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Author Topic: Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers & The Orthodox Church....  (Read 1688 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 29, 2011, 03:06:46 AM »

I'm surfing at one local Orthodox Church's (name and location withheld) website.  As I perused the weekly bulletins and weekly "monastic" advice columns, I came across the links for Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers.  When I visited the website, the following appears on the home page:

Quote
Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate contemplative prayer by preparing one to receive the gift of contemplative prayer. It presents an ancient Christian teaching (e.g., "The Cloud of Unknowing") in a contemporary form. It is not meant to replace other types of prayer; it simply puts them into a new and fuller perspective.
(emphasis mine)

The "ancient Christian teaching" referred to here is most likely Gnosticism; however, I wish to be proved wrong because I have never heard of "the Cloud of Unknowing" as any valid Christian teaching.
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2011, 03:13:46 AM »

The Cloud of Unknowing is a rather famous Western (Latin) writing which centers on the apophatic approach. I haven't read it myself, but others have told me that it heavily borrows from Psuedo-Dionysus the Areopagite, and is often simply a rewording of his works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cloud_of_Unknowing
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2011, 03:17:26 AM »

I read a few books by (Roman Catholic) Fr. Basil Pennington about centering prayer back before I became Orthodox, and if memory serves he mentioned the "Cloud of Unknowing" a number of times as well... I wonder what exactly the connection is between the two (ie. why reference that particular work and not, say, a work on prayer by an early Church Father, something I don't recall Fr. Pennington doing).
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2011, 03:38:51 AM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 10:27:56 AM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh



There is no 'good' but God.  . . . ?

. . . Power boat would not be considered 'good'.  Only praying and asking for more of a relationship with God Himself (and to do His will) would be acceptable to pray, if someone is truly praying for good.  

This would be my take. . . because I'd be hard pressed to pray for a power boat and know that I'd actually do humanity good with it.  . . lol. . .a bass boat maybe, but not a power boat.   Grin  And a million dollars. . .heh. . .what damage I could do!! **laughing**
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 10:30:20 AM by quietmorning » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 05:27:54 PM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh


Where the **** do you read Prosperity Gospel in the above? Huh

IOW, I don't think the issue is about what you are "missing"; I think it's about what the above text is "missing" (i.e., what you're reading into the text).
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 05:30:55 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
SolEX01
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2011, 02:51:40 AM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh


Where the **** do you read Prosperity Gospel in the above? Huh

Where was the Prosperity Gospel mentioned?   Huh

IOW, I don't think the issue is about what you are "missing"; I think it's about what the above text is "missing" (i.e., what you're reading into the text).

The text is quite clear to me.
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2011, 03:49:19 AM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh


Where the **** do you read Prosperity Gospel in the above? Huh

Where was the Prosperity Gospel mentioned?   Huh
You were the one who saw it in the text, not I. So you tell me where it was mentioned.

IOW, I don't think the issue is about what you are "missing"; I think it's about what the above text is "missing" (i.e., what you're reading into the text).

The text is quite clear to me.
Evidently not for you to see such a non sequitur in it.
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2011, 01:26:58 PM »

I'm surfing at one local Orthodox Church's (name and location withheld) website.  As I perused the weekly bulletins and weekly "monastic" advice columns, I came across the links for Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers.  When I visited the website, the following appears on the home page:

Quote
Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate contemplative prayer by preparing one to receive the gift of contemplative prayer. It presents an ancient Christian teaching (e.g., "The Cloud of Unknowing") in a contemporary form. It is not meant to replace other types of prayer; it simply puts them into a new and fuller perspective.
(emphasis mine)

The "ancient Christian teaching" referred to here is most likely Gnosticism; however, I wish to be proved wrong because I have never heard of "the Cloud of Unknowing" as any valid Christian teaching.
Are you Gnostic-hunting? Wink
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 07:17:43 PM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh


Where the **** do you read Prosperity Gospel in the above? Huh

Where was the Prosperity Gospel mentioned?   Huh
You were the one who saw it in the text, not I. So you tell me where it was mentioned.

OK, the million dollars and a powerboat were supposed to be hypothetical.

IOW, I don't think the issue is about what you are "missing"; I think it's about what the above text is "missing" (i.e., what you're reading into the text).

The text is quite clear to me.
Evidently not for you to see such a non sequitur in it.

