Monday, March 13, 2006

Harmeet Sooden, James Loney and Norman Kember.

The Death of Tom Fox has hit us Quakers especially hard, since he was a Quaker also and widely known among the Quaker community even before going to Iraq.

Yet he was just one of the four captive members of the Christian Peacemakers Teams. Even in our grief about Tom, let's also continue to pray and work for the release of Harmeet Sooden, Janes Loney and Norman Kemper. And also, of course, for all the other victims of this cruel cruel war, whatever their religion, nationality, or politics.

May the war end speedily!

- - Rich Accetta-Evans

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mourning Tom Fox; Celebrating His Witness

Those who read this are probably already aware of the death of our Friend Tom Fox. I unite with this statement at http://www.cpt.org/iraq/response/06-10-03statement.htm by his Christian Peacemaker Team Colleagues.

I do not believe that any life or any death is ever "in vain". Certainly, neither Tom Fox's life on earth and nor his heroic peacemaker's death could be described that way. He was/is a hero of the spiritual life; a Christian whose faith was lived and not just proclaimed. A peacemaker who advanced love and understanding while he was with us and whose memory and living spirit will continue to do so.

Though I never met Tom Fox, I feel deeply sad today.

- - Rich Accetta-Evans

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Friday, March 10, 2006

More from the new George Fox web site

I am still hoping that more Friends will comment on the new George Fox website created by Hall and Joan Worthington (thanks to Johann Maurer for his comment on the post I wrote yesterday). I do not find that I agree with everything the Worthingtons say, and I hope to find time to put some of my questions and responses into words, but in the meantime I am delighted to find that these two people I never heard of have discovered the richness of George Fox's message.

I have now learned, from correspondence with Hall Worthington, that I was incorrect in assuming that they had first heard of Fox through contact with Friends. Hall discovered Fox independently through his own reading. Indeed, he found when he did explore Quakerism-as-it-is-today that it is quite different from what he had thought George Fox was talking about. I know that many Quaker bloggers have had the same experience. Whatever differences I may discern between my own views and the Halls', it seems very important to me to open up a channel of communication between Friends who take George Fox's Christian message seriously, and these non-Friends who (unexpectedly) do the same.

To stimulate further discussion I am now going to quote a kind of summary of George Fox's message and ministry as the Worthingtons understand it.

THE GOSPEL REDISCOVERED


George Fox reestablished the true gospel (power of God)
that was lost for 1260 years and is again lost today. The gospel difference is:

1) God's peace to you. God's perfect example, (Christ) does not condemn you, but rather gives you His peace and asks you to trust Him to help you find heaven on earth.

HE AWAITS YOU! HE IS THE REWARDER OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM!


2) He wants to purify you, perfect you, destroy all the sinful nature in your body, give you a new heart and mind, and make you one with Him and the Father. (not presumptively, but in reality). He wants you to not be burdened with your unhappiness and misery (Hell on earth), but rather to lead you to joy, peace, and happiness - the Kingdom of Heaven (Heaven on earth).

3) The process of purification is so simple, the wise of the earth scoff at it:
  • Seek his kingdom within you and its' righteousness (and all else will be added)
    (your necessary first priority)
  • On a daily basis, in private, get quiet and think on the name of Jesus Christ.

    ( His name is the power to purify you; stay your hope in him changing you. When not quiet, think on whatever is noble, good, honest, lovely,etc. If there are others with the same hope to meet with, meditate with them.)

  • Listen and watch. (eyes closed or open, it works both ways)

  • Obey any simple, easy to understand commands heard or felt.
    (You will hear many voices. Use scripture to validate. Don't fill in the blanks.)

  • Practice acts love and kindness energized through faith.
    (even the little things count! big things too encourage each other to practice giving, love, and good deeds "the only thing that counts is love energized by faith" )

  • He awaits you. He is the Rewarder of those who seek Him.


4) This Christ and gospel is powerful enough to change us on this side of the grave and make us like Him. This Christ and gospel can destroy the sinful nature of sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, etc. and replace them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The New George Fox Writings Website

I've been looking at the new website created by Hall and Joan Worthington and devoted to the life and writings of George Fox.

Here are my observations:

First: I was wary when I read that they had "modernized" the language, since this is often a rationale for watering down the content of early Quake writings, but I put my mind at ease after reading a fair number of epistles and comparing them to the "original" text at other sites. The modernizing seems to consist mainly of changing "thee" and "thou" to you, changing obsolete verb endings such as -eth to modern equivalents, and occasionally inserting a clarifying word. For example, in epistle number 2 they have changed from

Rejoice not in the flesh, but in the spirit, which crucifieth all fleshly boasting: if the fleshly will be fed, then carelessness cometh up, and they fall into flatness, (from the spirit,) and are mindless of the Lord God; such are soon up and down.
to

Rejoice not in the flesh, but rather in the spirit,
which crucifies all fleshly boastings:
if the fleshly will be fed, then carelessness cometh up,
and they fall into flatness, (from the spirit),
and are mindless of the Lord God;
such are soon up and down.


Second: As the above example shows, their breaking down of the text into separate lines greatly improves readability.

Third: They have an article under "Editors' comments" called "Government Protests". It points out that the early Friends' testimony against wars didn't generally involve actually protesting wars or trying to end them. It also makes the argument that mass anti-war protests are not really in the spirit of the peace testimony. I would draw different conclusions in the end, but their argument deserves to be listened to.

Fourth: In another article under "Editors comments" called "Imitation of Early Quakers" they protest against the use of "plain speech" and "plain dress" that imitates early Quaker patterns but in their opinion is untrue to the spirit of the real early Quaker testimony about plainness. Here I feel much closer to what they are saying than I do to their point about anti-war marches, though I don't feel, as perhaps they do, that the quaint forms of plainness are actually a bad thing.

Fifth: While I too am a great admirer of George Fox, I feel a tad put off by their statement that "We believe George Fox to be the greatest man the world has known since Jesus Christ left the earth."

Finally: I notice that they say they are not members of any church or religious society since they have not found anyone who agrees with their beliefs. Yet it seems likely that somewhere along the way they have had contact with Friends, since few other groups would have pointed them to the writings of George Fox. One wonders what they think of Friends.

I think this website is fascinating. I'd love to hear what other Friends make of it.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

A Web-Site Devoted to Quaker Musicians

Peter Blood-Patterson just sent me a link to a website on Quaker musicians - especially folk musicians - maintained by himself and Annie Blood-Patterson. I've added it to my sidebar, and I am putting the link here as well, for those who might be interested in checking it out. There are certainly more Friends and friends of Friends involved in folk music than I had been aware of.

The site is Quakers and Music.

- - Rich Accetta-Evans

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