Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Surprise Difficulty at Meeting for Business

Last Sunday (July 9) was our monthly meeting for business at 15th Street. There were many many decisions to be made and this was mostly done in a very careful but open-hearted way with much mutual listening and common listening to the Spirit. Given that we met for five to six hours on a very hot uncomfortable day, I would say that it went remarkably well.

One matter that might have been expected to be easy for us, however, ended up detaining us much longer than we'd have liked - - and it is possible that the position I took was part of the reason.

We were asked by our Peace Committee to approve a letter to Representatives and Senators calling on the United States to release the names of all persons it is holding in custody, publish the charges against them (if any), allow them access to lawyers, and basically treat them as human beings. What was exciting about this was that it was not just to be a letter, it was to be carried by small groups of Friends to the offices of these Senators and Representatives in order to make a direct and personal appeal.

As far as I know, every single Friend in the room warmly approved of all these goals. You'd think that such a proposal would sail right through and we could get on with other matters (like whether the meeting should accept a large anonymous gift of stock in an unknown company).

Two Friends, however, (yes - I was one of them) expressed uneasiness about one sentence in the letter: something to the effect that this concern arose for us because of our deep spiritual belief, as Friends, that there is That of God in every person. I have a feeling that our uneasiness was not well-understood (and probably not well-communicated at least by me). Various ways around the difficulty were proposed by a number of Friends: from omitting the sentence altogether to rewording it in various ways which would be more acceptable to the other objector and me. But none of these proposals meeting general acceptance, the Meeting finally adopted the original minute. I did not ask to be minuted as standing aside or in opposition, since I thought that the action taken itself was more important than its specific language, but I remain disappointed that the Meeting did not find some way to more fully harmonize the truth as I saw it with the truth as seen by some other Friends.

This use of the phrase "That of God in everyone" has become very common among modern Friends in liberal meetings like mine. It probably dates from Rufus Jones' attempts to restate Quaker beliefs in modern terms in the early 20th century. Almost every commitment and testimony that Quakers affirm is said to flow from our belief that there is That of God in every one. Why are we against capital punishment? Because there is That of God in every one? Why are we in favor of equal rights for women, for gays, for racial and ethnic minorities? Because there is that of God in everyone. Why do we not have ordained and paid ministers in unprogrammed meetings? Because there is That of God in everyone. Etc. etc. I don't know whether this is felt to be the reason that Faith and Practice urges "Care should be taken that all of our members avoid participation in lotteries, gambling, and betting, including such schemes of chance that appeal as benevolences..." but probably someone could make the connection.

My problem with this is pretty simple: My reason for opposing war, oppression, capital punsihment, prisoner abuse (and gambling) is indeed religiously or spiritually grounded; but it is not that there is That of God in everyone. Nor, as far as I can tell, was that ever the reason given by any of our Quaker forbears before Friend Rufus Jones. (There may be examples in the Hicksite branch during the 19th century, but I don't know of them; I'm fairly sure that Elias Hicks himslf never said any such thing). George Fox did not give this as a reason that he couldn't accept a commission in the New Model Army. The famous declaration of Friends to King Charles II in 1660 made no mention of That of God in every one. John Woolman didn't mention it in any of his pleas for the poor, the oppressed, and the enslaved. Margaret Fell didn't mention it in "Women's Speaking Justified". . Thomas Lurting, the "Fighting Sailor turned Peaceable Christian" didn't give it as a reason for not fighting pirates. Even Lucretia Mott, no conservative she, did not use it as an argument for women's suffrage.

That of God in every one, after all, is the Light. (I will not open another front of debate by insisting right here and now that it is the Light of Christ Jesus). To be sure, it is the Light in me that tells me, if I haven't got the message any other way, that I shouldn't kill or maim or destroy or degrade or oppress other people. But not because there is also Light in them; on the contrary, I am not to do these things to fellow human-beings because they are flesh and blood and can be hurt and damaged and God's love for their flesh-and-blood selves is a model for me of the love and respect that I, too, should have for all. As far as That of God in them goes, I know I can't harm it. It is eternal, comes from God, existed before any human being did, and will persist when all of us are gone from the physical world. The last thing I should worry about, should I harm some person's physical body, is what will happen to That of God.

Of course, lots of Friends like to use this language about that of God, because they think it is what Quaker tradition has always taught. As I pointed out above, this is not true. Lewis Benson's ought-to-be-famous article "That of God In Every Man: What Did George Fox Mean By It?", published in 1970, ought to have settled that question for good. As Lewis pointed out, Fox used the phrase very very rarely and always in the context of exhorting Friends to testify and (for want of a better word) to evangelize. Fox called on Friends to "speak to" or "preach to" or "answer" That of God in every one (or every man; he used both expressions) and said that that of God in people would witness to them inwardly, convict them of their sins, and show them how to overcome. He clearly believed that "that of God" really was in every one; that it was placed in each of us by God to bring us to Himself, but he never once made the simple declarative statement "There is that of God in Every One", and certainly didn't make it fundamental to the Quaker message.

Why does this phrase continue to be so abused? I think it's because it lends itself so easily to a "translation" that goes down more easily in our secular age. When we say to the average person "there is that of God in every one" we are understood to be simply saying that every person is precious. Most non-Quakers will agree with this, though they might not go so far as to say that no person should be killed. Let me say that I, too, think every person is precious. I, too, will agree with most Friends that I would never be justified in killing anyone. But the clearest way for me to say that every person is precious is to say "Every preson is precious". The phrase that there is that of God in everyone I will reserve (if I choose to use it at all) as a way of talking about the wonder and challenge that await anyone and every one who will turn within and wait on it.

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57 Comments:

Blogger Contemplative Scholar said...

In my own view, the appeal to "that of God within everyone" is not to express a fear that "that of God" can be hurt, damaged, or destroyed. I agree with you that we don't have to worry about this. Instead, the reason for invoking "that of God within everyone" is to explain the "preciousness" of everyone.

While many people can just accept the preciousness and don't need it explained, others do. There are those who really do think that some people are evil and deserve suffering or death. They would scoff at the claim that everyone is precious, seeing it as naive and sentimental. Saying instead that "there is that of God in everyone" can actually evoke a sense of power instead of fragility, and this does sometimes does get people's attention. And it provides a theologically richer set of concepts to argue against those who believe in "evil" people (since belief in evil in this strong sense is itself a religious notion).

