Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tales from the Perimeter: Survivor

Perimeter meaning the 6 mile patrol road inside the fence of the military installation on which I work, where some half a dozen of us comprise a pool of running “talent” and strive to show up for a noontime run a couple times a week if we can escape our desks. We share a lot and these guys are one of the core pillars of my sanity.

During yesterday's run we had a full quorum of our group, save for KK,  who is still rehabbing a surgically repaired knee (a non-running injury).  The majority of our group avidly follows both The Amazing Race and Survivor, and the conversation as we navigated the perimeter turned to Survivor.

In this week's episode, Coach's team prayed as a group prior to the day's challenge--which they won--and immediately afterwards, Coach bade them to get down on their thank God for the positive result. 

Oh, and Ozzy committed to a poorly-thought-out scheme whereby he volunteered to be voted out so he could go to Redemption Island so he could defeat the unlikeable incumbent castaway Christine so he could reemerge into the game triumphant after the merge so he could sail on towards the $1M so he could have pulled of the boldest stroke EVEH in the game so he could have immortalized himself forever in Survivor lore.

I was appalled. Nope, not the Ozzy strategy stuff, interesting as that will be as it plays out. Rather, what shocked and astonished me was the shameless invoking of God to favor a particular team...and thanking him afterwards for the positive results, as though God gave a sh*t about it.

Talk about peer pressure.  If one of the team were, say, an atheist or a Buddhist, and wouldn't go along with the prayer circle stuff ("I'll just stand over here while you guys pray", and said so...methinks that player would be voted out ASAP to retain the purity of the team.  Inquisition, anyone?

PH, our non-Survivor-watcher, but who is our most religious member, commented that they were engaging in transactional prayer.  That is, praying for a specific result for which there would be a reciprocation from the supplicant should the wish be granted.  Example: "Dear God, please let our team win 'cause if we win I will become a better Christian, I swear I will."

Transactional prayer, in theology, is thought to be pretty much a juvenile approach, analogous to treating God as though he were Santa Claus. PH believes that the goal of prayer should be to achieve understanding and to create a close relationship with God, NOT to ask for specific favors.

So it'll be all the sweeter when Coach and his band of religious thugs go down hard.  Then it'll be interesting to see how they explain why God changed his mind.


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