Dear 8 lb, 6 oz Baby Jesus…

First, a few disclaimers:

  1. I am not a car racing fan (although I did stop by the Indy Race Track to see time trials with a group of ministers earlier this year…)
  2. The movie I’m referring to below, which shall go unnamed, is not a movie that I am advocating. It’s PG-13 and deserves that rating (and maybe a bit more). Sometimes, as a minister, I wonder if I’m supposed to bewatching things that qualify more as high-brow, edifying cultural acheivements. But, I suspect some of my pastoral charges are watching this, and last night, I was in no mood for intellectual enhancement. After finding out that the baby is taking her sweet time getting ready to be born, I needed some endorphins. Running is out, and chocolate is giving me heartburn of late, so deep belly laughs for two hours were my best option.

And with that–

Erik and I went out on a date last night after a doctor’s appointment, and saw a movie which shall go unnamed. If you follow movies, it’s the current comedy spoofing NASCAR culture, starring a certain Saturday Night Live alum.

The main character rises to the top of NASCAR racing. In a scene meant to show what his life as a star is like, he and his family are sitting down to dinner the night before a big race. Sitting at the head of a table loaded down with fast food takeout bags, surrounded by his racing-babe wife, two kids, father-in-law, and best friend, he begins to pray, “Dear Baby Jesus…” He gives thanks for the money rolling in from endorsements, his hot wife, his car, and his children, and he prays for future success. But the prayer is interrupted when wife and father-in-law take him to task for always praying to baby Jesus, rather than adult Jesus, or teenage Jesus. “Christmas Jesus is the one I like best, so that’s who I pray to…”

A few scenes later, the same character, in a moment of crisis, is running around wildly praying to any god who might listen. The list includes Jesus, “Jewish God”, and even Tom Cruise.

So, in the middle of a movie spoofing American culture, here we have two big questions about prayer: What do we pray for? And, even bigger, who do we pray to?

I wish I didn’t spend the majority of my prayer time praying when it’s convenient for me, and when I conveniently want something.

And as for the who I pray to question, I wonder how much better I am than the character in this movie. I don’t think I’m so different from other North American Christians in this respect. I pray to God as I like to picture God at the moment. Is that really so different from only praying to “8 lb, 6 oz Baby Jesus” or from the character’s actions when, in a panic, he prays to any God he can think of? I do manage to keep it within the Trinity when I pray, but I wonder if my choices about how I pray are really any better thought out than the choices of the guy who prays to any god who will listen.



2 Responses to “Dear 8 lb, 6 oz Baby Jesus…”

  1. Page Says:

    Did you ever stop to think that the actual joke is that most people only turn to God when it’s conveninent and they need something, that the joke is pointed at those who do this? That’s how I took the humor. Sometimes you have to laugh at yourself and your human foibles to realize a behavior that needs correcting. Just becasue the overall humor is viewed as mindless prat fall humor doesn’t mean that there is not a message and the message isn’t always the one you may think!

  2. Erica Says:

    Totally agreed, Page. (I think humor is truly a holy gift…it’s sometimes easier to correct yourself when you are laughing!)