Let us pray

A few weeks back we ran a cover story about the widening divide between liberal and conservative Christians. I used the Neighborhood Church to illustrate the conservative side and Trinity Methodist to show the liberal aspect. Some people—the Neighborhood side—told me they didn’t like the story. Some said they were mad; others just sad and some offered to pray for me. I learned from the wife of a local politician—not Dan Herbert—that she and some other women from the NC were praying for me. I saw her in the parking lot of a restaurant last Saturday after my son and I had eaten breakfast and she mentioned “the horrible story” I’d written about her church. “We know you aren’t doing very well,” she said, “so we are praying for you on Mondays.”

Apparently she was suggesting that I wasn’t doing well financially, which is true compared to how her husband is faring. No kidding. From what I can tell, his salary is double mine, he gets a per diem, a taxpayer-funded car and free gas! He’s doing better than most of us here in Chico, I would think. “If you get a raise,” the politician’s wife told me, “you’ll know where it comes from.” I was tempted to say, “Hey, why not cut out the middle Man and go straight to my boss?” I didn’t, though, and a raise has yet to miraculously appear. If one did, I would rank it right up there with the parting of the Red Sea.

Before I met the politician’s wife, while my kid and I were having breakfast, we talked about prayer and its proper use. For instance, I asked, is it a waste of God’s time for me to pray that my toast arrives with my eggs? While that seems like a simple request, I’m thinking there is not a restaurant in the known universe that can properly synchronize toasting the bread with frying the eggs. It is apparently impossible to accomplish while abiding the laws of physics. I think Einstein touched upon this in his Theory of Relativity: E=TCL (eggs equals toast comes late). And if God can’t grant this toast deal, what are the chances he’s going to tackle more serious appeals, like Father help us vanquish the Lakers this Thursday; or God please prevent the hydraulics system from failing before this jet plane falls out of the sky and burrows into a Nebraska cornfield?

Then I got this letter from a guy in Redding who bills himself as a conservative Christian who doesn’t appreciate being labeled a conservative Christian: “I am a Christian and a conservative,” he begins. “You reported that since I belong to that demographic, I believe some collective party line that you presented. I take offense at your reporting what I believe when you have no clue what I believe. So this makes you a liar, and fortunately in this country, you have that right. Surely you must know that a church such as Neighborhood encompasses liberals, greens, lumberjacks, skinheads, Deadheads, potheads, and every other sector of the community.” That sounds more like the Rainbow Coalition. Is the Rev. Jessie Jackson on that bus?

Finally this: If I’m not exactly devout I blame my dad, who once suggested that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, “He just had the wind knocked out of him.” How blasphemous can you get? It’s OK, though. The old man is dead now. He didn’t believe in Jesus and I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t believe in him. But you know what? We should thank God that most conservative Christians—at least those around here—aren’t prone to violent reactions like certain cartoon-hating, flag-burning Muslims we’ve been reading about lately. When you make them mad, conservative Christians just pray for you to get a raise.