6:02 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Contemplative Scholar said...

And I meant to add: Thank you for such an interesting and thought-provoking posting! It is great that your Meeting is willing to engage these important questions at such a level!

6:05 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

That we did not express unity in the minute drafted by the meeting of a Quaker Martyr was a matter of deep shame for me, and for the reasons thee states, I cannot say I am at all in unity. There are times to adress this, and to leave the note so that those who killed our brother Tom may believe that we harbor less than a forgiveness which Yeshua asks of us, for what ever reason, that the government of the United States might read into our lack of unity, anything less than faith in the face of such great sorrow, is a deep sorrow in my heart.
Dear Friend, I am not angry at thee, or less loving of thee or our other dear Friend. I am deeply disapointed for the message we send to the fFriends and family of Tom Fox, and all others whose lives have been brightened by him, even those who killed him in such blindness and separation from love.
Thine dearly Richard,
lor

6:10 PM, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous Zach said...

Bravo – this is a pet peeve of mine too.

Now we just need to figure out what IS the spiritual basis of our testimony against war, inequalities, etc... (out of the frying pan and into the fire?)

Zach.

7:07 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Friends Friends Friends... I pray that you (pl.) consider the nature of sin, separartion from each other, separation from God... THAT ancient Hebrew understanding that Yeshua taught is the very root of that of God in everyone. When we are drawn into the sin of hating those who hate us, we fail to understand what Aquinas did, that evil is a void and to oppose evil with anything but love, to heal rather than make more great the void... oh, I am just to sick and tired to say anymore, but you've broken my heart.

10:21 PM, July 15, 2006  
Blogger Martin Kelley said...

Hi Rich,
Thanks for the interesting post. At an Advancement & Outreach session at the FGC Gathering we did one of those exercises where a statement is made and everyone stands along a line dependent on whether they agree or disagree with it. I stood far off the line when "that of God" came up and I did so because I think it's become one of those catch phrases we use when we want to dodge the question of what we belive.

From what I can tell Rufus Jones was trying to slip some 20th Century modern liberal progressivism into Quaker theology by claiming that this was a core belief of George Fox. As you point out, Fox never used the phrase we use it today. All this isn't to say there isn't something to the phrase but it misrepresents the relationship of the divine to the individual. Lewis Benson's pamphlet is really well argued and should be much more widely read (it's available from the New Foundation Fellowship here).

Like other misappropriated modern Quaker slogans (the Balby postscript comes to mind) its ubiquity is really a sign of just how ignorant we are of our own history.

Now whether it was right order to address the issue for that item of the business meeting session is something none of us online folks are qualified to answer. But I could see a situation where it could be critically important to remind a peace committee of the roots of our peace testimony before issuing a testimony to the world.

12:56 PM, July 16, 2006  
Anonymous Cynthia large said...

Rich,

Thank you for this post. Lorcan, I am sorry it's made you so sad. It seems to me that there are two discussions at work here, just as there were two discussions at the Business Meeting. Of course all Friends must unite in love and support of Tom's home meeting and the minute they sent. I was glad it was approved for that reason. I, too, feel uneasy with the phrase "that of God in everyone" as it is so often used, but didn't feel led to speak about it at that time, except to offer some alternative wording that I thought might be acceptable to Friends who had expressed concerns. After all, we are being asked to meet with our Representatives, and we'd all like to feel certain of the words we are carrying to them. I understood why the troubled Friends were troubled. That's the other discussion, and I hope it can be discussed without any implied lessening of love for Tom's meeting.

The word "of" also means "from" and sometimes I wonder if that's what George Fox was getting at; that there is that thing, that principle, that is in each of us, that is FROM God, and guides us back TO God. I don't know. It could also be that the principle is that of God in the other sense, that it is eternal, and one with God, like the Word that was with God, and was God and is God. What troubles me about the phrase as it is used is that it seems to lead Friends to somehow believe that there is a Godlike quality in other human beings. In this life, at least, I believe that there is a clear distinction between the Creator and the Created. What is God remains God, even when it dwells within me. It isn't a part of me, and in fact it can make things possible for me that would be impossible if it wasn't there to lift me out of my own power and will.

This might sound like a strange comparison, but I think of it as being something like a pacemaker. Certainly not an organic part of the human creature, but contained within, charged with regulating the heart.

The difference between saying "Quakers believe that there is that of God in everyone" and saying "Quakers believe that we should answer that of God in everyone" seems so slight. I could use either phrase and know very well what I meant. But there is a difference in emphasis that is clearly very important to some Friends. I hope we can listen to each other in this.

Cynthia

4:41 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

I am so humbled and touched to read these responses. And Cynthia, your distinctions help so very much...

I concur that there is a difference between "There is that of God in every one" and "We are to answer that of God in every one."

All this gives me pause, Rich. I feel myself coming under the weight of your concern, and I think you and I and others shall wait to see if Way opens for your concern to be lifted up before the meeting.

In any regard, it seems as if you were faithful.

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

4:55 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Well Martin, as to thy expression that this phrase "misrepresents the relationship of the divine to the individual". Time will tell us wiether thee or Rufus is remembered as a major Quaker thologian, frankly, I find the observation of Houghten, that a good expression of science and faith is the ability to say, I don't know. I assume that there is that of God in everyone, is at the heart of our roots in Jewish thought, as latter expressed by Yeshua. The remarkable moment which was Jeudism, is the idea that our God did not make us and their God made them, but a God beyond idols made all of us. And further, in that moment of zim-zum, God breathing the world into being, we are both the created and the creator.
But, though I am rather sure that I was not made by One God and thee another, I will also say, all in all, I am open to new light.
Thine in the light
lorcan

9:50 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Rex said...

Please, let's not forget that the words we use are only references to our understanding of the reality we are trying to communicate. When we use the word "God" (even with a capital letter!), we should try to remember that it can never communicate our exact understanding of the reality behind that word even if we use other words to try to explain our experiential understanding of the reality behind that word.
I've made some efforts to do that on my website [www.hwcn.org/~aq680], but in this context I would say (instead of 'that of God in everyone'): everyone of us is created with similar limitations in our ability to understand & cope with our common Reality. Our understanding grows whenever it is confirmed by further experience (whether our own or that of another). But we must remember that the gap is always wide between 'words' & our experiential understanding of Reality. It can never be perfect, but we have to do the best we can within our unavoidable limitations. Luckily we often experience an inner 'jolt' when our understanding of Reality gets closer & closer to the mark. That's what I refer to as the 'Light!' [This is already too long; if you want to talk more, write me: rex.barger@hwcn.org

11:26 AM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I'd like to respond to many of these comments one at a time, beginning with Contemplative Scholar's comment.

