February 24, 2007

What's on my nightstand

Since it seems like I'm too busy working on Gathering-related work, I haven't had a chance to consider writing anything substantive for The Good Raised Up. But there is plenty of good Quaker blog reading out there as it is.

Speaking of reading, here's what is currently on my nightstand--both what I've been reading and what I'm looking forward to reading.

Reading materials for Quakerism 101

Fellow Quaker blogger Paul L has been leading a group of about 30 Friends through 7 sessions of Quakerism 101. Since I have not had the opportunity to attend other Q101 groups that Paul has led in the past, I decided to participate in this one. Half of the reason is because of Paul himself and his earnestness to talk about, live into, and share with others the principles of Quakerism; the other half is because of the "non-traditional" reading list he created for this Q101, which includes:
Lloyd Lee Wilsons' Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order

Tom Gates' pamphlet Members One of Another

Michael Birkel's Silence and Witness

Thomas Hamm's The Quakers in America

Samuel Caldwell's essay The Inward Light: How Quakerism Unites Universalism and Christianity.
I'm sure I'm leaving off a handful of other things we read, in full or in part. It's been worth it just to have reading assignments each week from these great books and well known Friends.

UPDATE, Third Month 2007: Paul L has now written about his recent experience teaching Quakerism 101 (scroll down about halfway in his post).

Current reading

Over the past month, I have begun making my way through two things:
Marcus Borg's popular Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time
Daniel Seeger's 1991 pamphlet put out by Quaker Universalist Fellowship, called The Boundaries of Our Faith.
I wanted to read something by Marcus Borg because he is scheduled to be one of the evening plenary speakers this summer at FGC's 2007 Gathering. I figure this is as good a time as any to read something by the guy, and I feel as though I've come far enough in my own journey with Christian Friends that I might do okay dealing with a whole book about Jesus.

Daniel Seeger's pamphlet apparently grew out of some turbulent times in the late 1980s/early 1990s within New York Yearly Meeting in response to Friends' pursuit of practicing "Goddess spirituality," Paganism, etc. I'm hoping that his pamphlet can shed some light on recent and current concerns within the Religious Society of Friends about topics such as Quaker sweatlodges, nontheism among Friends, &c.

In addition to these Quaker writings, I want to spend some "quality time" with a brief statement that came out of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and its Ministry & Oversight Gathering held in 2006, about the threads that make up the fabric of Conservative Friends. It's got lots to chew on, given how short a piece it is, and the document can be downloaded as a pdf file if you're interested.

Looking ahead

Once I cross off Marcus Borg and Daniel Seeger, I hope to dig into a few shorter things:

One thing is something I just came across on the internet--I can't remember how I found it: A Brief Synopsis of the Principles and Testimonies of the Religious Society of Friends. But read the fine print: Adopted by the yearly meetings of New England, Canada, Ohio, Western, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina in 1912. Last weekend I happen to have met the Friend who posted this umpteen-page synopsis on the internet, and he is a Friend from North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), so I've got some incentive to take a look at this document.

Then there's my dear friend Michael Wajda who just had a pamphlet printed through Pendle Hill, Expectant Listening: Finding God's Thread of Guidance.

That pamphlet will be in addition to another pamphlet I discovered by Thomas Hamm, Opening the Quaker Time Capsule. Just in case I get bored or bogged down, I can always find another diversion.

(You can see why Quaker Books of FGC is always happy to hear from me.)



Anonymous said...

Your readers might want to know that the "Brief Synopsis of the Principles and Testimonies" to which you refer is a Conservative Friends document, somewhat comparable to the Gurneyites' Richmond Declaration. It doesn't speak for any of the other branches of Quakerism.

As far as I know, here in Iowa (Conservative), it was left behind in the general liberalizing process of the mid-twentieth century era. Certainly I've never heard any Iowa (Conservative) Friend quote it.

This doesn't mean that any element in the "Brief Synopsis" was actually rejected or repudiated, but rather that Iowa (Conservative) Friends opted for a less doctrinally rigid approach to Christian faith.

Liz Opp said...

Marshall -

I had gone back and forth about identifying the "Brief Synopsis..." as a Conservative Friends document, but I did not know what yearly meetings were considered Conservative in the early 1900s!

When I saw New England and other yearly meetings listed in addition to Iowa, North Carolina, and Ohio, I didn't feel confident to say as much and decided to allow the document to speak for itself, recognizing it is certainly not something I have seen or heard quoted anywhere...


Liz in the Mist said...

I am not sure about sharing a belief in something divine helps center, that isn't something I had thought about. My reaction was a sharing of community helps to center, but I am not certain.

