Andrew Bloom is an English senior and Mustang Daily liberal columnist. 

I have always urged that a limited ignorance of all the twists and turns of procedural nonsense in Congress cannot help but be a healthy habit. Though we continue to pressure Congress toward more transparency, there remain many rituals that we plainly don’t need to know about until they become relevant, or in this week’s case, bleakly poetic commentaries on our political gridlock.

So I admit, I was surprised to learn of yet another antique gimmick which, despite lacking mention in the Constitution, has survived since the founding document’s adoption in 1789 — the opening prayer delivered by the appointed chaplain of each house. Since the tenure of the first Senate Chaplain Samuel Provoost, however, the themes of the sermon have adamantly strayed away from all matters political or sectarian.

But when current Chaplain Barry Black delivered his prayer at the start of business last Thursday, the day when the Senate supercommittee tasked with delivering $1.4 trillion in budget cuts to the Congressional Budget Office faced its final deadline, the words broke more than two centuries of precedent in shedding their apolitical garb. Instead they beseeched God to impart the 12-member, bipartisan committee with some markedly more fiduciary wisdom.

“Eradicate false ambition as you make them content to serve you where they are and as they are,” Black said. “In this way, guide the supercommittee in its challenging work.”

Beautiful as Black’s prayer was, the committee failed; the extent to which we will feel in the coming months the repercussions of its failure is already the subject of much debate in the political channels.

My concern for the present, however, is with the untimely injection of religious rhetoric into such a critical endeavor, one that determines far more than our mere financial solvency or the color of tomorrow’s stock tickers. Prayer may do a great deal to absolve us of moral culpability in this mess, but it does little to ease the supercommittee’s actual mission. A mission to determine where our nation’s priorities shall lie as we tighten our belts by 1.4 trillion notches, in accordance with Congress’s dictum penned in the apex of the summer’s debt crisis.

Would we cut entitlements to preserve the Pentagon? Would we raise taxes on the 1 percent to help level the playing field for the other 99? These questions were answered with naught but cricket chirps. I feel it was this silence that Black’s extraordinary prayer addressed; it meant to combat the hopelessness of our failure to produce a cogent reconciliation of our craving for low taxes and our love of social services.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the present Congress’s illegitimacy, its wanton irresponsibility to our interests, I have always felt we deserve the politicians we get. We were perhaps foolish to expect this supercommittee to bridge a gap that even a small group of assorted Americans would likewise find insuperable.

But have our disagreements really achieved such discord, such indignant refusal to compromise that prayer is our last recourse? Is our rhetoric so riven that we would, as had so many of history’s doomed civilizations, at last invite the gods’ interference in our politics? I don’t think so.

Instead, I would welcome a different kind of prayer, one that reminds us that if we got ourselves into this mess, it must inevitably be us who get ourselves out of it. Let’s have a prayer that forsakes political correctness and abandons the easy-to-digest phantasms we have been made to swallow about the rich, the poor, taxes and the national debt; let’s agree to speak the truth wherever it leads us.

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