Contemplative scholar gives a good statement of what I take to be many Friends' position: that it is "that of God" in a person that makes the person precious, or at least that this phrase is a good way to "explain" why a person is precious.

All I can say is that this concept doesn't work for me. Take that most famously "hard case" for pacifists: Adolfph Hitler. He was, through his actions and his influence on others, a man who became responsible for millions of murders, tortures, and other crimes. Were there to be any "excuse" for these things I suppose it would have to lie in whatever experiences or natural deformities so damaged him that he became a vessel for hatred and malice. If we believe, as I do, that there was also that of God in him then this tends to amplify rather than mitigate his guilt. He is ultimately without any excuse because the Light was in Him despite any experiences he may have had, and the Light showed him what was evil and what was good but he chose to reject it.

Despite this deeply disgusting picture, Jesus calls us to love and seek the good of even a man like Hitler rather than answer hate with hate: not because he had that of God in him, but because he was a human creature and because he could suffer. That of God in us also reminds me that we - though not like Hitler exactly - are not so completely different from him as we would like to suppose. We, too, harden ourselves all too often against the witness of God within us. We therefore pray for the grace to love Hitler (or pick your favorite villain), because we are grateful that God loves us.

11:35 AM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I am grateful for Martin Kelley's comment, especially since we seem - as I think is usually the case - to be so much in agreement.

I would be a tad less harsh on Rufus Jones, however, in that I doubt he was trying to pull a fast one by "claiming" that his own religious views were those of George Fox. While I have not studied Jones extensively, I believe that he honestly researched the writings of early Friends, made a synthesis of what he thought they were saying, and attempted to communicate it in fresh language to the people of his time. Every "rediscovery" and "restatement" of an old truth, however, is also in some degree (however unconsciously) a reinvention. What Jones saw in Fox tells us as much or more about Jones as it does about Fox himself. The further we get from Jones' time the more obvious this is. In its day, Jones' rethinking did a lot of good. 19th century Quakerism had become a rather stale and fragmented thing by the time the century ended. 20th century Friends got a good fresh start largely because of Jones' work.

Now it is the 21st century. Quakerism's rediscovery/reinvention of itself continues. We need in this new day to look again at Fox and Fell and Penn and Nayler and Penington and what they have to tell us. In doing so, we may once again reveal more about ourselves than about them, but to avoid as much distortion as we can we should begin by reading the originals, so to speak. Otherwise, all we can produce is the copy of a copy. As we all know from using xerox machines, this tends over time to result in fuzziness not clarity.

Martin also points out that it may or may not have been in good order to raise a theological issue in the context of the business-meeting decision we were facing at 15th Street. Actually, in one sense I was probably not in good order. It surely would have been better to raise this issue with the Peace Committee before the minute even came to business meeting. I even knew that the minute was coming, but it was only in business meeting, after another Friend first spoke to it, that I really took in that sentence about "that of God". Still, in one sense, it was the text of the Peace Committee's letter, not my response to it, that "raised the issue".

I wouldn't say that it is "critically important" to remind the 15th Street Peace Committee of the roots of our peace testimony. I think the Friends on that committee are at least as deeply grounded and spiritually committed as I am. In this case, they presented some language for Friends' approval that I would have preferred to amend somewhat before I assented to it.

12:17 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I have secretly wished for a long long time that Cynthia Large would someday post a comment on my blog. I think Cynthia is largely unknown among Friends outside of 15th Street (though not necessarily unknown in the art world; see her website). Within 15th Street many of us have come to deeply respect her steadiness, depth of discernment, and dedication. We look forward to her marriage in the Meetinghouse next fall.

Comparing that of God in us to a pacemaker does seem helpful to me, however odd. (And who am I, who recently compared The Spirit's leadings to FDR's fireside chats, to complain of odd metaphors).

12:27 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Paul L said...

I, too, really like the Lewis Benson pamphlet on what George Fox meant by "that of God" in every person and keep trying to get others to read it.

The point that I remember best is that Fox (according to Benson) used the phrase "that of God in every man" almost never in his doctrinal writings, but only in his pastoral writings.

That is, the concept is meaningful in the context of providing pastoral or spiritual care to others; you "answer" that of God -- the authentic inner Teacher -- in others rather than their creaturly ego selves in order to call the person's attention to the Teacher in the hope that it will be heeded.

In that light, I wonder whether the meeting's letter was addressed to that of God in the representatives, or whether it read more as a self-righteous or moralistic scold as so many Quaker writings seem to be these days.

12:39 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Liz's comment, too, is very very welcome. I'm glad if the post I presented found some resonance in her.

I detect, though, that I seem to have given the impression that I am under the weight of a concern to do something (other than write what I have written) about this matter. At present, I feel no leading to raise the matter in business meeting again. I would not have raised it at all, except that the phrase occurred in a statement/letter we were asked to endorse. I was frankly surprised that the meeting could not find language I'd be more comfortable with. I think if the agenda had been shorter, the temperature lower, or the humidity less unbearable we might have done it.

From my perspective, it has been clear for at least 36 years (when Lewis Benson wrote his article) that the modern use of this phrase does not reflect early Friends' beliefs. I am always suprised that so few others have heard the "news". No doubt that's because it does reflect many present-day Friends' beliefs. Even if Friends today come to realize that for 200 plus years Quakers had a different understanding, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will come to embrace that different understanding.

Going forward, I hope that we will all do a better job of encouraging Quaker historical literacy in our meetings' Quakerism 101 classes, First Day schools, and outreach literature, but clarification of this one item would just be a tiny piece of that overall project.

12:46 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I see that I messed up the link to Cynthia Large's website in one of my comments on this post. The actual address is http://www.cynthialarge.com

12:51 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Will T said...

I also have problems with "that of God in everyone" being the catch-all justification for Quaker testimonies and even as a summation of Quaker belief. My issue is that it is equally true that there is much that is not of God in everyone. What is important is not that there is "that of God" or the Seed or the Light but what it does. It leads us to see our faults and to bring us out of them.

