Thursday, September 07, 2006

Public Displays of Devotion

This is an interesting post on Touchstone's Mere Comments blog about a Jewish man who was escorted off a plane for praying. If you read the article to which the blog connects, you'll see that there was more to the situation than just religious bias, but the fact that a religious person's prayers made others "uncomfortable" enough to complain to the flight attendants is an interesting sign of our times.

Isn't it interesting that "uncomfortable" is the word used, not "offended"? It sounds like a similar discomfort to the one I feel when I see a couple making out in a movie theater or park, or see a mother breast-feeding (without covering) in public. Making out and breast-feeding are beautiful things (in the proper contexts), but the culture in which I have been raised says that those are "private" things that shouldn't be trotted out before "public" eyes. The classic retort to the couple is "get a room," and I imagine that the same would be said for the mother. "Get a room" equals "find a private space to do that private thing." I wonder if that same "get a room" was being thought for the Jewish man praying.

If that's the case, then there is something deeper against which religious people must struggle in order to enter the genuine tolerance I discussed in my last post. The feeling that comes when people transgress "public" spaces with "private" actions goes far beyond religion and into the deepest part of our society. The questions society has to ask itself are these: "What is private? What is public? And, what overlap can we allow in the middle?"

And I will pray, no matter what society does, that Christians will always have the courage to pray in public for the world in Jesus' name, even if they get escorted off airplanes in the process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post is timely, as is happening in two weeks.

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