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.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Staying to hear each other

fFriends. I've tried to express here, the process of forgiveness of our huge differences. I also know that many don't understand my attempts to express the harm of thy beliefs which some of us feel are myths, and potentially harmful myths to the peace of pluralist Quaker meetings.

Part of this is that ye, who as part of thy Christian faith idealize Jesus, look to the harms done as being separate from the act of objectification. And feel that any attempt to explain that harm is an assault. So in meeting, when ye present what some see as an objectified view of Yeshua, and some get polarized, ye feel censored.

And so, I try to show that the harm separates, and in doing that, we are separated.

To show how the harm separates, one must illustrate the harm. That act causes pain and division if we don't understand the difference between multicultural society and monocultural society.

One way to achieve a multicultural Quaker meeting is not to talk to each other. Ignore the differences by compromise or consensus. But our meeting communities are not about compromise or consensus. They are about staying in process until there is unity. Unity is not full agreement, but it is complete attempts at understanding each other until we find the common ground.

The nature of Christianity divided us for over a hundred years. We attempted divorce as a solution. Divorce is contrary to the single shared fundamental in our faith, that we are present to God in each other.

So, since 1955, we have tried to heal and come to unity. That process is hard, can be painful, but it is who we are. Quakerism is a funny bird, as we try to do things, other faiths gave up on. Most religious institutions take divorce as a matter of course, even if they say they don't recognize it in marriage.

The Catholic church makes a huge myth about annulment to create a divorce option. Personally, I am not big on myths. I have seen fFriends divorce meetings. I am fairly sure this is not a good way of fFriends to act, as they then villainize the meeting they left in order to make their leaving a believable act of righteousness, rather than the abandonment of process, that process of continuing to seek unity. And our stated community of love becomes a community of factions.

So, I beg fFriends to stay in the process of learning about each other. I am not closed to the idealized Jesus, and have found great gain in hearing this and that flow from the notion. But, in suggesting fFriends look inside, during the period of discernment of messages to consider if it is the right time and place, in meeting to use certain images, I would ask fFriends to think if I had the bad graces to present any of these past posts that unnerved some fFriends so, as a message in meeting. There are times we can talk and listen in ways we do not do in Meeting.

But, say some of thee, THY posts here are hurtful. Yes. To the objectified there is harm unseen by the objectifier. I am not alone in the belief that it is harmful to remake another in thy imagined image. The whole question of myth to me, as a Friend is vital, the difference between a story which illustrates and a lie which is sent to deceive. Why? Well, let us look at the lives of the Saints. The farther back one goes, the more outlandish the miracles. It once was a tool of rhetoric to use the mythical story to illustrate a point. However, in the modern age of empirical forensics, those churches that depended on the miracle story to solidify belief and to teach came to a dilemma. A number of the more fanciful Saint's lives were abandoned. They cast more doubt that light. The miracle aspect of the story obscured truth rather than illuminated truth.
Once sees, in the process of church building, the development of an emergent Jesus, which can be used as a story to teach, or as a reality to deny the original life of the man. In the second case, in order to become He, he recedes into oblivion. The He that emerges becomes an unchallengeable truth, and to me, any truth that is unchallengeable fails the first test of honesty. The harm in that, is the evil that unchallengeable truths empower.

The other harm is the loss of faith. If we begin the process of challenging the myths of Saints for whom God violated the laws of nature and reason, and we wind up challenging the central myth, and are in danger of loss of God in the process, well, we begin to see the harm in myth making in the first place. Religion which must be based on the veracity of elements myth to be true, is built on a potentially rather sandy foundation.

So today, fundamentalists try to find rational excuses for God's miracles, an earthquake to prove the Red Sea might have parted, pseudo scientific explanations of the origins of life, electro-physical theories that the shroud of Turin's image is proof of a power surge during resurrection. And then, what, when other's show the shroud was likely stained with bacteria from the sweat of the agony of a dying Yeshua? What then, that it is indeed real, but not miraculous, that a man lived and died, but the former "proof" of resurrection fails. What then, when we fully understand and show the process of evolution? What then when we find the Pentituke to be contrary to other records, of other cultures, which have better physical evidence for their veracity? Instead of the lesson of the story, the image of God comes crashing down, or is sustained against reason, and societies split.

So, yes, believe, but understand that we are no longer the isolated monocultural community where tradition is unconscious. In order to be a "traditional" people some people choose, and in that choice shut others and other things out which fly in the face of the foundation of their belief. There we are, fundamentalism is not a specific belief, it is a way or organizing thought. I can no more be a fundamentalist, than I can stop the process of unfolding of thought in my viewing the world.

So, I suppose, what I am saying is, that we not divorce. We stay in process, and that we challenge ourselves to look inside, as Yeshua asked us to do, as that which we hide in us, kills us. To enter the kingdom of God, we have to look inside, with some hard courage.


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