Monday, May 08, 2006

just a start...

"If you will here stop and ask yourself why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but because you never thoroughly intended it."

--William Law

Well, that sums it up. Perhaps some of the struggles of "Quakerism" in the 21st Century--which in some places are apparent to the naked eye and in others hidden below a shiny surface of complacency--are rooted in the lack of intention, intention to actually live in the Spirit or to walk with Christ.

The struggles are on the surface in North Pacific Yearly Meeting. The Yearly Meeting, itself, has embarked upon a process of "vision and structure," trying to get its bearings. At least one Quarterly Meeting is foundering as Friends labor to get it moving, again. While Friends continue to grow in the Light (as we Beanites would say in our State of the Society Epistles) there are problems of organization: of Gospel Order and of the Good Order of Friends. Attendance and participation is not what it could be, given the number of members and attenders. Committee positions are difficult to fill. There is a resort to expedients--secular forms of governance- when problems arise. Those entrusted with responsibilities sometimes struggle without supportive and encouraging intervention from elders who see what is happening but fear being seen as meddling or who just don't know that they should or how to help.

When Friends talk about these problems it always comes back to the fact that "We are all such busy people." We have so much to do that it is very difficult to get away for a week for Annual Session, it's hard to get away for a weekend to go to Quarterly Meeting, it's hard to find a night or two a month to spend doing committee work.

Some Friends frame the question: "How can we invent a Quakerism that fits with life in the 21st Century?"

I am among those who frame the question: "How can we invent a life in the 21st Century that fits with 'Qauakerism'?"

I have a great deal more to say about this. I'll be posting it here, as time allows. ;=]

1 comment:

earthfreak said...


This is so IT (at least for right now) for me.

It seems that we often seem to be asking, "how do we make this easy?" when the whole point is that it isn't easy. (or at least perhaps, that you don't make running a marathon easier by reducing its length, you make it easier by training)

I suppose it's not so much about priorities, but about what values are so "core" that they're simply not on the table for negotiation. what will we give up for the sake of expedience, and what won't we?

I, for example, find myself much out of the mainstream because of my stance on animal rights. Both because I see my "pets" as similar to children (not in terms of being human, but in terms of having taken on a serious commitment - you dont' give your children away when you want to move to an apartment that doesn't allow children, for example) but also in terms of my stance on animal experiments. Arguments like "people will die" don't hold weight with me - any more than the fact that someone out there has probably already died due to my decision not to give my second kidney to a stranger who needs it. I don't eat meat, and will simply go hungry or eat a lot of bread if attending a function where only meat dishes are served. This commitment hasnt' been tested by a life threatening situation, and I'm not sure what I'd do (much like my pacifism) but as my life is now, it's not negotiable.

But okay, I'm on a bit of a tangent (sort of) - I have been thinking about this. According to my core values, using a car could easily be "off the table", but it's not. So would using anything made in a sweatshop, and perhaps anything made by people I don't know. But right now, they're not

These issues for me are central to spirituality, because for me spirituality and right action are inextricable.

But, in terms of more directly "quakery" stuff, what you say about resorting to secular decision making when it gets just too complicated or drawn out,

But is it about filling committees and having enough members and attenders? I wonder if we became truly led as a society if we would have more members, or fewer. Being a quaker is no cheap thrill. It could be, perhaps, an expensive thrill (in terms of giving up worldly things, and ego, and etc) that only calls a few.