Prayer should not divide us

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To the Editor:
A recent trend in some circles is to belittle prayer when a tragedy such as a mass shooting occurs. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” say the critics. Such rhetoric is unnecessary and can alienate people of faith, many of whom agree in the need for concrete action to address problems like gun violence.
Some people are more prayerful than others. We all get that. This need not become another battlefront in the culture war. We all know fine people who are not particularly religious or prayerful. We work together on common goals with anyone of goodwill.
The final scene in the movie classic “Doctor Zhivago” comes to mind. Zhivago’s half-brother, a Russian general, notices that the long-lost daughter of the good doctor has a balalaika (stringed instrument). She has taught herself how to play it. Marveling at her ability, the general smiles and says, “Ah … then it’s a gift.”
We forget that faith, too, is a gift. Little is gained from criticizing people who lack that gift. Please do not dismiss believers for praying. Prayer should not be something that divides us.
Mike Streb
Iowa City


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