Friday, October 16, 2009

The Concept of Prayer

Prayer is a central component of many religions as well as a core practice of spirituality. Different theists assert there being different meanings, purposes, and ways of practicing prayer. For some, prayer is a, or perhaps the, means of connection between the person and what they describe as being god. It is the means by which the relationship is formed and maintained. Through this connection, they say they experience the presence of god and may even receive god’s "guidance". There are also prayers of gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness.

While these kinds of prayer are routinely practiced by some, there is no doubt that the vast majority of believers look to prayer for another purpose. To most believers, this purpose is perceived either overtly or covertly as being one of the greatest benefits of believing in god. This purpose is asking god to intervene in reality in some way to give the theist what they are asking for. It is almost as if prayer is treated as magical wish granting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Secular Serenity Prayer

I’ve always greatly admired the wisdom contained in The Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” In fact, it from The Serenity Prayer that I thought of the name for this blog of mine, which some may find a little ironic.  However, as an Atheist, I don’t like the first few words of it. Yet like the good morals and lessons in the Bible, Tao Te Ching, Qu'ran, Sutras, Vedas, Purvas, and more, I can keep what is moral and discard the immoral and supernatural.

What I specifically don't like about The Serenity Prayer is the first few words, which imply that wisdom is given by god. This serenity is not given by god, but is a serenity based on and accumulated through life experience and effort.  In fact, as a psychotherapist, I frequently bring it up to the people I work with and have them try to remember it and act based on it in between the times when we meet.  It is certainly easier said than done, but like most things in life, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

I've created a different form of The Serenity Prayer, which I call The Secular Serenity Prayer and is a charge to myself which I try to keep in my mind each day.  "Through my efforts, I gain the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Dilemma in Writing: "God" versus "god"

One of the struggles of being a novice writer is having to make some initial, basic decisions about how to write. As I am writing, I am finding that when the topic is religious beliefs, a writer has more decisions to make than one may have in writing a novel. One dilemma I have faced is what one of my readers called the balance of both sensitivity and assertiveness. Another seemingly more basic, but none the less important, is the choice of using the word “God” versus “god”.