There is Power In Numbers!

I work the overnight shift at my new job at the County Police Department, so I usually don’t eat lunch until about two in the morning, a time when no other soul inhabits the lunch room of the County headquarters. During the day, I imagine the place is filled with civil servants; at night, the only thing that changes is the location of a cartoon mocking the County Executive, which seems to get taken down every night only to reappear the next day.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I entered the room yesterday and saw pamphlets on each of the tables—naked soliciting! Naturally, I was curious. I picked one up and read it over:

National Day of Prayer
Thursday, May 3rd

What is NDP all about? Since put into law in 1952, signed by President Truman, this is an annual and public day of prayer for our nation, leaders, and country. A day in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions and we as a nation continue this observance by coming together as one voice to pray.

If you stand with God and stand on your faith in God, please join us and millions of others throughout our nation, who will be praying for these seven centers of power:

Government * Family * Education * Media * Church * Business * Military

There is Power in Numbers!

My first thought, I confess, was that the line about our founding fathers, wisdom of God, etc. was not grammatical.
On the back I found a note for those interested in being “Coordinator’s” [sic] to visit the Power of Prayer Ministry’s website, and a notice of a public event outside the courthouse.

This notice bothered me on several levels, not the least because I prefer my churches to remain separate from my states. But mostly I was irritated by how noncommittal a message it sent. “Pray for business?” Pray for business to do… what? To be better regulated? To be take in as much money as possible? To give its earnings to the poor? Who knows – just pray. God’s gonna sort it out.

Despite my distaste for the National Day of Prayer —I don’t have much time for prayer normally, and especially not this sort of public coercion masquerading as a religious practice—the pamphlet has a point with regards to the roots of the “holiday.” It is an old practice, as old anything in the United States can be: the Continental Congress did indeed authorize a day of prayer back in 1775. George Washington outlined the nature and aims of the day: a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, an acknowledgement of the “gracious interpositions of Providence,” a day “strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.”

There was a blurry picture on the backside of the pamphlet, showing a crowd of people standing in a park, their arms raised to the sky in the shape of a hundred human goalposts. Nobody seemed particularly humiliated. In the back, a brown tent looked to be selling t-shirts.

Eric Scott was raised by the Saint Louis coven Pleiades, a Wiccan family based in the Alexandrian tradition. His fiction and memoir explore the joys and doubts of being a second-generation pagan in the modern world. He recently completed his MFA at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ashé! Journal, Killing the Buddha, Kerouac's Dog, and Witches & Pagans. In his spare time, he draws elaborate metaphysical diagrams on his bedroom wall and sings for a Taoist glam rock band.