Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Praisey Mindset: The Sunday School song that starts it all

Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah! Praisey the Lord!

There is no way that you could have grown up going to Sunday School in the Caribbean and not know this song. I know, I know it's "Praise ye" not "Praisey" but it was years after my early Sunday School days that I understood that. So, the song will always be called 'Praisey the Lord' as far as I am concerned. You may laugh, but I used to think that Praisey was just another name for God. After all, the Lord seemed to have so many others, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Yahweh, Yeshua, Jesus, El Shaddai, Elohim, Saviour, Prince of Peace, the Alpha and Omega, why not Praisey? It made just as much sense as the other names at the time. There was even a period when I felt I had a personal relationship with 'Praisey'. Anyway as is the case with so many things you sing at church, the  meanings of words don't matter too much. So, I never asked for clarification.

Although there were other  tunes that could liven up a Sunday morning, none is engraved in my memory as much as 'Praisey the Lord.' It was a favourite of children and teachers alike . That secret weapon that any song leader could  introduce, certain in the knowledge that it would wake everybody up and have bodies moving in the pews. Even back in those days I was not certain that  the claim that Jesus was the saviour of the world  was true, but I knew that 'Praisey the Lord' could bring salvation to any boring Sunday school class.

It's interesting to look back and try to figure out why this song was always such a hit. ' Praisey the Lord' was by no means only for children either. Indeed, I can remember this song being launched in the middle of deanery youth services and even during  traditional Sunday morning 8 o'clock mass. I think what made the song so popular was that it was more than just a song. It was a fun game as well. Children, youths, adults and seniors  all like to play and that's what made 'Praisey the Lord' a winner.

The video above gives some indication of how you do 'Praisey the Lord.' Basically, that is how it went.  The congregation was divided into two halves. Generally each of the halves was assigned a song leader. One side of the church were labelled as team 'Hallelu'  and the other as
 'Praisey.' The introduction of the song would be played and the song leader would signal to the first side and they would  stand  and sing, "Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!"  They would then sit down and the other  side would stand and respond on cue with, "Praisey the Lord!" The leader would urge them to outdo the 'Hallelu' people in terms of volume. More often that not this was achieved. After that, battle lines were drawn, it was up to the 'Halellus' to raise the bar further and try to outdo the 'Praiseys' effort. And so as the song went on it got louder and louder and often faster and faster as people got more into it.

When the pace quickened it meant that you had to be lighter on your feet too, because you found yourself often back up in the air as soon as you sat down. So, if you didn't pay attention or were slow, you could get caught out standing for the wrong part, singing at the wrong time or missing your cue entirely.  Not surprisingly, as people sang faster and louder, tone and singing in key would go out the window. By the third or fourth 'Hallelujah' people were bellowing at the top of their voices, shouting like you would at a local fish market. Probably this was the only time as children that we were allowed to shout as loudly as our lungs would permit.  Believe you me, we stretched the envelope to the max. As a five year old it was simply astonishing to think you could get to that noise level without getting even so much as  a 'Shush' or 'finger on lip' from an adult in your midst. I suppose that was close enough to heaven for us.

The song could go for several rounds as people challenged themselves to take it up a notch next time. This meant that  the tune could easily last over 20 minutes . The climax was generally a rousing long held out ' Praaaaaaaiiiiiisey the Lord!'  Everyone joined in for that, even the 'Hallelus' who would reluctantly switch sides for the finale. Inevitably there would be some 'rebel' who would start up with another "Hallelu, Hallelu"and that would mean on for another lap, and the fun would continue. It was definitely hard to stop " Praisey the Lord" once in got going.

In recent times I seem to be remembering 'Praisey' a lot. It comes back to me regularly when I get into debates or discussions about God with Christians or listen to debates on podcasts or youtube. There is definitely a ' Praisey' mindset that seems to stay with you after Sunday School days.  I remember in my church days in Barbados writing two songs that actually gained some popularity on the gospel scene. One was called " Sing His Praises!" the other was called " Sing Hallelujah!" So I was definitely caught up in the 'praisey' fad myself. Today on Christian forums online you see  a lot of 'Praisiness' in evidence. Below is a fictional example, but it represents what you typically see.

