Praying as a Transmodern

A major objection to the transmodern metaphors for the sacred that replace Father God, Mother of God, Son of God, King of kings, Shepherd of the flock, Author of the Law, Divine Being of beings, and Creator of creatures is the abandonment of the personal. In a transmodern era, who does one pray to, who does one serve, who does one praise, who does one obey?

In Christian orthodoxy, there are three “persons” of One God. Person (persona, L) is the mask (prosopon, Gk) that a dramatic actor wore in ancient times to signify his character. The three persons are faces or facets of the One God: God as speaking progenitor, God as spoken word, God as Creator of all there is. In Hindu theology, there are hundreds of manifestations and incarnations of Brahman, Vishnu, Krishna in the world.

In transmodern theology, transcending consciousness is not a super-person over and above the world of human consciousness. The holy one is personalized through the interaction of human persons and other conscious creatures who share consciousness in and with the process of the universe. The sacred is interdependent with the profane, body with soul, individual with community, space with time, the principle with the personal. We do not go out of matter to discover and be in spirit.

We pray by sharing and extending our consciousness with others. We serve each other recognizing the sacred presence in one another. We praise by respecting others personally and especially gathered together for a shared future. We obey by following the directives of our intentional existence towards a renewed humanity, earth, and community. A transmodern theology is deeply personal.

“Do you pray?” She asked knowing that I do not believe in supernatural entities like gods and disembodied spirits and heavenly beings.

“To whom?” I asked. “Or what?”

But, crazy as it sounds for someone whose belief system is without divine beings, I do pray. I do love and feel the love that unites me to all whom I love and those who love me, and to all who ever have or will love. I can give invocations at meetings asking that the spirit of love and collaboration be with us. That the relationships among us all thrive and grow to connect us to all beings in the universe.

With family and friends, I sometimes say prayers of gratitude before meals or on special occasions. I invoke the spirit of love and gratitude that is within us all. I can say prayers and take full part in religious services at wedding and funerals. And when a person experiences loss, even the loss of death, I say “my thoughts and prayers” are with you. And I mean it.

I pray for the poor, for those treated badly, for those held back from achieving their potential, and for those who are brutalized. I am expressing my solidarity with the suffering. And I am condemning the tendency in all of us to dehumanize. And I am hoping that those who are left out will organize and be powerful.

I pray for peace, the end of violence, justice, for the survival and happiness of myself, my friends, and all people. To pray simply means that I long for peace, justice, happiness and that I will do what I can to achieve them despite the obstacles.

To pray does not mean that I expect or even want a “deus ex machina,” some sort of miracle by an outside force. I am not asking some divine power to intervene or make things all right. I am invoking no power but that in myself in union with my loved ones and all others. When we pray together, I believe we are committing ourselves to engage with each other to make what we are praying for to happen. That will be a miracle alright, a break in the pattern, a disruption in the natural routines, a reversal in human entropy. It is the miracle of human action. That is the higher power I invoke.

I sometimes strongly feel that higher power in human communion. Sometimes in solitary meditation and sometimes in social action. And when I do feel that power, I often say out of an old habit that I learned as a child in a Catholic Christian setting. Thank you, God, I love you.

A Prayer to begin a meeting or action

Creative Energy of the Universe,

Called by some Love, by others God, and

Still others Transcending Consciousness,

We acknowledge your presence in all there is,

In all creatures great and small, and especially

In human persons, us, thinking and acting in love.

We seek in this gathering

To embody your presence in our presence, and

In the way that we treat each other.

We accept responsibility for the speech we make

And for the actions we take.

We put aside all blaming and shaming. Rather

We call on the possibilities of new creation

In our union with one another.

So be it. Let us make it so.