Like prayer books from many other religious backgrounds and traditions, The Non-Prophet Book of Common Prayer offers words of strength and encouragement for those who might need them. Yet one thing the nontheistic prayer book recently published by Paseo Arts District’s Literati Press does not do is invoke religion or the name of God.
“When pressures mount and your strength seems to fail, may a single moment of hope and peace surprise you, granting you reprieve from the present,” reads “Blessing for the Last Straw,” one of 30 secular blessings within the collection. “May the knowledge that countless people now and in the past have also found themselves at their very end help you feel less alone. Many others have been here before, and will be here again, and will survive. So will you.”
The new book written by Marion Rasner and edited by Literati Press shop manager Kristen Grace launches with a release party and art show 6 p.m. Friday at The Paseo Plunge, 3010 Paseo St. A percentage of the book’s sales proceeds go to Mental Health Association Oklahoma.
Non-Prophet is hand-bound and comes illustrated by several local and national artists including Grace, Natasha Alterici, Jerry Bennett, Clint Stone, Arlene Hulva, Jörn Lofferty, Harold Neal, David Woods, Jennifer Woods, Morgan Ward, Aaron Courter and Holly Hall. The artists will have full-size versions of the book’s illustrations on display and for sale during Friday’s release party.
Grace has long known Rasner, who wrote Non-Prophet under a pen name, as a close friend. Grace said she has experienced depression associated with her Bipolar II disorder. Rasner, who lives outside Oklahoma, knew this and would occasionally check in on Grace via email, sometimes sending what he called “atheist blessings” — words of hope that did not mention a god or religion because Rasner is an atheist.
Though Grace grew up in the Christian church, she appreciated the secular encouragements.
“I noticed that they didn’t make me feel further away from God,” she said. “They made me feel better.”
The nontheistic prayers became very precious to Grace, who saved each of them in a personal file. She asked Rasner if she could share his writings with other people she knew were hurting. Eventually, the two agreed to publish some of the prayers in book form.
“On the whole, they kind of focus on human suffering,” Grace said. “In this really beautiful way, we have that in common with one another. Over time, we all tend to heal, and there’s some beautiful things about empathy in almost all of them.”
Grace said Non-Prophet is an ideal book for someone who is in emotional distress or knows someone who is hurting and does not necessarily want to invoke God or religion. She wants the prayer book to be a tool for healing.
“The best thing you can do for someone is just to be present with them,” she said. “That’s the best thing, but even in those moments, you feel like you need to say something.”
Though written by an atheist, Non-Prophet is not a book exclusively for the nonreligious. Grace said the idea is to offer hope free from religious principles that are not universal to everyone.
“The idea of this book is not at all to criticize God or to criticize Christianity in any way,” she said. “It’s just to say this is apart from that.”
The Non-Prophet Book of Common Prayer release and art show
6 p.m. Friday
The Paseo Plunge
3010 Paseo St.
Print headline: Hope for the hurt, Literati Press launches The Non-Prophet Book of Common Prayer with a book release and art show.