And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.
- Matthew 6:5-7, Douay-Rheims Bible
I had planned to write about something else today, but then something happened at the office this morning that just absolutely deserved an entry.
It started when I got a phone call at my desk at Company O. from an unfamiliar phone number. When I picked up, I discovered that I was talking to some kind of sales flunky for a financial advisor and stock broker. The broker guy is somehow affiliated with the company that runs the Company O. 401k plan. He is here "on site" a couple days a week. The sales flunky wants to know if he can send me the broker's card. Sure, I say and I give my home address.
After that, things take an abrupt turn from run of the mill annoying to weird. It starts out when sales flunky telling me that broker guy is also affiliated with Schwab and can get me access to funds with a minimum $50K buy in. When I tell him I'm not interested in that, he asks me what I would be interested in. I beg off, saying I don't have time to discuss this. He asks "Is everything ok with you?" I say yes. He then follows up with "Can I pray for you?" Not sure how to react, I say "sure" -- figuring that this is something he'll be doing on his own time. It turns out that it isn't something on his own time; he launches into a 50 word prayer for my well being. At that point, I just say "thank you" and hang up.
Let me preface my reaction by saying that I don't have the best prayer life right now. I try to exchange a few words with the Almighty everyday... but I certainly don't attend Mass on Sundays with great regularity or pray as much as I could. That said, I feel sort of weirdly... violated... by this phone call. My spiritual life is a deeply personal thing and my relationship with God is something I don't share with just anyone. I therefore feel that hearing this guy pray with me on the phone during the middle of the day... well, it's like suddenly being kissed by someone who you don't know, and don't particularly care for all of a sudden.
I keep thinking "who is this person and why is he doing this to me?"
The part of that bothers me even more is the fact that I cannot help but see this in a socio-political context. This random sales flunky seems to feel empowered by the way things are in this country right now that he wants to bring Jesus into his everyday dealings with people. My problem with that is that the people who spout about that sort of thing generally seem to adhere to a very conservative, materialistic form of evangelical Protestantism. So when I am hearing this guy pray for me, I'm listening to one of the core believers in the George W. Bush vision of America... and well, that scares the bejeebers out of me. The fact that this is also a sales call for a representative of Big Wall Street, Inc. underlines some kind of social linkage where we live under of the thumb of "Jesus Inc." In that world, there is an approved church franchise on every corner and at every shopping mall, the executives are richer than sin, the workers in the trenches make minimum wage, and billions and billions are served.
Perhaps, I am being unfair to this sales flunky. Maybe he's just feeling full of the Spirit and trying to spread the good vibrations. I hope that's all.
on 2005-09-23 at 11:53 a.m.
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