August 21, 2006

Queries: Crossing the Christian divide

This post is based on an entry in my journal from Eighth Month 2006, reflecting on my experiences of the summer.
Liberal Friends are caught between reclaiming (healthy) Christian roots on the one hand and being seen as excluding long-time non-Christian Friends on the other. We must collectively understand and corporately employ healing techniques and practices, such as reframing, compassionate communication, intentional or voluntary vulnerability, asking questions that demonstrate a move from judgment to curiosity, etc.

To say "You belong here" or "It is safe here" is not enough. Our actions toward one another will reveal our deeper and sometimes unconscious convictions.

There are several posts and related comments within the Quaker blogosphere that have me concerned over the way we are (or aren't) communicating with one another. Some examples are these:

Peter's self-disclosing post about his own struggle with Christian language;

Kwakersaur's post in response to Peter's; and

Zach's response to a post by James, and the comments that follow therein.

In some ways, I feel like a child who is overhearing her parents fight, night after night, and being told the next morning, "Oh, Mommy and Daddy are just having a disagreement." The loud voices and the recurrence of the fights are evidence of a genuine love that has gone missing, and all my child-self wants to do is yell out:
Stop fighting and just LOVE each other!!
Of course, authentic love doesn't mean ignoring or minimizing our own needs, but it does mean putting the relationship first, practicing loving disciplines (listening first and speaking later, being patient, being respectful, trusting the other's intention, etc.), and being willing to be changed by the encounter.

The answer

On a number of occasions during my summer travels, I have heard Friends ask themselves what is at the root of all the branches of Quakerism that binds us together; what is missing from our Meetings for Worship for Business; what has fallen away from some individual monthly meetings or even yearly meetings that has made Friends so uneasy with one another? And on those same occasions, sooner or later, a Friend will provide the answer:
L O V E .
Love.

Not "God" or "Jesus" or "more worship," but love.

I have been holding that answer in my heart as I have traveled. I have seen personalities clash; meetings for worship devolve into meetings for self-protection; and worship-sharing where any sense of safety unravels as a result of talking over each other.

At the same time, I have seen Friends respectfully call each other back to waiting worship; tenderly redirect Friends to consider their words and deeds; and openly shed tears with near-strangers when speaking about broken relationships.

I am becoming more and more convinced: Love is the answer.

Queries laid on my heart

To compare and contrast the variety of experiences I have had among yearly meetings this summer, from Northern to Southern Appalachian; from Iowa Conservative to Canadian, I find my heart filled with concern and with hope. Now that I have stood at the edge of the theological divide that threatens to split most especially Liberal Friends, I begin to hold a new set of questions that may shape my own participation in this thick night.

QUERIES:

Do we invite one another to share our concerns? How do we learn to invite concerns to come forward if our words of invitation are not enough to create safety?

Do we receive the concerns with genuine interest, or do we switch to defensiveness and rationalization? How do we learn to receive, to receive without retort, to receive and weigh what has been said?

Do we practice patience, hold tenderly, a thing that was shared with difficulty, rather than respond to it right away?

Do we give weight to what is shared? Do we listen for the Truth in that which makes us uncomfortable? Or do we speak out of our discomfort in order to ensure we will be remembered and our own individual interests will be protected?

How do we learn to hold difficult things tenderly, to listen for the Truth even when we ourselves feel uncomfortable by what has been said?

If we know that the concern that is raised does not "fit" with the practice of the body, how do we lovingly share this information with the Friend? How do we learn to share difficult information in a context and in a manner that expresses love and concern, that invites continued connection and mutual trust, rather than disconnection and dividing?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What I lift up here is not new.
Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people's opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.

- Britain Yearly Meeting, Advices & Queries, 1.02.17
We cannot cross the divide if we do not learn to listen to one another in love, learn to invite one another to listen with new ears, and learn to receive the challenges of one another as invitations to open ourselves to being transformed, to becoming more than who we are.

It is tempting to "circle the wagons" and keep close to those Friends who think like us and talk like us. But we cannot cross the divide--we cannot be bridges for one another--if we remain isolated from each other.

