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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Prayer and "Openness to the Mystery"

It should come as no great shock, if you peruse these blogs, that "mystery"is the dominant metaphor I use for God...I've had experiences of God that defy rational explanation...I have heard God come from the most unlikely of people...like Geoffrey Rush's character in "Shakespeare in Love," I don't know how it works out, "It's a mystery."

So with that backdrop my reading this past week has gone into the deepest realms of the mysterious, if not the most difficult...First, I'm trying to read Cormac McCarthy, and he requires time and concentration...lots of it for me...Then I was reading some John D. Caputo (another Google possibility for the intellectually curious). He wrote in "Radical Hermeneutics" (Indiana University Press, 1987, p. 275)"To respect others is to come under their spell, to feel their influence, it is more like entering a field of energy than meeting up with another empirical object."

Although it was not his topic, such a phrase seems like a pretty good definition of prayer.
Like respecting others prayer is...coming under the spell, feeling God's influence...when you respect somebody else you allow them to influence parts of your life...you do things as they do...and prayer is doing things as God does. So how you understand God is how you live under God's influence. If you respect God as love ( a popular option), then God's love should influence you somehow...But notice that God is not some person telling you how to love; rather, God is the energy that frees you to love. God doesn't do the loving for you, but God frees you so that you can love your neighbor (just in case you didn't really want to!)...But if you respect God, the loving will come because you are in the energy field of God (who is love, right?)...

As much as respect is important for prayer, it becomes even more so when we talk about authentic community of any kind...and respect cannot be earned, it can only be given...(I know this flies in the face of most of our common thought, but think about someone like Hilary Clinton. Many people respect her, many do not...but notice she has only done what she has done...so why do some respect her and some do not? It's because whatever she does is not related to whether we respect her or not...even of you think it it, it isn't...we respect her or we do not because we are free to respect her or not...all our other ideas are just rationalizations of why we do or don't respect her, or somebody else, she's just a popular example these days)...so if a community has respect given to its people, the community will thrive, if not...........well, most of us know what happens then...

Prayer is the same way...if we are open to the mystery, then, we are open to respecting the Mystery...which is after all, not an object to be manipulated, but a presence to be lived in...Now, a God who conquers death, who gives that victory to regular ordinary folks like you and me...I don't know about you, but for me that's enough to at least listen every now and then...

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