Religion (& Prayer) Without God

“Another part of the answer is that rituals change the way we pay attention as much as — perhaps more than — they express belief.”

“Moreover, these rituals work, if by “work” we mean that they change people’s sense of their lives. It turns out that saying that you are grateful makes you feel grateful. Saying that you are thankful makes you feel thankful. To a world so familiar with the general unreliability of language, that may seem strange. But it is true.”

“Religion is fundamentally a practice that helps people to look at the world as it is and yet to experience it — to some extent, in some way — as it should be.”

T. M. Luhrmann, “Religion Without God,” New York Times, 14 December 2014

The Presents Of Presence

On this Christmas, I wish for you the gift of having someone be present for you, engaged and aware of what you offer, receiving the gifts you give with reverence and gratitude.

Giving may be at the heart of Christmas, but giving without having what you offer valued is a very wearing and hollow experience.

The gift of gracious receiving is one of the greatest gifts we can give anyone.
—   Mister Fred Rogers

Being present for another person is an amazing present to them and to yourself.

If Christmas really is for children, especially the child inside of us, I suppose that we could do much worse than listening to Mr. Rogers.

You know, I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable. And consequently, the greatest thing we can do is to help somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.

Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.

When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the façade, and of course, the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.

I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we do is more important than what we are. Of course, it’s the opposite that’s true: What we are ultimately determines what we do.
— Mister Fred Rogers

The presents of presence are innumerable.   Life: You must be present to win.

I hope that you get to be present for someone on this holiday, and more than that, that other people are really present for you.

That’s the best present ever.