Local News
10:02 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Religion Grawemeyer Award Winner: Tanya Luhrmann on Demystifying Evangelical Prayer

Tanya Luhrmann
Credit University of Louisville

As some Christian churches shrink in size, the Evangelical movement continues to explode across America. Louisvillians need only look in their backyard to see megachurches such as Southeast Christian Church that became dominant institutions in the city.

Tanya Luhrmann, a psychological anthropologist from Stanford University, became fascinated with this religious movement. Specifically, she wanted to learn more about the Evangelical relationship with God. Luhrmann recounts hearing Evangelicals talk about "Having coffee with God" or "Taking a walk with God." What did this really mean?

Her latest book, “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God," delves deeply into the subject.

"I wrote the book in part as a bridge across what I think of as the ravine between believers and non-believers," she told me.

Luhrmann explored a type of prayer in which God becomes active and present in one's life. It's both rooted in ancient Christian traditions, while also a product of the 1960s—a time of radical religious transformation in the U.S.

"1965 rolled around and people were Hindus, and following Zen...and in some sense the American spiritual landscape cracked open," she says.

This, to a certain extent, allowed churches to evolve and incorporate the rituals and prayers we see today.