Ok, I confess I’ve always had a crush on Tony Blair. It’s the accent, probably. The Times Online had a report of him speaking at Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast and saying that he was thankful to be out of politics since British politicians who speak of religion or faith are viewed with skepticism … “people do think you’re a bit of a nutter,” Blair said.
I really liked the Times piece, because it pointed out that Blair got something right I think our former President didn’t: He kept his faith private while in public office. (Full disclosure here: The National Prayer Breakfast bugs me since it seems to violate the separation of church and state, and the countries that don’t have separation of church and state scare the jellybeans out of me.)
Blair separating his faith from his work didn’t mean he didn’t consult the Almighty, indeed, he’s quoted as saying he prayed that he would “do God’s work and follow God’s will.” But he did that prayer privately, along the lines of what Jesus advised when he cautioned “… go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “
I’m a proponent of prayer, mostly because I hold to the Catholic theology positing that one prays to change oneself, not one’s circumstances. But hearing Blair prayed to know God’s will? I’m not sure anyone ever knows that. In fact, people who tell us they hear voices from on high tend to get medicated or locked away. (One wonders if we’d listen to people like Joan of Arc or St. Francis today or just offer them 20 mgs of Prozac.)
Maybe I feel this way because I’ve never gotten a Post-it from God telling me what to do when I ask for some clear-cut direction. (A priest once told me I’d question the Post-it even if it came. “You’d think it wasn’t the right color,” he quipped.) Or maybe it is just that I think the mind of God is too big to be known. Or maybe because all things natural point to the fact that we were given brains for a reason – to reason. Yes, we should try to discern which would be the best road for us to take, and in that quiet reflection, things can become clearer. But in the end, the choice is still a human one and we have to take responsibility for it. Which is why the war in Iraq isn’t God’s fault, even if our country’s former leader said it was God’s will.