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, February 02, 2006

Warlike Quakers

Confrontation as opposed to War

What is it to not have outward weapons? It has come to me that there are a lot of violent and warlike Friends. There are also a lot of confrontational Friends. To be confrontational is not to be warlike. Confronting is to bring thy concern to another. To go to war is to annihilate. Annihilate... the same root as in Nilism, to remove, nullify, to kill.

Clearness is to seek confrontation towards truth, and unity. Banishment, shunning, the making of cliques within the Society of Friends is to remove the other, to go to war, to make null.

I got a few really nice emails from a non-theist Friend, and oh... about 4 am, my thinking time... I began to think about the nature of God and the implications on our actions from the peace testimony to... Well, here it is...

For the warlike among us, the Christian Soldier, or even the Non or Anti Christian Soldier among us, the terms matter not at all, as the war is everything. So, God becomes the system, the system of perfection which justifies any action, and Jesus, or anything else which proves or clarifies God becomes the profit of the system. God can be Communism, Nazism, the American Empire, and Jesus can be Marx, Lenin, Hitler or Regan, the perfect communicator of the system, the arbiter of perfection. The act of opposing the system or the system's spokesman, casts one out, one is banished and nullified.

I know a few Friends who act for God, rather than seeking to move towards God. Acting for God is often an act of violence, of war, of nullification. These Friends take the attitude that God, sometimes an audible voice heard only by them, "tells" them that their actions are right, and so their action must be unchallengeable. Rather predictably, they do not seek confrontation, they don't need it. They simply act, they lay down the law, and anyone with contrary light is wrong, an enemy of God, and are nullified. Their outward weapons are letters, are emails, are messages in meeting, are gossip and politicking.

My families motto is Si Deus Nobiscum, Quid Contranous ( hope I spelled it correctly... ) "If God is with us, who can oppose us?" This is the key to being a Friend or a Soldier of God. If one reads this motto as, God empowers my hand, so I can nullify thee... then the bearer of this motto is a soldier. If one reads it, I will confront thee, from God in me to God in thee, so that together we come to unity, one is a Friend. All the names, the labels, the idols which divide us are so many words.

The soldier acts for God. The Friend acts with God. The soldier says, "God tells me to... " the Friend says, "Come, let us find what God intends for us... " Perhaps, those who seek rationalism, to the point of rejecting the word "God" really are confronting this God, the God who tells the soldiers among us to act against... to be the wielders of the terrible sword of perfection...

But all these outward weapons, these swords of perfection, the email, the message in meeting, can be a plowshare when they break the soil to confront rather than nullify. Again I approach the original conflict with some, in this line of thinking, do our messages divide? The question in our discernment is do my words nullify another? Do they begin the conversation, the clearness of loving confrontation, or do they end the conversation with an absolute... damnation, banishment, alienation...?

Funny how it keeps coming back to love. We who seek to love, confront without nullification of the other. Others decide that they will love those who God or a voice in their head tells them to love, and annihilate all the others, whether they read them out of meeting, refuse them clearness or drop a bomb, it is all the same act of nullification. The pain these acts cause, the damage can break bones, and split stone.

Not seeking unity together, being violent and warlike towards each other, I have seen, can stop the work of a meeting, and in that, can surely split stone. The time we spend at war with each other, we neglect our fields. Our meetinghouses, our schools, we neglect them by our focus on nullification of others. Who can deny this can split stone. If thee neglects to keep the roof tight, and the water seeps in, and freezes... when we war with those who confront us, we invite the destructive cleansing of rot and pestilence into our families house.

Friends... I have a simple plea... let us, we Quakers stop killing each other. Lets us beat our swords into plowshares.


At 10:31 AM, Blogger excarver said...

Hi Friend: Thank you for your article. I am a Quaker in the midwest tradition and served 39 years in ministry, 22 years as pastor and 17 years in administrative service. I am a bonafide pacifist. You can see my web site at:,html. I like your comments and thank you.


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