Saturday, October 13, 2012

For My Quaker Readers

Hello Friends,

As Liberal Quakers, we say we value a multiplicity of voices and opinions. We strive to ensure that no one's voice is left out of the greater discussion. Because we would not like to be excluded ourselves, we try to be justly tolerant of other religious traditions. We're often the first to champion and promote interfaith outreach efforts.

But do we focus as much on our own theology as we do strive to assist those who are persecuted? It's perfectly understandable to hoist aloft someone else's religious beliefs, for the sake of inclusion, but we can be exceptionally lukewarm in articulating our own.

Does this radically inclusive approach really work for us? To me, sometimes it seems to be counter-intuitive. As a Religious Society of Friends, are we often inclined to find fault with some perceived Friendly lacking more than we are in pursuit of a unifying common ground. In vocal ministry and dialogue, I encounter Friends who adamantly state, time and time again, what they are not, not what they are.

These personal views are often defensive in nature. To this I say, must we be instantly put on the defensive when it comes time to elucidate what we believe? That doesn't seem to be a very fair deal, never having control of the conversation.

How can we show ourselves as member of a Religious Society without worrying about how we might be perceived by others? Why let our skepticism and cynicism of organized religion lead us away from the Spirit? I myself wonder why we worry so much about being defined wrongly, without first energetically and enthusiastically showing who we really are.

Some people will always wrongly characterize others, usually for their own ends. That is a basic aspect of human nature and I wish we'd accept that we will never truly be able to be seen completely on our own terms.

Our conception of Spiritual purity and idealism may need to be modified. We know who we are not, but who are we, Friends?

As it has been noted many times before,

You will say, 'Christ saith this, and the apostles say this;' but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?"

This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again, and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, "We are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves."

In the Light,


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