Before I go on a little rant I need to recommend Bruce Sanguin's book, If Darwin Prayed. I do. It's glorious. There is only one way that I know to review a book of prayers and liturgies and that's to pray the prayers and incorporate the liturgies into worship. Yes, there are risks in this and I wouldn't recommend the practice to just anyone anywhere, but I personally don't know how else to evaluate a book of prayers and The Community Church of Wilmette loves an experiment. So, I prayed, preached and "liturgied" this book for the last while and have to say that I love it.
I know it may surprise some of you, but there's this debate afoot about whether or not science and faith systems are compatible. I know! Shocking. But there it is. As much as some of us might wish that the conversation were done, it is not. The debate lingers on after centuries of back and forth, denial and imprisonment. Galileo, Darwin, our nation's own Scopes Monkey Trial...to Christopher Hitchens and his brand of scientific atheism...we have been struggling to know how to allow these seemingly competing paradigms to co-exist. This collection of liturgical resources is a great response.
The book is laid out in liturgical order. Each season or feast day has a little introduction that explains how Sanguin came to his understanding and inspiration for prayer. Then the prayers are laid out with scripture references etc. This is a working breviary. Enjoy it.
This Happy Communion
Community of Love,
Creator, Christ, Spirit,
Three in One,
you in Christ,
Christ in us,
and everywhere, Spirit,
connecting, caressing, cajoling
us into the image of wholeness
tattooed on the heart and the soul
of every living thing.
We are not alone,
never isolated except in the imagination
of our wounded hearts.
Christ abides in us,
and we in Her,
and the joy of this is why we sing,
and why we pray,
and why we take our place
in this happy communion.
Thank you for this banquet of love,
this feast of joy,
this miracle of common purpose
Here he reaches into the mystery of Christ with St. Julian of Norwich and grabs a hold of Holy Wisdom, the Word that was present at the beginning with God and who is God. It's a prayer for Trinity Sunday and we used it to begin our service. Mysterious, lovely, and generously complicated, this prayer reached right into the hearts and minds of many of my congregation helping some of them to consider again the possibility of a Holy Trinity.
Here's my one complaint, my rant, if you will. Sanguin picks sides. He buys into the premise of the rhetoric. "If Darwin prayed it might have looked something like this..." is the implication of the title. The thing is that Darwin did pray and considered entering the priesthood. All of the significant biographers record that Darwin was attempting to answer faith questions as much as he was exploring Naturalist theories and philosophy. Sanguin foists the mistaken polemical rhetoric our present debate onto the historical reality. In the process he risks undermining his entire thesis.
Was Darwin in a struggle with the Church? Sure. You bet. The institutional Church in England was put out to say the least. Darwin stated again and again, however, that his findings were simply that of a Natural Theologian and he saw God's finger prints everywhere.
Darwin did pray. The process theologians' attempt to segregate classical/traditonal theology, prayer, and liturgy from the science-inspired liturgies that people like Sanguin provide actually undermines their own theological argument. There's no need to "reform" theology to allow for quantum mechanics, red shift theory, or even evolution. A liturgical addition the lexicon of prayer, however, is decidedly welcome.
That said, please, if you think your community is hungering for a little quantum liturgy, get this book. If you think your community is ready to explore how "Theology is the Mother of all Science" (see: Galileo), get this book. Enjoy it. Tweak the language a bit to suit your context. Let it challenge you. Our God is not a "God of the gaps" as the saying goes, but a God who breathes out over the deep and (re)creates every day.
You can read more about this book .