Saying that there is that of God in everyone is like saying that there is a liver in everyone. What is important is not that we have a liver but that the liver filters out all sorts of toxins from our blood so we don't die. What is important about that of God is not that it exists but what it does to our lives. And if we push it down, or crucify it as some early Friends phrased it, it served not to our healing but for our condemnation.

And on that cheery note, :^)

Peace,
Will

10:25 PM, July 17, 2006  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

To clarify my own comment, Rich, since you refer to it:

I feel myself coming under the weight of your concern, and I think you and I and others shall wait to see if Way opens for your concern to be lifted up before the meeting.

Perhaps it was not a "concern" at the time you spoke at MfW for Business, but I will say that you used the phrase "...this concern arose for us because of our deep spiritual belief...", and the length you go to in this post to explain yourself, well... what comes to mind for me is that you spoke out of having a "concern."

Even if in hindsight you don't feel that you did.

That said, it may not be that you yourself are "under the weight" of the concern itself. There may be no more required of you about this topic for now.

Still, I am wary of times when a meeting takes extra time to rework some language in an effort to get around a sticking point. That extra time, in my own discerning judgment, often (but not always) points to "There is something more going on here that needs more air time and consideration."

And hey, once we say something at MfW for Business--especially out of a sense of leading--it is said that it then belongs to the meeting. That doesn't mean that Friends will "pick it up" and do anything specific with it, but it doesn't mean they'll ignore it entirely either.

Hope my clarification helps.

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

12:35 AM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Contemplative Scholar said...

This is a really important discussion, and thank you, Rich, for responding to each of us. I'm not sure I'm fully grasping what you regard as a disagreement between us. So, let me try to explain my own views a bit more, and you can see if I'm understanding your point correctly.

I do not think that because even Hitler had that of God within him, that justifies everything he did. Many people do not at all live true to that of God within themselves. Many people let themselves be pushed by other forces in their lives, including not only the pressures of others or of society, but also their own fears, lack of understanding, or prejudices.

But I still believe that everyone has the capacity for good. And that is at least part of what it means to say that everyone has that of God within them. To live "answering to that of God within everyone" is to try to appeal to others' capacity for goodness and bring it more fully into being.

And I think that this capacity for goodness is the major reason for the preciousness of everyone. It is not just that people can suffer, and that suffering is not fun, that we ought to be respectful and nonviolent towards each other. After all, not all suffering is fatal: there is the suffering of growing pains, for example; or the suffering of compassion. And even though some suffering is fatal, each of us will eventually die. Avoidance of suffering and death is not the main point -- something else is obviously going on.

And so who we each are, at our best, is something more than our fragility: it is something positive rather than negative. The belief in that of God within everyone is a strong and powerful claim. Answering to that of God in everyone is to challenge people to come out into their best and fullest and most creative, unique selves, despite their fears and their fragility. It can be terrifying. In fact, one of George Fox's ways of putting it in one of his epistles is "and be a terror and a dread, answering to that of God in everyone."

Also, another reason I think that our capacity for suffering alone is not enough to justify pacifism is that it doesn't address one of the major counter-claims of those who disagree with pacifism. They are not moved by this argument because again they think it is okay to make bad people suffer (and in some cases even die). They believe in some redemptive power of punishment.

As a pacifist, I disagree. I think that the willful infliction of pain upon another is never redemptive. But what makes it wrong to deliberately inflict pain is not just that it causes suffering; what makes it wrong is also the way that it is an attempt to forcibly control another's behavior, which is sin of pride coupled with the denial that (a) they might have been trying to do the right thing all along, or (b) they can be persuaded to choose good -- in short, a denial that there is that of God within them.

Maybe what I am trying to say comes down to this: while I am compassionate because I realize that everyone is fragile and mortal, I am a pacifist because I respect the amazing goodness and uniqueness and holiness inherent of each person, and I am committed to trying to draw out the best of everyone I meet. Our relationships are not just to protect each other (which implies regarding each other as essentially weak), but ideally to help each other live from that special kind of strength that is rooted in the seed of goodness in our souls.

9:10 AM, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

I have greatly appreciated both the initial message by Rich, and the conversation that followed.

To my way of thinking, there are several problems here. Let me enumerate them:

1) As Cynthia points out, the Beanite ("liberal Quaker") reading encourages an assumption that there is a part of each person that is in some sense divine. That is not traditional Quakerism, and it is not biblical Christianity. It is good Hinduism, and acceptable liberalism, but Hinduism and liberalism are not the same things as traditional Quakerism or biblical Christianity. This is the fundamental problem, I think, this confusion of one position with another.

2) The actual position of George Fox & his associates, that this "that-of-God" is a Voice in the heart and conscience that calls us to reconsider our actions and to change, is a position that crowds the person convinced of it into a spot where she or he eventually must change, must overcome selfish and hurtful behaviors in her/himself as she or he becomes aware of them, in order to have peace with that Voice. This is a very confronting theology, and it is possibly nine-tenths of the reason why early Quakerism was such an enormously effective force in transforming its own converts and reforming the world around it. Substituting the liberal (Beanite) position that this "that of God" is simply a divine part of every person, period, tends to legitimize the person just as she/he is instead of challenging her/him to change. It is thus an abandonment of a powerful (and, I would add, a holy) tool for personal transformation.

3) Nearly all the liberal Quakers (Beanites) I have talked with about this, misrepresent their reading of "that of God" as being valid traditional Quakerism ("Fox himself said it") and valid Christianity. Of course, doing this deliberately would not be playing fair with people who genuinely want to understand what the Christianity of Christ and Paul, and the Quakerism of Fox and the Valiant Sixty and Penn and Woolman, was and is about. And to be fair, most of the liberal (Beanite) Friends I've talked with, don't misrepresent it this way deliberately; they do it without much thinking about it. But I've met many liberal Friends who are totally unapologetic about doing so, even after having it pointed out to them that it was not the Quakerism of Fox &c., because they want to promote the position that a part of every person is divine. As I see it, this boils down to playing a game of bait-and-switch with the seeker.

9:58 AM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I'm going to skip a few of the other comments I still hope to respond to, and clarify one point in the discussion between Liz and me about whether this topic is a "concern" for me.

