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A spelling mistake in a pretty good post I won’t link to, because it’s annoying to call attention to people’s typos, alerts me to the nice confluence of two expressions, one idiomatically mainstream and one originating in increasingly accepted regional dialect:
To “prey on” something
To “pray on” something
The latter expression was one I’d heard, but hadn’t been consciously aware of, until the terrific 1998 film “The Opposite of Sex”. A pregnant 16-year-old Christina Ricci breaks up with her religious Christian boyfriend, who can’t believe it’s happening: “I prayed on this!”
Religion can be a beautiful thing, but I’ve never been fond of the idea of praying for divine intercession to achieve specific results on specific issues. That’s superstition, whether you’re stuffing notes in the Western Wall, lighting a candle at Notre Dame, bowing your head at an Assemblies of God church, putting money into a wooden model of a chariot to be cable-carred up to the stupa of Sule Pagoda, or promising to dedicate your life to charity if God will just let the Capitals win the Stanley Cup this one time. All charming in their own way, as long as the people involved don’t seriously believe in what they’re doing. If they do, then “praying on” things becomes the mechanism that allows them to be “preyed on” by charlatans.
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