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REPLY #2 TO
"PUBLIC PRAYER"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) As I told you in my first reply, I read your article on Public Prayer to my Sunday School class last Sunday. It was generally the consensus that your idea of a short time of silence was an acceptable and practical alternative to praying from only one biased viewpoint.
(MB) I think that this is the best approach in any environment where the assembled group is likely to have a mix of beliefs - some of which may be incompatible with others.


(R) However, we all agreed that if called on to pray aloud in public (as a few of us are), we would not compromise our personal beliefs and would definitely end our prayers "in Jesus name."
(MB) If asked to offer such a prayer, that would be reasonable. If I was asked to do this, I would take the "moment of silence" approach. The main concern of my essay, however, was on the times when somebody decides on his own accord that the group must stop what they are currently doing in order for him to deliver a prayer in accordance with his own beliefs with little or no regard for what the beliefs of the rest of the group might be.


(R) The Bible says that the only way we can know the creator God is through his son, Jesus.
(MB) That is the Christian viewpoint, anyway. I think that Jews might see things a bit differently. Your statement would be more accurate if you substituted "The New Testament" for "The Bible".


(R) I have 2 brothers, whom I love dearly. Both are college graduates with one of them having over 325 college credit hours, including under and post-graduate work. He is currently an instructor at a community college and spends his entire life reading, studying and lecturing. He and I grew up in exactly the same environment - a loving, traditional, Southern family with Christ the center of the home. He and I have taken separate paths in our religious and secular lives. Because space (and the fear of boredom setting in with your reading this!) and time are limited here, I will not attempt to explain all the areas we think differently in.
(MB) I grew up in a similar situation in North Dakota with Lutheranism as the predominant Christian sect, but split away from the church early on in life.


(R) In my 20's and 30's I sought to find answers outside the Bible to the the hundreds of questions I had about life and why millions starved while others seemed to prosper, both good and evil. In my early 40's I came to the conclusion that I could not solve all the mysteries nor find answers to all the questions.
(MB) There are a great many of those questions that really don't have hard and fast answers. Somethimes, this is because those mysteries are brought about be essentially random events. Other times, it's because we have applied presupposed initial conditions to humanity and attempted to draw conclusions from there. Like all questions of logic, if no answers make any sense, one might just have to reexamine the initial questions for validity.


(R) So, I made a decision to accept the Bible and its teachings on faith, and concentrate on studying it and trying to practice what it taught. If, when I die I find out that it was all a farce, then I have no regrets.
(MB) Few would argue that the Bible (and other religious texts, as well) contains much wisdom and sound advice on how to live one's life. It's only when people try to ascribe qualities to the Bible that it simply doesn't possess that debate will begin to rage about it.


(R) I have lived a better life than I deserve, have a great family, make good money, enjoy many friendships, and live with a heart of contentment and humility. I have been able to help a lot of people, especially the underprivileged and poor, and generally have little to complain about. However, when I die, if I find the Bible was true and there is a God and heaven as promised, then I can enjoy the glory of heaven and spend eternity in God's presence with the blessings and rewards described in The Word.
(MB) Those "blessings and rewards" are the centerpiece of many religious systems. If they weren't in place, how many people would adhere to the standards and practices prescribed by their religion? I think it is most important that one attempt to live what might generally be considered a "good life" without regard to whether or not there will be some reward to be gained from doing so. How many people have we each seen who put up that "false front" in their lives?


(R) Conversely, those who opt to spend their lives outside Christ and the Bible, as mortals will also come to the end of their lives. If they were right, no problem, no consequences. If they were wrong, they spend eternity separated from God and, the Bible says "in punishment."
(MB) With so many competing religious (and non-religious) belief systems in existence and with little or no hard evidence to support any of them over any of the others, it is impossible to make a logical choice of which one is either "correct" or "best". Many contain common elements such as "Love your neighbor" and "Do unto others..." that should be inarguably good things to practice whether or not one mixes them in with belief in any particular deity. I feel that one should live an honest and "good" life in accordance with his own personal beliefs. If one does this and discovers after death that he has worshipped the "wrong" deity (or that he was wrong in choosing to worship no deity at all) that he will not automatically suffer for it.


(R) Since I know I can never "figure" it all out, and since I have limited time in this human life, I have opted to "stake my claim" on one source of answers to life's questions. Pretty simplistic approach, eh? Cuts out lots of doubts and musings.
(MB) Yes, it does. However, one should never quit looking for those answers nor should he restrict himself to only one possible explanation for everything. After all, what happens if that one explanation should someday be shown to be invalid?


(R) I love it! I have the freedom to concentrate on living life, helping others and making a good living so I can be of service to others. Those that need help don't really care what my theology is, nor which religion I got it from. But, some of them ask, and it gives me the opportunity to share the "story" of the Bible with them. It makes it very worthwhile.
(MB) One needs to be exposed to all sides of any issue in order to have any chance of reaching valid conclusions. As I'm sure you've guessed, I am of the opinion that one must continually strive to learn about this universe in which we live. The search may be one without end, but each new thing we learn adds richness to our lives. There can be no greater pursuit than to replace nonsense and error with understanding and knowledge.



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