Thursday, June 08, 2006

amen, brother

this post below is a truer post about prayer than i've read in a while - and it's from one who is probably what we're comfortable calling an Unbeliever. i don't know if the eventual change from 'god' to 'God' has significance, but the intellectual change (if not spiritual) within the author is more important than typography.

he writes:

I looked up prayer in the dictionary. I looked up prayer in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Interesting, but I didn't feel down with submitting myself to the will of a being I probably didn't believe in.

Finally, I decided that I would just try to say things that were true. The main problem with even this strategy is that it's just about impossible not to be disingenuous when you think you might be talking to god. It's all about making a good
impression, and it takes a while--I think it took me a good 30 or 45 minutes of trying to slyly bullshit god--to turn off the part of your brain that's always calculating, the part that makes you act humble to get more dessert, or less cancer, or whatever.

Expendable Organ: Prayer

oh, and if you can spare a prayer for him, please do.


Jenny said...

It's interesting how difficult it can be to tell the truth to yourself, let alone god/God.

Sylvie Book Bee said...

Yeah -- we can't even be honest with ourselves - less than all the Divine.

Even nutter on our part is the thought that you can BS someone/thing that is supposedly all knowing -- now That is a choice bit of human hubris! But don't we just try it on a regular basis! (Sure I could make a list of chief offenders -- but I'm busy struggling with the piece of lumber in my eye! ; - ) )

ding said...

a teacher of mine once gave an assignment: write down everything you know about yourself. then she added - be brutally honest.

the list started out ok (i'm a dauther, brown, i live here, i like that...) but then, when i started to force myself to be more forthcoming, the truth of it was less appealing than i expected. not all of it was bad but what was, was significant.

to me, prayer takes that list and goes one step further: write down everything about yourself; be brutally honest; brace yourself for God's 'reveal.'

this is why i don't feel comfortable with the whole 'petitioning' aspect of prayer - using prayer to ask for more than just general things (like patience, fortitude, humility, etc.) i can't get to the asking part when the list of failures is so damn long.

ding said...

'daughter'! dangit.

Buffy said...

"list of failures is so long"

Oh, I do relate. I find myself each Sunday saying the same thing during the quiet moment of Joys and Concerns. Sort of like a stuck record player (remember those?). I can't even get past the first failure to the rest beyond it.

But I keep going every Sunday anyway. Someday I'll get unstuck.

ding said...

in the presbyterian tradition we have a prayer of contrition we recite every sunday. the form doesn't change much - it's a litany of ways that we have failed God and at first i wondered if this prayer ever altered. but, no. it doesn't. in the same vein, my top 3 are consistently the same.

but at the end of the prayer the pastor gives a coda and tells us that there is forgiveness. the whole list leads to that. but to get to that, you need to get through the list.

it's a humbling prayer.