Pray Tell

April 2nd, 2015

There are at least four things that pass all understanding:

The Rock and Roll Museum being in Cleveland.

The United States Congress, and that’s all they pass.

The Tennessee General Assembly, and that applies to virtually everything they pass.

And, if you read Philippians 4:7, the peace of God.

This week, let’s think about that last one, and rise above the rest.

As published in The Daily News, April 3, 2015, and in The Memphis News, April 4-10, 2015



This being Easter week, let’s open with a prayer. Aren’t we all Christians – at least all of us who matter – and in Tennessee, the Promised Land?

“I pray for the people of Tennessee who have been so downtrodden by the wicked courts from on high that they have been subject to tyrannical judiciary.”

So began June Griffin’s opening prayer of the Tennessee Senate proceedings on February 3 – you know – the day the Senate was to debate Insure Tennessee. She was introduced by Frank Nicely of Knoxville ­– you know ­– one of the seven senators including our own Brian Kelsey who voted to make sure that Insure Tennessee never left committee and that 280,000 uninsured Tennesseans stayed that way.

Evidently, especially in Tennessee, Jesus has their back and Moses is on call. Sister Griffin of Dayton – think Scopes Trial – and the Cumberland Missionary Society continued:

“Oh Lord, save Tennessee for Jesus’ sake, and I pray that your will would be done that you would be our coverage, that we would not be forced into these edicts from Washington DC or any other quarter, but let the people know that our coverage is the same as with Moses and the children of Israel when they went through the wilderness with only the divine providence of almighty God.”

Flash that card in the emergency room and who could possibly turn you down? Pass the manna.

Consider these words from Rev. John Burruss, an Episcopal priest from Memphis, in his prayer for the senators as they opened for business on March 13.

“Bestow upon them the wisdom to see the value of all human life, especially those in our midst who are so often forgotten or who are marginalized and are in need of our care. 

"Make them mindful of our children who are in need of a safe and stable home, the poor who are struggling to meet their basic needs of health and safety, for the immigrants in our community who are looking for a sense of home, and the persecuted who are seeking justice.

"O God, help deliver each of us from blindness of heart, from pride, from ambition that compromises our values, from vainglory and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred and malice, so that we may come to know the peace of God which passes all understanding.”

Amen, John, amen.

Okay, maybe I’m biased since John is a family friend and was an Eagle Scout in Troop 34 when I was scoutmaster, so I’ll leave the amen up to you.

Consider which of these prayers truly represents who you think Jesus calls us to be, or God – or if you have no faith in those – what your own sense of decency, your own hope for humanity, tells you.

Whatever your faith, this symbolic week is a good time to think about rising – above self-interest and self-righteousness – to a better place. My faith demands it.

I’m a Memphian, and if we don’t strive to include rather than exclude, we don’t have a prayer.


I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you.

The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.



Deborah Fagan Carpenter: Thank you Dan!

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