If you happen to be reading this on Sunday, January 13, I'll remind you that this evening between 5 and 6 p.m. (in whatever time zone where you're claiming space) there will be a prayer vigil for Lawrence Auster, who is suffering from cancer, side effects of chemotherapy, and other unknown afflictions.
Kristor, a frequent contributor to the dialogue at Auster's View From the Right, has organized the event.
We humans are in a frustrating predicament. Most of us, most of the time, are "stuck" on the flypaper of physical reality. All the knowledge we obtain through our senses (more precisely, our brain's interpretation of sense data) is about the material plane. Yet the evidence is overwhelming that for some people, on some occasions, there is a semi-permeable membrane between the ordinary world of consensual reality and higher, or deeper, worlds.
With prayer, we are in still deeper waters. What is prayer? Who, or what, are we praying to? What can we expect as a result?
I mentioned earlier Larry Dossey's Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. I haven't finished reading it, but have gone far enough to recognize it as a remarkably sane and thoughtful study of a subject prone to almost endless confusion, controversy, and in some quarters outright scorn.
Part of what is impressive is that Dossey doesn't try to avoid aspects of intercessionary prayer that make no logical sense. His outlook is as far as can be from New Age sentimental babble or philosophies that mind inevitably is stronger than matter, or that mind alone creates whatever we want. There is a paradox we have to face squarely: scientific studies have shown that prayer can benefit people (or experimental animals, presumably not susceptible to placebo effect) who are ill, even at any distance. The person or persons don't have to be in the presence of the recipient, or even acquainted with him or her.
Certain questions seem to have no satisfactory intellectual answer. There was a story the other day about a man in England who nurtured a mouse and decided to release it into the fields that were its natural habitat. Hardly had he done so than a hawk swooped down and grabbed it.
That doesn't mean the hawk was "bad," of course -- he has to eat just like any other animal. The way of nature was simply playing itself out. But why was nature designed so that life must feed on other life?