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Sunday, 14 February 2016

#PrayForDawkins

In the strange world that is Social Media, the Church of England has been accused of "trolling" for offering prayer for Richard Dawkins.

This really does say more about the people making the accusation than the people offering the prayer. Our Lord quite clearly told us to pray for our enemies, and I'm not sure the Good Doctor even counts as an enemy of the Church of England - more as a grumpy neighbour who may complain about the noise the kids are making, but still quite appreciates your nice house and garden.

The Revd Arun Arora has been forced to make one of the weirdest comments I've heard in ages, where he said that he doesn't agree with everything that Dawkins believes in. Well quite. Maybe it shows how toxic our world has become, that it is assumed one can only wish good things on one's friends and people one agrees with.

Here at the Beaker Folk, we shall leave references to the Good Doctor in the news feed, as we still think they're funny. And we shall light a (beeswax) tea light for him.  We pray that he gets well soon. And we don't think one can pray ironically.

20 comments :

  1. I'm sure that Christians ought to pray for Dawkins; less certain they should announce they are doing so. Isn't there something in the gospels about praying to impress God rather than the neighbours?

    Praying is not trolling but press releases are.

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  2. So the Church of England should only tweet prayers for those that agree with them and then quietly pray for others without mentioning it? Seems odd. On this basis it would also be impossible to put any liturgy online as it contains prayers.

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  3. Prayer is an awful lot of things. Sometimes it's just used as theatre, as here. I'm all in favour of trolling Richard Dawkins and his fans but let's not pretend this isn't what's going on here or act surprised when they are offended. I really don't see the argument about liturgy at all. There is a huge difference between praying for unbelievers in the privacy of a church, or even a cathedral, and publishing the liturgy which implies that, and putting out a press release stating that a particular named atheist is being prayed for. Twitter is an outrage factory. Anything you put out there will irritate people in a way in which -- eg -- publishing the fruitier prayers about Jews in the BCP just won't, because nobody who might be upset reads them.

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    1. When BCP was written it was published by the dangerous new medium of its day. And that medium was an outrage factory too. CofE's tweets are not prayer, they invitations to common prayer. Which of the three do you object to: the idea of common prayer, publishing of invitations to common prayer which may fall into the hands of those who choose to be offended, or the use of a medium that was not available to the church a generation ago?

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    2. The second. The "prayers are invited for Richard Dawkins" gag has been around for years. I'm pretty certain that I have used it myself, with the clear intention of winding up his followers. And twitter is not just any old "medium": it is a part of the internet where anger and misunderstanding are almost uniquely easy to provoke.

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    3. You would have objected to BCP then when it was The Thing? That seems fair enough. Keep religion in secret. You must object to Eileen's use of blogspot and facebook then, too?

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    4. No -- what I said was that for the *official c of e press office* account to announce *on twitter* that it was praying for Richard Dawkins would be understood, quite rightly, as trolling. This is not an objection: I am entirely in favour of trolling the Dawkins fan club. Nor is it a complaint about using newfangled interweb thingies. It's actually based on a rather more sophisticated understanding of the culture of different bits* of the internet that you seem able to manage.

      In real life, if you're going to pray for someone *in front of them* -- which is what announcing something on twitter is -- do you just go ahead, or do you ask if they would mind first? And which method do you think is the more effective tool of evangelism?

      My comment wasn't even meant as a "point and laugh at those silly Christians" line. I simply think that the reaction to that tweet was completely predictable and if it wasn't intended it should have been.


      *In line with Beaker tradition, I count them individually. None of those filthy foreign terabytes went into Stonehenge, after all.

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    5. You would have objected to BCP then when it was The Thing? That seems fair enough. Keep religion in secret. You must object to Eileen's use of blogspot and facebook then, too?

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  4. "and publishing a liturgy" which implies that this is happening ...

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  5. Happy to pray for Dawkins - Bible College Apologetics courses would cease to exist without him. And could you all pray for my friend Ana's son Robert while you're at it...

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  6. Praying. In general and in particular. By name, by category, for people I know and people I don't. For believers and non-believers, for the sick and the healthy, for the quick and the dead.
    In the name of the Lord, Amen

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  7. Praying. In general and in particular. By name, by category, for people I know and people I don't. For believers and non-believers, for the sick and the healthy, for the quick and the dead.
    In the name of the Lord, Amen

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  8. An atheist once asked me not to pray for him. I thought it right to respect his wishes but found it very difficult. He took his own life. I got it wrong.

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    1. How can one even judge?

      You respected his wishes. May he rest in peace.

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  9. It's the "official" press release that's clearly an attempt at poking the ant hill of the easily offended (i.e.Twitter) not the prayers of individual people. However I wouldn't worry about either trolling or prayers; my view is that freedom of speech is far more important.

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  10. The sight of people who defend the right to give offence, being offended by this is amusing.

    I do believe the C of E comms page were sincere. They'll also have known they'd offend the professionally offended but then hey who doesn't?

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    1. It is amusing; but I haven't heard that Dawkins was even "offended" (I seriously doubt it), all the noise seemed to be generated by other people and on the whole it wasn't offence being expressed it was mostly skepticism about the sincerity of the tweet. Mr Fry on the other hand...

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    2. I can't imagine the Good Doctor would be offended. I think given his view of the C of E he'd be grateful in a slightly disdainful way.

      Mr Fry on the other hand can dish it out but can't take it.

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  11. Let's face it, any reaction, or none, to the news would have been grist to the mill of the professionally offended. Huh! ignoring his distress! on the one hand, to Huh! outraging his [lack of] beliefs! on the other. The late Christopher Hitchens, who pulled no punches in his published views of Mother Teresa, was al geared up to fight any who protested on her behalf - and then she went and forgave him. He was outraged. You can't win. I think the poor CofE Press Office just tossed a coin and decided to go for it.

    As a Catholic, I shall pray for him. I hope he'll forgive us all.

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