“As I was sitting on the plane, looking over the wing, I thought this is how people feel the force of God in nature. Others feel it in the words of their prophet, the rituals of their ancestors, the ancient songs of their people, and in the faces of the whole human family. I affirm every incarnation of divinity we find.”
He said nothing. All he did was pray. What could that do? How does praying to an invisible force persuade it to do anything?
When Pope Francis put his head against the illegal wall that Isreal constructed into occupied territories of Palestine, he said nothing. All he did was pray.
There was no reasoning involved in this gesture. There was nothing to say about a wall built that oppresses and protects. Each side, to me, is hopelessly entrenched in the anger and blood of their people. That’s what you can do when there is nothing to say, when all hope is lost.
You can pray.
Granted, the Pope wields a lot of influence and power. But the Pope didn’t use that power to reason; to lay out facts, cajole, chastise, or command resolution. He, as a symbolic person, prayed in a symbolic spot.
The power of prayer is in the meaning brought from it. I respect that for many people the meaning of prayer is a harmful meaning. I have been on the snide end of the “I’ll pray for you” more than once myself, though I have not been forced to receive prayer or bow my head. But if it were a powerless gesture, then the reaction to it would be indifference. For most people, it is not. It still has meaning.
The use of prayer, as this example of the Pope praying at the wall here, is to convey meaning, to do something when nothing else can be done, to try something when there is nothing left to try. Alone, out of sight, prayer is meditation. In full public view, prayer is a symbol of hope.
I love fantasy, and have a book in mind, so this is awesome. Its from his course:
“This class concerns the design and analysis of imaginary (or constructed) worlds for narrative media such as roleplaying games, films, comics, videogames and literary texts. … The class’ primary goal is to help participants create better imaginary worlds - ultimately all our efforts should serve that higher purpose.”
“A Princess of Mars” by ER Burroughs
“Dracula” by Bram Stoker
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller
“Sunshine” by Robin McKinley
“V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
“The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by NK Jemisin
“Lilith’s Brood” by Octavia Butler
“Perdido Street Station” by China Miéville
“Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson (Recommended)