Blessings,
Liz

22 comments:

Kody Gabriel said...

Liz,
Thanks for this. It seems to me a faithful response. It spoke to my condition in two related ways: it felt like a true response to theological conflicts in the wider Quaker world (and blogosphere, particularly lately) and it resonated with the particular situation in my YM of wrestling with the FUM affiliation issue and how we frame that conversation among ourselves. I am trying to think how I might share some of this with Friends when we meet at annual sessions next year.
love,
kody

Liz Opp said...

Thanks for these words, Kody. I found this post to be much harder to write when I actually sat down to write it! And if it can help to stir the pot ever so gently, so items which have settled for too long are reintroduced to the mix, then I suppose that might be useful to someone somewhere down the line...

For the sake of being transparent, I'll mention that I didn't even have the "FUM affiliation issue" in mind when wrote this, but I can see how it might resonate with Friends who are holding that sticky wicket in the Light...

Blessings,
Liz

Peterson Toscano said...

And the greatest of these is Liz, um Love. :-)
Really you have a great soul and I appreciate how thoughtfully you focus on the essential matters. There is a divide and it requires work to address it, both internally and corporately, but HOW we go about the work will directly affect the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Dear Liz,
Here in the west of Oz we get to feel pretty isolated. I am finding your blogs (including links) extremely valuable, but really struggle to read white text on navy. I don't know if you have an e-mail list, but I would love to recieve your blogs by e-mail - davejjnn@yahoo.co.uk is an online address (just incase there are any Quaker spammers out there).
Thank you for the time, energy, faith and love you put into this ministry.
David

James Riemermann said...

David,

You may want to look into news feed reader software, which you can point to the following feed address for Liz's blog:

http://thegoodraisedup.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Lorcan said...

Hi Liz, this is very a very important post. I've heard fFriend speak of the value of returning to the schism, speaking of other members with open hatred, and as I try and get folks to seek simplicity, love is in fact the common thread. It is that which underlies being present to God in each other, love is the how, where presence to God is the why... I am afraid that our RSOF has been greatly shaken by these divisive times in which we live. I am rather sure that when one looks at the times of healing and split in our faith, it is not a random pattern. We seem to split when the nation is also divided. In the times of the original Hicksite\Orthodox split, the nation was so split by slavery, that many writers of the day saw civil war or slave uprising as an unavoidable conclusion, and this is also often seen as the first period of American fundamentalism ... before the pre World War One second period of American fundamentalism, and the times in which we live, some writers refer to as the third period of American fundamentalism. I am not concentrating on fundamentalism, myself as the problem, for there is the opposite, often unrecognized side of the dynamic, which is the anti- fundamental fundamental movement - mirror opposite responses to Christian fundamentalism, which has its own set of fundamentals. Though, I firmly endorse Friends examining their faith, the roots of that faith, I don't think the answer is to create an orthodoxy around any of the understandings which come out of that endeavor. None of us can claim to own the past of Quakerism, we live in the here and now of the Quaker faith, it is a river flowing forward, not a Merry-go-round!
But, love has a method which the bibles and Hicks often return to, it takes courage to love. Fear is the wall which keeps Friends from loving. We need to be able to support each other in finding the courage to love, and that is often a little difficult here. Friends often seem to be anti confrontational today. Loving confrontation is a major part of respecting each other, and love without respect is not love it is simply condescending.
Well, love, is a very simple direct answer ... getting there, I am afraid takes work, simplicity is sometimes a bit complicated to arrive at.
Thine dearly in the light, lor

Anonymous said...

Dear Liz,
Love has been the answer for me in so many ways. The extension of Love is forgiveness which I find more easily achieved from a loving foundation. It's such a joy to learn from your journey. Thank you.
Papa Nils

Liz Opp said...

Peterson - do not confuse the messenger with the message! smile Thanks for the comment.

David, west of Oz - For some reason, my initial comment regarding your concern never made it to this comment page: Hopefully by lightening the background, the blog will be easier on the eyes. I had gotten feedback earlier that reading white text on a dark background is actually easier on the eyes than reading black text on white background... but the contrast between text and background is what counts: not too drastic, but not too "close" to each other either.

