The Senate Chaplain Prays In Vain

The Washington chaplain attempts, every morning,
To start off the day with a prayer and a warning
A message for senators, angry and bold
As it offers a chance for the chaplain to scold
(They all say they’re Christian, except for a few,
So you’d think there’s a chance that they’d listen to you!)
But the senators listen, and nod with a smile
To a prayer that is aimed at the folks ‘cross the aisle
(It just couldn’t be that our side has done wrong,
So we’ll do what we do, as we’ve done all along.)

So, yeah… keep on praying; go nuts. What the hell…
I mean, why would you quit, when it’s working so well?

“Save us from the madness,” the chaplain, a Seventh-day Adventist, former Navy rear admiral and collector of brightly colored bow ties named Barry C. Black, said one day late last week as he warmed up into what became an epic ministerial scolding.

“We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride,” he went on, his baritone voice filling the room. “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”

I’m torn. Partly I view his prayers as an exercise in futility, a useless waste of time where he might as well be talking to a wall. And frankly, that’s about as much influence as I want him to have. I’d rather have him outside the senate, literally talking to walls. But there is a hint that maybe some senators are listening:

During his prayer on Friday, the day after officers from the United States Capitol Police shot and killed a woman who had used her car as a battering ram, Mr. Black noted that the officers were not being paid because of the government shutdown.

Then he turned his attention back to the senators. “Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism,” he said. “Forgive them the blunders they have committed.”

Senator Harry Reid, the pugnacious majority leader who has called his Republican adversaries anarchists, rumps and hostage takers, took note. As Mr. Black spoke, Mr. Reid, whose head was bowed low in prayer, broke his concentration and looked straight up at the chaplain.

In which case, he’s moved from ineffectual to evil. “Attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable” is an apt description, but not of both sides. When negotiating with a firebug, finding a reasonable number of fires he can be allowed to set should not require one side to move from a strong position of “zero”.


  1. says

    Yeah, the chaplain’s rhetoric puts pressure on congress in general, but the parts of congress actually responsible don’t care, and so the only real pressure is going on the people who we can’t afford to have capitulate.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Harry Reid, … who has called his Republican adversaries anarchists, rumps and hostage takers…

    That middle sobriquet is quite, um, quaint and colorful, particularly in a legislative context.

    Or did some nannyware revise a quotation when he called them asses like everybody else does?

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