Posted Message: I am happy to report that my daughter that had an asthma attack last night is now doing much better. The Lord is marvellous! Thank you all for your prayers. We must always give him praise.

Responder 1: Hallelujah, The Lord's name be praised!

Responder 2: He is worthy! Praise his holy name!

Responder 3: Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Responder 4: Hallelu, Hallelujah, Praise his Name!

Responder 5: HALLELUJAH!!





Responder 10: PRAISE HIM!!!! PRAISE HIM !!!!!!PRAISE HIM!!!!!! PRAISE HIM!!!!!!



You can see clearly here the 'Praisey' influence that goes all those years back. The same two key words 'Hallelujah' and 'Praise'. Today in the 21st century, things have changed a bit. Instead of trying to drown out your neighbour with noise,  you add volume by using ALL CAPS or simply typing the word more times. To take things up an extra notch you bring in more exclamation marks!!!!!! and even bolding.  Then you can just elongate the words and repeat as much as you want. I saw someone actually post the message below, I am not kidding.


Thankfully that person didn't bother to tack on 'Praise the Lord.' He would have probably needed a new laptop for that. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with believers using all the features available on their keyboard to get God's attention. It is clear that God is well into this internet age, he has millions of friends on facebook in spite of  the fact that he has no recent posts. I even heard a lady say that God downloads songs into her spirit. Not sure if he is using itunes but it is quite clear that the Lord is very open to working with the latest technology. Now it would appear that he has Steve Jobs himself to do the necessary updating.

I must admit that these things seem a bit comical to me, but in all seriousness, if you believe that God will hear you if you type more EMPHATICALLY, go right ahead. If you think it demonstrates your level of faith to your fellow believers when you do that, that is fine too. If you think that such proclamations in BOLD will bring unbelievers into the fold, that's OK too. If you believe in Him, no one should try to stop you from expressing yourself how you wish. So I can't say I am a fan of the atheists who respond to the 'Praisey' comments with "What the &*%#*@%*$&*%*$*%#@#!" It contributes nothing to the dialogue and only adds to keyboard suffering.

Where I have a problem is when the 'praisey' mindset finds its way into debates or discussions between atheists and theists regarding the existence of God. Similar to the way we did it when singing 'Praisey' as children, these debaters have specific words which the people on their side are required to say. They may 'hear' what the other side is saying, but it is not a matter of responding to an argument as much as it is restating what they said the time before. Maybe faster, in a louder voice in a different key but always the same message. Indeed, maybe they don't respond to atheist arguments because they assume what we are going to say. They think of us saying 'hallelu' and they just get up with 'praisey' all the time. And more often than not from a 'praisey' point of view they win hands down. There are more singing on their side than ours for sure, so we can't match them for sound. And just like the 'praiseys' in the Sunday School song they always seem to get the last word too.  The long held out phrase to end the discussion. It happens because often atheists get tired after a certain point, of making the same argument over and over without them  being addressed. We bow out once we realise we are not making headway. In a way, Christians make us play their game, for we end up being as repetitive as they are. We have to, because if they are not answering our points we end up having to restate them and it becomes as repetitive as "Hallelu."

The only difference is that we don't generally resort to turning up the decibels although we do try to change the rhythm and the tone as we go along, just to see if a different strategy will lead to better understanding. It seldom works, because they are only counting down the time as we talk, looking forward to springing up from their seats and shouting "Praisey the Lord" one more time.

So here's how the  'Praisey' mindset works in debates. The atheist makes a point the theists counters, the atheists counters the counter argument, the theists repeats original counter argument without any acknowledgement of directly previous counter argument from atheist. Atheist restates the previous counter argument that was not addressed by the theists last counter argument and the cycle continues. Sounds confusing? Here are two examples:

Praisey Argument One

Atheist:  I don't believe in God because there is no evidence. You are making the extraordinary claim that there is a supernatural being controlling everything in the world. The burden of proof is on you to give justification for that belief.

Theist: But where is your proof that God doesn't exist? You believe in science. I choose to live and praise my God. Science has not proved that there is no God.

Atheist: That is true, but the point I was making is that the burden of proof is on you, because you are making the God claim. It has to be like that, otherwise you couldn't say you didn't believe in fairies unless you could provide evidence for the non existence of fairies.

