Monday, September 21, 2009

Article on prayer illustrates non-believing reporter technique

This article on prayer from the Sunday New York Times Magazine, written by Zev Chafets, features the following:

Cymbala instructed us to form prayer groups of two or three, stand facing one another and read the prayers out loud. I formed a threesome with the man on my left, a middle-aged political consultant from Washington, and a tall fellow on my right who had recently moved to New York from Gary, Ind. “Would you mind reading mine too?” I asked the tall man, handing him my card. “I don’t actually pray, and I don’t want Pete and Angela to get shortchanged.” He nodded with nonjudgmental solemnity, read the request and asked God to bless the couple with prosperity and health.

This transaction made me feel like a jerk. All Pete and Angela wanted was a simple prayer, and I couldn’t bring myself to offer one. I took the card back and said, “I’m having a good thought for Pete and Angela.” I wished them happiness and wealth, in Hebrew. The two words sound alike in Hebrew and are a commonly used secular benediction. My prayer partners said, “Amen,” and we all sat down.

I thought this was an interesting example of reporting from something you believe in and of participant observation.

No comments: