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.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pretty Little Lies

When do these potentially harmful myths of faith become pretty little lies?

I can, in my heart, without bearing tales by speaking their names, count over a dozen Friends with ease who would, at some time cut another Friend off from their heart, not even take the hand of a greeter at the door of the meeting, while both considering themselves convinced Friends, and while clinging to... delving deeply into, the texts of the description of these myths of perfection, their faith in the Jesus of their heart, or the myriad of spiritual masters, or the complex swamp of superstitious fortune telling, and all the while, tearing at the soul of their meetings with self righteous glee, rather than seeking the righteousness of forgiveness and unity. Their god myths become satanic ironic jokes.

Do I sound bitter in this...? Well, yes. I've seen over the years silent withdrawn Friends, who come each week, slip into meeting and out again, dear quiet people. One comes to mind, who responded with the same expression when once, I invited him to business meeting, and again, when I asked him if I might ask him some questions as meeting historian, about our meeting's and his past. It was a sort of half bemused, half shocked refusal... and whatever the cause, I feel the danger of becoming such a Friend. At the center of our meetings are zealous "Quakers" who, as my father used to often say, seem not to have the milk of human kindness in their veins.

Where does the myth come into this? As Malise Ruthven writes, in the book Fundamentalism,
"as a 'defender of God', the fundamentalist militant claims the right to act on his behalf. By collapsing myth into history, fundamentalism paradoxically affirms the supremacy of human will, unwittingly following the madman in Nietzsche's story who proclaimed the Death of God. p.94"
I can't tell thee the number of times such Friends give to God the authority for their actions which blast the peace of the meeting, destroy gentle souls, and defame, all the while speaking of hearing the voice of God, or finding the beauty in the commentary about the Lamb of God... while pouring poisonous venom and sharp bile into the sweet well of the water of life.

These voices of God become like the trumpets which felled the walls of Jericho in order to carry forwards "God's" commandment to the Israelites to slay the Canaanites, to commit holy genocide. It is the same thing as the modern day zealot of Zion who calls for modern Israelis to cast down the temple of the mount, and to carry out the original slaughter's command, or the Palestinian who wishes every Jew out of Palestine. The only difference between them and us, is that we kill each other on a spiritual plane. We damn our fellow Quakers to a place of exile in the corner benches ... away from our hearts, which we have given over to idols of God. I once told a judge in Family Court, that she was wrong in her belief, that Quakers don't shun. I owe her an apology. We shun right in the "gathered" meeting. We give our hearts to Christ and the souls of our sisters and brothers to hell, and color it gentle with pretty little lies.

A Friend asked if I was ridiculing the Christian faith. No. Am I wondering at the faith of many Christians? Well, that's another story. I know a very few Christians, I hope I am not bearing tales to name one especially, Richard Evans, and for him, these are not pretty little lies, but an active language of faith. Other folks? Well, a Jewish fellow once said, "Oh ye scribes and Pharisees." He ruffled a few feathers in the saying of it, and some rather zealous Romans gave him what for it.


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