If I’m Asked to Deliver a Prayer of Thanks

Stephen Greenfield

For those living in the southern part of the United States, it’s common to say a prayer before meals. When I’m in someone’s home and a prayer breaks out I remain silent, but I don’t close my eyes, cross myself, kneel, genuflect, or do any other religious hokey-pokey. I simply remain silent, though I do use that time to look for fried chicken, deviled eggs, buttermilk biscuits, and pecan pie. Say what you will about southern Fundamentalists; there are some damn good cooks in the bunch.

But at public gatherings and government functions when everyone is asked to stand and bow their heads before eating, I remain seated. If some religious busybody says something, I tell them I’m getting out day-old chicken entrails to read for guidance before sacrificing a goat (thanks, Dan Dennett).

On the chance I shall be asked to “say a prayer of thanks” at one of these public occasions, I wrote this verse and have a copy in my wallet just in case:

Everyone! Please sit down, get comfortable, and let us think about thanks.

Thank you, pig, for your meat,

Bacon and ribs are a heavenly treat.

Thank you, chicken, for your eggs,

I especially love your deep-fried legs.

Thank you, cow, for your steaks,

Delicious butter and cold milk shakes.

Thank you, catfish, with a taste so fine

With hushpuppies and fries a meal divine.

Thanks, garlic and basil with pine nuts too,

For a pesto and fettuccini rendezvous.

Thanks cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts,

Domesticated by humans—not supernatural louts.

And thanks, Mr. Darwin, for explaining it all

Without the silliness of humanities’ fall,

For destroying the notion of creating gods

Who are due respect as psychopathic clods.

To imams and priests and preachers so dreary

Whose laughable dogmas are anciently weary.

Proclaiming their gods are the one and the only

As they’ve slaughtered millions for some divine phony.

Let us remember those small minds are not on the ball

When they proclaim “god” is the answer though it’s no answer at all.

Praise not murderous gods and their true believers,

Their Bronze Age fables, their sectarian deceivers.

Listen to their cries, their lies, and their pleas.

“Give your money to God but make the check out to me!”

How they need true believers and plead for your cash

That’s why they speak with obscure balderdash.

To trick you, to fool you, to lead you down blind alleys,

That’s why their meetings remind you of Nuremburg rallies.

While they’re rushing backward into dark ages of thought

The best question to ask them is, “What have all your gods wrought?”

They bring hatred, genocide, conquest of the stranger,

Slaughter of old folks and children who pose no danger.

That’s what their gods want, there shall be no escape

But save the young girls for the victors to rape.

Yet the knowledge of nature provided by science

Eliminates gods and their unholy alliance

With torture, murder, rape, and reason repressed

That the faithful employ to claim their god is the best.

“But best at what?” You always should ask

To discover what religion has set as its task.

It’s to enslave you, be obedient, and never ask questions

To accept all their nonsense and theistic suppression.

Check your brains at the door—Bible-bangers preferred

So don’t question anything though it’s completely absurd.

Be a good little sycophant and do as you’re told.

How dare you for thinking—you must be controlled!

Beware of god’s tyrants with their crazy assertions

Enforced with mental abuse and physical coercions.

Here’s to Darwin, Ingersoll, Dawkins, and Hitch

Showing there’s no need for a divine son-of-a-bitch.

Let’s bury those fake-gods in the manure they spread

And grow real fruits that flourish over those impotent dead.

Throw away ancient dogmas of religious insanity

Replace them with freethought, science, and work for humanity.

Those are the real fruits that knowledge can bear

So look up to the stars, not down in vacuous prayer.

Returning now to the meal that’s at hand,

See what all deities can never command.

No holy high-ups put food on your table,

Made-up divinities are forever unable

To place one green pea or one grain on your plate.

These gods don’t exist—these gods are not great.

As I show true gratitude for what I shall eat,

I thank potatoes, tomatoes, and succulent meat.

I give thanks to the farmers, pickers, cooks, and our servers

Who provided this food without religious perverters.

It’s the reality of science that moves us so fast

To a future of hope, not a fairy-tale past.

So let us eat hearty and give thanks where it’s due

To the advancement of science that feeds me and you.

Enjoy your food!

Stephen Greenfield

Stephen Greenfield is a reader, writer, photographer, nature and dog lover, and good home cook.

How to ensure, if asked to proffer a prayer, that one will never be so asked again.

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