religion as narrative structure tagged posts

Praying, or “Holding a Good Thought?”

The cultural divide between the sacred and secular plays out on many fronts, and as revealing as any of them is the simple matter of how we wish each other well when someone is ill or enduring some personal trial. “I’ll pray for you,” say the traditionally religious, who may even tack on a pledge to fire up a “prayer chain” via their Facebook friends or church and thus multiply the purported power of prayer to affect human events.

“I’ll be holding a good thought for you,” say the secular, studiedly avoiding any reference to the divine.

Now: the essence here is quite similar, yes? We care, we sympathize, we want to offer the person whatever comfort we can in riding out the storm he or she is facing. The different phrases bespeak deep differences, though.

The secularist’s “good thought” does not generally reflect belief in a divine power who listens to human utterances and perhaps takes them ...

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