Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is prayer the solution?

Listening to the BBC World Service this morning and there was report about a group of Christians in America who have decided that the only solution to rising petrol prices is prayer. Sometimes I despair of Christians, though probably well meaning, who are incapable of analysing a problem and addressing the deeper roots rather than the symptons.

The increasing price of petrol across America is being portrayed as a threat, a crisis in the heart of the American way of life, yet the reality is that it is an opportunity. This is an opportunity for Christian people to lead American society by cutting back on car use, and by extension cut back the noxious fumes which are poisoning the very planet God called on mankind to care for.

Unfortunately all this little group have done is show themselves ignornant of the mechanics of the free market, which I am sure if asked they would claim to be dedicated supporters of, but also to show Christians in a bad light, yet again. If God is interested in the price of petrol in America, why is he not interested in the genocide in Darfur? Again priorities have become muddled in the minds of the believing public, God does not call his people to maintain a status quo which is choking his creation to death. A comment from an article in the Daily Telegraph quotes a member of this group as saying:

"The poor are really suffering from this crisis. This movement is giving people hope."

I would argue that this movement is giving people the wrong kind of hope, the delusional hope that God cares about the price of petrol - you would think that he has more pressing things on his mind right now. What the church needs to be doing is addressing the real root cause of this problem, which is people's slavish attachment to the motor car. The church should be at the very forefront of the Green movement, looking for ways to lessen our impact on the planet.

It is always easier to treat a sympton than a disease, if I have a headache I take a tylenol - but if the cause of that headache is a tumour then no matter how many tylenols I pop, I will die because I have failed to address the problem. Praying at the pump is mere tylenol for the spirit.

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