Monday, May 16, 2011

Prayer Pruning: Goodbye Jesus?

Until very recently, except for a short stint as an atheist in my early teens, I considered myself a Christian.

During that stint, I remember our sunday school superintendent telling us he would use logic to prove God exists. Wanting to base his argument on a solid assumption, he asked us to confirm that we all believed in 'good'. I chirped, "Define 'good'," and it went downhill from there. In my late teens, I discovered mysticism, spirituality and Zen Buddhism, and allowed Christianity back into my belief system because I found concepts like "Christ Consciousness" and the Holy Spirit appealing.

In my twenties, because they seemed like the logical things to do at the time, I went looking for a prayer tent and got born again, joined an Anglican church, got confirmed, got on the board of directors of the chaplaincy, and got involved with what used to be the Ecumenical Institute out of Chicago with plans to reform the church.

And then life moved on. By my thirties, all that was left was Zen and being Anglican. And now the Anglican is fading away.

Over the years, like me, my prayers have changed. Always a home-made hodgepodge of standard Christian prayers, Buddhism and various odds and ends, they were seriously due for a re-write. In the process, it struck me that there was only one tangential reference to Jesus Christ in the whole thing. It also struck me that I didn't really have any reason for having Him there at all.

A further thought struck me: inasmuch as the Rapture is scheduled to occur five days from now on May 21, this may be a singularly poor time to edit His Nibs out of my prayers.

Oh well...

God, I don't have a problem with – just not the Christian version.

As James Ford said over at Monkey Mind in Seeking the God Beyond God,

When we start to think of a deity that will fix things, or can, if we move for a second beyond sentimentality, we encounter serious problems. A deity that intervenes for this person but not that, who allows whole populations to starve or be murdered while blessing others is not a god I want to encounter in a dark alley.

I can't relate to a god that we project our human emotions onto, except perhaps love.

I don't want my dear Christian friends to think for a moment that I am disparaging their beliefs. The fact is, I just don't have the strength to hold onto mine.

There is a quality to both life and to the makeup of things that we human beings encounter as wonder, as awe. And for which it is difficult to refrain from naming. It's a human thing. However incomplete that name might be, we feel a deep and real need to try... Probably the best name is no name. Only don't know. Shut up within the presence. It is the place where such distinctions as self and other collapse, where I no longer know I am and you are.

So the revisions proceed. It's too early to say what Prayers 2.0 will look like, but I wanted to share this before anything unpleasant happens on Saturday.

P.S. Here is Prayers 2.0


  1. Refreshingly honest. Really.

  2. little raindrop falls - step by step - hurry home father

  3. I can definitely relate to the transition from Christianity into Buddhism myself, while respecting the "good", inclusive and unifying principles that can be found in the Bible..

    Well said :)

  4. Nice historical picture of the evolution of a spiritual being. Like your sense of timing!

  5. TMC, thank you for your kind comment.

    Ano, beautiful poem - thanks - I would like to read more!

    Darragh, thanks - I agree - lots of good things in the Bible, just not all of it.

    ZenDot, thanks Carole, definitely a work in progress!

  6. Read your blog while reading the poetry of Hafiz. You might like this:
    "There is only one reason
    We have followed God into this world:
    To encourage laughter, freedom, dance
    And love."

  7. Thanks Cullene. I don't know much about the poetry of Hafiz, but I'm heading off to find out - thanks for the introduction!


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