This Unholy Mess


A Day of Prayer: The Re-Mix

You might have seen or heard the stirring prayer offered to the nation on September 1st by the Reverend Robert Jeffress, a renowned Baptist minister who regularly offers powerfully lucrative sermons through select media outlets. If you did, I’m sorry. It’s too late to un-see or un-hear it.
In the Oval Office scene, a small group of ministers jockeyed for position behind Mr. Trump, each laying a creepy hand on the president’s meaty back, to transmit some sort of spiritual mojo. Or possibly the mojo was supposed to travel in the opposite direction: just as touching the hem of Jesus’s garment healed the sick, the ministers who touched Trump were gifted with a potent capacity to monetize sleaze.
Jeffress employed waves of masterful cognitive dissonance and a chirpy, self-hypnotized tenor, so popular among televangelists these days, to challenge our collective gag reflex and drive the National Nausea Meter to a maximum reading. It was a perfect prayer, offering to both God and Mr. Trump, in equal measure, the most eloquent toadying, while completely avoiding the unpleasant scruffiness of actual reality.
With that in mind, I would like to offer an alternate version which will give you the gist of Jeffress’s words, with perhaps just a touch less disingenuousness. (Note: You won’t want to miss Jeffress’s “Journeys of Paul” Mediterranean Cruise next year. Not just some cheap excuse for Jeffress to provide himself a free vacation, it is billed as truly “purposeful travel,” a “Christian experience” that will include “worship, laughter, the study of God’s word”, and hopefully some killer rum drinks. I am not making this up. Okay, maybe the part about the rum drinks…)
The Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you for bringing us to the Oval Office today. Surely this holy photo op, with our godly president backed by godly gold drapes, will increase the bounty of our collection plates and follow us all the days of our lives, boosting our bottom lines and Wikipedia profiles to celestial heights.
Father, we thank you that we have a president like Donald Trump, one who believes in the power of prayer even in its most hypocritical, shameless, and nakedly bogus forms. We thank you that he has learned how to close his eyes and fold his tiny hands in what would be a perfect imitation of your goodness, if only his facial expression didn’t make him look like Benito Mussolini passing gas.
We thank you for this Day of Prayer, providing a space in which the president can appear to be caring and compassionate—even human—as the fallout from the DACA decision joins his multitude of other cowardly, self-serving, and destructive acts.
Father, we pray to you for physical healing for your people; that is, whatever relief Congress can provide to those afflicted by Hurricane Harvey, people so much more worthy of aid than those godless dirt bags from New York and New Jersey who made such a fuss about the little rainstorm they called Sandy. Vouchsafe Ted Cruz the blessed cajones to explain away his opposition to Sandy aid, while insisting on the speediest relief for his own constituents in Texas. Allow him and his small-government friends to keep a straight face while benefitting fully from the efforts of a federal government whose generous size allows it to provide major aid when needed. And if anyone is filing false claims, Father, smite them and see to it that all aid everywhere is terminated. As it says in the Good Book, “I countenance not chiselers who lie and steal and buy a jet ski with insurance money.” As with the Food Stamp Program, any cheating should automatically terminate the entire initiative.
By the way, we deeply regret, Father, that we, your super-affluent televangelists, do not contribute to the relief effort through payment of taxes. In your mercy, please recall that we are sacred non-profits. But be assured that we will milk every blessed penny we can squeeze out of even our most destitute, trailer-dwelling congregants. All in Jesus’s name, of course.
Father, though you probably need a break from all this thanking and asking, we also want to pray for spiritual and emotional healing in our nation. Though we as a people have been bitterly divided until now, you have given us the great gift of Donald Trump and his pathetic first eight months in office: a stream of cynical manipulations, embarrassing missteps, and brazen mendacity impressive enough to free even the most hesitant critic from any doubt about the appropriateness of wholehearted opposition to him, without bitterness or regret. Were he to show the slightest ability or desire to do anything other than feed his own grotesque self-image, Father, it might be harder. But thanks to your great gift, we’re free! Alleluia!

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