Theist: I am still waiting on your proof that your atheism is correct. You have not provided a shred of evidence on your side so far. Your position is just one of blind faith.

Atheist: No, it's not,  as I said before the burden of proof is not on the person who is challenging the claim. Atheism is not a faith anymore than 'off'is a TV channel. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Theist: Jeez, you just dance all over the place with a lot of fancy talk but you still have given me NOTHING! Not one piece of evidence to support your belief that no God exists. You expect me to take you seriously???? What is your evidence that God does not exist?

Atheist:  Again, I am saying to you that you are asking the wrong question. You are the one required to give support for your claim. I am not making any claim, my disbelief is due to lack of supporting evidence for your claim. Where is your evidence that Santa Claus is not real?

Theist: Well that does it. This conversation is over, you are not responding to me. Now you are answering my question with a question. You guys are so silly, no wonder God calls you FOOLS. Thank God I am not so blind to JESUS as you.YOU BETTER FALL ON YOUR KNEES WHEN HE COMES TO YOU.  All I can do is PRAY FOR YOU. OHHH PRAISE  THE LORD THANK GOD !

Praisey Argument  Two

 (This time the 'praisey' theist starts)

Theist: Oh praise the Lord! How can anybody look at the beauty of creation and deny that there is a God. It just doesn't make sense to me. They would have to be blind. .

Atheist: But the existence of the natural world is not evidence of anything other than the natural world. You can't just assume that God made nature and then claim that the existence of nature proves God, that's circular reasoning. You are assuming what you want to prove at the beginning. In any case if you think God made nature, then who made God? How do you account for him?

Theist: So who made creation then? How did all this get here? A design must have a designer? A painting must have a painter?

Atheist: Well,  we have ideas about origins of the universe through Big Bang cosmology but  still scientists don't have a clear idea of the state of the universe further back than the 'Planck time.' So, there are still many unanswered questions. I have to accept that I really don't know exactly  how everything got here, but a God doesn't help explain. Because you still have to explain his origins. You are just answering one mystery with another mystery.

Theist: Just as I thought. You don't know. I will ask you again. How can you get CREATION without a CREATOR? You think that all this came from nothing? When it comes down to it the answer that you atheists have to the big questions are " Don't have a clue, don't have a clue and don't have a clue."

Atheist: But you don't know either, you still haven't given an explanation for how your God got here. How did God come to be? Did he appear from nothing? You are making an argument from ignorance, putting in a God that you have no evidence to support. Then you claim that you know this God exists because of his 'creation.' Why do you assume that the universe was created?

Theist: You are so arrogant, now you are calling me ignorant. I can't understand why you keep denying God. How do you think you are able to breathe? Who gave you that oxygen? Who woke you up this morning? When was the last time you created a human being, MR. ATHEIST? You can't even do one millionth of what God can do. He created you, gave you life and a brain you could use and you use it to deny the existence of him who gave you everything. It's very sad. Why don't you just give God the Praise. ALL PRAISE AND GLORY ON TO HIM!

Atheist:  All those things are just assumptions. As I said before, you can't just assume that all of those things you mentioned were created by God if we are trying to establish whether God exists or not. You are just making bald assertions. All your arguments rest on the assumption that God's existence is fact. How can you know what God did if you can't even establish that God is? And we still haven't addressed the point about how God came to exist.

Theist: This is really ridiculous. You have no idea where anything came from and  yet you are rejecting my explanation that gives you all the answers you are looking for. God's creatures continue to choose darkness over light, blindness over sight and death over light. ALL CREATION TESTIFIES TO THE MAGNIFICENCE OF GOD. HE IS WORTHY, SO WORTHY, WORTHY TO BE PRAISED. I PRAY  that you will one day accept the LORD AS YOUR SAVIOUR!!! So that we can be  TOGETHER PRAISING GOD FOR ETERNITY IN HEAVEN!!!! SO, REPENT BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!!  HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD MOST HIGH!!!

Well, what can I say?  These are the 'praisey' arguments we see and hear everyday. I have to say that in spite of  what Harold Camping may be saying about October 21st, I feel we will be stuck with these types of arguments for many years to come. We in the secular community just have to be patient and continue to find strategies for survival. It won't be that easy in this 'praisey' world we live in.