James - Thanks for the "feed reader" suggestion. It takes a village to maintain a blog!

Lorcan - Thanks for your continued dialogue and comments. You write, in part, "None of us can claim to own the past of Quakerism, we live in the here and now of the Quaker faith, it is a river flowing forward, not a Merry-go-round!"

While we can't "own the past," I believe we can reclaim some of the traditions that have (nearly) fallen away. And if I read you right, you and I share the concern that in this renewal of Quakerism, we contemporary Friends must be careful not become rigid in our faith... which is different from being loving while also affirming the nature and form of our Quaker faith and practice.

Nils - Yes, I had thought of you and your ministry of Love while I was writing this. But of course it is easier to be loving to one whom you love and who loves you back, than it is to be loving towards someone who sees the world through a completely different lens. And it is easier to extend love and forgiveness during times of peace than during times of tremendous stress. All that said, thank you for your constant model of tenderness and care for so many people...

Blessings,
Liz

Lorcan -

Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Hello, dear Liz!

As the opening words of your posting indicate, you are looking at the situation from the perspective of "liberal Friends", who are trying (in my words now) to have their cake and eat it too.

The challenge from the standpoint of a Friend whose heart has been won over by the witness of the original Quakerism, is somewhat different. Love and gentleness, listening and patience are still necessary. But the obligation to love cannot overrule the obligation to insist on truth; the obligation to listen and be patient cannot overrule the obligation to speak up.

When the truths to which the original Friends bore witness are attacked, be it by outsiders or by people holding prominent positions within the Quaker community, one may not be permitted by the Spirit to remain silent; the God to whom the original Friends bore witness may require that one bear one's own witness in response. And if so, then one will have to do that, even if the people to whom one bears that witness, try to obfuscate the issue or argue it down.

The result, in such circumstances, of speaking up for truth, may look to you like "fighting". But if it is done out of obedience to the guidance of the God of love, rather than in one's own will, then it will never descend to antagonism, or to an end to the struggle to hear what the other is actually trying to say, let alone to actual blows. It will always be simply a matter of upholding the truth.

Finally, if one is not a liberal Friend, but a Friend keeping faith with Friends' original witness, then one is not obliged to trust the other's intention, as you advocate doing in your posting. One may be legitimately wary of the other's intention, and question whether the other's intention is indeed friendly to the witness of the original Quakerism. There is nothing wrong with this. It is not a rejection of the other person, but a recognition that people who need to be loved may nevertheless have harmful intentions.

Paul L said...

My first reaction was "Two cheers for Love" as the answer to the question, "What binds us together?"

First cheer: Any activity or relationship that is without Love is useless at best. See I Cor. 13. Love is therefore a necessary, if not sufficient, component of the answer.

Second cheer: Love can be a method as well as goal. To paraphrase, There is no way to Love, Love is the way. Not acting under the power of Love is part of what is missing from our meetings for worship and business and why we are uneasy with some of our Friends.

But I have to hold back my third cheer because saying that Love is the answer to these questions only begs and does not answer the real question which is: Where (or how, or from whom) can I find the inner wherewithal, the strength, the patience, the skill, the compassion, the perspective, the insight, etc. to love, especially my reprobate neighbor or my enemy?

This is the question I think we're all discussing.

Some think one can love one's neighbor or enemy by the exercise of ordinary human reason and willpower.

Others (a subspecies on the first group) believe you can love the unlovable only by forcing them to change -- by either benign social engineering or violence -- or, failing that, by segregating or eradicating them.

Still others believe love is the natural way of things and the way to love the unlovable is simply to become aware of the barriers to that natural instinct and they will disappear as sunlight dissolves the morning fog or the candle illuminates the dark room.

Others insist that those barriers can be recognized and overcome only with Divine Assistance which is, by definition, in some sense super-natural, acting outside of the ordinary laws of natural time and space.

And there are innumerable other approaches.

It may be that some or all of the above approaches are true and are merely different paths to the same goal. But it is also possible, and I think likely, that some of them are mutually incompatible.

