Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Barack Obama -VS- National Prayer Day:
Insights on Selling God

--LOHAS: body + mind + spirit--

Barack Obama got a lot of slack last week from the Christian right when he decided to break a Bush Era White House tradition and not have any White House Prayer Day events scheduled. The 58th annual National Prayer Day, which rolled around this year on May 7th, has a web site titled "National Prayer Day Task Force," which accurately set the tone that prayer is "very serious business," so much so that it requires a task force (yikes). Clearly Barack missed the memo that this was no regular holiday, no mere holiday designed for for "super sales." Heck did he even know they had a task force? Task Force definition; "A temporary grouping of military units or forces under one commander for the performance of a specific operation or assignment." I'm confused - are we marketing a holiday or a call for a religious war (?)

I'm not knocking prayer, heck I do it in my own way everyday. I think many of us have prayer in our lives, weather we admit or not. For some it comes in moments of crises, for others as a source of daily strength or inspiration. I think a daily practice of connecting with a higher source feeds something within us; some core element of what ultimately "makes us tick." Spirituality delivers heavy doses of context and substance to simple moments. It brings the sacred into the mundane and connects us to our humanity while delivering a clear sense of "universal belonging." It's all very good "stuff," even though we don't know how this "good stuff," really works.

University studies have tried to figure it out. The Harvard Prayer experiment run by Herbert Benson had tried to reveal if prayer helped those recovering from heart surgery. The results of the study showed no direct impact of prayer on recovering patients. Meanwhile another experiment looked at prayers impact on fertility. This triple-blind, controlled clinical trial that originated at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons involved prayer for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in Korea. Those women who received prayer from Christian prayer groups in North America and Australia had twice the pregnancy rate as the women not assigned prayer. So what gives? Does prayer not work for hearts, but works for ovaries? Maybe not knowing the conclusive nature of it, is the point.

It is very hard for us in the modern age to not know something for sure. We try to scientifically prove and disprove everything, as a means to control a universe far beyond our control. We can't seem to reconcile that notion that the answer might be the very question itself. We think we can manipulate our data, create holidays around it, heck buy million dollar commercial time to sell it to the masses. It's ours to package how we will. I'm not sure that is what our "maker" intended.

I believe the stuff of spirituality is meant be what it is - built on pure faith (sort of the ultimate blind study) and left unsold. Its' brand of magic on our lives is its' very proof. Stepping into that unknown and being OK with it, might be the point of it. What we are left with is the unquestionable proof of how uplifted we become individually in our spiritual pursuits, how connected we feel, how morally grounded we become when we bring our soul into the very workings of our lives. No study or holiday can truly prove or sell this phenomena successfully.

I think humans like to be very right and very serious about "it all," and perhaps we lost the point a long time ago fighting over definitions of what is ultimately undefinable. It's quite possible, that prayer, God, the spirit is there for us but is not there for us to figure out, control and certainly not evangelize. It exists without us in its own perfection available to us always ... needing of no holidays and certainly no task forces for its purpose.

(LOHAS Culture, Spirituality)

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