Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I have struggled with the idea of unity in a world of polar opposites. The split between Sadducees and Pharisees, Hicksites and Orthodox... maybe there is another.

Perhaps people are divided into adversarial and adversary adverse and that these two have trouble or God forbid, can't reconcile this split.

I see people in the world who spend their lives building walls around themselves and defending these walls against all which approach in anyway. People who cannot seem to learn that everything from their past does not repeat in each new relation and event.

I could not work in American courts because I can't see life as defined by fortifications. Our adversarial courts set the conflict in stone, giving to one side this and to the other that and building a new wall. Native courts, I worked in, do the opposite, they heal, they are a product of a people who seek cooperation and healing... rather Quaker like.

But what is Quaker like? We can't seem to get the notion across to each other that our society is built on love and trust. We are not proactive is stopping adversary relations in our meetings and building a safe environment where Friends trust each other.

Maybe relationships in society are made to have built in processes of decay and death, like so much more in nature. Maybe there is something in human nature designed to bring an end to institutions, relationships, and finally humanity itself ... a built in self destruction so that some day all will be extinct. So these opposites are created by nature to destroy hope of growth, and all we are trying to do, to build a society of sustainable love - is just folly.

I just don't know anymore.


At 6:57 AM, Blogger QuaCarol said...

But what is Quaker like? We can't seem to get the notion across to each other that our society is built on love and trust. We are not proactive is stopping adversary relations in our meetings and building a safe environment where Friends trust each other.

I question--with love as my intention--your assumption, Lorcan. George Fox, Margaret Fell, Robert Barclay, William Penn, and John Woolman did not build the Society of Friends on love and trust. They built it on the faith that Christ had come to teach his people himself, that devotion to the institutions of men had superseded devotion to the power of the Holy Spirit, and that faithfulness resided in turning away from those institutions and waiting solely on the Holy Spirit.

All else that we know as "Quakerly" proceeds from that first experience of waiting to be searched by the Light and surrendering to the process.

Today, people have been attracted by the surface of Quakerism, by its culture and its ethics, but are unable to go deeper to that stripped and surrendered condition that the early Friends were brought to by the chaos in their country and that Quietist Friends, like Woolman and Hicks, were nurtured in by their good families.

Love and trust are results. Todays' Friends don't seem to want to know that.

From what I can follow in your blog, Lorcan, you are in the process of being stripped and searched by the Light. Friends trembled when that happened to them--and it took time. I mean, months, to go through. They groaned in meetings for worship as they looked at themselves. But they had Friends around them who had been through the process and could walk with them. It sounds like you have few around you who know.

Perhaps the journals of early Friends could comfort you right now. Fox and Woolman are probably the most accessible.

I'm not sure about this, but I wonder if the book of Hebrews, or Ephesians or Philippians might help.

I will hold you in prayer while you are being worked in this. Stay low--as you seem to be doing. Be still and cool in thy own mind.

And drink lots of water. Seriously.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear Friend:
At some point I will answer at length... I am too exhausted at the moment. Quakerism, like all other human understandings grows with each generation and is added to... I grew up in a Hicksite Meeting that was in the process of joining with an Orthodox one... Yes, all those early hearts are important, but so has been the big voices of Rufus Jones, and the gentle voices of my dear grandmothers in faith like Anna Curtis.

At present, many of my dear Friends are at a loss... they agree that with a Friend who can't or wont attempt clearness, and in the face of the repercussions of that, I must go away from meeting for awhile, during a time that my life is nothing but isolation and struggle. The loss of my meeting is a terrible thing. Even Christ called out for water on the cross, and I so long for the water of clearness, for of all the pains, being misunderstood by one who is dear to you, is the greatest pain of all.

There is a point at which hearts and souls break... and I pray for grace not to reach the second point. And thank you for your prayers and concern.


At 2:52 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

I think it still comes down to love and what that is...

Jesus added love as a commandment, that is saying alot.

I agree with the statement of new Friends being drawn to Quakerism almost as a serries of learned outcomes and forgetting the process, that process is so important and without it, a serries of out comes just becomes a "so there"... even the peace testimony is nothing without the process of love that arrives at it. In the film Friendly Persuasion, it is the Friend who stands on tradition - ready to read another out of meeting for saying, I don't know what I would do... it is that Friend who is so sure who takes up a gun first.

Process and love...

Dear Friend, what more can I say,
again thank you for your thoughts, prayers and wisdom.

At 2:54 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...


For me the old testiment is well describe by Hill el, "do nothing to another that is abhorant to yourself, that is the Torrah and the rest is comentarty" and the new testiment comes down to Jesus saying that he gives us one more commandment... that we should love each other... there it is in a nut shell.


At 2:55 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

PPS I have and do read both Fox's and Hick's journals... and sometimes they help... but, lately I have not been able to read much of anything...


At 4:49 AM, Blogger QuaCarol said...

lately I have not been able to read much of anything...

Oh yes, I know about that one! When I'm stripped of that source of comfort and support, I can get some ease by walking. Moving around outdoors seems to help me. Especially if the sun is shining. One of my self-invented spiritual exercises is to contemplate animals--sparrows, pigeons, dogs. I can almost always find a dog whose energy and spirit make me laugh out loud.

I call it Going to the Dogs. (Is there a song in there somewhere?)

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

I'm smiling with you Carol...

I feed squirls. They sit on my knee and eat peanuts...

Not great ones for the conversation, however... and a bit short tempered : )



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