Why does the modern world love to mock thought and prayer? I think that the world itself reflects this mocking, and that’s not good. Most of those we meet live existences completely obsessed with themselves and their own complacency — is that not true? They view life and death as equally a joke, a cruel nothing inflicted by a world without meaning. This is the post-modern ethos that controls the universities, for instance. This is an ethos devoid of “thought and prayer.”
Not one thought is given to a neighbor in the modern world, which once was the essence and eternal engine of Western charity. It was our high-trust relationship that we maintained with our neighbors, unique among all the people of the world, that made us prosperous and wealthy and made high-functioning societies without high centralization possible.
Today we see endless mawkish Schumerean tears for the downtrodden of the world, no doubt — but not a single thought for the man within arm’s reach of us — the neighbor, the kinsman, the one who we could most truly care for, the care that once bound together the heart of our civilization.
We have become so atomized by our individual existences that we have given over caring, together with thinking and praying, to professionals to perform on our behalf, while we go about our days not thinking about caring and certainly not praying — and statistics suggest that we’re contributing nothing to the charity of mankind.
Why no thoughts and why no prayers? Why have we allowed thinking and praying to be counted for nothing? Thinking is the foremost thing that most would agree is missing from the modern world. It is also well established that local churches are a far greater charity to participate in than the large bureaucracies — like Red Cross that donates less than 10% of its takings to disaster relief.
We have forgotten how to talk to each other, or we have become too weak to confront each other. Our ideologies also are half-formed weaknesses: we compliment ourselves on our scientific literature while knowing profoundly less about sciences in general than our highly learned predecessors two centuries ago. Both the Gospels and the Constitution are in wane — America’s future belongs to pornography and Coca-Cola.
Who benefits from this post-modern world without thoughts and prayers? It seems that we are beset by disasters on all sides now. Throughout the week we are besieged by artificial media hysteria — Russian spies, Hitler’s brain, climate change, until the one day of the month we have a truck attack from the religion of peace, or some other random act of heinous criminality that dominates the news for an hour or a day — and every so often we have a natural disaster, too. This is the frenzied, thoughtless world that we inhabit.
My proposition: If I am thinking about the misfortune that has happened to someone else, I am thereby extending my human empathy beyond myself. If I am praying about something terrible that has occurred, I am doing so in hope of guidance — and regardless of whether or not one is a believer, if I am sincere in my prayer, and my prayer is more than the empty braying from a socialist pulpit, then my guidance that comes from it will almost certainly come in the form of direct charity towards those who need it.
Who benefits from a post-modern world without thoughts and prayers? Bureaucrats, obviously. Managers. Administrators. “Experts.” The new clergymen of our neo-liberal Cathedral, masquerading as academies of the highest pedigree, more tightly bound with the government than the churches of old could have ever imagined. These are the ones that make a profit out of our confusion and entire libraries out of our misdirection. Our suffering is their money.
The person who takes the time to think and pray on the condition of the world is at least capable of positing an answer for those conditions— the smarmy pseudo-intellectual rebel, the one who has made a cult out of nothing, or out of “humanity”, which is functionally equal to nothing, such a person never contributes more than a culture of critique, a life as an act of resentment against living itself. They will never posit a real answer.
I advocate thought and prayer. Self-reflection and introspection is what builds character. It might even be more useful than a four year liberal education.