University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor Roger Brown made a wise and, in my opinion, a Christian decision in substituting a few moments of silence for prayer at football games. I wish the Hamilton County Commission could see the wisdom in his decision.
Each time a citizen has brought a violation of the principle of the separation of church and state to them, they have opted to go the legal route, knowing the courts have historically held against their positions. Strangely, County Attorney Rheubin Taylor has led the way, costing our taxpayers in legal fees and court costs.
Rheubin is a Christian minister, but this should not dictate the course of action he has chosen. In fact, I see a higher road Chancellor Brown has taken on the issue.
Listen to his grand reasoning: "We have to make sure there is never anybody who goes away from our campus that feels like they have been excluded. This is becoming a very diverse city, and there are faiths from all around the world who live on this campus and in the community."
You have a perfect right as a Christian to pray in the name of Jesus, but you don't have a responsibility to always pray in that manner. Common sense should dictate that there are occasions where we can show respect for the religions of our fellow brother and sisters on spaceship Earth. Bear in mind that Jesus taught us only one prayer, and it is not offered in his name but to his father.
I loved the late Rev. H.H. Battle and remember how his public prayers were offered "in the name of Almighty God."
The Quakers taught me that prayer is more listening than talking. Alfred Thatcher visited me in the hospital and, in appreciation, I went to one of their services. It changed my life. They gathered in a circle and just sat in quietness. I kept wondering when someone would start the service but came to see the service started when they got quiet. I decided to join them and quieted my mind. It was a marvelous experience and has been my way of prayer since that time.
Jesus warned of those who would think they would be heard because of their "much speaking." I do think most of us would rather talk than listen, but I am certain that in prayer, of all things, we will learn and experience more by listening.
If God wanted to speak clearly to us, I wonder when we would get quiet enough to hear. Our pace of life is so hectic that our minds stray like a squirrel. If we made a habit of stilling our minds before our meetings, I think we would be more aware of our Maker and our place in the universe and make sounder decisions.
My favorite verse in the Bible is "Be still and know I am God" (Psalm 46:10). I think it does no violence to the verse to read it as "Before your meetings, be still and you have a better chance of realizing I am God."
I admit some of this is the view of a person who desires to live as a Christian in the world, but I do think Chancellor Brown has gone beyond that to make us aware of our responsibilities as citizens of a great and growing multifaith city.
Email Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.
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