I wasn't clear in the point I was trying to make.  A wealthy GOA Church is advocating the above Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers program and I was curious if such a program is appropriate for the Orthodox Church....
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 08:21:02 PM »

So I'm looking through The Cloud of Unknowing in a modern English translation and this excerpt from Chapter 44 comes to my attention:

Quote
Prayer in itself properly is not else, but a devout intent direct unto God, for getting of good and removing of evil. And then, since it so is that all evil be comprehended in sin, either by cause or by being, let us therefore when we will intentively pray for removing of evil either say, or think, or mean, nought else nor no more words, but this little word “sin.” And if we will intentively pray for getting of good, let us cry, either with word or with thought or with desire, nought else nor no more words, but this word “God.” For why, in God be all good, both by cause and by being. Have no marvel why I set these words forby all other. For if I could find any shorter words, so fully comprehending in them all good and all evil, as these two words do, or if I had been learned of God to take any other words either, I would then have taken them and left these; and so I counsel that thou do.
(emphasis mine)

So, if I think of wanting a million dollars and a new powerboat, I should cry God! in order to receive these material things or is there something that I'm missing?   Huh


Where the **** do you read Prosperity Gospel in the above? Huh

Where was the Prosperity Gospel mentioned?   Huh
You were the one who saw it in the text, not I. So you tell me where it was mentioned.

OK, the million dollars and a powerboat were supposed to be hypothetical.

IOW, I don't think the issue is about what you are "missing"; I think it's about what the above text is "missing" (i.e., what you're reading into the text).

The text is quite clear to me.
Evidently not for you to see such a non sequitur in it.

I wasn't clear in the point I was trying to make.  A wealthy GOA Church is advocating the above Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers program and I was curious if such a program is appropriate for the Orthodox Church....
But what does the fact that this particular GOA church is wealthy have to do with the appropriateness of the Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers program they're advocating? Shouldn't we judge the appropriateness of such a program on its own merits without giving any consideration to whether the sponsoring church is monetarily rich or poor? By referring to the church's wealth, you introduce a second factor that has nothing to do with the real issue and only works to distract us from this real issue--in essence, you introduce a red herring.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2011, 08:22:51 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
Justin Kissel
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 08:39:07 PM »

I wasn't clear in the point I was trying to make.  A wealthy GOA Church is advocating the above Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers program and I was curious if such a program is appropriate for the Orthodox Church....

I dunno. What I read seemed a bit off, but that was a long time ago. I guess my question would be, what's wrong with just doing the Jesus Prayer?
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2011, 01:37:29 AM »

I wasn't clear in the point I was trying to make.  A wealthy GOA Church is advocating the above Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers program and I was curious if such a program is appropriate for the Orthodox Church....

I dunno. What I read seemed a bit off, but that was a long time ago. I guess my question would be, what's wrong with just doing the Jesus Prayer?

I don't know.   Huh
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2011, 01:55:08 AM »

But what does the fact that this particular GOA church is wealthy have to do with the appropriateness of the Contemplative Outreach / Centering Prayers program they're advocating? Shouldn't we judge the appropriateness of such a program on its own merits without giving any consideration to whether the sponsoring church is monetarily rich or poor? By referring to the church's wealth, you introduce a second factor that has nothing to do with the real issue and only works to distract us from this real issue--in essence, you introduce a red herring.

OK.   Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 11:47:08 AM »

"Centering prayer" may be based in some way on Christian texts but it was developed by a Catholic Trappist monastery in the USA as an "alternative" to Hindu and Buddhist meditation in the 70's. Since Christian, Hindu and Buddhist meditation all have completely different ends and basis if it is meant to fill the place of say, samadhi meditation, then it really isn't serving the ends of Christian meditation no matter how many Christian sources you pull bits and pieces out of. It's probably better to just go read whatever Christian sources they claim to have used and ignore "Centering prayer" its self completely.
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2011, 08:16:18 PM »

I was involved with Contemplative Outreach brand centering prayer in the 90's. Centering Prayer as they market it (and I do mean "market") is pretty new-age ish. It draws heavily on the works of Thomas Merton, who spent the last years of his life studying in Bhuddist and Hindu monasteries. It's a form of mediatyion that relies on use of a mantra. In fact in the group I was a part of the facilitator once equated Catholics praying before the reserved sacramnet to meditating on a mandala. And he was a Catholic.
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2011, 12:52:26 PM »

An article from within the Latin Catholic Church re the problem of centering prayer http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9711fea1.asp
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