Sunday, October 23, 2011

peter rollins spews nonsense about prayer

I think it is becoming more and more apparent that nothing is safe from whatever passes through the mind of Peter Rollins, that he can take the most holy and sacred things, and make them profane. Quite the accomplishment.

Take, for example, prayer. Here's what he has recently had to say on that matter.

Prayer Works

This little story can perhaps help us to understand the underlying structure of prayer. In prayer we speak out to another and yet there is a second form of communication taking place simultaneously: we are also speaking to ourselves.

You can go to his page to read his little story, but the point behind it all is right there. And I would contend that, as the article progresses, his little nod to the idea that we may be speaking to another (God?) is set aside.

The question of prayer so often revolves around specifically religious issues such as whether there is a being to hear the prayers or why one needs to say anything at all (after all, if God exists, then God would know already what we want). But by bracketing these questions out for a moment and examining the underlying structure of prayer – a mode of communicating to an other (real or imagined) that results in a revelation of our feelings to ourselves – we can see that this is a universal act, one that transcends the theistic/atheistic debates.

May I translate that? Basically, he's saying that the question of whether or not there is a God or god who hears our prayers is irrelevant, that the main point all can agree on is that when we pray we are really praying to ourselves, revealing things to ourselves.

I am a great advocate of this form of communication; indeed it has been a lifeline to me many times over the last few years. Every day has been filled with prayer as I take time to speak out in order to come into contact with what lies within. It has provided the backbone of my intellectual project over the years as well being invaluable to my emotional wellbeing

So, we see what is valuable for Rollins in prayring--it helps him find what is in himself, to "come into contact with what lies within". Actually speaking to a God who may or may not be there is, at best, secondary.

When we speak out to the divine, or to those from whom we are distant, the ones we have lost to death or misunderstanding, those who we long to communicate with and yet cannot, we speak to something deep within ourselves. In doing this we bring into language that part of us which otherwise would continue to fester within our being and poison us. We bring light to something that would otherwise continue to lurk in the darkness of our unconscious and continue to plague us. And so, regardless of ones belief in the supernatural, we might be able to all agree that this kind of prayer works.

So, prayer is a lot like imaging a conversation with someone else. Yeah, right.

And, of course, when you see prayer merely as a form of therapy and self-enlightnement, well, it doesn't really matter what you think about the supernatural, whether there really is a God to whom you're praying to, or if the god to whom you are praying is merely yourself. Even atheist can pray to themselves.

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