Thursday, June 7, 2012

Primary Speech

Walking in Sunrise, by Kristina Swarner
via Chemers Gallery

The concept of prayer has always been confusing to me. What does it mean to use a human language to speak to the divine? What could we possibly say to a divine being that would be of any consequence? For me, these are questions that I don't want an easy answer to.

Primary Speech, by Ann and Barry Ulanov, offered some new ground to explore on the subject of prayer. What I loved about their theology of prayer was where they located its beginning: the human desire to speak honestly about one's self. To me, this fits with the somewhat anthropological, psychological religion I'm drawn to. Don't we all, at times, want to be gently but firmly aware of who we are? 

From this point of "confession" comes illumination and unification—the identification with creation and awareness our interconnectedness. One of my favorite themes.

Although I think the Ulanovs would disagree, their concept of prayer feels like something that could be possible for people with vastly different concepts of God or no-God. To me, their minimal definition of prayer involves the meeting of self with a revelatory Other. 

"All that we would hold most dear and protect most earnestly is transmuted into our own bits of gold and frankincense and myrrh to bring to the child in us and the child outside us."

"We die to our own small versions of reality; we give into God's care our mythical gods and the gods of our personal and collective myths. These are the gifts we bring to our epiphany."
    —quotations from "Transfiguration," Primary Speech, by Ann and Barry Ulanov

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