I would say it is a long-standing concern of mine to be as clear as I can be in testifying to the central reality of the Light Within and how it works in us. A corollary of that is that I avoid using either "Light within" or "That of God" in contexts that imply it is somehow part of a person and is the source of that person's value or "preciousness".

Other Friends use these phrases in ways I would not, and I think they use them in good will. At any rate, I feel no leading to scold Friends every time this happens. (Not - I hasten to add - that I think Liz was implying I should).

At business meeting, we were asked to endorse a letter which used the phrase. I was uncomfortable about doing so and raised a question. Ultimately the Meeting approved the minute without change, but I did feel that Friends made an effort to understand the position I (and another Friend) took.

I participate in many "religious education" efforts of our Meeting, especially our local version of Quakerism 101, and I expect there to continue presenting the full-blooded early Friends' version of the doctrine of the Light. Perhaps that is the only further follow-up action that is needed.

Just to clarify one further point: Liz says "but I will say that you used the phrase '...this concern arose for us because of our deep spiritual belief...'." It was probably not clear in my original post that in this sentence I was paraphrasing the letter from the Peace Committee that was presented for approval to the business meeting. The "concern" it refers to is the concern about secret imprisonment and prisoner abuse. I, too, am very much under that concern; but unlike the Peace Committee members and the Meeting in general, I don't feel that this concern grows out of a deep spiritual belief that there is that of God in everyone.

The other Friend who shared my position asked to be recorded in opposition when the minute was approved. I did not. I felt clear in having said what I had to say, and recognized that the sense of the meeting in general was accurately discerned by the clerk.

10:41 AM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Rich, I feel the need to inject a little levity...

I don't know whether this is felt to be the reason that Faith and Practice urges "Care should be taken that all of our members avoid participation in lotteries, gambling, and betting, including such schemes of chance that appeal as benevolences..." but probably someone could make the connection.

There is that of God in us all, and "God does not play dice".

12:03 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I've been postponing my response to one of Lorcan's comments. In substance, he says that the concept of "That of God in everyone" as he interprets it has roots in Judaism, in the teaching of Yeshua (aka Jesus), and particularly in the recognition that we are all created by the same One God.

I honor Lorcan's fidelity to this perspective, even though I don't quite see how the premises and the conclusions are connected.

I was a little disturbed, though, by the tone of Lor's rejoinder to Martin, seemingly implying that Martin lacks standing to question Rufus Jones. "Time will tell us wiether thee or Rufus is remembered as a major Quaker thologian." I don't think Martin or any of us are aiming to be remembered as great theologians. However great he may have been, I am sure Rufus Jones made mistakes. Martin, like me, was simply disagreeing with something Rufus Jones said.

- - Rich

12:19 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

Rich-

I have to say, coming from a perspective more like Lor's, I read Martin's comments to be more than a disagreement, like an accustation that Jones was somehow lying in order to propagate his own vision.

But also, being famous and going down in history doesn't mean you're "right" - I myself would question that (and do, obviously, it's why I'm not a christian!)

peace
Pam

12:28 PM, July 18, 2006  
Anonymous Alice M. said...

Dear all

Thanks so much for your writing.

The way I understand our Christian pacifism is influenced by Walter Wink.

The basis as I see it is that to rely on violence is idolatrous. If we are able to put our trust in the One Holy & Transforming Power, instead of in weapons, God is able to work through us. If we instead reserve to ourselves the right to use violence, we are setting up violence as the backup for God. I think I'm meant instead to put myself into the healthy relationship of dependence on God's grace flowing through, not my power or ability.

12:48 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:32 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Rex said...

It's so nice to see a continuing dialogue amongst fFriends! I'm sad (but not mad) that no one has picked up on my concerns about the words we use to talk about our word-free understandings. What I really enjoy is much evidence of our desire to communicate about matters that matter!
I am not a pacifist because I reject violence as a means of resolving differences; I am a pacifist because I believe that in order to understand reality more fully, I need access to everyone's unique perspective! If I intentionally kill someone who disagrees with me, I will never be able to access that person's unique perspective & thereby lose a wonderful opportunity to get a fuller understanding of our common reality! But, because I have a 'responsibility to protect', I have a responsibility to prevent, if I can, anyone from hurting another without (if possible) killing the harmer. [I define 'violence' as intentionally harming another.] So even though I believe there are situations where force may be needed, it should always be tempered by an effort not to kill.

7:00 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger JT said...

Great post. I've just linked to your blog.

7:05 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Rex...
I agree with thee, now, my own experience of this, is that I don't know all, and thee does not know all, but together, as we listen and broaden our circle of listening, we approach that truth that is beyond us as individuals. If all the world listened to each other, we would only begin to approach that totality of existence that is God... but certainly if we off each other, or block their emails... we are not present to that road to God. So, this might be in detail different, from thy point, but in practice seems close.
Thine, dearly in the light
lor

11:21 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I had not yet gotten around to responding to Rex, but I had not forgotten him. His reminder that ".. the gap is always wide between 'words' & our experiential understanding of Reality" is well-taken.

This may be in itself a good reason to revisit all-too-familiar strings of words like "that of God" from time to time. It is also a reason not to get too heated up about the ensuing discussion.

Rex's discussion, in his second comment, of the basis of his pacifism seems perfectly sound as far as it goes. For me, it is important that we do more than just refrain from killing; that we find how to live, as Fox put it, in "the life and power that takes away the occasion of war." Another whole topic, of course, and one I don't feel up to addressing right now.

- - Rich

11:20 AM, July 19, 2006  
Anonymous Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:08 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I have removed two comments on this post, at least temporarily, from the blog.

I removed the first post pending some more conversation between the Friend who wrote it and me regarding the appropriateness of his comments about another Friend. The post did have other things to say that seemed worthwhile, but I did not feel comfortable leaving the personal comments as they were.

The second post was in no way objectionable, but I removed it since it replied to the first post. I felt it would be unfair to post an "answer" when the original statement was no longer available. I have saved the text of both posts and can restore them, possibly with changes, after consultation with the commenters.

I am very sensitive to the issue of "censorship" on our blogs and would appreciate other bloggers' feedback on how they handle this type of issue.
- - Rich

2:12 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

Rich -

perhaps we do need to come up with a "blogging faith & practice" as Lor had suggested long ago (and I haven't paid attention to, is there any discussion there?) At the time I thought that it was silly.