Friends have long testified as to how they have found the ability to accept suffering for themselves rather than to inflict it on their neighbors or enemies in particular ways that are characteristic of their shared experience as a People.

Many people who call themselves Friends today testify that they have achieved the power to love the unlovable in ways that appear at first glance quite different from the traditional Quaker testimony, but which they insist are entirely within and compatible that testimony.

So at one level the question is whether a particular way of overcoming un-love (sin is the traditional and more elegant word for it) is authentically Quaker. To the extent that this discussion is among Friends, it is indeed important to presume the innocence and goodwill of those with different points of view for as long as one can.

But the deeper and more urgent question is whether a proposed way works, whether it produces the good fruit that confirms its veracity and vitality, and whether it is universally applicable to human beings regardless of tribe, tongue or nation. Here, it's still important to listen and speak in love, but this is ultimately a question about understanding the Truth, not necessarily each other.

Charles Rathmann said...

Nontheist Friends. Non-Christian Friends. How is this even possible? What twisted descending path to secularism landed us in this mess? That is the topic for another day.

Liz said we need to employ "healing techniques and practices, such as reframing, compassionate communication, intentional or voluntary vulnerability, asking questions that demonstrate a move from judgment to curiosity, etc."


The truth is the truth, and if we are to be the Publishers of Truth, we must posess the truth that is the Christ. How can we be Friends of Jesus if we do not believe? The practices Liz speaks of to me smack of New Agism -- and assume that man is the center of the universe and the root of the problem. "Meaningful encounters," "sharing sessions" and teh like will not heal breaches in the Society of Friends -- that can only be done by the Lord, and those who are not under the power of the Lord and in communion with Christ Jesus must open themselves up to the truth that we may be united in the truth.

The definition of a Quaker might be one who feels the immediate presence of the Lord so strongly that they might Quake in light of its power, hence the name. The idea of nontheist Quakers is an Oxymoron -- is it not? What is it that thee is quaking before, Friend?

In the Light of Christ,
~ Charles Rathmann
http://john4-14.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Reading these comments convinces me only more that there is a difference in perspective between the orthodox and the Hicksite that is not capable of being bridged into one faith. I am very, very tired of listening to how one cannot be a Friend if they do not follow the Gospels or Jesus . . . there are so many flaws in this argument it is hard to know where to begin.

Mark Wutka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Liz Opp said...

There is much here to chew on, so I will begin with the smallest of bites.

Marshall - I agree that "the obligation to love cannot overrule the obligation to insist on truth," and I also believe that the obligation to insist on truth cannot overrule the obligation to love--to answer that of God in everyone.

To put it in my own words, it is one thing to "do the right thing." It is another to "do the thing right." And it is altogether different still to "do the right thing right." I believe God asks us to strive for this third action.

I also am curious about material that points to how Friends who "keep faith with Friends' original witness, then [are not] obliged to trust [another's] intention." Can you email me some resources, or post them here or on your blog for reference? Maybe you and I interpret some writings of Friends differently, and no doubt you are much better versed among Quaker writings than I am--I have much to read about early Friends' history.

But maybe I am missing something that would be valuable for me to learn more of, about whether Friends are obliged to trust one another's intentions--which to me is a part of our opening ourselves to that of God in one another. Thanks in advance if you can share anything further, Marshall.

Lastly, I think you and I might have to agree to disagree on this point: I acknowledge that "people who need to be loved may nevertheless have harmful intentions"--but I would hope to answer that of God in them by assuming that theirs are unconscious intentions. In this way, and as a reflection of the tag to the title of this blog, I strive to be faithful "in the face of [my own] and others' humanness."

Paul - Hooray for 1 Cor. 13! I had included it originally in this post's draft but took it out to keep the post a manageable length.

And I love, love, LOVE the question you raise: "Where (or how, or from whom) can I find the inner wherewithal, the strength, the patience, the skill, the compassion, the perspective, the insight, etc. to love, especially my reprobate neighbor or my enemy?"

You see, I believe we cannot practice loving immensely difficult people until we have practiced--and mastered!--loving mildly annoying people. Similarly, we can't open our most nightmarish inner selves to God until we have learned how to open our somewhat frightening selves to God first... as a way to test the (living) waters, if you will.

