October 20, 2004

Crediting God

I just heard P. Diddy on Deborah Norville (ok, but it was just kind of on in the background, don't look at me like that) giving 'all the glory to God' for his success. That's always meant to sound humble, but I just had a very different take on it tonight. A normal person would sensibly forget all about such an impression, but I have a blog, hence:

Not to pick on Puffy, but when people say that they owe their success to God, what does that say for the rest of us? Does God listen to their prayers better? Are the less wealthy and famous among us suffering because God decided that we didn't deserve to be blessed like wealthy performing artists, sports heroes, or politicians who claim to have the Lord on their side? Aren't they really just saying that God loves them more than other people?

Doesn't sound so humble that way.

Now I'm sure that this sentiment is usually meant honestly, and in a spirit of gratitude for positive outcomes which the speaker is reflective enough to realize weren't all in their hands. Anyone has at best a 50% say in what happens around them, and people who know this tend to be more compassionate than those who never see the hands that helped them rise higher. We don't have to look farther than our president for an example of someone oblivious to his own privilege, and the receipt of favors not granted to lesser mortals.

At the very least, the topic seems like an object lesson to me on why religion is better when it's more private. Perhaps what gave rise to the biblical suggestion on praying where no one could hear you, rather than in public. On the other hand, when the Archbishop Desmond Tutu came on the Daily Show a little while back, I was really moved by what he said and felt that his message was both positive and productive. IMO, the world would be a better place today if the Archbishop had been invited on the cable news shows over the last few years in place of people like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, or a few of the politicians channeling the 700 Club demagogues in absentia.

It feels like this comparison should be leading me to some point about different methods of talking publicly about issues of faith, but any such point escapes me now so I won't force it. I'll just say that as a studied avoider of organized religion, I'd be happy to hear more from the Archbishop, and a little less from those who talk as if they won some God lottery.

To steal shamelessly from George Carlin, before every football game, both teams always pray for a victory. And every time, one of them loses. I think that says a lot more about us than it does about God.

Posted by natasha at October 20, 2004 12:16 AM | Religion | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

Excellent job Natasha. I am not an organized religion person either, but I respect people who believe but keep their beliefs private. It is usually the ones who shove their religion in everyone else's face, who really do not have such a strong belief anyway.

As for the "all my success is due to God" comments, they have been bugging me for years. God is a Patriots fan in the Super Bowl and does not like the Panthers? God is sitting there with his heavenly remote watching sports saying, "I am blessing the Pistons this year. Lakers be damned!" I think not.

This comment was inspired by God. I owe all my finger-typing abilities to His good graces.

Posted by: Scott at October 20, 2004 05:25 AM

P. Diddy claiming that all his success is due to God...I wonder who he credits when he gets brought up on gun charges after a night at the club.

I heard another instance of "all my success is due to God" last night, when Curt Schilling claimed that he had been touched by the Lord and that's why he pitched 7 innings on a bad ankle for the Red Sox. I don't know, could it have been the painkillers or the fact that the Red Sox were playing the hated Yankees that drove Schilling to put in a good performance?

As for the current Administration and George W. Bush's belief that he is doing God's work, check out the NY Times Magazine piece by Ron Suskind. It is a pretty scary piece. Here's the link. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html?oref=login

Oh, and I'm not God, but I approved this message.

Posted by: Ken Camp at October 20, 2004 10:21 AM