I have found myself airing personal greivances publically when I feel that I can't get "heard" personally - in the hopes that an objective third party might inspire a change of heart in the person with whom I have an issue. Clearly this isnt' ideal practice, but then it arises out of a less than ideal situation.


Also, if, in discussion or debate, one "side" implies that the foundation of the other "side" is a lie, and that is allowed to stand, but a post calling them on it is not, it certainly skews the "debate". I hope that you find your way clear to repost the posts that have been deleted, though I do understand your concerns.

peace
Pam

3:49 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Amanda said...

I have once or twice deleted comments from my blog when I felt they were too toxic.

In general I try to leave as much up as possible, and sometimes email a leaver of objectional/disruptive/inappropriate comments and ask them to take their personal disagreement/whatever away from my blog, as I feel it is derailing an otherwise valuable conversation. Alternately, I may email them (or address them in the thread, because sometimes a public "paper trail" is helpful) and tell them that I feel a part of their comment is out of line, and ask that they edit the comment by X time, or I will. If I do edit or delete a comment/post, I always leave a note, as you have done, explaining the action taken, and the reasons it was taken.

At times (on other blogs or in other online arenas, like message boards, where I've been part of the "management", I've added a disclaimer saying that my non-deletion of a certain post in no way signified my approval of it.

Thank you for your sensitivity and faithfulness.

4:09 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

The comments were about faith and how we treat each other. We seem to find it easy to speak truth to power, hold others to the light, and otherwise confront, as long as it is not "one of us". Gospel order is about being honestly, plainly and lovingly confrontational. Now, I did not name call, or demean, I stated a contradiction which several felt was on point with the post about the difference between what we worship and how we act.

8:11 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

PS Gospel order is different from what is our tradition of seeking clearness when we meet. In that, we start with seeking commonality and unity, not reliving controversy... But, holding to the light in the process of gospel order is a matter of, after long and arduous attempts at approaching a Friend who has been closed down in anger and cut his or her self off from Quaker process, placing the issue before the society.
That this was mentioned, without detail was on point to this gap between belief and practice.

8:16 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Rex said...

I'd like to get back to (1)"that of God" & maybe explore a similar familiar phrase (2)"speaking truth to power". I really wish we would take the time to seek some sort of consensus on new phrases that might be better understood by more people. It's very hard to find such short&simple phrases, but let's try. Here's my first (clumsy) go at it: (1)"Though we share a common reality ('that of God'), our understandings of that one reality will likely differ greatly until we learn how to describe our understandings in words that are more widely meaningful & that we generally agree on." ("That of God" doesn't really call us to do the needed effort.) (2)"Let's humbly speak our best understanding of the reality we all have to cope with & listen deeply to others' understanding of what's 'true' & invite deeper dialogue with all who disagree." (I don't believe any of us can ever be sure that what seems to us to be 'true' will be percieved as 'true' by everyone.)

9:59 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Paul L said...

Gosh, Rich. The many comments to your original post seems to echo the length of the business meeting you were talking about. Isn't it funny what gets people going!

While we're on the subject of pet peeves over misused Quakerese, let me nominate a fragment from a quote by George Fox: "take away the occasion for war." This is usually quoted as a call to manipulate political or social conditions that lead to war. This is certainly a noble endeavor, but it is not what George Fox was talking about.

Fox's whole statement is: "I told them I knew whence all wars arose, even from the lusts, according to James' doctrine; and that I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars."

The emphasis is on "living in the virtue of that light and power." The light and power takes away the occasion of war, not political, economic, or social action. (Of course, when one lives in the Light and Power one may be moved to act politically.)

10:51 PM, July 19, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear fFriends:
Here is what I think is at the center of the issue of this post, and not tangentially, why I am not in unity with my very dear fFriend Richard's removal of Marshall and my comment.

The question is more that did Fox see God as a common internality, or as a externality. I think he did, as seen in the story of his conversation with the Indian who had never met a Christian. But, what is it to be present to God in everyone.

I find that some, ( the percent does not matter ) who see that of God as being only expressed through their image of God, in this case, Jesus Christ, often fall short of being open completely to others. They cannot be, as the opinion of one or another person will insult their image of God.

I see that of God in each molecule of existence, an active presence. I see equal presence of God in Hitler and Gandhi, though I see Gandhi as being more attentive to that of God in me. So, how does this affect my behavior. It is not enough to say that anyone can approach me, as seen in the fact that my blog is open to comment by anyone, or anyone can comment on my pictures on Flickr, or that I have never turned away from a fFriend no matter what the controversy... that is the what is expected of a person raised in my culture with simple social graces, if you open your door to the king you open your door to the poorest. But, go to my flickr site and click on the faces in my neighbors set. There you (pl.) will find people in my neighborhood from landlords to the very drunk and homeless. Look into their faces. Each has asked be to photograph them, these are not grabbed photos. The point that emerged as I have been doing this essay, is that to be present to the God present in them, not my God I place in them, has resulted in unity as expressed in the photos.
What does it mean to be present to God in folks. Some of the people, I am afraid of on one level. They can be unpredictable and violent. One, in fact, as I write this, hurt my hand a week ago, the hand I extended for him to shake, an act that is very meaningful to a person who does not get a chance to bathe, and an act that for a germ phobic person like myself, takes faith and a small kick from God in my pants. But, looking past that harm, to the good of peace, of unity, made it possible to talk about why he might not hurt me, and resulted in a photograph that shows the peace we made.
This reverence for that God beyond my images, my intellectualizing about wether one or another Quaker of the past got it write, for me, gives me the courage not to carry a gun, or drop bombs on nations which make me fear for my security. That reverence for every small spark of life in the other as being divine is the core of my courage to confront and not turn away. I do confront. I don't say, "Oh dear me, drunken friend in the park, thee has really hurt my hand, but I suppose thee had thy reasons." No, I advocate for my right to expect respect for the God within me, while extending that respect to others.
The lesson of Tom Fox is that this courage is not a shield against harm to the body, but it is a shield against harm to the soul. I know and accept this, as I am present to people who can harm me. It is not foolish courage, but knowing that peace is not possible until we are fully present to each other, with the courage to make peace and risk our bodies and our egos for the good of our souls.
Blocking responses, failure to meet for clearness, this is not serving peace or God, nor is standing on thy light to break the unity of a meeting at the expense of a greater issue, such as the support of the light expressed by a Quaker martyr.

