I remember watching Game Two of the 1995 World Series and deciding that Bob Costas is gutless. I came to this conclusion because Costas went out of his way, as Cleveland pitcher Dennis Martinez warmed up on the mound, to avoid describing a key part of Martinez’s ritual. Martinez is a Christian, and he used to pray before beginning a game. So, while several million viewers watched this man bow his head, pray, and cross himself, Costas mumbled something about his “moment of silence,” and his “time of reflection” before the game.
I’m reminded of this as I read about New York City’s planning of ceremonies to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The Washington Post and The New York Times dutifully report that New Yorkers will reflect, remember, commemorate, memorialize, hearken back, and eulogize. They will light candles, read names, honor the dead, celebrate the living, sing songs, cry, read speeches, and have moments of silence.
But in this flurry of activity nobody, apparently, will pray. Instead, houses of worship will be encouraged to ring their bells, like the happy, unthreatening nuns in The Sound of Music.
I’m fairly sure there will be prayer, if not from the podium, then from the throngs of citizens too unsophisticated to have abandoned their childish faith in deity. I’m equally sure that, should some dignitary let slip the G-word, or — heaven forbid — the C-word, considerable Internet bandwidth will be absorbed on September 12th by the lamentations of atheists with bruised feelings debating which aggrieved them more: the previous day’s religious displays, or the Presidential Inauguration. What’s funny is that while there will be prayer, major news outlets seem afraid to mention it in their laundry lists of activities to be engaged in by mourners. This goes for two television news broadcasts I heard on the same topic.
Do they really not know that average people pray, or are they simply afraid to say so?