Saturday, June 9, 2007


[Commenting on my development of Cherice's queries, RichardM suggested we stick largely to "brief & focused posts" (while mine was all over the map, as I tend to be.) I'd like to have him posting for himself here, but since he hasn't asked yet, I'm giving his brief & focused point its own space for the discussion I think it deserves.]:

"So--with that as prelude--here's a point. What is the mission of the SoF to the world in the next 100 years? We are to be the voice of liberal inclusive Christianity that will show the world how to talk WITH not PREACH AT people of other faith traditions. We will not lapse into silly pointless relativism. We will have our own clear perspective on truth but we will show how you can do that and GENUINELY hear the real insights into truth that come from other faith traditions."


forrest said...

I see a whole mess of potential conversations right here! [which makes me wonder, how to best organize this blog, to be less focused on whatever post happens to be most recent?]

We have an ongoing struggle to discern "What is Christianity?" and "Can Christianity be 'inclusive'?"--many Christians insisting that it cannot be, a position we two consider mistaken but one we'll need to deal with somehow.

We live in a culture that is implicitly hostile to deep conversation about religious matters. We (I, certainly) need to learn ways to initiate such conversation--without resorting to the sort of 'pick-up' lines we hear (& resent) from people trying to "save" us.

The "Truth" we inherited from traditional Christianity and early Friends included some questionable theological features. Our interpretation of "The Fall," for example, though we found the story in Hebrew scriptures, is profoundly disjointed from the Jewish tradition of regularly thanking God that "The soul You return to me each morning is pure!" In separating from Judaism, as in eating the apple, we learned something & we lost something. Our Truth, then (which we must conform to actual Truth as we come to understand that better) is still in a process of development.

We know that atheism is not a Quaker doctrine, but we're still striving to coexist with people who don't--and struggling to tread delicately past the ancient notion that atheism is not just mistaken, but somehow blameworthy. We're having, in other words, to reach a clear distinction between "including" someone as our friend and fellow human, vs falsely affirming him to be at least acquainted with God. (A hard call, that!)

I agree that this is a worthwhile goal--but a difficult one, which we're going to be pursuing in a world increasingly under crisis. That crisis, too, will have to be our concern. Anyway, thank you! And let's please take this further!

RichardM said...

I'll pick up and elaborate one thread from this. Are some aspects of traditional Christian theology--like the doctrine of the Fall--questionable? Yes, question everything. And when we question everything we will find that some of the stuff we have saved from the past is like the moldy stuff you find in the back of your refrigerator! Some Friends take a pretty conservative view of continuing revelation which allows it to add but never subtract from previous understandings of the divine. I take a more radical view. Continuing revelation will include rejecting some beliefs that our honored ancestors believed.

Specifically one of these beliefs which I have touched on in my blog is the belief that God is to be worshipped by killing animals. I say that continuing revelation showed us that God was not pleased by bloody rituals. The doctrine of the Atonement is an understanding of our relationship to God that is stained with this bloody confusion about what God is like. We need to honor tradition but we also need the courage to genuinely progress in our understanding of Spirit.

forrest said...

Yes, the contradictions within the Jewish and Christian scriptures only make sense to me as showing that God--unchanging as He may be--finds different messages appropriate to different people in different times, places & situations. We know we change (& probably not enough)

"The Atonement." Rather than thinking of this as appeasing a bloodthirsty God--How about a fearsomely powerful God offering himself as a sacrifice to terrified mortals, as a sign that He doesn't intend force and violence against us?