Sunday, June 24, 2007

Friends in the Next 100 Years

To answer my own query... (is one allowed to do that?)

I feel like what we're called to do is listen to God together. I wrote somewhere on my own blog when I was talking about George Fox's Journal that it seems like a lot of times Friends got together and sat in silence until they heard what they were supposed to do, then they went out and did it. Silence wasn't an end in itself or a nice difference from normal, busy life. It was a way to listen together that preceded action.

So I think we should listen together and figure out what we're called to, which I think would include being "the voice of liberal inclusive Christianity," as Forrest suggests, but that doesn't just mean talking to people about Jesus. That means as we hear what Jesus calls us to, we do it--including things that might get us into trouble, as they did the early Friends.

I think we're too comfortable with being liked as Friends, with having a history that others revere, so we don't want to do anything now that might ruin our reputation.

Some ideas:
  • war tax resistance (in an organized fashion)
  • doing good research so we can boycott companies who produce their goods unjustly, and buy from good companies (and being willing to go without if there are no good companies that produce certain things)
  • alternative transportation (biking, walking, not using any form of transportation that leads to ecological problems or conflicts over resources)
  • fighting racism/classism in America (because that's where I'm from) and egocentrism on the part of America
  • proactively working for peace rather than just protesting wars and violence after it's begun
So how can we start working on these things? Which ones are we most drawn to as a community? What small steps can we take to start working on them? What things in the 21st century will show that we're Quakers like wearing gray in the 18th and 19th centuries, because we're standing for what we believe without compromise?


Anonymous said...

love one another

cherice said...

True...but in what ways?

forrest said...

Above all to listen, as you say...

People are also going to "figure out" things because we're the kind of monkeys God made this way; we can't help trying to "figure out"! By implication, that's the sort of monkeys we're intended to be, and we should certainly go on playing with what God gave us, as God intended!


Sitting in a worship-sharing group the other day, I heard people bringing up social/political problems that (rightly!) concern us--But they kept talking about "figuring out" how to fix them! This isn't playing with our heads, as God intended--This is taking them seriously as guides to action, and that's precisely how the sort of trouble we've been talking about started!

Friends are supposed to come together and sit in silence to receive whatever teaching or guidance God finds appropriate... but not necessarily for some stirring call to action! Yes, things are in a mess that we can hardly bear to let alone!--and so the very first action we need to take is to "Be still, and know that I am God."

Alan Lew in _Be Still and Get Going_ includes the story of Moses and Israel on their way out of Egypt, when Pharoahs' army comes charging over the horizon. "Be still" is the first thing God tells them to do. "Get going" is also important, but that comes afterwards.

[Your "voice of liberal inclusive Christianity" bit comes from Richard M, by the way, although I agree that that's important, being the only way I can understand Christianity (if I do!)]

My _Faith & Practice_ speaks of leading lives "so centered in God that all things take their rightful place." That's the job description (and isn't that a bitch?)! Certain things follow from it--but not as some sort of 'Quaker Code of Conduct.' "What others give as duties I give as living impulses," as Walt Whitman put it.

How to "hear" the voice of God? Do we only listen when it's about "an important decision"? If so, we aren't likely to remember to listen then, either.

"It doesn't matter what you decide." What happens, what you do, depend more on who you are and the light in which you see the situation.

The way I'm starting to see this, is that it helps to ask for help & guidance in small matters. Not because God wouldn't otherwise guide and help us--or that we'd be better off compulsively dithering over every move; things work this way to help us maintain our relationship to God, which is the most significant thing.

Bill Samuel said...

If you want liberal inclusive Christianity, go to the United Church of Christ. They've got that base pretty well covered. It's not a hole waiting for one group of Quakers to fill it.

Nate said...

There are some words that carry far more freight than they should have to. "Liberal" is one of them. Consider for a moment your first reaction to "Conservative." Bill and many others have had bad experiences with people who are labelled "liberal," but who have acted illiberally. Perhaps "Loving" would be a better term to use, as it certainly distinguishes from SOME forms of "Christendom." The point remains that we need to recognize that the Light may be reflected from many places, or mirrors, and that we need to recognize what value there IS in such reflections without denigrating what we believe to be the most complete and consistent reflection in the life and ministry of Jesus. We also need to be sensitive to the hurt of people who have had scripture, or authority thrust upon them unwillingly, and have reacted to that force. When we maintain that kind of openness and listen as has been said, the future will work out: I have NO doubt that the Spirit will lead in new and dangerous ways.