July 16th, 2008

Serenity Now

I first saw the serenity prayer in elementary school. A nun had it pinned up by her desk in the front of the classroom. I believe we were driving her nuts.

My next encounter was when Ayn Rand wrote about it. She mentioned it was attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, and she commented that she hardly ever agreed with him about anything.

Well, now some librarian at Yale has established that very close versions of it were showing up in print, before the time when Niebuhr was thought to have created it. Each time it appears before Niebuhr, it appears with a different author.

Kind of spooky.

We were talking about The Selfish Gene in book club, so I have an idea about the serenity prayer - could it be a meme?

Nobody wrote it. It just appeared,
a random mutation, a brand new strain
that rang so true it simply seared
itself into the collective brain.

Or else it's possibly by
the mysterious, frightfully shy
A. Nonymous, whose game
is never to leave his or her name.