Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Democratic Prayer?

The Democratic Party is seen by many, both inside and outside the party, as the more secular political entity of the two major parties. That Barack Obama has spoken more openly about faith and invited the involvement of people of faith into the process has cheered some and frightened others. There are questions about whether liberal Christians (like myself) might too closely identify with the Democratic Party and thus be co-opted (as Conservative Christians have with the GOP).
Yesterday, as the DNC Convention opened in Denver there was an interfaith forum and then last night an Evangelical -- Donald Miller -- gave the invocation. I understand it was controversial. I didn't see it or hear it live, but did find the transcript on his website. I post it and invite your thoughts. Note that it touches on issues that are dear to most Progressives but ends with the invocation of Jesus. The question many will have is this: In this forum is the invocation of Jesus appropriate? I welcome your thoughts on this as well.

"Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we
look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even
greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.

Here is the video:


Mike L. said...

I like Miller and have enjoyed his books. I did feel a little uneasy hearing this but that is probably because I don't like the way Christians often offer their agenda through the disguise of public prayers to God. Who is Miller talking to? It sounds like the requests are really to the audience.

Art Conaway said...

That does sound more like a speech than a prayer.
And this emergent ending? "I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice." Jesus gave his life so justice would be satisfied. Jesus provided a way for us to be reconciled to God. We broke God's laws and Jesus payed our fine. I'm thinking the forces of injustice he is referring to directly tie into the new gospel of social justice.