  1. Atheism as accurately defined by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius is, “the denial of the assumptions of theism.” The crux of the matter remains that Atheists have undeniable evidence for disbelieving the existence of all the gods of earthling religions, for the plain fact that they are purely imaginary and manmade gods. What the Theists basically do not have, from the dawn of recorded time unto this day, is any reasonable authority to prove the reality of their gods.

    From all possible positions, Atheists have thoroughly instituted sceptical enquiries into ancient narratives of revelations from the Jehovah of the Jews; the Allah of the Turks; Zeus of the Greek or Jupiter his Roman counterpart; including Ra the Egyptian sun god, and Orunmila the Yoruba god of wisdom, etc. On the contrary, these supposed revelations from the divine are nothing more than imaginary tales from nowhere, as they provably looked like human inventions in the internal pages of all religious books.

    Natural Theology—evidence of what we behold in nature—is undeniably what theists have hijacked to sustain the Argument from Design in support of their god as the creator of the universe. The fact of the matter is that, even if the Argument from Design effectively proves that the universe is the handiwork of intelligent designer(s), it will not successfully prove that the intelligent designer(s) are truly the gods of religion who, by theists’ accounts, authored the grossly unintelligent ‘holy books’ that are today available on planet earth. The intelligent designer might as well be Nature, or as vast group of scientists have properly termed it, “evolution by cumulative natural selection.”

    The evidence is very clear from Aristotle's perception that, “Men create God after their own image, not only with regards to their form but with regards to their mode of life.”

  2. This is so true, but it is amazing that it is almost impossible to see this when you are submerged in that belief system. They of course are equally sure that we are the ones with scales over our eyes. Yet they can clearly see man made Gods in all the other faith traditions out there.

    You so readily develop a 'blind spot' when it comes to looking at your own religion.

  3. As science enthusiast I've read the most books that interested me since I was 15, now I've read most of all worldreligions. I found athe definition about my suppositions and deep feels like most scientific also, in writtings like neoplatonism, but simplier for working with, in the modern theosophy, which explains all what makes move us and and also try to answer why we do it like we do. If you're over all religions through all times, and use them all as hints, and feel what you really feel around you if you see f.e. your own complex and marvelous mammalian body compared with the nonentity, then I have to say, like most not practising and very decently muslim friends I know, that the Universe, which has found an apex in life and specially in the conscious, thinking human one, imply a creator.
    Max Plank said it also 1940, also Einstein. For myself there is no discuss, I feel it too much, every second, that my beiing is thinked so and not casual, coz
    I can imagine the nonentity like before the Big Bang, which we knows to a less part of a billon of a second after it. It was not an explosion "in time and space", but an explosion "from" time and space. And my perception of time varied such differentially(it stands still I've the impression, I live in the present), that my idea is that the parameter, which could describes the divine plan, is the time as it.
    I see very real possibilities of an end of the world, f.e. they will found at CERN Geneva, that speed of light can be overpassed, and we have a massive problem with a paradoxon called timetravelling to the past. Its a possibility, but if we found, then its thinked like this, otherwise we would not found and that "we call God" makes errors.
    I see also a possibility of an end of the world if all american get conscious that they have always been lied by the government, they voted ever and ever again, and 9-11 was a joke, a joke against the whole planet! This shock can may trigger a war whose impact humanity can not catch up to survive further.
    Or if you look at central america, you recognize perhaps also, that they have their own 2012, they live their own history from 1400 once again. 'There' you have to turn your attention, not on physical things, not at the moment.
    And not least is the whole 2012 hysterics a superstitious thing, if you want believe in a six hundred years old indigene calendar. The real reason why are all worried is, that the planet is getting visibly worse (not physically, asteroid alert is in sixty years at the earliest, besides we are not yet able to influence the climate of a entire planet).
    Look around you now and today and remember the past, listen better on your own feeling, rather than to other coz there are mostly liars.

    -I see nothing negatively but I see very good the negative.
    -I use the word God only rarely, it sounds as if we all understand well, still less do I do something in his name, what I describe usually as true blasphemy. I do not understand it, but I know that it must be so inside all of us for sure, because in the end, everything is true.
    -What happens outside the transcendence that I have acces, I ignore and do not question it, I am a human and too unimportant and conscious, that this does not concern me too.

    Septentrio, Switzerland, continental Western Europe