“Here’s the thing, okay? If we’re gonna keep doing this, you guys gotta meet me halfway out there, I mean, let’s face it, it’s not a good week if, every week, I, the Son of God, have to come in, drop everything, and bail out the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter, okay? I’m a busy guy.” –Jesus Christ, as played by Jason Sudeikis on Saturday Night Live, 2011
As all my regular readers know, I grew up steeped in the smelly bowels of evangelical Christianity and deconstructed in my early twenties. I’m overly familiar with the culture, the rules, and the chicanery.
Let’s talk about prayer! The concept of prayer is vital to keeping the seams of evangelical Christianity stitched together. Adherents (and so many non-adherents) are constantly prayed for, prayed with, encouraged to pray, and shamed for not praying enough. From childhood, you are taught to pray constantly and specifically, to “bring everything to God in prayer.” Evangelicals devote a staggering amount of energy to Prayer Sessions (really just gossip opportunities) and Prayer Requests. Prayer Requests are summoned from individuals of all ages in most Sunday School classes (yes, every week), Bible study groups, and even academic classrooms; it’s the period of time where you are expected to share personal problems, yours or someone else’s, with a group of people you may not even know all that well. Many people’s requests are serious: health conditions, joblessness, personal tragedies. But some people’s requests are not serious. Yet they are made very much in earnest. If you spend twenty years subjected to this religion, it’s inevitable that your memory will rack up some legit WTF moments from these Prayer Request sessions.
Behold, the two Dumbest Ever Sincere Prayer Requests I ever witnessed from evangelicals I knew. I’ll go with the most recent one first.
Around 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, when so many were losing their livelihoods and homes, a Facebook friend I know from college was involved in a car accident while driving her children home. According to her recounts on Facebook, it was one of those car crashes that left everyone physically unharmed, emotionally shaken, and the car totaled. A week or so after the incident, after the insurance paperwork was filed and the check cleared, they began the process of shopping for a replacement car. Fine, that’s all normal. But, I kid you not, she actually solicited prayers for their family because they were – wait for it – trying to determine whether the Lord wanted them to buy a Lexus or an Infiniti. Dear reader, I do wish I was joking. But I’m not. This overgrown prom queen actually deemed it appropriate to ask her friends and social media followers to take time out of their day, during a recession, to ask for God’s intervention on which luxury car they should purchase.
The second Dumbest Ever Sincere Prayer Request I witnessed occurred back in high school. A tad bit of pertinent backstory: I grew up in an upper middle class White Flight suburb. The vast majority of adults held above-average education levels and white collar corporate jobs. Every kid got their driver’s license at age sixteen, and the vast majority were given used cars to drive. We weren’t Long Island or Marin County teens, mind you; these were no Ferraris, more like used Honda and Ford sedans. But everyone had some form of “freedom on wheels”.
So it’s the summer between junior and senior year of high school, we were seventeen going on eighteen, why yes you were supposed to read that in The Sound of Music, and our Sunday School teacher decided we would set up a class-wide system of Prayer Partners. She drew our names out of a hat in random pairs, and we were instructed to have one phone call a week for the next month where we prayed together over whatever was vexing us. So I’m on the call with my Prayer Partner, and this is what was vexing her: her younger sister, who was about fifteen months and one grade level younger than her, was turning sixteen that summer, which meant, of course: the driver’s license. Now, my Prayer Partner is near tears telling me that her father had sat the sisters down a few days earlier and told them that he wouldn’t be buying Younger Sister a separate car when she got her license next month. Instead, he would give my Prayer Partner a newer car a year later for her high school graduation gift. He advised the sisters that they needed to start strategizing now on how to share the used car they already owned without killing each other.
This sounds totally normal, right? Close-in-age siblings, especially those of the same gender, have to share stuff. Toys, clothes, pets, video games, various spaces in the home. Telling two teenagers who still live under your roof and attend the same school to share a car is reasonable. But no. My Prayer Partner didn’t want to share a car with her sister. My Prayer Partner was near tears over the very concept. And that, dear reader, was her prayer request for our Prayer Partner sesh. So we prayed. We literally sat there and asked God to change her father’s mind so she wouldn’t have to share a car with her sister. For one single academic year.
I KNOW, RIGHT?! I give these examples, not just for your WTF, pass-the-popcorn entertainment, but to illustrate just how utterly egocentric evangelical Christianity is. These are people that are 1) already enormously privileged in life (“economic anxiety” my ass); and 2) literally think the supposed creator of the universe gives a flying rat’s ass about the particularities of their white, upper class decision-making. They know about all the devastating problems out there in the world (though never in their neighborhoods), like starvation, homelessness, deadly diseases, wars, famines, violence. And yet they ask their friends, without a trace of irony, to petition God on their behalf because they won’t just fucking decide which luxury car to buy, and be grateful they can afford one in the first place. Because they are so spoiled they can’t fathom having to coordinate their high school schedule with someone else. So instead of sucking up a minor disappointment, they beg for God’s help, never once stopping to consider that maybe this isn’t an actual problem.
Shoestring Okra with Comeback Sauce
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup chili sauce (I used Heinz)
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tbs canola oil
- 2 tsp hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ tsp mustard powder
- ⅛ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 lb. fresh okra
- Lemon juice, as needed (you’ll probably go through half a large lemon)
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbs kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Whisk quickly until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Chill covered in the fridge until needed.
- In a high sided skillet, pour oil to a depth of about two inches. A little under is fine. Heat it over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350℉.
- Cut each piece of okra in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into roughly ⅛-inch strips. The question here is whether you take the seeds out or not? You can do whatever you want here, but I can assure you from personal experience that it’s not wholly necessary, and my recommendation is that you flick them off with a paring knife ONLY if they will be flicked willingly. And some strips will. To me, it’s so not worth the headache trying to extract them.
- After you have your okra strips, place them in a large mixing bowl and drizzle them with lemon juice. Toss gently to coat. Some seeds fall out here. It’s fine, let them.
- In another large bowl or deep-dish pie plate, whisk together cornstarch, flour, salt, and pepper. Working in batches, dredge okra in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off the excess.
- Use a spider or long-handled slotted spoon to carefully transfer the okra to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Be sure you hit them with a sprinkle of salt as they come out of the oil.
- Serve immediately with the Comeback Sauce.