Huston Smith on Christianity and Judaism
Huston Smith is known for his research and interest in the religions of the world. He published a book, Religion’s of Man in 1958, which was later revised and renamed World’s Greatest Religions. This book was a summary of the adventures Huston Smith went on in his life as he traveled the world searching for new knowledge and understanding of the religions of the world. Huston Smith also made a collection of videos about various religions across the world, known as his “Wisdom of Faith” video series. I recently watched the Christianity and Judaism video from this collection and discovered many of Smith’s views on those religions. The video opened with Bill Moyers summarizing various beliefs Huston Smith had about religion. In this he stated that Huston Smith felt that all religions, and their “golden rules”, differ in ways that cannot be compared. Bill Moyers claimed that Huston Smith thrived to understand the claims of truth that other religions believed in, but at the same time he wanted to understand the truth claims of his religion and still believe in that to the fullest. Huston Smith wanted to achieve this level of understanding and at the same time never lose sight of his own religion, which was Christian-Methodist. Huston Smith claimed that life is all about learning how to pray and that the most important guideline of life is to pray with your heart because it is the most honest. Huston Smith explained that there are various types of prayer that can be used in many different situations, ranging from financial problems to life or death situations. He defined the Petitionary Prayer as a prayer said in a time of need, or during hard times. I related this as an example of the Prayer for Help that he mentioned later in his interview, that people made when they were in need of help from God. The next type of prayer he explained was Prayer of Praise, which was closely related to the Prayer of Dying. Huston Smith explained that during someone’s Prayer of Dying, which is the prayer people recite just before they die, does not contain a “please” or ask for anything, but is rather a “thank you” for their time spent here. This lead to the Prayer of Gratitude, or Prayer of Thanksgiving, where the person praying thanks God for all they had in their time in the material world and all that He gave them. He then explained that some praise is so personally overwhelming that it cannot be put into words, this type of prayer he called Prayer of Silence or Prayer of Union, and in my opinion this prayer is the most honest. I agree with Huston Smith in that prayer is one of the essential things in life, along with his statement that it is important to pray with your heart. I agree with this because in any relationship communication is a key elements, if not the most important element, especially communication that comes from the heart because it is true and it relays what the person is truly feeling and thinking. In a personal relationship with God, prayer is one of the only ways of communication, and in my opinion it is the most powerful because it is an actual conversation between you and God. I think a prayer to God must come from your heart because He will know if you really mean what you say, and it will be evident to Him what your intentions are. Next in the video, Huston Smith explained the importance of the prayers that Jesus himself went into the woods alone to deliver. Huston Smith explained that the world of Jesus, like the world of the profits, was filled with spirits. Huston Smith stated that in Jesus’ prayers he was “saturating himself in that reality of spirits and like a sponge that reality came to him” (Smith). That quote is basically saying that even Jesus had to open himself up to the spirits in order to get the knowledge that he needed to be able to do his works. Huston Smith said that even though Jesus would leave his people all night to pray and not get any sleep, he was...
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