I recently interviewed cultural anthropologist and New York Times columnist Tanya Luhrmann about prayer and religious experience. After the interview, I asked her for some recommendations of books on prayer that are not "how-tos." What are some books that can help me understand prayer more conceptually and experientially?
Journalist Eliza Griswold has been to Afghanistan (and Pakistan) numerous times since 9/11, where she discovered landays, a centuries-old form of poetry usually composed anonymously by illiterate Pashtun women, passed along and adapted from one generation to the next. In Pashto these two-line poems have nine syllables in the first line and 13 in the second.
Rahila Muska, a teenage girl, lived in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold. Muska was known for regularly calling into a radio program on which women share landays, a traditional Pashtun form of poetry. Like most women who do this, Muska shared other people’s poems, not her own—to acknowledge authorship would have endangered her life.