So it is that few of us humans are able to "love our enemies"--we simply haven't had enough practice in loving our annoying community members successfully, yet. smile

I acknowlege you have other meaty comments in your remarks, Paul, and I'll need more time to be with them.

Blessings,
Liz

Liz Opp said...

Charles - I acknowledge the forthrightness with which you write, despite the fact that you and I have not met. And in a way, your comment is an example of that which "[has] me concerned over the way we are (or aren't) communicating with one another."

You and I haven't worshiped together (as far as I know, anyway) for us to come to know one another as we encounter the Living Presence together, so I don't know how to address your comment.

I cannot tell if you are open to a conversation about our mutual concern for the current condition of Liberal Quakerism, or if you simply wish to tell me that I've pushed your button (because you care so deeply about what is or isn't happening within Quakerism).

That said, yes, I can appreciate the truth in some of what you lift up for me, Charles: For example, there is a tension for Friends between

drawing on the secular <-->
using the language of the faith tradition.

If we only draw on the secular, we will become disconnected from our faith tradition. (You and I share this concern deeply.)

If we only draw on the language of our faith tradition, we may never help earnest seekers learn the ways of Friends. (You might be a bit "further" to one side of the spectrum on this than I am, Charles.)

As for the sentiment that the practices I reference in my post "assume that man is the center of the universe and the root of the problem," you're half right. I do assume that our human ego is the root of the problem, but you don't know my views about whether I place God or humankind at the center because we haven't known each other over time; you haven't asked me about my views (about this question; about nontheism among Friends; etc.) and I haven't asked you about yours.

Lastly:

What if I'm doing my very best to be faithful to how I understand I am being called, and I'm having help to do that?

I don't know, maybe you already considered that. But if not, does that possibility change how you read this blog and the reflections I offer? It certainly changes how I read your comment.

Blessings,
Liz

Marshall Massey said...

Hello again, Liz!

You start by saying, "I agree that 'the obligation to love cannot overrule the obligation to insist on truth,' and I also believe that the obligation to insist on truth cannot overrule the obligation to love--to answer that of God in everyone."

Yes, I share this two-sided concern. I did not stress the second half of it because, in your initial post, you stressed the obligation to love at great length, without giving similar stress to the obligation to uphold truth. I was hoping to supply some balance.

Traditionally, you know, "answering that of God in every one" is not the same thing as "loving". Loving is only one part of it. Being righteous is a second part of it, and walking humbly with God is a third part. (Cf. Micah 6:8.) If we neglect any part of this three-fold obligation, "that of God" in the other -- which is the Voice in the other that reproves when one does wrong, but approves when one does what is right -- "that of God" in the other will find itself insufficiently answered.

Or to put it more concretely: when I encounter those who want to lay down the original testimony and witness of our Society, because they cannot relate to Christianity, if I respond only with love and not also with the truths they need to consider, I pass the test of love but flunk the test of righteousness, and "that of God" not only in myself but also in the other will sense that I am wanting in my practice.

You also write, Liz: "I ... am curious about material that points to how Friends who 'keep faith with Friends' original witness, then [are not] obliged to trust [another's] intention.' Can you email me some resources, or post them here or on your blog for reference?"

Liz, I made that point out of my own experience, not out of historical study -- having many times in my own life trusted the intentions of others and then seen that misplaced trust lead to hurt.

However, if it is history you want, then I suggest you consider, e.g., how Friends responded to James Nayler once he began to drift from the path of wisdom, not trusting Nayler's intentions for the Society even though his intentions were good in his own eyes.

Or again, consider how Friends responded to George Keith when Keith set out to police the orthodoxy of the Society, again not simply trusting his intentions even though his intentions were good in his own eyes: this story is ably and movingly told in Arnold Lloyd's book Quaker Social History 1669-1738 (Longmans, Green and Co., 1950), pp. 136-140.

I could add other examples, but surely, these two should suffice.

Robin M. said...

Here is another take on a similar tangent to this post from the Velveteen Rabbi.

