Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Contemplative Prayer vs. Glossolalia

In his lecture at the Gillbott Church in New Jersy, the Director Paik, a staff member from the Agape Christian Healing Center, has addressed that the Center seeks the healing process in search for “true self” via “contemplative prayer”.

After an hour-long lecture, there was a session of question-and-answer, in which I inquired about the glossolalia that the evangelical churches strongly advocate their membership in their prayer meetings.

Frankly speaking, I was at the loss when Mr. Paik replied that the glossolalia is one of the forms of contemplative prayers, contrary to his introductory paper that the contemplative prayer is not achieved by talking but by observing self, true or false.

It seems bizarre to me that the “speaking in tongue” has anything to do with the word, “contemplation”…I do believe you could not possibly achieve to observe, think, reflect, or consider thoroughly about anything at the same time when you were in a trance state or an episode of religious ecstasy.

I would rather consider the contemplative prayer in relation to the philosophy of silence, Buddhism or Christian monasticism.
It is true that Buddhist chants and Benedictine monk sings in their ritual as Christians sing hallelujah at the service.

But both monks are called “contemplative orders” that engage in the ascetic life in search of nirvana and a state of grace, committing themselves to poverty, celibacy and obedience challenging the secular culture of money, sex, and power.

In our modern time, people are fed up with the excessive consumerism and reflect dissatisfaction toward the mainstream religious practices.
In response to these tendencies, the mega churches have sprang up like the wild flowers in the spiritual desert, where glossolalia plays a major role enticing the like-minded people in the gated spiritual community.Contrary to this communal fellowship of mega churches, some intellectuals began to show interest in the “contemplative life”, the possibility of individual consciousness apart from the communal whole.

Some says that life is like water: it takes the shape of the vessel into which it is poured; remove the vessel and it is lost.
What we are seeking are vessels into which to pour the chaos of life.
If we could pour the chaos of our life into the vessel of contemplative life, we might shape our future life quite contrary to the contemporary life of money, sex, and power that we have now.

In this perspective, Mr. Paik’s assertion that glossolalia is within the boundary of contemplative prayer is simply a misstatement or a disservice to the contemplative life.

I expect your clarification.

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