

Over the past two days I must have heard the “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dick Clark’s family” about fifty times. I get the thoughts part. It’s nice of people to think of the family and express their support during a trying time. But what exactly are they praying for and why?

I’ve never understood this particular platitude that Xtians are so fond of. Are they praying to their god to intervene and prevent the family from committing mass suicide in their grief? That’s a rather extreme and rare response to the passing of an 82 year old man who lived a full life and was already in poor health.

Are they asking their god to shorten the family’s grieving period? Grief is a natural response to death of a loved one- a basic human reaction and cathartic emotion. It will run its course prayers or not. And given the fact that their omniscient god would surely know their of their grief, he/she/it is going to either ease their grief or not independent of their appeal.

If it is meant to comfort the family, why not just say genuine words of comfort like “I’m so sorry for Dick’s passing. He was loved by us all. The world is a better place for his having been a part of it. We share your sadness.”

After all, a supernatural appeal for some kind of divine intervention that can’t even be defined seems rather bland and trite compared to a genuine expression of support for the family and admiration for the deceased. Besides, I’d bet dollars to donuts that 99.9% of the time no prayers are being offered up for the family anyway. What would they mumble “Dear Jesus, If you’re not too busy ignoring the genocide in Sudan, please ... uh ... do sompthin to make Dick Clark’s family feel better.” ? C’mon.

Ask your religious friends. If they can define their prayers for the family, I’d sure like to know what they are praying for and if they actually pray, if they have ever been able to objectively ascertain the net result of the impact of those prayers.

My educated guess is that when all is said and done it comes down to it being a simple mindless knee jerk platitude that religionists are compelled to mouth out of conditioned response, like “God bless you” after a sneeze.

Ah, unthinking shallow religious gibberish....they do it so well.


NewEnglandBob said...

I think you nailed that one...LOL

Mike Meyers said...

I never understood the whole "Our prayers go out to the family" nonsense. You hear this all the time after a natural disaster or major event like a building fire occurs that causes a plethora of deaths and injuries. Wouldn't god go insane if he heard millions of voices speaking all at once in his head all praying their loved ones make it to heaven or get well? I know when my kids were young and they spoke at the same time, it would drive me crazy.

As for the "God bless you" that everyone still says, I never say it. If I say anything at all, it's usually "Gesundheit", which my dad always said growing up. When someone says it to me, I usually respond with "Thank you for allowing my eternal soul to return to my body. Without the blessing, I may not have lived another minute." People who know me don't give it a second thought, but those who don't usually are dumbfounded. I get a kick out of it. :)

Chatpilot said...

As stupid as this sounds they are just meant to be words of comfort inspired by a delusion. It's just the right thing to say; the theist version of offering condolences to a grieving family.

tiNstAg said...

As usual Hump, you make a good point. These religious platitudes do piss me off too. I tend to use "My thoughts are with you" when dealing with grief of others. It's a simple, truthful phrase and seems to do the job.

Marie said...

But it gets so much more ridiculous than that. People mean well, and some of them even really do pray and think that it does some good.
HOWEVER there is something much worse. The stupidity of some comments that are made to comfort range beyond tolerance. Here is just one example: Years ago (1992)
my brother in law, sticken with muscular dystrophy, was burned excrutiatingly in a fire that he could not escape from. He spent four months in the burn unit at UC Davis, undergoing many surgeries and skin grafts, eventually losing his leg to flesh eating bacteria, enduring a new colony on his midriff. Fed through a tube for all that time--unable to speak above a whisper.
Four months later, he succumbed.
And we get comments like, "My dear, God in his infinite mercy took him home." W-H-A-T T-H-E F-U-C-K! How can you even respond to that. You just walk away.

Anonymous said...

There are so many mindless phrases uttered in religious circles. Yes, they are annoying, and I doubt that anybody does any praying. And they certainly don't check back to see if God answered their prayers, if they do in fact pray.

