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Thursday, September 8, 2005

Boston interfaith service for hurricane victims today.

Boston religious leaders will offer an interfaith prayer service for hurricane victims at Trinity Church in Copley Square at 12:15 this afternoon. (Boston Globe 9.8.05, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 8 September 2005 at 7:33 AM

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Dudley Jones:

September 10, 2005 10:03 PM | Permalink for this comment

May I ask if Philocrites prays? We understand Mrs. Philocrites does. If this question is too personal or is offensive please delete this post.


September 22, 2005 06:10 PM | Permalink for this comment

Dudley, I was so busy when you first posted your question that I forgot all about it! I think it is a fair question -- and I'm sorry that Unitarian Universalists are often so twitchy about religion that we get anxious talking to each other about our religiosity.

Yes, I do pray. But, like many religious liberals, I had a hard time getting clear about what I think prayer is -- and I've sometimes had a hard time cutting myself some slack about feeling drawn to religious practices that I can't entirely explain, rationalize, or justify.

I find that I pray in two primary ways: I pray in church -- through the liturgy at King's Chapel (a UU Christian church with a written liturgy that evolved from the Anglican tradition) and through the liturgy in Mrs Philocrites' Episcopal churches, and through the silent and spoken prayers at First Parish in Concord.

I also pray through song -- especially through hymns and chants, which I think UUs tend not to think about as acts of worship as much as they might. I experience religious music as profoundly religious, and I let myself experience its lyrics, moods, and rhythms as acts of prayer.

I cherish the memory of a conversation with my college professor of Japanese philosophy. We were talking about the way that classical Zen drawing and calligraphy express Zen spirituality in a way that makes you want to experience the worldview -- and he replied by saying that listening to Bach's B-minor Mass evokes the same feeling about Christian doctrine. Which was exactly what I was thinking -- that the music provides an experience in which a certain kind of faith is embraceable and real. (I have not found it easy to translate my appreciation for Bach's "Credo" into my own assent to the doctrines of the creed -- but this is a comment about prayer, not dogma.)

However, ever since I left the Mormon tradition early in college, I have not found a way to pray solo, as it were. I don't quite mean that I don't believe in a "personal God," or that I don't pray on my own -- playing a hymn or humming one, for example, is something I do on my own quite often.

But whereas Young Philocrites used to get down on his knees each night to talk to his Heavenly Father about his day, Philocrites doesn't. I've lost that capacity, and my understanding of my own faith doesn't make me feel that I really should.

I suppose I really do take seriously the insight attributed to Jesus that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, he will be there. (Obviously one can unpack a statement like that one on many levels, and for the sake of brevity I won't attempt to unpack it.) I go to church because it allows me to focus on my desire for prayer.

How about you, Dudley: Do you pray?

Dudley Jones:

September 29, 2005 12:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

Yes, but I really do not know how to be articulate about this. Most of my prayers are brief thanksgivings, typically at the end of a trip, being thankful for a safe journey.

In one of Martin Luther's prayers, he talks about being an "empty vessel", and I wonder if he is thinking about the emptiness our Buddhist friends speak of - probably not, but it is a nice thought.

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