Texas Governor Rick Perry has called for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting on August 6th, and has thrown his political weight behind it. It’s billed as a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting, but the governor has invited only the most vitriolic, acerbic, bigoted and divisive pastors in the nation to present at the event… All of them Right-Wing Fundamentalists. It’s a safe bet that Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Pastafarians, New Age groups and educators and scientists will find the event extremely uncomfortable, if not nauseating.
The governor has invited the other 49 governors to join him. Washington State’s own governor, Christine Gregoire has announced that she won’t go, but that she will declare August 6th a “Day of Prayer” in Washington State.
What the governors, the pastors, and the right-wing fundamentalists don’t realize, is that they’re NOT prayer. Rather, they are trying to manipulate a deity, somehow getting it to do what they want—as well as manipulating their “congregations” to support their ministries (and presidential campaigns) to the tune of millions of dollars.
The reality of “prayer” as we understand it is that it only works when the mind is open, when we are willing to look outside of our paradigm and embrace the answers that present themselves.
Artists speak of “inspiration,” where solutions suddenly present themselves, typically in unusual ways. The composer Tartini once had a dream where the devil picked up his (Tartini’s) violin and played a song of such wild and haunting beauty that, “My breath failed me.” Upon waking, he says, “I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain!”
There are many books on creativity; the most well-known are Julia Cameron’s, “The Artist’s Way.” These say the same thing: that to be creative means to open yourself up to the story, the song, the painting… to the idea. Those who practice meditation all say the same thing. We open up to the “Universe.” This is true in our creative endeavors, or whether we’re trying to work out a financial problem. Solutions exist, but it’s only when we step away from our dogma and open up that we will ever see them.
The Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, famously said, “Prayer does not change God, it changes us”: if it’s done right. Unfortunately, Governor Perry and his faithful Fundamentalist fear-mongering fabricators of farcical and fallacious fables aren’t praying. They’re trying to manipulate their environment.
We know that it’s possible to manipulate the Universe—up to a point, and we’re seeing how well that works out for us: Climate change, overpopulation, war, starvation, corporations running roughshod over the poor and middle-class, undrinkable water, toxic air, “food” that is now killing us—these are all the result of trying to manipulate “god.”
There is wisdom in the Universe as any artist or scientist will tell you. However, we open ourselves to that wisdom. We do not create knowledge, we embrace it. Socrates had a mantra which he repeated: “I know nothing.” This was simply to keep his mind open to the possibilities, to recognize wisdom when it came to him, and to keep himself humble in the presence of the Universe.
If Governor Perry were to truly pray—in the framework of which all great men and women have prayed, he and all his Fundie friends might discover that they’re not praying to God. Their praying to their own dogma, to their own ego: and their ego can’t help them because it can’t see beyond its own selfish desires. The universe couldn’t help them even if it wanted to.
The ultimate irony about this National Day of Prayer is: if they were to open up to “God” they may discover that THEY are the problem, and the solution is to put their ego aside and work together with their so-called “enemies” and embrace solutions that already exist, but only work when they move beyond their dogma.
It’s too bad that Governor Perry, and Governor Gregoire didn’t encourage that instead.