It's just a mindless, warm and fuzzy thing to say that makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

God is the Almighty! He is Omnipresent and can do anything - hear millions of people at once. There is only one way to heaven, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. All will believe - now on earth or when the pass. The way the truth and the light is Jesus. Repent and accept Christ to go to heaven or reject and face eternity in a very bad place.

NewEnglandBob said...

Anonymous, you coward, you are deluded and brainwashed by the woo of your fiction zombie.

David said...

I was on a lengthy train trip to Melbourne earlier this year and whilst sitting in the dining car, there was a middle aged couple who were obviously on their way to see a relative who was sick. Sitting nearby was a priest (although I wouldn't have immediately known as he was dressed casually). Overhearing the middle aged man talking on the phone the priest interrupted with something like "Oh, I can help, I am a priest. I can say a prayer for you." I was amused by the look on the woman's face. The priest retreated and the man offered a forced and insincere "Thank you". If it were me I would probably would have said something like "Thanks for sticking your nose in where it is not wanted. It amuses me that you think your status within the church makes your mumblings more revered by an imaginary sky fairy than the mumblings of the next Christian."

WhyNot said...


"As stupid as this sounds they are just meant to be words of comfort inspired by a delusion. It's just the right thing to say; the theist version of offering condolences to a grieving family."

Spot on. No more, no less. It is THAT fucking obvious, one wonders why the mindless comments abound.

Tell you what, I'm atheist, but some of the mind-boggling anti-religion waffle I read here is beyond my comprehension. In fact it nearly makes me feel embarrassed to be atheist.

I have no idea what the purpose of this blog is:

- to try convert the religious ppl around? If so, the camel brains around here got it wrong; reading this stuff only confirms to them how lucky they are not to be a brainless camel.

- to try to convert the converted? Like me? Ooops, camel brain got it wrong again; all his daily farts do for me is make me embarrassed on behalf of the atheist community.

No doubt this will be censored (hey, that's the way Atheist Camel understands freedom of speech, riht?), but no wocking furries as we say in the land of Oz, I'll post it on my blog so we can all get a good laugh - blog where atheists and religious dudes and dudettes co-live in harmony.


Anonymous said...

I work in a cubical environment and my coworkers in adjacent cubicals are always saying "Bless you" after I sneeze. I then feel obligated to say "thank you". How can I break this cycle, without coming across as a dick?

Dromedary Hump said...

I don't know if that is possible.

I could give you any number of snarky retorts to their blessings, but then I never worried about coming across as a dick ;)

David said...

@Why Not,

We need Humps "daily farts" to keep us vigilant against the intrusion of religion into our secular lives. Religion is an insidious thing, if the secularists don't keep on their toes it will work its way into influencing our laws, our children's schools and our freedoms. If you don't believe atheist activism is necessary, I would suggest that you spend a while as an atheist living in somewhere like Texas where religion really has wormed its way into influencing everything.

longhorn believer said...

@WhyNot - There are some people in between theism and atheism. I was once somewhere between "formerly religious" (raised fundamentalist) and "not quite atheist". I will never forget an Atheist Camel blog post declaring the idea that eternal damnation is to love as wife beating is to love. Having been fully indoctrinated earlier in life, this simple comparison was powerful and life changing for me. My "formerly religious" brain had never considered this comparison before.

I don't agree with everything Hump says. I'm sure he will attest to some humdinger arguments with me. But take a moment to consider that maybe everything written here doesn't have to be about appealing to audiences you have narrowly defined

BTW, I noticed your comment was not censored

Darren Lacey said...

Hey Gristle,
Actually I think the 'bless you' pre-dates christianity and was linked to pagen beliefs that when sneezing we are exposed to evil. I dont remember where I read or heard it, but it was definately not part of any dogma I was raised with as a xtian. As such it holds no real meaning. I would still wish people merry christmas long after all religions are gone, if for no other reason than harmless tradition. I see the need to put religion in its place, but the 'bless you' hill isnt the one I would choose to die on. its the same most often when people offer prayers. In fact I think its the same same when people ask ' how you doin? ' they usually dont care, but in some odd way it makes us feel polite.