8:49 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I am sorry that Lorcan is not in unity with my decision to delete one of his previous comments.

Before deleting it, I suggested to him that he could re-post most of it, omitting certain comments about another Friend but he chose not to.

We are still planning to talk it over, and it is possible that something will be worked out. In the meantime, of course, he is perfectly free to post whatever he wants on his own (often very intersting) blog, Plain in the City.

Since Lorcan mentioned that I also deleted a comment by Marshall Massey, I hasten to explain that I did so only because it "answered" a part of Lorcan's comment (not the part I found most objectionable) and it seemed lop-sided for me to publish just one side of a two-way conversation. I had no objection to Marshall's comment as such.
- - Rich

9:31 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I'd like to respond, however inadequately, to the comment by Alice M, who stated that her approach to Christian pacifism is influenced by Walter Wink. She says that to rely on violence is "idolatrous" and that "If we are able to put our trust in the One Holy & Transforming Power, instead of in weapons, God is able to work through us. If we instead reserve to ourselves the right to use violence, we are setting up violence as the backup for God."

I find this line of thought intriguing and it makes me want to learn more about Walter Wink. So many Friends and others speak so well of him. I'm not sure I'm quite able to embrace the argument, though. It strikes me that the same reasoning could be applied to fields like medicine and could lead to the conclusion that taking aspirin for my headache is idolatrous. Of course, I don't imagine that Alice or Walter Wink would make that application, but I'm left with the question: How do we distinguish between human initiatives that imply a faithless "backup for God" and those that are simply wise decisions using the powers of reasoning we've been given by God?
- - Rich

9:43 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

A few quick things.

1. Rich, thanks for clarifying a bit further about the original thread and my related comments.

2. Regarding a comment by Pam: There is a difference between a Faith & Practice and an etiquette or even a set of norms. I myself am still not clear from which one, if either, we Quaker bloggers and readers would benefit, were we to have such a thing.

3. I recently heard that as a group grows, with each change in magnitude of its size, the group will require new systems and processes in order to respond to what arises. I wonder if the idea of a blogging F & P and/or guidelines for etiquette might be re-emerging at this time as a result of the recent growth of the online conversation and the number of Friends participating in it.

...Or perhaps it is the result of the number of Friends participating in THIS conversation and the number of directions it is has been going in!'

4. Rich, thanks for hanging in there with all of us. In a way, to paraphrase a non-Quaker blogger's view of the blog world, you have invited us all over to your place for tea... and sometimes we forget ourselves and misbehave, until we see the upset of the house with which we have left you as you graciously show us the door...

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

1:58 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:16 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

As to another thread underpinning this discussion, if it is more important the spesifics of our belief, rather than the way we act towards each other, than it is God's wish that we soon be extinct, as there never has been, nor will there ever be, a single set of images or ideas that unite us all... if our belief in God is in a spesific rather than the openess to God's virtue in each other, than it is silly for us to believe in peace, and we might as well get on with God's intent to destroy us all.

I believe in a loving God who leads us, not to his false image as described in the minds of men, but a God who gently calls us to unity... that some divide us on this, these poor tribal images, I think is that void of evil, no matter who they call their God.

3:19 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Dave Carl said...

I believe there is that of God in each of us because we are that of God. We are the branches of God's vine. This means we are essentially "vine." A branch is not the entire vine, nor the source of the vine, yet it is nothing but vine. Jesus said "I in you and you in me." In John he prayed we would understand our oneness with him, God and each other.

My only problem with "thattagodineveryone" is that it becomes almost a reflex, like clearing your throat -- automatic, habitual and unreflective -- itself an interjection unguided by thattagodinus.

6:38 PM, July 21, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Dave, I agree to an extent, whichis why I always say it is much more important to be present to that of God in others. In each moment, to be deeply open to the God in others.

10:41 PM, July 21, 2006  
Blogger Dave Carl said...

Lor,

That reminds me of the song "What if God Were One of Us" or "As you do to the least of these...." I read your comment at a time when I am noticing how self-involved I tend to be. It is good to be reminded that, when seeking God, I need to stretch beyond my self-concern. Also that there are so many "places" (people) in which God may be found!

David

11:29 AM, July 22, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

I think it is most important that we are open to God within ourselves, believing that if we are faithful to that guidance, God will lead us to be open to others. As far as I can tell, the traditional Quaker response to why we do things is that "God leads/teaches us to do it", not because we hold to a theological tenet. It seems to me that the phrase "That of God in everyone" is referring to everyone having access to that same guidance.

Our testimonies testify to that leading, they are not meant as a theological statement of belief, and I fear "that of God in everyone" has fallen into the same category. Our whole process of coming to unity is not supposed to be that we strive for unity with ourselves, but that we strive for unity with that inward guide. Sometimes it may be only a few Friends who perceive a different aspect of that message, and when they bring it forth, the rest should strive to see if they are hearing the same thing. Ego can be a problem frequently, but it isn't always the problem that it is the few that have the problem. We must all seek that inward Light that resides beyond our ego.

With love,
Mark

1:56 PM, July 22, 2006  
Anonymous Marshall Massey (Iowa YM [C]) said...

Friend Lorcan wrote, "The question is more that did Fox see God as a common internality, or as a externality. I think he did, as seen in the story of his conversation with the Indian who had never met a Christian."

This question of Lorcan's can be answered quite precisely if we take into account Fox's understanding (and early Friends' understanding generally) of the "day of visitation".

As Fox and his associates understood it, the "day of visitation" (a term taken from Luke 19:44) was the period when God visits a person in the place of that person's heart and conscience, making the person feel badly about the wrong things she or he has done and the good things she or he could have done but didn't, and calling on that person to change. If the person heeded the Voice of God in her or his heart and conscience, and began to work at changing her ways, she entered into the path that led to salvation. Fox and early Friends understood themselves to be people who had heeded that Voice, entered into that path, and recognized that they were now walking that path together.

But a person could instead refuse to heed that Voice. And if she or he refused to heed it long enough, Friends understood that the Voice would be withdrawn, and the day of visitation would be ended. (Thus, for example, Barclay, Apology, Props. V & VI, §12.) Friends found Biblical support for this understanding in such texts as Genesis 6:3 ("My spirit will not always strive with man...") and Luke 14:15-24 (the parable of the great feast, in which those who were invited first, squandered their chance irrevocably), as well as implicitly in Luke 19:44 itself.