I think age and similar stage in life is really the most important thing in stage of connectdness, you have that starting point of something in common, which means you may not have to find a common ground along the lines of beliefs about say, Jesus 1st. That's my personal truth, but may not be for others.

Sharing a yearning to go more deeply...I think it can do both if we allow it to be our only focus.

Liz Opp said...

Lovin' Life Liz -

I think your comment here was really intended to be in response to the comment I had left on your recent post on the Young Adult Friends gathering in Burlington, NJ.

Just so folks know.

Liz Opp

Robin M. said...

I want to add a book I think you'd like, if you haven't already read it. Daughters of the Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700-1775 by Rebecca Larson, Knopf 1999. I'm almost done with it and this time, I really am going to write a book review for my blog. But I think you'd find it very interesting!

Thanks for the recommendations to other pieces, I'll add them to my list...

Robin M. said...

Okay, and if you get ready for another book about Jesus, I'll recommend If Grace Is True by Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland. Chris got it out of our meeting library and I just picked it up and it's both an easy read and I like the theology.

Anonymous said...

Robin, I love If Grace is True and we have it on our bookshelf. I don't remember whether Liz has read it or not. The FGC Gathering Evening Sessions Committee, which I'm on, considered Phillip as a plenary speaker but did not get clear to ask him to speak.

Liz Opp said...

Robin -

I'll have to keep my eye out for Daughters of the Light. It's a title I'm familiar with.

And Jeanne is right: not only do we have If Grace Is True but I also have read it. ...I liked it immensely. (Thanks, sweetie!)


Anonymous said...

Hi Liz,

I'm currently reading Marcus Borg's 'Meeting Jesus For The First Time' book, and it's my first whole book about Jesus too! I'm finding it very accessible and inspiring. I would be really interested to hear your thoughts and feelings about it. I think Borg is so helpful in making the reader feel comfortable in approaching this subject matter on their own terms. I feel Borg's discussion of the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus to be particularly helpful. I find it really reassuring that there are many different, and equally legitimate, ways of engaging with the narratives of Jesus, and the Bible, and I'm finding it's opening up whole new layers to my Quakerism that I didn't think possible!

It's great that Borg will be speaking at FGC's 2007 Gathering. I think he is due to come over to the UK next year - and I'd love to go and see him.

Hey, thanks ever so much for stopping by my blog!

Take care and all the best,

Peace & Light


Liz Opp said...

Hi, Simon--

I got off-track a bit with my reading, so your comment comes at a good time and prompted me to get back to that stack of books and pamphlets by my bedside!

Like you, I like Borg's distinction between the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus. Similarly, I like the distinction he makes between a social paradigm of purity and a social paradigm of compassion. This helps me make sense out of not only fundamentalist Christians but Orthodox Jews!

I also am glad for Borg's reminders of Jesus' Judaism, though I personally wish that Borg would use Jesus' Hebrew name (sometimes known as Yeshua) to affirm the religion of his birth and continue to hold him in the religious context of his days....

I still have about half of the book left to read, fyi.

I'm looking forward to Borg's plenary address this summer, though I wonder if he will be as "accessible" when delivering an address as he is when writing a book.


Anonymous said...

Hi again Liz!

I've recently been dipping back into 'Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time', because I've just returned from a Quaker gathering and had a fascinating discussion with Rex Ambler (he's written quite a few Quaker books - you might have heard of him), and we spoke about Marcus Borg. I agree with you completely about emphasising Jesus' Jewishness, and such a perspective has helped me to realise what a radical teacher Jesus was. I also agree with your point about using Jesus' Jewish name - Yeshua. I can't help but think of the many amazing blog posts that I've read by Lorcan Otway from 'Plain in the City', and how his perspective and use of the name Yeshua has helped and encouraged me so much to try and see the Bible narratives and the figure of Yeshua without all the preconceptions and loaded cultural baggage that appear to have accumulated over the last 2000 years! I feel Quakerism gently calls me to strip away and empty myself of all of this - through a process of 'unlearning' so that I can begin to approach the Christian story afresh. There are a series of ecumenical talks that are being held for Lent where I live, on the theme of the Pslams. For the first time I'm beginning to read the psalms, and I'm starting to appreciate them for what they are - effectively the oral folk songs of the Jewish tradition. I wrote a short post about the first lent talk, and I was amazed that somebody left a wonderful comment that spoke to my condition in so many ways. I thought you might like to read it here

It's great to be able to share our thoughts through blogging. Take care Liz, and all the best.

Yours in Friendship,


Liz Opp said...

Simon -

Thanks for dropping me another note, and especially for the link to the comment about Psalms that a reader of yours left on Under the Green Hill. The way that fFriend wrote about her/his experience with the Psalms reminds me much of the language of Hafiz used in his poetry...