Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Prayer and the Mathematics of Technology

6 June 2006, Metanexus Conference, University of Pennsylvania
This morning I led Protestant Prayer at the Metanexus Conference on science and religion. It was filmed by a crew whose director determined that this could be “the highest level academic conference in which prayer was actually on the agenda." That fact, in his estimation, made the prayer time worth digitally recording and presumably broadcasting. Ironically, it didn’t seem to make it worth attending since only about 1/30th of the conference attendees were there.
I need to be clear: I’m not complaining. Within the logic of faith, the number of human attenders didn’t matter, of course. For one thing, I was happy that there were enough pray-ers to join during in the intercessions so that my voice didn’t simply ricochet off the walls. It seemed like we even “had church” to some degree. I’m not complaining because it’s the audience of the One to whom we pray that ultimately matters.
That somehow brings me to reflect on technology and faith. The computations of technology (a child of science) and those of faith are quite different. Not at all impugning the motives of the film director (actually, his motives seemed quite commendable), I still know that the mathematics of technology is based on tangible numbers and the prestige of those in attendance. The mathematics of prayer is counted by the degree to which God enters. God + impressive crowds is no greater than God without anyone. It's that math which makes prayer imminently worthwhile.

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