Art Buchwald, author of the Tourist Prayer
In honor of the late humorist Art Buchwald, we serve up his infamous “Tourist Prayer,” which we recently discovered in a Manhattan gift shop window.
Buchwald wrote his prayer in 1971 in response to a bizarre Greek Orthodox Church anti-tourist prayer that called on Jesus to protect their monasteries from the “scourge” of world travelers and “the modernistic spirit of these contemporary Western invaders.”
Apparently, these Greek monks weren’t bothered by tourists from Russia and Asia, although in the 1970s most Russkies weren’t packing their towels and suntan lotion beyond the Black Sea.
Anyhow, if you are kind of religious, print out a few copies of this prayer and stick them in your luggage!
THE TOURIST PRAYER
Heavenly Father, look down on us, your humble, obedient tourist servants who are doomed to travel this Earth taking photographs, mailing postcards, buying souvenirs and walking around in drip-dry underwear.
We beseech you, oh Lord, to see that our plane is not hijacked, our luggage is not lost and our overweight baggage goes unnoticed.
Protect us from surly and unscrupulous taxi drivers, avaricious porters and unlicensed English-speaking guides.
Give us divine guidance in the selection of hotels, that we may find our reservations honored, rooms made up, and hot water running from the faucets. We pray that the telephones work, the operators speak our tongue, and that there is no mail waiting from our children which would force us to cancel the rest of our trip.
Lead us, dear Lord, to good, inexpensive restaurants where the food is superb, the waiters friendly, and the wine included in the price of the meal.
Give us the wisdom to tip correctly in currencies we do not understand. Forgive us for undertipping out of ignorance and overtipping out of fear.
Make the natives love us for what we are and not for what we can contribute to their worldly goods.
Grant us the strength to visit the museums, the cathedrals, the palaces and the castles listed as musts in the guidebooks.
And if perchance we skip a historic monument to take a nap after lunch, have mercy on us, for our flesh is weak.
Husbands: Dear God, keep our wives from reckless shopping and protect them from “bargains” they don’t need and can’t afford. Lead them not into temptation, for they know not what they do.
Wives: Almighty God, keep our husbands from looking at foreign women and comparing them with us. Save them from making fools of themselves in cafes and nightclubs. Above all, please do not forgive them their trespasses, for they know exactly what they do.
All together: And when our voyage is over, and we return to our loved ones, grant us the favor of finding someone who will look at our home movies and listen to our stories so our lives as tourists will not have been in vain.
This we ask you in the name of Conrad Hilton and American Express. Amen.