Back in high school, the powers that were decided that they would mold me into a Christian leader. I was a recipient of a Christian Excellence Award. And, among other things, I was inducted into the smart-kids club and served in a number of leadership positions.
During an induction ceremony in which I gave a speech as president of the smart kids club, I sat on stage in front of everyone. During the induction, I would tap one new member into the club with my fellow smart kids. To start the ceremony, a faculty sponsor delivered a prayer at which time I decided to find my inductee in the crowd.
This ceremony was like smart kids duck, duck goose … and let me tell you, there was a better chance you were a loser than a winner.
People knew they were getting inducted, because their parents showed up and sat in the parents’ section. But for the most part, it was a surprise. Some smart kid would walk about and tap you on a shoulder and bring you to the front and put a golden key ribbon around your neck.
Like I said, during the prayer, I decided I would locate my inductee. There was no telling where he was sitting, and I was to speak right after the prayer. In my head, there wouldn’t be time for me to find him otherwise.
There I was scanning the room for my guy during a time when everyone else’s heads were bowed. I finally found him before “amen”. Just in time, I shut my eyes, bowed my head, to raise it with everyone else.
In my head, I clapped my hands like batting erasers and stood up to give my part of the ceremony. I obviously avoided everyone seeing me with my eyes open. If congress had nothing else to legislate in terms of gay marriage and abortion, the next big legislation on capital hill would be mandatory eye shutting and head bowing during prayers. It’s really a big deal in Christian circles.
The ceremony went well. I tapped the inductee as needed. And we all left to welcome the new kids with a small reception of punch and peanuts. If you weren’t inducted, you were brought to a small, damp dungeon and whipped.
As I was leaving, a school administrator pulled me aside and said, “Hey Jeremy, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Sure,” I said.
He said, “During the prayer, you had your eyes open. You should make sure that when there’s a prayer, your eyes are shut. A Christian leader should always act as an example to those around him.”
“Yes, but I was …”
“It doesn’t matter. You must make sure that when you are in front of a crowd that your eyes are shut during prayers.”
I reddened from embarrassment, and I said, “Yes, sir,” and I walked away.
Of course, l’esprit d’escalier got me later and I thought of everything I should have said. Like, “You’re a Christian leader and your eyes were open.”
It was definitely one of those events that didn’t make complete sense to me, and heightened my exploration for all things contradictory about the church regarding Christian etiquette and behavior. That leader should have at least explained his rationale for his eyes open if in fact, “All Christian leaders should have their eyes shut during prayer to make an example to others.”
Or maybe some rules apply only to those in the spotlight.
Don’t forget, it’s about appearance, not truth.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.*