Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Trinity in Prayer: contemplation, liberation theology, and comparative theology

Just like God is a Trinity, a tension between three forms, so too does our spiritual practice need to live out a tension between three forms of prayer:

Prayer to God the Absolute means stripping away all attachments and images, to let go of our egos and our desires to be famous, well-liked, beautiful, wealthy, powerful, etc. All of these will pass away while the glory of God will flourish. This is the practice of contemplation.

Prayer to God the Incarnate Revolutionary, Jesus Christ, means following Christ's revolutionary path even if it means living in poverty, suffering under state repression, or even being crucified by gun. It means doing all of this for love of others. This is the practice of liberation theology.

Prayer to God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Freedom, means constantly being open to new seeds of the spirit in every part of our lives, and learning from these seeds of the spirit in every history, every culture, every religion. This is the practice of comparative theology and interfaith dialogue.

A well rounded Christian revolutionary needs to live out all three of these forms of prayer and practice : compassion, liberation theology, and comparative theology. Without all three of these in tension and contradiction with each other we can't grow..... or more precisely we will grow but it will be oppressive and distorted growth instead of the flourishing of God in history through our self-activity.

Self-activity means our free creativity, unalienated labor, our struggling, our co-creation.... but it is really selfless activity when done right because it is done out of love for others. Ultimately the highest form of self(less)-activity is what the Taoists call "wu wei" or actionless action - action which extends the developing healthy and free tendencies in folks social actions instead of forcing and confining these to the actions we desire. In Christian terms, it is graceful action, action which incarnates God's grace and sparks others to encounter this grace in their own experiences, through their own activity instead of through what we think their activity should be.

The three forms of prayer help us develop this graceful action instead of dissipating our energies in useless and frustrating activism.