What’s to Come

I think that, in some ways at least, blogging brings out the worst in people. Especially when dealing with controversial issues – and those are the most fun, so they’ll come up a lot.

In the near future, I’ll be taking a different tack with this blog for a little while. I’ll still post whatever comes to mind that I feel like posting, but I’m going to start posting prayers that I’ve been writing for worship services at my internship site. My supervisor has asked for me to type them up (I write them in the service itself, Allen Gisnberg style– ‘first thought, best thought’) so that I can leave them with the church when I move on. That way, they’ll have a collection of pastoral prayers that they can use when someone is leading the prayer but isn’t sure what to write or say.

It’ll be nice to take a break from the didactic slant I’ve had for a while now, and may very well significantly diminish my readership. That’s ok, considering that the original intent was for this blog to be for me to organize my thoughts outwardly. I’m glad that its moved beyond that, but its a little tiring sometimes to feel like I always have to be arguing and defending myself. And who knows? Maybe people will like the prayers I write. Some who hear them seem to, at least.

On an interesting tangent; I’m not actually very good at prayer. I’m not very regular about it, and I often don’t feel like much is happening when I do it. I often feel very awkward and a little contrived when I make the attempt. (I’m sure there are some who might read this who will conclude that this is because I am a heretic and I hate God or something. I mean, when progressives pray, God can’t possibly be listening, right? But I’ll keep functioning under the assumption that God does for now.) <– [Dumb joke]

One exception to this is generally in a worship service, when I really feel like praying is very meaningful. Maybe its the communal atmosphere, the shared silence, the participatory aspects of it (the way we do it at least). A professor of mine called this conspiracy, or “breathing together”. I like conspiracy. It’s good to breathe together. I leave a lot of silence around the prayers, and people have responded positively to that. I think that our lives are so filled with noise and blah blah blah that we should maybe take a break from that when we’re praying.

The other exception is in times of desperation. Panic, fear, remorse, despair, and various other moments of breakdown. Like a panicked child hiding under a mother’s apron. Not very dignified at all, but I’ll make another assumption for now – God doesn’t mind.

One thought on “What’s to Come

  1. As regards your comment about blogging bring the worse out in people, I can well believe it, in the sense that a blog is a disembodied experience and not everyone handles that as well as they might like, or might have to, in other situations. I sense that it might take a mature and balance personality – or the better and more grounded facet of a person – to be able to speak and comment in the same way they might have to if they have to answer to the stares, inflections and body language of a community surrounding them at the time. Somehow in situations like this, a kind of false freedom is inferred – this is not really real; I am not here, though I am. It can perhaps gives a sense of power to break social norms that is not truly a power, but simply a more subtle invitation to respect others. It is very different when you are in a face to face encounter, and you have a very immediate sense of the reactions and personal presence of others… at least I think. I am glad to hear in some ways you are taking a different tack in the blog. Actually, reading your posts and then following the echoes of reaction, support and commentary they engender, does make the blog fascinating. But I also understand, being a writer myself, or perhaps just another guy, that if you use language and broadcast a sense of yourself a particular way at one time, that does not mean you remain the character that initiated that form of expression and invitation. I personally, would like you to be free to enact and express what you have discovered and built in your self though decent honest living – whether emotional, philosophical or just in response to a change of life experience. It can be tempting to pander to an audience, and I am quite sure that preachers are not less prone to this temptation that any other soul. But ultimately, if you feel constrained by being a teacher and want to be a more open and vulnerable soul, or a more spontaneous one, it is probably because you are teaching out of love, not out of authority. Or at least would like to. It seems to me that everyone goes through cycles of having certain answers and insights and, if they are decent people, wanting to be generous with that, and then entering periods of needing to ask questions. Perhaps this is a sense of feeling as though saying what is, or may be – the act of it, and people’s identification of you with that act – has replaced the original well of love and inspiration. Or perhaps it is something else altogether, I don’t really know. But I find it interesting that you should talk about prayer. Because this is asking, not telling, at least more so. It is humility, as I understanding it before God, or before some sense of compassionate witness. To conclude, I find it interesting that you should mention silence, or collective silence. If there is anything I feel Christianity needs as a non practicing Christian, it is more silence, more actual quietness in which a worshipper or an entire congregation allows and respects a space in themselves, and for the community, for God to enter. Many churches are, in fact, huge spaces, and this I sense is not because of the necessity of the acoustics accommodating a preachers voice, but because in reality God has a huge heart and huge presence, and they are symbolic of this. It is just when people crowd their mind with ideals of what god is all about, when they want to know and be certain, not ask and accept a lack of clear answers, but perhaps a sense of faith, and of surrender to the possibility God might actually love them enough to work it out without a 10 point action plan and something easy to make them feel better while it is being put into place, where is the space for god?Silence, as you will know if you have read my blog recently, is something I find myself ever more attracted to as a means to actually know something worthwhile about myself. But that is my upbringing, training and disposition. I guess at the end of the day I just find myself suspecting God might have a hard time entering our lives, when we put so much clutter in the way.


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