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Or is it? 

I like public prayer. I'm sick and tired of a culture that lives in its head all the time and never gets to its heart. It's a part of the hegemony of white intellectual power, a battering ram in the war against subsistence peoples.

Our crisis is spiritual, I believe, and spiritual tools are called for. The ways we conduct our public lives exclude the spiritual--and our inherent responsibility to uphold ethics and integrity. We actively exclude people from public discourse who think in stories and wish in prayer. These are predominantly poor people and people of color.

I want a public life that's chaotic and fecund with spirituality. I'd like to see statues of the Goddess in our public parks (Venus Willendorf, not De Milo). I'd like to see the Upanishad engraved on the lintels of courthouses and the name of Allah sung from the rooftops of Pittsboro. I'd like to see Jews and Pentecostals bring their powerful words to the table. Buddhists, too.

It is time to stop protecting the state from God. There's a false objectivity to politics, anyway. As Dudley Young says: "Today the official view is still that the knowledge science seeks is of the dispassionate and not the carnal kind; and yet the evidence everywhere of Nature's violated body suggests that this is not altogether so."

I have an evangel to the progressive community. This is what I shout at Democracy South board retreats and whisper at the gatherings of radical environmentalists. They're the people I love. We're outgunned, outspent and outorganized. God is the only uncontrollable asset we have on our side.

And yes, it's OK to call her Nature, if you want.

Gary Phillips is a Chatham County Commissioner. He recently proposed praying before a board meeting. This piece is excerpted from a letter he wrote defending the proposal.


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