Friday, November 12, 2004

Prayer and action...

We knew that there were many who pray but do not act and many who act but do not pray. But it seemed to us that such people had misunderstood the meaning of both prayer and action. Prayer, for us, was the inspiration for action. "When we prayed, we came into the presence of a Love so profound that it challenged all our plans, opinions and prejudices, and called us to a cause of pure compassion. In the presence of that Love we had to act with love. Because to do anything else seemed utterly absurd. In the presence of that Love we were set free from a preoccupation with meeting our needs for a vocation of seeking peace on the basis of justice for all."

Thus it was, through prayer, we developed a concern for the people in our city. And it was, through prayer, we developed a commitment to the people in the slums. And it was, through prayer, we developed contact with the Kanjars, the so-called "Unclean Ones", that lived across the road...

...We were aware that there was a power that could be released in prayer that could be explained in terms of psychology and sociology. "A self-therapy takes place", Jacques Ellul explains. "There is the giving up of anger and aggressiveness, a validation through responsibility and meditation, a recovery of balance through the rearranging of facts on successive levels as seen from a fresh outlook."

But we were also aware that there was a power that could be released in prayer that was beyond the capacity of contemporary psychology and sociology to explain. Ellul calls it 'the effectual, immediate presence of the wholly Other, the Transcendent, the Living One'.

We knew that if we were to access enough power to break the bondage of our conditioning, so that we would be free to think, and talk, and work towards an alternative future with the community, we not only needed as much "self-therapy" as we could get, but we also needed something "wholly Other" than anything we had ever tried before.

Read the rest of the story about the Kanjars, down near the bottom. It's a good one.


Erich said...

I didn't realize that Ellul was religious. I thought he was just a political philosopher or something to that effect. Perhaps it is a different person I'm thinking of, but isn't this the same Frenchman who writes essays defending Western culture against the cultural relativism of contemporary post-modern thought?

JJ said...

Yeah, that should be the same guy. And he was definitely religious, though probably a heretic to many. But hell, that may be why i like him.

I would suggest his Christianity and Anarchism. Its a good one.