religious belief

January 27, 2014

Three Theories For Why "Nones" Pray

The latest addition to Pray for Me, our Psychology Today blog on prayer, references New Directions in the Study of Prayer grantee Elizabeth Drescher’s research on why people who claim no religious affiliation pray. From her research, Drescher gives us the nones’ reason for continuing to pray; I also give three guesses for why prayer might persist even when religious beliefs fall away.

The “nones” are multiplying faster than any other religious group.

Nones, which is what scholars are calling people who claim no religion, make up 20 percent of the population, and their numbers are rising faster than any other religious category. One third of Americans under 30 fall into that group.

That’s a lot of folks.

Click here to read the full post, “Nones at Prayer.”

September 23, 2013

The Prayers of Flannery O’Connor

It was a delightful coincidence to be rereading Augustine’s Confessions in preparation for a fall course when the September 16 issue of the New Yorker appeared with an excerpt from a forthcoming collection, edited by W.A. Sessions, of a prayer journal kept by Flannery O’Connor as a young writer in the University of Iowa’s MFA program. Judging from the excerpt, The Prayer Journal promises to be as engaging for those interested in practices of prayer as it will certainly be for those more interested in O’Connor as a writer and as a devout Catholic writer at that, though both certainly bear on the construction of prayer practice as presented in the journal.

Speaking toward the end of her life of the relationship of writing and belief, O’Connor insisted that the creative process for her, as it was for Augustine, was about constructing a concreteness in the ethereal experience of the divine-human encounter. “The ma­jor part of my task is to make everything,” she wrote, “even an ultimate concern, as solid, as concrete, as specific as possible. The novelist begins his work where human knowledge begins—with the senses; he works through the limitations of matter… he has to stay within the concrete possibilities of his culture.”