A Friend After 50 Years

A record of one journey into a peculiar type of Quaker Christianity, and a bit of silliness to boot.

Location: Arkansas

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mi Quakersmo - and a Request for Suggestions

My posts have been running more to the ridiculous than the sublime lately. Not that there's anything wrong with that. God told me to write each and every one of those things. (Or at least didn't stop me -- and he could have, right?)

But to every thing there is a season, and the worm turns (in this case) toward seriouser subjects. Suffice to say that I turn now to "my Quakerism" which, in inadequate shorthand, means not a Quakerism that I invent, nor one that I adopt from the opinions of others, but one that involves my relationship in/with/around the divine. From a practice standpoint, this means:

1. I'm back to reading the Bible again. My interest has been reinvigorated by our Friendly Bible study group. I'd urge Friends of all persuasions to try this. The process is truly a Friendly one, in which we can engage with the text without any demands to conform to a preordained interpretation. Each session is a wonderful "sermon" on the text coming from many different perspectives, which truly gives life to the letter. If you have problems with the text, well, that's one of the things you get to talk about.

1.a. I'm also reading daily, following a one-year "plan" which divides the week up into different genres such as history, prophecy, poetry, letters, etc. This provides variety and is a good way to keep from getting bored or bogged down, which I felt when I started with a chronological approach. I can't say exactly how or why, but I find spiritual nurture there, even when reading godawful horrible passages such as the one about the righteous washing their feet in the blood of the wicked. I tend to read without preconceived notions about what I will find. I am also finding that I can read in a "Quakerly" way -- taking time to quietly pause before reading in order to enter the spirit. Previously I felt a rush to hurry up and "devour" the text -- I felt so "far behind" and wanted to read as much as quickly as possible. I finally burned out on that which led to a hiatus. Taking it slow and easy is better. This isn't a race. (I'm teachable!)

2. Going to MfWorship twice a week. Once just ain't enough to overcome the roaring material world.

3. Taking time to pause for a few silents moments throughout the day whenever there is any anxiety, worry, etc. Or even just because.

4. Pondering how I/our meeting might make use of leading-calling-discerning processes with other Friends. There is little of this in our meeting, though not, in my opinion, because we are headstrong individualistic leeburls with no interest in such things -- or at least not solely that. Rather, I think, it is more that it is not an aspect of Quakerism with which we are familiar. Most of us did not grow up in a tradition where that was modelled. At a recent one-day retreat we had a brief presentation on the subject, so perhaps a sprig will grow from that seed. If any Friends have experience with nurturing such processes in similar circumstances, feel free to chime in.

En Paz

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Problem with Quakerism Today

No, I don't really have anything to say about that topic. Other than I'm tired of it at the moment. Not that it hasn't produced a lot of soul-searching, study, sifting, and so forth.

But I want comments! And using a subject heading like "The Problem with Quakerism Today" (PQT)is, I think, as provocative a title as I can think of. In Quaker blogworld, its as titillating as "naughty nurse webcam" would be elsewhere.

Sure, I know the title alone isn't sufficient to draw any comments. I need something trenchant, probing.... let's see....

The PQT is...is... ah, its late and I have to get up and go to work tomorrow. And, as I said, I'm not all that hep on this at the moment. Maybe Quakerism is exactly what its supposed to be. Has been where it needed to go at the time. And is going where it needs to go from here. Nah, that won't get those comments! I've got to think... need something better.... who's ox shall I gore? Tree huggers? Christians of Norwegian-Irish descent? Carnivores? Must think...but getting...so tired....

'What can I do?' - SiCKO