Prayer in a Violent World
Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road
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Abstract: One prays to God to make the violence cease, and nothing seems to happen. Prayers have been on the lips of crusaders, slaveholders, gangsters, suicide bombers, presidents, and predatory priests, and the fact that they pray does not forestall their violent behavior. Predictable calls for “thoughts and prayers” in response to violent events ring hollow, since clearly what is needed is meaningful, collective action. Is prayer, then, irrelevant to the task of resisting violence or, worse still, a mere instrument of violence? In his lecture, Prevot will propose a method of understanding the true nature of prayer that prioritizes the prayers of victims and the prayers of those who are working to bring about peace and justice. His talk will emphasize ways that prayer allows suffering to speak, encourages critical self-examination and moral formation, and strengthens one for political struggle. His lecture will also insist that one must think rigorously about the implications of praying to a just and loving God in order to avoid the many forms of violent performative contradiction that all-too-often bedevil the practice of prayer. Prevot does not rule out the possibility that God may hear and answer, but this will not happen if our "hands are full of blood" (Isaiah 1:15).
Andrew Prevot is associate professor of theology at Boston College who writes and teaches at the intersection of spiritual, mystical, systematic, and liberation theologies; phenomenology; and continental philosophies of religion. Recent publications include, Thinking Prayer: Theology and Spirituality Amid the Crises of Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015) and “Ignacio Ellacuría and Enrique Dussel: On the Contributions of Phenomenology to Liberation Theology” which appeared in A Grammar of Justice: The Legacy of Ignacio Ellacuría, edited by. J. Matthew Ashley and Kevin Burke (Orbis, 2014). Prevot has a new book entitled Theology and Race: Black and Womanist Traditions in the United States (Brill, 2018) expected July 2018. He earned his B.A. from Colorado College and his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.
IN THE NEWS
According to a September 2018 New York Times article, Pope Francis declared in a homily that when confronted with conflict, the best response is “silence and prayer.” This calls into question what a proper Catholic response should be regarding such controversial issues as sex abuse and gun violence. On Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 Andrew Prevot visited the Boisi Center for a luncheon colloquium on understanding prayer, suffering, and those working to achieve justice throughout the world.