I was reading Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish this morning (here and here), when I saw his recent posts as to 'whether we should pray for Hitch". Now, I don't often see eye to eye with the very abrasive Christopher Hitchens, but it appears he's going to under-go some extensive chemotherapy on his esophagus (Scotch doesn't ward off esophageal cancer it appears), and Conservative Sullivan, who is a religious man, was asking his readers "should we pray for Hitch?". The well published 2006 study (predating this blog, link here) that showed - at least in regards to "uncomplicated recovery after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery" done on a large population of subjects by Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center - prayer does no good, and it actually had WORSE outcomes for those who were prayed for: "CONCLUSIONS: Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications." ...so I thought it relevant to point out here.
As Hitchens is one of his generation's most vocal atheists, praying for him, and telling him you are praying for him, would harm him more than it would help him as a patient. It might make the one praying feel better.... so Sullivan recommends praying for his friend Hitchens and not telling him. Chacun ses merde - whatever. Whether Hitchens lives or dies, is immaterial to me, as is whether anyone prays for him or not. I DO Understand that chemo SUCKS, and those who get it suffer tremendously - no such thing as a "gentle chemo". I am not a proponent of extending suffering anywhere in the world - my mother obsesses about her own, and everyone elses suffering, daily, and that's enough to cover most of the Western Hemisphere.
And even if the person is perceived by others as pure evil, irreproachable, I don't think they should be cruelly tortured and suffer from chemo - lock them up and throw away the key (like pedophiles, Al Queda, priests who rape children, other psychopaths), but don't make them suffer. Suffering just fuels hatred, disease, reciprocal acts of enmity, and it causes us (when used intentionally) to lose a little bit of our humanity, each time we propagate it - in my opinion.
What do you think?
Does praying for someone help you, to deal with their suffering / their difficulties / what they are experiencing that may be troubling you?
Do you always tell those you pray for, that you are praying for them, even though scientifically it's been proven, that you are hurting that person's medical outcome?
Have you ever "prayed against" someone? (a very un-Christian thing to do, but I've had blood relatives do this, despite my dearly departed and wonderful maternal grandmother's admonishing not to do so)
And on suffering... do you think it's a good thing, to perpetuate someone's suffering when that someone is so deplorable in your perspective, so unrepentant and un-rehabilitate-able, that you might think they "deserve to suffer" for how they make you feel, or what you've understood that person may have done previously?
I welcome your comments, as always.
1 year ago