Sunday, July 1, 2007

Lift Up the Receiver, I'll Make You a Believer

Feeling blunt, by the way.

So, I was flipping through the blog of a preacher I rather like and saw this post on prayer. My first thought was: for pete's sake, don't be the flaming idiot who says something along the lines of "well, God just wanted your loved one home." Cause I can tell you that I will look God in the eye and tell him that I don't give a damn if he wanted my dad in heaven, I want my dad here, and God can just wait. (Yes, then I would be promptly sent to hell. I get it. I'm willing to take that risk. Or maybe God's far more complicated than some omni-benevolent model who wants groveling respect and is trying to goad us into taking God seriously enough to interrogate God and demand to know the answer.) Just don't be the idiot who inspires that complaint. Incidentally, if you are that idiot, probably nobody you've said that to remembers exactly who said it. They just remember it was one of the least helpful statements they have ever heard.

Anyway, back to prayer. Here's the confession of the week: I haven't prayed in the conventional sense of the word in going on six years now. Want to know what the last prayer was? I'll tell you anyway. "Dear God, those doctors have been wrong about everything else, let them be wrong about this too." Guess what, the only statement the doctors weren't wrong about was 'there's nothing else we can do.' Nice work, considering they were the geniuses who miscalculated the chemo dosage in the first place. Anyhoo . . . returning to the issue at hand. I don't pray, not in the sense of asking God for anything. Maybe this makes me a bad person, maybe it means I'm going to hell, maybe it means nothing at all.

Now, if you open up the scope of prayer a bit, it could indeed be said that I pray. It's easy for me to become lost in amazement at the way everything in the world is connected with everything else. I've been taken a physics class for the past month, and I feel an urge to go around grabbing random people and asking "Have you shared oxygen with Buddha/Jesus/Gandhi/Mary of Egypt today?" and then giggle insanely and tell them that, "Yes, yes, you have! The nature of atoms is such that if you've been breathing for more than seven years, you're taking in oxygen atoms that were once breathed in by virtually any other person who ever lived. " It's remarkable, wonderful, and mind-boggling. Or stopping and contemplating all the forces acting and reacting on each other in some simple moment like taking a step. Or the sheer number of people who have contributed to the production of whatever I'm eating. Anyway, I'm good with wonder at the mystery, which might explain my attraction to churches with a strong liturgical tradition.

But I don't really talk to the Divine, per se. The Bellevue Baptist billboards with the "Given up? Get a relationship with Jesus!" make me laugh bitterly. First of all, there are my issues with Bellevue and that christology. Second, I'm not really convinced that the Divine is that concerned with individuals. Odd given that I'm also fascinated with the image of Lady Wisdom crying in the streets and have an odd ambition to become a female member of the Knighthood of the Divine Lady Sophia. Or maybe not so odd, since I also think Aleksandr Blok's formulation of a rather sado-masochistic relationship with Sophia is more dead-on than Soloviev's happy, happy, I am loved formulation. And I just wandered off in Russian arcaneness again. (Murr, I can't find a translation of a good example of Blok online. Curses.)

I have noticed lately that I find the idea of asking a saint to intercede for me is much less daunting than going directly to the source. This is probably partly rooted in my newly discovered attraction to Mary of Egypt and the sensation I've been having lately that I owe her a handful of votive candles. I haven't thought enough on it to really have processed it. Could be related to the "I'm not really convinced the Divine is interested in individuals" quirk, or it could go back even further into my early teenage recognition that the Catholics (hadn't yet been introduced to the Orthodox) were onto something -- Mary (Virgin) would probably have a better understanding of menstrual pains than J.C. would, some feminine understanding would be nice (no, that is NOT petty). Of course, Mary of Egypt isn't precisely feminine understanding, but that's the attraction for me.

Oh, so many different rabbit holes I could follow in that. Later.

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