Rewards for Prayer

I have overwhelming evidence – everyday day notifications of religious texts, sermons and scriptures – that all my Facebook friends, acquaintances and family are deeply religious, or showing some devotion to or reverence and belief in a higher power with a commitment, no doubt, to the strict observance of a moral code including virtue, decency, honesty and a keen interest in fighting injustice and wrongdoing wherever it seems. I truly applauded your conviction and dedication to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or whatever your religious belief, because there is no task more daunting, a unique human predicament of the impossibility, to save the world from all its dire struggles and tribulations, a task more suited to an all-powerful, all-knowing God, than a messenger of one.

Former Catholic nun, Karen Armstrong wrote in her book, ‘The History of God’ explains, ‘there’s a distinction between belief in a set of propositions and a faith which enables us to put trust in them………I cannot say, however, that my belief in these religious opinions about the nature of ultimate reality gave me much confidence that life here on earth was good or beneficent’. In fact, living on earth is a Hellish existence, that might explain the quest by traditional Christians for that journey to Heaven, a rewarding place for the righteous and the saved. Since no one can envision what the Heaven is like, it is up to your creative imagination because so little is to show about life in the eternity. The popular belief is that a good person goes to heaven immediately when he or she dies; others believe that the body goes back to the dust and the soul ascends to Heaven, however, there is just one recorded incident of an ascent into heaven.

I do not have those aspirations or yearnings to undertake the impossible task of saving people from their wretched life’s experiences; neither do I have a divine calling to a monastic order by taking a vow of poverty, chastity or obedience. But I certainly want to live in a world free from suffering, hopelessness, despair, unhappiness and sorrow; war and strive; and a resolution to all evils that afflict the poor and the unfortunate. If prayer is the great equalizer and is a means to effect changes in society: to heal the sick and infirmed; improve the welfare and aid the poor; soften the hearts of obstinate men, then the rich seem to fare better praying to multiply their wealth times over while the poor remain stagnant in their circumstances. It seems the angels that grant rewards are strangely absent from the daily lives of the destitute and disadvantaged.

We often witnessed prayers to begin a sport event and often when one team is victorious over another. It occurred to me that if both teams summons divine intervention to support one side over another. Who is to blame when one team losses, if both teams are praying for the same result – a win? Let me guess – the devil.

Being religious does not make a better human being; nor resolves the myriad of problems many people meet on a daily basis, however, prolong suffering, hopelessness, despair or unfortunate circumstances may force someone to look to religion for solace and comfort when there is a lack of hope.

The revelation of emails of the Sony executives paints a troubling picture of the attitudes of the dominant population that disparages the accomplishments of the minority actors in Hollywood. In spite of the election of the first President of color, racism is still alive and well. You would believe that the power of prayer is the antithesis of the proclivity for the killing of unarmed black men by white police officers. This is by no means a new occurrence. The perceive the threat of Black men invading White culture during slavery and post slavery, had long been the biggest fears of most white people.

I have had more church than most. Being the nephew of a Pastor of a Pilgrim Holiness Church, I used to attend church twice on Sundays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Friday nights. I have witnessed sisters overcome with the ‘spirits’ and brethren talking in ‘tongues’; I have attended more baptisms than John the Baptist at a River Bay excursion. I still enjoy a good tent revival and charismatic pastors preaching fire and brimstone as punishment for sinners.

If we are all praying to the same divine being, one dominant group seem to have the advantage of being heard. For over 300 hundred years or more of prayer for basic human rights, it is still a struggle to achieve. With a justice system that favors the rich and guilty and a deliberate disregard for the poor and innocence, it is not likely to change at any time soon or in the future.

Love is……

What is love? How do you know when you found it? And how long will it stay when you find it? These questions been deliberated and written about for centuries, from poets to novelists to the great bard himself, Shakespeare, the celebrated playwright who probably wrote the most famous tragic love story between Romeo and Juliette. The greatest love stories in history revealed that many of the famous lovers met a tragic end, however, they show us that love is stronger than anything else in the world. So congratulations to you that have found love and to all those hoping to find it someday, of course, with a happier ending.

Love is a force of nature…..It strikes like lightning, it is unpredictable and overwhelming. Just as it is impossible to command the moon, the stars and the wind to capitulate to our whims and fancies. We cannot invite, command, dictate, or demand how, where and love expresses itself. The one command characteristic of love is the overpowering, alluring, seductive and tantalizing wish to be together as one, inseparable, two souls intertwined. Lovers who believe in each other and their love, even if the world does not recognize or approve of their union.

Love is free. It cannot be bought, sold or traded. Money cannot buy love. But one can buy sex or marriage partners, loyalty, companionship, a virgin, an undivided attention or an orgasm. Love does not come with conditions, stipulations, bargains or rewards. Marriage has certain restrictions based on the law, property rights and contracts, but marriage has little to do with love. As this famous song by Bonnie Raitt suggests, ‘I can’t make you love me,….you can’t make your heart be something it won’t’.

As I wrote in my last blog title ‘Hatred and Mental Instability’, that the two most intense of human emotions – love and hate – are intimately linked within the human brain, according to biological scientific study, and are the same nervous circuits in the brain responsible for romantic love………can result in similar acts of extreme behavior – although love and hate appears to be polar opposites. I believe the heart plays a more significant role in the feelings of love by receiving information from our senses of smell, taste, touch, seeing and hearing. When we are loved, we tend to feel it in our guts, we learn to recognize when we are being loved and also recognize love for another.

There is really no mystery about being in love, it is practical and down-to-earth. In order for love to be real love, it has to be expressed as an action. A loving touch, a deep caress, a loving smile, sweet kind words of appreciation, getting caught in the rain, a long drive to nowhere or an extended stay in the bathtub are evidence of romantic love. There is often tangible proof when you are loved. When you are treated with love, your heart feels that love, as King Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs 27:19, ‘As water reflects a man’s face back at him, so is the heart of one [person] to another’.

Love radiates like the sun and shines through the darkest clouds, independently of our fears and desires. Love comes on its own time, without a schedule.