Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thanks to all who commented on my previous post re "Convergence" as that term is coming to be used among some in the Quaker Movement.

They helped me understand where those who commented are coming from, although I am not sure that it describes what many of the people at the interest group, at the Gathering, seemed to have in mind. It seemed to me that the "convergence" was toward something in common and that it was such that was being celebrated. But we all take out of things much of what we bring in and I do bring with me when I come as I am not a Seeker. I am a Quaker.

The interest group at the the Gathering gave me the impression that those who were there were people of like mind who had felt they were repressed in their meetings because of their Christianity and that they were glad they were finding one another in convergent Quakerism (or as convergent Quakers in fellowship with other convergent Quakers, if you will).

That may not be what those who organized the interest group had in mind, and it may not be what they saw happening, from the chairs in which they sat. But I recall Martin saying that he is always interested in hearing what others say who shared an experience with him. So say I.

I very much agree with one of the comments about it being helpful for people to understand what part of our "culture" we get from Quakerism and what we get from elsewhere. I do think that's another way of saying knowing what parts of what we own are truly essential to our Quakerism. I would probably prefer to say that we in the Quaker Movement should understand (or at least be aware of!!!) what parts of our "Quakerism" come from the "sum or substance" (as Penington called it) of classic Quakerism and what parts we have imported (or were imported into it before we came along).

I also think that it's an exciting idea that Friends who occupy niches in the Quaker Movement that are a compromise or composite between (or even among) different spiritual traditions might explore classic Quakerism (I use that term as Lloyd Lee Wilson does) and sort out the pieces. My view is that Liberal Friends and Evangelical Friends--(broad brush, glittering generality, everyone to the shelters!!!)--are both swimming in cross currents of spiritual practice (I leave out Conservative Friends because I have not spent time among them). Some have mixed Calvinism and the spirituality of the Great Awakening(s) that have swept through the American Quaker Movement (as well as American Christianity, in general) over the years--with so called "Christian Radio" as the soundtrack. Others have blended such practices as Buddhism or Native American spirituality or paganism (is that National Public Radio I hear, playing in the background?). Friends can rest in these and I won't argue but I will entreat them to at least be aware of what has been added and, in the adding, what what been taken away.

On the other hand, Isaac Penington once wrote that he would rather cry to the Lord for the deliverance of others than he would to explain to them the nature of the traps and snares that hold them. The one exception to that, he wrote, was that he wanted people to understand how their desire to know things intellectually, and to grow rich, as he put it, in such knowledge, was among the greatest of such snares and traps.

I had an opening a few days ago morning on a dock on Rangely Lake in Maine. I had just finished my run and was in individual waiting worship. It was the second day in a row I had done this at the same time. On both days the sun was up just a little over the mountains. The day before, the water was a little choppy and the reflection of the sun was diffuse, "pieces" of the light scattered from wave to wave, no clear image, and it was easy to look at. The next day, however, all was calm and the sun appeared so faithfully in the water that it was as impossible to look at that reflection as it was to look at the actuality it reflected. It was opened to me that I am--we are all--that water. When we are still we accurately reflect the image of the Spirit that created and leads, teaches and changes us--and others. When the winds of the flesh and the world blow over us, through us, roilling us up, then we do not reflect anything faithfully and we do not present any difficulty to anyone.

3 comments:

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

Hi, Timothy! --

I'd like to remind us all of some other things that people carry into Quakerism and mix with it, sometimes to Quakerism's advantage, but at other times to its detriment:

-- Scientific and pseudo-scientific assumptions and prejudices.

-- Political (Republican, Democratic, libertarian &c.) and other secular convictions, values and loyalties.

-- Business and professional values and practices.

These things are perhaps not as pertinent to the discussion of the "convergent Friends" movement as the matters you mentioned in your post. But when they operate to the detriment of our Quakerism, they are certainly capable of doing harm in our communities.

Russell said...

My first experience with Quakers was as a child at Swain's Camps on Rangeley Lake. We became friends with some Quakers from Suffolk County, Long Island. Of course, this was long before my wife and I became convinced Friends.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this blog with surprise. What do you as Quakers have against Evangelical Christians?