To study thought as it affects religion . . . A Gathering of Unitarian Universalist Ministers
Papers from 2013 Prairie Group on Prayer
Required: Beginner’s Grace, by Kate Braestrup (Free Press, 2010). A lovely book, and all is recommended. Pages 1-66 (all of part I, which is chapters 1-6), 93-110 (chapter 10), 139-168 (chapters 14-17), and 195-234 (chapters 20-24) are required for all. You will not want to miss pages 195 to 234; it is particularly profound and beautiful writing.
Required: Prayer: A History by Philip and Carol Zaleski. (Mariner Books, 2005). We have assigned the introductions to most chapters and some essential sections. Feel free to read any additional sections that interest you! Required: pages 1-15, 24-42, 61-66, 86-103, 120-136, 158-161 (and one of the four parts of the following chapter based on your interest), 195-198, 203-208, 231-243, 250-254, 338-342, 347-355. As this book is not available in Kindle or Nook format, I've not provided chapters for these pages. You are advised to purchase the paperback edition.
Required: Contemplative Prayer, by Thomas Merton. Read the introduction (pages 19-26) and the second half of the book (beginning with Section X on page 60), or as much as you like.
Required: When God Talks Back, by T.M. Luhrmann (Vintage, 2012) Read, at least, chapters 3, 6, 7, and 10.
For Further Reading: - the non-required parts of the above books. - Simply Pray, by Erik Walker Wickstrom - Everything Belongs, by Richard Rohr
Instructions for all PrairieGroup members: Please send to Kendyl (firstname.lastname@example.org) the bibliographic information of your favorite collection of prayers, along with a sentence or two about the collection. She will be creating a bibliography of prayer collections.
Instructions for each author: please include, as part of the paper if appropriate, or as a “prologue,” a concise description and reflection on your own prayer practice, as you understand it.
Paper formats: Papers should not exceed 5500 words, and responses should not exceed 1500 words. Feel free to use multi-media elements if you wish to do so. A major draft should be submitted by the writer to the responder no later than September 10th, and a final draft by the 1st of October. Earlier is appreciated by your respondent.
1. Prayer in daily life. Prayer has often accompanied everyday activities such as eating, going to sleep and waking, making love, traveling, and working. In some devotional traditions, prayers are required at regular times of day. Reflect, in a specific way of your choosing, on prayer as part of daily life. (As part of your paper, make a suggestion for how we might pray before meals at this gathering – attentive to the spiritual, social, and logistical challenges of doing so.) Author: Mark Christian. Response: Thomas Perchlik. (Note: Mark was unable to be at Prairie Group this year. Thomas Perchlik offered the paper and Matthew Johnson-Doyle offered a response.)
2. Inter-religious understandings of prayer. What challenges and possibilities are raised by considering the habits of prayer in religious traditions other than Christianity and Judaism? Select a few examples of practice from some other traditions and reflect on how they might grow our understanding.
Author: Josh Snyder. Response: Martin Woulfe.
3. To whom do we pray? The activity of prayer raises theological questions, including: the existence of God, intimacy with God, the problem of evil, and in whose name we pray. Does prayer suggest answers to these questions with which we are uncomfortable, sometimes for good reason? How might we proceed?
Author: Jim Eller. Response: Sydney Morris
4. How does prayer work? Disciplines including neuroscience, sociology, and psychology have provided various understandings of the work that prayer does on individuals and communities. Discuss these insights and what they might mean for us.
5. Praying with the people. As spiritual leaders in our congregations, do we have a responsibility to teach our people how to pray, and to lead them in prayer in various settings? How should we go about doing that?