Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Our Father Who Art in Heaven, ‘Harold’ Be Thy Name

Recently on the popular TV game show “Jeopardy,” there was a stunning display of ignorance by the usually very smart contestants. As you probably know, the fast-paced show is a question-and-answer trivia contest. Actually, the format is “answer-and-question,” as the three players are given the answer, and then get points if they can provide the correct question.

Anyway, here was the answer: “Matthew 6:9 says, ‘Our Father which art in Heaven,’ this ‘be thy name.’” So, whichever contestant buzzed in first would have a chance to answer, “What is ‘hallowed’?” and win $200.
Often there is a struggle between the contestants to be the first to buzz in, since all three know the answer. And in this case, it was only a $200 question at the top of the board, meaning it was considered to be a very easy question.

Well, when the question was asked, the three contestants just stood there, looking like deer caught in the headlights. None of the three had any clue what the right answer was. After a few seconds, the little “boop-boop-boop” signal sounded, which meant time was up. The host, Mayim Bialik, provided the correct answer, “‘Hallowed’ be thy name,” while trying very hard to hide a “Are you kidding me?!” expression on her face.

Now, some people might say, “What’s the big deal? None of those contestants were church-going Christians, so how would they know? If there was a question about some obscure part of, say, a Hindu prayer, we wouldn’t expect people to know that.”

Yes, that’s true, but the Lord’s Prayer is not obscure in American culture – or at least it wasn’t obscure up until recent times.

When I was a kid, there was even a goofy joke. Question: “What is God’s name?” Answer: “His name is Harold. It’s right in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be thy name.”
I remember about three decades ago hearing a Christian preacher on the radio, who explained that at that point in time, around in the mid-1990s, the United States had become a post-Christian nation. He said that most citizens no longer truly believed or practiced the faith anymore, even though a majority still identified as Christian on surveys. I wish I could remember who the preacher was, but I clearly remember a phrase from his sermon back then: “running of fumes.” He said American society was “running on Christian fumes,” that is, Judeo-Christian values and knowledge were ingrained in people, passed on from previous faithful and church-going generations, even though most folks no longer believed or practiced the core tenets of faith.

The preacher went on to warn that in another generation or so, these fumes would be gone, and when the fumes of Christian morality finally evaporate, our culture would devolve into chaos, driven by a pervasive and relentless “It’s all about ME!!” attitude.

Well, I’m so glad to see his prediction did not come true. Oh wait, I just watched the latest news report. Umm, never mind. 

Obviously, I’m not trying to say that biblical ignorance displayed by three otherwise intelligent people on a TV game show is a sign of the apocalypse. I’m just saying that their inability to come up with an answer that 99-percent of all 6th graders knew – regardless of religious affiliation – a few generations ago, is a sign that the Christian fumes are gone. 
If people are not familiar with, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name,” then it’s unlikely they are familiar with the idea that there is a supernatural, divine Creator who is worthy of our praise and adoration. And you know the old saying: If people stop worshiping God, they’re going to worship something else. In our modern culture, far too many people worship money and sex and beauty and status and, maybe worst of all, how much attention they get on social media.

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter much if three otherwise intelligent people have never heard of the Lord’s Prayer. But it does say something about the current state of our culture, and what it says is not encouraging. 

1 comment:

  1. One of the responses in a comment on line was "That's hallowed, you heathens," A perfect example of how many religious folks feel it is perfectly acceptable to be as nasty as one likes to a person who doesn't believe. That's just the sort of thing I'm thrilled to leave behind as society becomes more secular. I once hired a gentleman to drive me home from night school 3 nights a week & when he found out I was an atheist he quit the job. Another nice christian.
    Ruth O'Keefe