I think we also have to remember that we must wait to hear what God would have us say - our obligation is to speak what God has laid on our hearts, not simply to argue from our creaturely minds. And when we find ourselves repeating the same words, we should pause to reflect whether we are debating with the skills of human reason or laboring with that of God within.

The old saying goes "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
The same process is true with toddlers and potties and with human beings and God. Christ convinces, not us.

Liz Opp said...

Marshall - Thanks so much for following up! Rereading my original post, I can see now why you reinforced only one part of the reciprocal nature between the obligation to love and the obligation to insist on truth. Glad you took the time to lift that up for me.

Also, while I appreciate the reference to Nayler, I would say that Nayler's intentions and his ability to discern and test his leadings are two different things.

Maybe you and I are quibbling over semantics, but in light of Nayler, and based on some of my experience, I would say that we are obliged to test further that which underlies even our best intentions.

As for George Keith, I am not familiar with that figure (I'm not surprised), so I'll plan to look into that soon. I also appreciate the clarification that your earlier statement, about "one is not obliged to trust the other's intentions", arises out of your own experience.

It seems to me that each of us will need to make our own choices as to how much to trust the intentions of our fellow traveler and how we might hold one another's feet to the fire when we fear a f/Friend is drifting off course.

Robin - Oooh, great link to Velveteen Rabbi's post! It's perfect and it reminds me that the name of this blog is The Good Raised Up... which, as Rachel of the VR points out, is a discipline of sorts. As is "listen twice, speak once."

Good to hear from you again.

Blessings,
Liz

Marshall Massey said...

Liz, you wrote: "...I would say that Nayler's intentions and his ability to discern and test his leadings are two different things." This is undoubtedly so.

But at the same time, I am inclined to unite with Leo Damrosch's understanding of Nayler in his book The Sorrows of the Quaker Jesus: James Nayler and the Puritan Crackdown on the Free Spirit (Harvard University Press, 1996), in which Damrosch portrays what Nayler did, and the treatment Nayler courted, as having been quite deliberate -- intentional -- on his part:

"Nayler wrote in prison in 1653, 'The Cross is daily to be taken up, for the Cross is to the carnal, wild, heady, brutish nature in you, which lies above the Seed of God in you, and oppresseth the pure. Now giving this up to be crucified, makes way for that which is pure to arise.' What he did in Bristol three years later was to permit his followers to stage the passion of Christ, with himself as protagonist like an actor in a mystery play, enacting in a deliberately challenging form the daily taking up of the cross that was commonly invoked as a mere metaphor, but that needed to be internalized and lived as a potent sign. The tragic absurdity of the actual performance, the handful of bedraggled singers trudging knee-deep in mud, was actually essential to the enactment. To be despised and rejected, to be mocked by the world, was precisely to imitate Christ, as Nayler had said in the same work: a person who is born again in Christ 'is willing to be a fool to the world and Serpent's wisdom, content to suffer wrongs, buffetings, persecutions, slanders, reviling, mocking, without seeking revenge, but bears all the venom the Serpent can cast upon him with patience ... and is made perfect through suffering, and counts it joy, and rejoiceth in the Cross.'" -- Damrosch, op. cit., p. 172, quoting Nayler, A Discovery of the Wisdom which is from Beneath, and the Wisdom which is from Above (1653), pp. 68,77

"Then came I to see that I through the law must be redeemed from the law, and that my redemption from it must not be by making it void, but by fulfilling of it ... and the words of Christ I found true, "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it" [Matthew 5:17]" -- Nayler, What the Possession of Living Faith Is (n.d.)

Liz, you then write, "Maybe you and I are quibbling over semantics, but in light of Nayler, and based on some of my experience, I would say that we are obliged to test further that which underlies even our best intentions." Possibly I agree with you, but I'm not clear what you mean by "that which lies underneath ... intentions".

My own principle is: check the fruits! If the fruits that emerge from a person's speech and behavior are harmful, then there is a problem no matter what her/his intentions are. And in such a case, trusting the person's intentions will most likely just compound the problem.

Liz Opp said...

Marshall - Thanks for the Nayler references. It helps me consider more of the details of his actions.

