Of life in the still-Christian South (a retired cleric’s occasional reflections)…

On public prayer

In South Carolina, folks pray publicly (hence, doubtlessly, I imagine, privately). Saying grace at mealtimes, oft joining hands in a physical and psychic circle of union. Giving audible air to petitions and intercessions at events of commemoration and celebration, moments of tribulation and tranquility, instances extraordinary and mundane. And alway expressing thanksgiving to the God in whose hands abide all times and from whose hands all blessings flow.

Now, with sincerity’s speed, I neither suppose nor suggest that inhabitants of other regions of America do not pray, privately or publicly (or even that the discipline of prayer, given my sense of the manifold individual and, at times, wholly self-serving intentions of those and I who pray, necessarily makes one a better person). I do contend that, here in South Carolina, I have observed more people on more (most!) occasions praying.[1] In a word, in my view prayer is an inherent and ineffaceable part of the sitz im leben, the social context or life setting of the South.

 

Footnote:

[1] Honesty compels my confession that prior to coming South my public profession of prayer usually was restricted to those circumstances when I functioned in a clerical role, whether within the church on Sunday mornings, officiating at weddings, presiding at funerals or other ecclesiastical rites or in the world offering an invocation or benediction at some community gathering. On reflection, I think my reticence stemmed from my desire not to discomfit others – or myself in the company of others – who, consonant with their beliefs, either eschewed devotional practices or reserved them for their individual and familial moments.

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2 thoughts on “Of life in the still-Christian South (a retired cleric’s occasional reflections)…

  1. Paul,

    I prayed a lot this weekend… that I find the right words, that I lift those who need to be uplifted and that I continue to have the strength to do this work I love. I also shed tears of thanks for all the blessings I’ve received since I’ve been doing this work.

    In terms of prayer at meals I sure grew up that way. What I do love especially at meals with you and Pontheolla in SC that we always hold hands. For me, it has everything to do with family, being grateful for God and all the blessings in our lives and inclusion of all who are present (and those who can’t be present).

    Much love

    Liked by 1 person

    • “…inclusion of all who are present (and those who can’t be present).” As the days progress, more and more, as I contemplate my living and my dying, I think of “all who are present (and those who can’t be present.)” Amen

      Like

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