Wednesday, May 10, 2006

a little more...


Time is the essence of the problem as it is analyzed among Beanite Friends who think about the problems of Gospel Order in the 21st Century. If we have abolished the laity, and with it the reliance upon alienated spiritual labor to hold the corporate body together (because it cannot), then we have to do it ourselves.

We like that, in the implication that there is no one, at least no human one, telling us what is what and when. We like being responsible for ourselves because that allows us to be irresponsible when it comes to holding on to the selves that we love--to the detriment of clearing away the clutter to make room for the Self that Christ/The Spirit/The Light is trying to grow us into. But we don't like the result of this irresponsibility toward the spiritual labor, although we often don't know that the result we don't like is the outcome of not doing the work. Many times we don't know that there is work to be done.

So we build a life of Flesh and Self--or, rather, when we patch together such a life from the buffet of options, even "religious" or "spiritual" options, that our culture presents to us (see televisions commercials and People magazine--or the New Yorker, for that matter). We can call that a spiritual practice and no one can call us on it. After all, isn't the essence of being a Quaker that you get to invent your own religion and everyone has to tolerate it?

This kind of thinking results from not spending enough time with the Spirit/spirt and with the corporate body of which we are members to build the relationship that is the foundation of "Quakerism," and not spending the time to build the kind of understanding of the "Quaker Process" to know how to use its spiritual technology or even that there is one. This is why "Quakerism" is so attractive to those who "practice" some anarcho-libertarian ideologies. Part of this ignorance comes from the lack of teaching and part of it comes from a lack of a desire to be taught. Perhaps those are actually the same thing. One's self does not want or need to be taught. After all. One's self is one's self--the center of the universe.

Because we read only half of the message of the Balby Letter, the half that seems to tell us we can do whatever we want to do, and draw the conclusion that what has gone before is prelude to us and, as prelude, the parts that don't fit with our self-notions about things in general, or our self-notion of how to deal with a certain situation, can be discarded without serious consideration, without enough consideration to even understand them.

Here we are, back to time. Always time. Like it was our time.

Maintaining our self don't leave us enough time to build the relationships necessary to make Quakerism work and the self doesn't leave enough time or have any inclination to learn what Quakerism has been, over the centuries. We know (or rather, accept) enough about that to maintain the self, to reassure and comfort it. Stripped down to fit the reading time of the 21st Century that's what is making us crazy about "vision and structure." Too many of us not only don't know how to paint, we don't even know there is such a thing as a paint store. And, frankly, we don't take too kindly to others, who do know one or two things about latex and rollers, telling us about it. We like--or are reconciled to--the way the wall currently looks.

We are good people. And we are serious and sincere people, mostly. At least we want to be a serious and sincere people. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that we want to want to be a serious and sincere people. It is a tribute to the greatness of God, or that piece of God in us that wants to be in control so it can develop, that we continue to grow, spiritually, individually and as a corportate body, albeit it haltingly, at times, despite the barriers that are thrust upon us--despite the barriers we have adopted, despite the limitations that we place upon ourselves to preserve the "reality" of self to which we cling, that we believe we need to preserve, given where we are, at this time and in this place.

But we can be a better people, better than our self. And we don't have to figure out, on our own, how to do that. Well, yes we do. I should say that we don't have to invent ways to be better people. There is One who can show us, and there are the ones who have been shown and who have left plenty of guidance from which we can benefit.

If we intend to be better, (rather than wanting to intend to be better) then we will find/be shown how to get there.

Takes time, though, to be shown, takes time to do the looking that precedes the finding.

Sigh. Time, again.

How will I ever get this dog walked if I spend all my time being a Quaker?

No comments: