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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Right and Left and the Society of Friends

Around and around the world goes, history goes, seasons of the earth, each different and each the same in their repetition. What is religion, what is politics, science or faith? It comes down to the same thing, the wiring of our minds and the reaction to change. We seek to organize our societies, either by religion or by civil politics, both are in many ways the same undertaking, the same accomplishment. Some societies don't separated the two, religious states have no boundaries between religion and politics, and try as we might, politics are infused in even the most minimal religious institutions. As we organize social structures we fall into two camps which I am sure are a product of our wiring rather than our upbringing. Look at a state which has a single school system, allows no free thought, hands each person a cradle to grave plan and even so, some dear little misfit ( to quote the film "Freaks" gooble gooble one of us... chant those who are welcomed into the Hicksite fold... ) will jump up from the plastic workbench and say, "Hey! What the hell are we doing here! Round pegs DO fit in a square hole!"

The really interesting thing, is that again and again the misfit or innovator ( same thing ) attracts followers who create a box to put the innovation into, and make sure that folks don't jump up in the box and say, " HEY! Square pegs DO fit in a round hole! " So, we name the sides, Left, and Right, Pharisee and Sadducee, Menshevik and Bolshevik, and then... well Yeshua was a Pharisee, a leftist - no doubt about it. In order to make it otherwise takes rewriting and back filling ( as was done ). So... an institution grows, and spins out more institutions which create a right wing, Saducean expression of his Pharasean left wing ideal. Fox is the little misfit who stands up in church and says "Hey! Get rid of the pegs altogether and put thyself in the whole!" and soon, an institution begins to grow, and a Left pulls it one way and a Right pulls it another, both claiming Fox and Jesus and on and on and on...

Sin, for the Right, sin is not obeying the rules... the rules ARE the relationship. For the Left, sin is breaking the relationship, the relationship makes the rules. Pharisee... Leftist... ( gooble gooble one of us... ) Hill el says, "love God with all thy heart and do nothing to another that which is hateful to thyself, that is the Torah and the rest is commentary"...

Harold Bloom points to the terror of abandonment by Yahweh for those on the Right. If He came and walked among his children, wrestled with us, ate with us, parted waters for us... joined us, disguised in battle... wherefore art thou dear friend and God, is it something we said? So... it is necessary to conjure him back in the flesh of Yeshua turned into the infinite of Jesus the Christ and God... and the Left says... we never missed Him... because he was not in the story, the story was not him, the story described a little bit of him, and thy sin, dear brother and sister on the Right is the sin of placing an image of God before Him. Images divide because of their falseness, in order to be made true all the descriptions of everyone else must be false. The one the right they say, thy sin was questioning the list of rules we put in the mouth of the image of our God.

I keep returning to that... putting words in the mouth of God. On the left we wait and listen ... together... advices.... seek God, listen for God, try to act WITH God, on the Right, there is a book, a list, human art which can tell us what God wants of us in black and white, and the Right can act FOR God, and the Left says when ye acts FOR God, ye can't act WITH God... God transcends the box.

So... where does this leave us, on the Right, God tells us to love one another, but to be Godly those that ye love have to follow the rules, do nothing that is hateful to the rules, or God will damn ye. On the Left, God tells us to love one another, and to be Godly seek the relationship which grows from the one rule, do nothing to another that is hateful to thyself, and don't damn another.


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Dave Carl said...

Enjoyable. I worry some about the effect of this, as spot on as it seems in a lot of ways. "We do this" and "they do that" carries a hint or a possibility of "we're better than they" or a criticism of what they do. Or at least "they" might hear it that way.

I'd like to find out what they need and how they feel behind the rulemaking. And I'd like to let them know that I hear that. There may be other ways to meet those needs that they'd like even better if they were heard and could understand that we "lefties" want to serve and honor the life and power within them.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

No thee is right, and in fact it is another post to write about the need for consistancy... and that a meeting like mine, which, after the healing, became both Wiberite and Hicksite ( and New Age... ) is a healthy society, the reaching for unity makes for strenght... but, I suppose I am reacting to several Friends who refer to liberal Friends as dwelling in sin. ... hmmm.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger earthfreak said...

Really?? Friends referring to liberal Friends dwelling in sin? Maybe it doesnt' matter if it's Friends or not - as ideally we seek unity with all humanity (all life?) regardless of current chosen labelling.

I heard that "we're doing it right, and they're doing it wrong" element too, and I'm somewhat embarassed to say, my gut reaction is "damn right!"

I have so much trouble finding a path to understanding. It's really easy for me to write people off as idiots, or satan spawn (ok, well, not exactly)

I have been amazed at how much conservative christians speak as if atheists are likely to be murderers, liars, etc. because they don't believe in God. and tend to respond snippishly with something like "well, if that works for you, I'm glad YOU believe in God, myself I have plenty of other reasons for not killing people"

(When I was younger, two friends of mine, a couple, brought up the idea of a "threesome" to me, and I was pretty freaked out - I loved them both, was reasonably attracted to each of them, etc, but had no desire to (well, not much) to explore that - I mentioned it to a friend who is a conservative christian and she seemed genuinely bewildered - Why wouldn't I, if I didnt' care what God thought?)

Now, sometimes I think that's just hysterical propaganda, but then I also think that if belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ is, for some, integral to what keeps them from murdering people, of course it's scary to them if others don't share it. Sometimes it's hard to untangle our belief systems, and see what's true and only what's true.

It's befuddling.


At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sometimes sad when I see these polarizations. As I asked my husband the last two presidential elections, "Am I the only purple?"

And yet, I know myself, and my tendency is toward the Pharasees. And I, too, get upset every time I see a new false idol casting a shadow away from the Light.

I see the shadows between us as one more idol between us all and the Light, when we magnify them into gulfs.


At 7:32 PM, Anonymous kwix said...

Well put, Lorcan. I think your basic insight about the differing perspectives of "left" and "right" is indeed spot on. The challenge for all of us to to be able to grasp both those truths -- the lefty truth of relationship/meaning and the rightish truth of disicpline/morality -- simultaneously without invalidating either.

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