Oxymoronic Prayer

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A meme making the
rounds
in some circles is this: Prayer for Obama, Psalm
109:8.   This is what is known as an imprecatory prayer,
that is, a prayer that expresses ill will toward another. 



This particular bit of verse is one of the less appealing and less
inspirational found in the Christian Bible:


  1. Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;
  2. for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are
    opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
  3. They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought
    against me without a cause.
  4. For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto
    prayer.
  5. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
  6. Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right
    hand.
  7. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer
    become sin.
  8. Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
  9. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.


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Let me tell you how I really feel about this.  Some people are
dumb.  They let their emotions destroy all vestiges of whatever
logic they otherwise might have been able to muster.  They allow
themselves to be led, and to be exploited. 



There are some (plural) political parties that stand ready to exploit
such persons.  It is part of the gang mentality.  The leaders
get others to do the dirty work.  The followers do get something
out of it, however.  They get to feel as though they are part of a
greater whole, for whatever that is worth.  I guess, to some
people, it is worth a lot.



Note: here
is a primer of the application of imprecatory prayer. 
I would like to think this is satire, but sadly, it appears to have
been written in complete sincerity.


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Reminds me vaguely of the curses of ancient Rome whereby someone would scribble something on a tablet and stick it by a wall. History is repeating itself - weak government-in-power who probably means well but isn't getting squat done, batshit right-wing group trying to fuck everything up. I wonder if this is a good case in which to mention the old 'YOU KNOW WHO ELSE DID THAT?' trope.

You being a psychiatrist, what kind of commentary do you have on this kind of stupid-groupthink-through-the-ages?

By Katharine (not verified) on 18 Nov 2009 #permalink

[quote]# for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
# They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.
# For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
# And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.[/quote]

Looks like they pretty well define themselves.

An old (and very devout) friend of mine had posted this 'prayer for Obama' as her Facebook status and I asked her about it. She says:

"I do not wish death, sorrow or pain on anyone. The way *I* perceive it is 'Let him be impeached soon, & may someone else take office.' I haven't heard anyone use any of the other verses of scripture in that book, & *ANYONE* wishing death on another person WILL reap what they sow & should check out the book of Galatians."

That may be what *she* means - and I believe her - but she and others like her need to bear in mind the context out of which they've taken their little slogan and not be surprised if someone uses this as an excuse to take a shot at our President. It's dangerous.

To many people it doesn't mean very much at all. Dropped like a hot potato when the next fad comes along.
Unfortunately very few people think things through. Like you I find that very frustrating and irresponsible, and potentially dangerous. My personal bug bear is internet memes about the wonders of Neuroscience spread on Twitter in 140 characters or less. See my latest post http://wp.me/CYRl

I agree with the article (very interesting), but wouldn't we rather these people were doing this (and having *no* effect) than actually doing something that might hurt someone apart from themselves?

If you do look at the prayer as calling for the impeachment of Obama, what does that say about verse 6?

Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.

In the event of an impeachment, who is the presiding judge? Isnât it Justice Roberts? Doesnât this call for a wicked man to judge him? Doesnât it imply that Justice Roberts is that wicked man?