It seems that no school shooting is complete without renewed calls for mandatory prayer in the public school classroom. But how exactly would that help?
What sort of Creator do the proponents of mandatory prayer envision? Only a barbarous God would demand prayers from schoolchildren before protecting them from being shot to death. Is He really so voracious for praise? Is He really so ruthless in extorting it from us? Should we trust such a deity to help us, if He egomaniacally threatens us so — with violence so horrifying that we are loathe to even imagine it?
And if prayer is sufficient to secure this god’s protection, then why do we see shootings at houses of worship? Were the victims there not praying hard enough? Were they just not sincere enough in their invocations?
Finally, why should arriving police wear body armor, instead of only the “armor of God” that their prayers could afford them? Shouldn’t that be enough, according to those calling for mandatory prayer?
Separation of church and state is enshrined in our Constitution. By keeping the government and public institutions neutral in religious matters, it protects the rights of both religious and non-religious people. (Students are already perfectly free to pray voluntarily, alone or in groups, without being prompted by school staff — because the First Amendment protects their rights, as well.)
Church and state are like peanut butter and tuna fish. Either one of those things might be just fine on their own — but not when they are combined together.
“The Infant Samuel,” Joshua Reynolds, 1776
Oil on canvas.
There’s some confusion about the date for this painting; many websites list it as being completed in 1776 — maybe because that date is included in its title. But Domenick D’Andrea is a contemporary artist living in Connecticut; I believe he painted the piece in 2007.
NBC’s “Knight Rider” might be the granddaddy of all 1980’s high-tech super-vehicle shows — if I had to guess which one was the most popular or most fondly remembered, this would be it. (I suppose the other leading contender would be “Airwolf,” which we talked about a couple of months ago — but that was aimed at an older audience.)
“Knight Rider” was cheesy. But most 80’s action shows were cheesy, and I still remember it as being decent enough. Lord knows I and Mikey Wagner, the kid on the next block, were fascinated by it.
As anyone who remembers this show can attest, there is a key character that isn’t even hinted at in the intro below. The car was sentient. His name was K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand), and he was an artificial intelligence who actually who had a hell of a lot of personality. K.I.T.T. was a super-intelligent, talking, futuristic, sleek, black sportscar, and he was an incongruous damned hero to us kids.
The other star was Davis Hasselhoff as Michael Knight. We looked up to him too. Hasselhoff, of course, is now better known for his subsequent starring role as a moronic lifeguard on the categorically awful “Baywatch” (1989 – 2001). I remember seeing snippets of “Baywatch” in the 1990’s — it was constantly playing in the newsroom at my first job as a cub reporter. (The guys there loved it.) I remember being disappointed that one of my childhood heroes had somehow morphed into a male bimbo on the most saccharine and brainless TV show I had ever seen. Hey, “Knight Rider” was a show for kids … but it was goddam “Masterpiece Theater” when compared with “Baywatch.”
Weird trivia — the voice actor for K.I.T.T. was none other than William Daniels, who also gave a stellar performance as John Adams in 1972’s film adaptation of Broadway’s “1776.” It’s so weird seeing that movie and hearing the voice of K.I.T.T. come out of Adams’ mouth.