Cognitive Dissident

The principle, that religion is something we do rather then something we think or believe, raises another question for me, the difference between act and intention. Our acts result in what may not have been intended. “The helping hand strikes again.” This is true in systemic as well as individual instances; indeed I suspect it inheres right at the junction of the two. We all have good intentions for the world and its wellbeing, but collectively we are trashing our world. I am thinking not only of our physical environment, where it is now pretty obvious, but of the moral and spiritual environment. Advertising and the media look to me to have seriously degraded our moral environment. They use sex and greed to sell their product, and we become so inured to it that we stop noticing what it does.

We are also led to believe in our intentions and not look at the results of our acts. We believe in it when we “make nice,” what I call pollyannafication. All will be well if we intend well. This is a bamboozlement laid on us by our culture and its values. If religion is what we do, then maybe we are what we do. We need to be looking at the results and using them to critique our culture and its values. Repentance for our part in the depredations should form a part in this, and amendment of life as well.

What happens to our prayer in the midst of this culture? There are all the appeals to what St Augustine called our concupiscence. But what I notice is the noise. I ride the bus to work every day and the MARTA buses now have televisions. This is very distracting. Mostly I am trying to read and it invades my consciousness. God knows what it would be like to try to pray. And then there are the other people who are equally noisy. Lots of loud talk. And people on their cell phones. I call them yappies, people who need to be talking all the time in order to maintain self-existence.

The noise most affects the most fundamental prayer.
[what is prayer at depth?
[science and prayer
[intellect and study in prayer]

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