Friday, March 02, 2007

Universal Language of Friends

Been away for a while, putting together a presentation on "Universalism in the Religious Society of Friends" for a "Quakerism 101" series. One of the fruits of doing the research for this was the development of an idea I've been working with for a while now; that we have a Quaker language but there are many different meanings associated with the familiar words and phrases. These different meanings sometimes get us thinking that we understand what one another is saying when, in fact, we are talking about two different things. I created a list...

The Universal Language of Friends -- and the diversity of its meaning

The Light

-The means by which we find understanding
-That which convinces and perfects


-That which we have become
-That which we believe
-core values


-People with whom our lives are intertwined
-People with whom we share certain interests


-That which is to be obeyed
-That which we have figured out

That of God in everyone

-That which is God
-That which belongs to God
-That which knows God

Continuing revelation

-A constant restatement of the same Truth over time
-A constant unfolding of new meaning


-Passing time until something happens
-Maintaining awareness for cues


-all theology and doctrine
-Informed opinion (information and belief as opposed to personal,
experiential knowledge)


-Affirmation of a statement of belief
-A formula for salvation/an incantation
-Shared methodology


-One who seeking something new
-One seeking to restore primitive Christianity
-One who seeks perpetually


-Persuaded that Quakerism is the path
-Accept/surrender to the working of the Spirit on one’s personality

If anyone wants to make some suggestions for further meanings to these, or has suggestions about other terms that could be included feel free to let me know.


RichardM said...

I think the notion of a notion is more negative than this. A notion (in my sense) is a word people use without having any clear meaning attached to it. Like when people say "of one substance with the Father..." or "the bread was transsubstantiated into the body of Christ" they are saying words that they think mean something but do not.

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

That's an excellent list, Timothy! -- and a fine teaching tool. I hope you'll keep us informed of what you do with it.

I'd like to see you add, under "Truth", the meaning of "faithfulness" -- as, an arrow that flies true is an arrow that is faithful to the course the archer gives it; a true friend is a faithful friend. "Faithfulness" is the first meaning given for "truth" in the Oxford English Dictionary, and was a meaning quite current in George Fox's day; it seems to me that the first Friends used "truth" in the sense of "faithfulness" a great deal.

Similarly, under "Convincement" I'd like to add the first Friends' understanding, that the word is a synonym for "conviction", as in being convicted by a judge.

Rex Barger said...

Language is a very uncertain necessity. Understanding the reality we have to cope with daily is essential for our survival, but the only way we have to tell whether or not we understand it is by our continuing to maintain our health. When we get sick or damaged (or die) we can be fairly sure that there was something we didn't fully understand.
Being human beings we are bound to make mistakes in perception, in understanding, in memory, in choice of words that (we hope) will comunicate our understandings accurately, but we can't really tell if they have until our auditors have acted on their understanding of our words. Every understanding must be confirmed by further experience! [I call this the human predicament!] So we have devised language in a problematical effort to try to get our understandings confirmed by others' experience.
Since realty always has the last word, we better follow Paul's advice to the Thesselonians: "put all things to the test & hold fast [but not too fast!] that which" seems to work!

Liz Opp said...


A simple list but very chewy! I'll need to return here to see how others respond...

Here's another word for your list:

-That which is asserted and wielded by individuals, groups, or institutions to maintain order
-That which requires humble obedience in order to align oneself with a larger Order

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Tatiana said...

I'd also like to suggest a 3rd definition for the Light:

The living Christ within.

Olinda said...

Well said.