As to understanding that which lies beneath our intentions, it's similar to discerning if we are being led to offer vocal ministry. We need to do some internal questioning: is it my ego, my search for strokes, that drives me? do I have a hidden agenda, a point of view I wish for others to embrace and hope to persuade them? is what I am about to offer from God or from my own ambitions?

Lastly, I am grateful for this reminder: "Check the fruits!"

Well yes, I agree: checking the fruits may be the ultimate testing of our leadings and intentions. And I would say both are needed, the testing of our leadings early on AND the checking of the fruits as we go.

Blessings,
Liz

Albion said...

I want so badly to reply to this thread, but I write from the local public library and it's just about time for them to say; 'Your time is up'.

I'll just say this today.

There are things here that I disagree with here, and other areas for hope for future communication between the various (warring?) factions of Quakerism.

I, like Charles, feel that knowing Messiah AS the Inner Light, is essential.

I like Liz, also feel that LOVE is >VERY< important.

I also feel that Love flows in two (or hundreds or thousands of....) directions.

No one likes to feel pounded upon, that is, emotionally, beat up.

There are MANY more things that I want to say here, but my time is very limited now, as I said.

I will try to return to the library tomorrow to further address these hard issues.

In Christ's Light, Albion

Albion said...

I think that this warring between the various factions of Friends will continue.

And I think that it will probably grow worse.

I'll tell you why.

Jesus (Yeshua) said; "I come not to bring peace, but a sword".

I feel (editorial here) that most "Friends" have lost what it was (Christ) that originally gave them strength.

Messiah (Christ) told us that he was "the good shepherd" that goes in search of only one lost sheep.

In the case of Friends, in my opinion, all but a few have lost what it was (their connection to the Inner Christ and his Father) THAT MADE THEM FRIENDS (in the first place).

Consider Waiting Worship.......We can Wait upon an experience, or we can Wait upon the One who established the Universe.

These are two distinctly DIFFERENT kinds of Waiting.

Even in the Silence of Worship, one can easily feel this.

Is this a group of people who know the Living One and have a Living and dynamic connection with him?

Or NOT?

One does not need a Master's in spiritual discernment to 'feel' this.

Liberal Friends for the most part, want NOTHING to do with Jesus (Yeshua), or those who follow him.

Yes, there ARE those who are going to abuse their position of being a follower of Messiah.

But in my opinion, these same people would abuse whatever faith tradition it was that they were/are involved with.

And Liberal Friends will continue to consider Christ Centered Friends a rather small and a not worthy minority.

Most Christ Centered Friends will avoid Liberal Friends Meetings because who wants to deliberately walk into a place where you are looked down upon for what you are, and because of Who you worship.

We are living in very dangerous times, both politically and spiritually.

It would surprise me greatly if we continue as a species for 50 more years if things continue as they are at present.

God understands all of this too.

I think that at present that Yeshua (Jesus) is searching for his own, and that this search is in the Society of Friends as well as in other places ("I have other sheep who are not of this flock").

Jesus (Yeshua) excells at rescue. It's his deal. Believe me.

So, I don't know if there's anything that we can really DO to avoid the tensions that we all feel in the Society these days.

I would like to think that Love can conquer all differences, but in my heart, I don't really feel that this is true.

One has to decide where to hang their hat, spiritually. And that's OK.

When you actually find a place where you really belong, all that you really wanna do, is to get back to that place as soon as possible.

That's my story with Barnesville, Ohio, and the Friends there.

But I must live here and deal with the sad fact that there are only a very few people here who believe as I do, and we are all hundreds of miles apart.

I don't know if there's any way to avoid all of this growing much worse within the Society of Friends.

All that I can offer is history.

Read all that you can about early Friends.

Read about George Fox and the other early Friends and see what they believed.

There is really nothing to keep YOU from believing exactly as they did, right NOW.

Is it a lonely path spiritually?

Yes. But it's growing, and there are many other's who are excited about very early Quakerism and who want to live in that way, besides YOU!

Well, I realize that I probably offered nothing here that smoothes this whole thing over,but maybe it doesn't need a smooth answer, but a heart felt one, and those always take time.

In Christ's Light, Albion