Finding Hope in Prayer #WhyPray

See below for a story about this photograph

So, I think I’m turning the corner. I think I’m finding a reason to pray.

Often what I do is write my way through problems, both spiritual and theological. That’s what I did in my very first book, and about half my books since have been in that same vein.

This book, Why Pray?, however, is the first that is attempting to solve what has become a vexing problem for me both spiritually and theologically. I have been struggling to find a reason to pray. And, thus, have been struggling to pray.

Every time I write about this, several will comment that prayer doesn’t need a reason. In fact, some commenters will imply that questions of this sort are unfaithful. Prayer is meant to be mysterious, they argue, and analysis of prayer ruins it.

I get it. They have a point. But I don’t think that looking for a rationale for prayer is unfaithful. I think it is faithfulness, at least for me. And I think that people like me — people with questions about the efficacy of prayer — deserve answers.

And, at least for me, I think I’m coming closer to an answer that will lead me back into prayer.

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National Episcopal Preaching Conference

Next month, I’ll be at the beautiful Kanuga Conference Center for the first time, along with Shane Hipps, Lauren Winner, and others. Join us there for a great week about new forms of preaching:


APRIL 23, 2012 – APRIL 26, 2012

How is a sermon heard in our day? How might our sermons receive a better hearing?

What is the place of social media, technology and innovation in the contemporary proclamation as we tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love?

Co-sponsored with the Episcopal Preaching Foundation, the third annual National Episcopal Preaching Conference will inspire clergy and seminarians to improve their preaching by exploring emerging patterns of proclamation.

All participants will share in a mix of worship, lecture and discussion. Workshops will be offered on technology, social media, collaborative preaching and improvisation.

An emphasis also will be put on small preaching groups, led by faculty of the Foundation’s annual Preaching Excellence Program, where sermons will be reviewed and critiqued.

“Everyone will bring a sermon to preach in their small group of 10 or so preachers,” said the Rev. Dr. William Brosend, conference coordinator. “The feedback will help their future preaching, as will the chance to hear our keynote speakers and other colleagues.”

Conference speakers will share what drives their preaching and how they stay inspired to make their messages reach a constantly evolving audience.

More info and registration here: Kanuga Conferences.

This Is Why I Don’t Blog on Sunday

And why you shouldn’t read blogs, check Facebook, or tweet:

In the new 24/7 mediaverse, in a brutal, unending culture war, with the web unleashed and news and opinion flashing every few seconds, you can very easily lose yourself, and forget how and why you got here in the first place. There have been times writing and editing this blog on that kind of insane schedule for more than a decade when I have wondered who this new frantic way of life would kill first. I do not doubt that Andrew tried to keep a balance, and stay healthy, but like the rest of us, became consumed with and overwhelmed by this twittering, unending bloghorreic chatter. It takes a much bigger physical, emotional and spiritual toll than most realize, and I’ve spent some time over the years worrying it could destroy me. Here I am, after all, at 9.30 pm, still blogging, having just filed another column, and checking the traffic stats, and glancing feverishly at every new item at Memeorandum.

Human beings were not created for that kind of constant unending stress, and the one thing you can say about Andrew is that he had fewer boundaries than others. He took it all so seriously, almost manically, in the end. The fight was everything. He felt. His anger was not feigned. He wanted to bleed and show the world the wounds. He wanted to scream. And he often did. And when you are on that much, and angry to that extent, and absorbed with that kind of constant mania, and obviously needing more and more validation, and on the online and real stage all the time, day and night, weekends and weekdays … well, it’s a frightening and dangerous way to live in the end.

via Breitbart – And Us – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast.

I Pwned that Atheist

No, not really. In fact, Hement Mehta (aka, The Friendly Atheist) and I had a very nice chat on the Drew Marshall Show last weekend. It did get a little spicy at the very end.

Stream the audio here.

Download the mp3 here.

Listen to the show here.