The phrase "that of God", in Fox's epistle where he calls on Friends to "walk cheerfully ... answering that of God in every one," is this Voice by which God visits people in their days of visitation. In calling on Friends to answer "that of God in every one", Fox was calling on them to reinforce what that Voice was saying to people who were undergoing their days of visitation, so as to increase the likelihood that those people would hear it, repent, change, and so be saved. This is quite clear if one considers the context of Fox's words: "be patterns, be examples ... that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one...." The "answering that of God in them" was a matter of preaching-by-pattern-and-example to them!

Fox and the other early Friends believed that every one had such a day of visitation: thus one could rightly speak, as John did in his first chapter, of "the Light that enlighteneth every man" (including, of course, every woman). Thus Lorcan's Indian-who-never-met-a-Christian, for example. But if the Seed (as the parable had it) fell on stony ground and did not sprout, or among weeds and was choked, then that was the end of that: the Seed was lost, the Light snuffed, the Voice departed. Such a theory served to explain sociopaths, like serial killers, or the cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, or political monsters like Torquemada and Pol Pot, who evinced no guilt at their actions and were not reached when someone appealed to their sense of pity or their sense of righteousness. In such people, though they are still infinitely precious to God, "that of God" -- the Voice in the conscience -- is no longer present.

4:16 PM, July 22, 2006  
Anonymous Cynthia large said...

Marshall,

Thank you for this! You've given me a lot to think about. I wonder, though, whether the "day of visitation" being such a brief thing. Certainly it's more than one literal day. I'm sure I've never fallen as far as Pol Pot or Jeffrey Dahmer, but I feel I lived a good portion of my life in defiance of that Voice, but apparently I was worth another chance, and another and another.

What human act can be bad enough to silence that of God, to withdraw any more chances? I don't know if I expect an answer to that question, I'm just musing...

Cynthia

9:38 PM, July 22, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

A Friend gave a message this week, in our meeting, and one word struck me, she spoke of the infinite nature of God. One cannot be alienated from an infinite thing, and there can only be one thing that is infinite, and we must all be equally part of anything that is infinite, which gives meaning to the following story form Martin Buber's Tales of the Hasidim:

"A Hasid asked the Seer of Lubin: 'To the words in the Mishna: "Man should thank God for evil and praise him," the Gemara adds" "with joy and a tranquil heart." How can that be?'
The zaddik could hear the question sprang from a troubled heart. 'You do not understand the Gemara,' he said, 'And I do not understand even the Mishnah. For is there really any evil in the world?'"

I can see this much more than some idea of God speaking to us in a moment, no matter how long. Illness, seems to me, more like Aquinas said, an absence, not a turning away of God, but a distraction from the ever present. This Hasidic story is a remarkable illustration of the meaning of infinite.
Thine dearly in the light, friends and Friends.

8:09 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Rich, hi! I'm relatively new, but this is such an interesting conversation that I'm afraid I'm jumping right in.

Cynthia, the rabbis teach: The gates of repentence and prayer are always open. The Christian tradition teaches that Jesus was able to love even the thief that was killed with him.

Marshall, I think Fox underestimated God's love. In doing so, he did as most people do, including me. Always those two paths are before us: life and death. We can wander very far down the road of death, and even there, the call is sent to us to turn aside, to choose the path of life. People have gone very far down that road and yet repented and worked to undo the harm they had caused.

9:46 AM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Oh, and Lorcan: I believe that passage refers to the yetzer ha ra - which is often translated as "inclination to evil" but even the yetzer ha ra may serve the yetzer ha tov, "inclination to good". For instance, someone who is motivated to cut flesh could become a surgeon or a shochet (kosher slaughterer). Someone who is not motivated to hard work can invent ways to ease the burden of labor.

9:54 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Way back at the beginning, Zach pondered "what is the spiritual basis of the peace testimony". I highly recommend Sondra Cronk's pamphlet published by The Tract Association of Friends entitled "Peace Be With You: A Study of the Spiritual Basis of the Friends Peace Testimony". Her Pendle Hill Pamphlet (#297) on gospel order is also enriching and challenging. These are both really important pieces on Quakerism in my view. Andrew

10:02 PM, July 29, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Rich,
I thought you would be interested in the minute approved by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with regard to Israel and Hezbollah. I got this from the Atlanta Friends Meeting mailing list, I haven't been able to find it on the web yet:
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, gathering in session on July 30 at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA mourns both the victims of Israel's invasion of Lebanon that is now underway and the victims of Hezbollah's attacks on Israel. We mourn our government's support for Israel's invasion of Lebanon and its opposition to an immediate cease fire.

As Friends we believe there is that of God in every person. We call upon all parties to the conflict to immediately cease fire and we call upon all governments and groups to stop supplying weapons to combatants.

As American Friends in the United States we call upon our own government to call for an immediate cease fire and to stop supplying weapons to Israel. As Friends, we have always opposed the export of arms and weapons for any purpose and instead have worked for the peaceful resolution of deadly conflict.

We call upon all the people in this conflict to see that peace is the way, that every cease fire is good, and that gunfire, rockets and bombs take us from the way and desecrate God's sacred creation.

We call upon Friends to stand with the courageous people in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine and other parts of the Middle East who are calling for a cease-fire and peace. We encourage Friends and meetings to consider urgently how we might act to bring about a cease-fire and negotiations for a just and lasting peace."

6:44 AM, August 02, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Thanks to Mark for sending me the minute from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. I unite with its statements about the war in Lebanon, I agree with it that "there is that of God in every one", and I continue to feel that there is absolutely no connection between the two.

That said, I am beginning to weary of the discussion I myself have started about this much-overworked phrase. My real interest is in reviving and encouraging the full-blooded Quaker doctrine of the Light, not in discrediting its paler imitations.

9:29 AM, August 02, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

hear, hear! Rich!!!

Let us focus on what has power for us, rather than complaining about what does not. I find it somewhat difficult to do myself, but I firmly believe that it is worth the effort.

Perhaps you can be encouraged to post something about the power that you find in the doctrine of the Light?

Pam

2:17 PM, August 02, 2006  

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