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, April 06, 2006

Why can't we be Friends, friends?

Gary Younge, in the Guardian has written an article about the attacks on freedom of expression in universities in the US. It is very apt, as we consider the real definition between progressivism and the state of Quakerism today. I see a shutting down, an anti-intellectualism spreading. Young writes:

After the screenwriter Walter Bernstein was placed on
the blacklist during the McCarthyite era he said his
life "seemed to move in ever-decreasing circles". "Few
of my friends dropped away but the list of
acquaintances diminished," he wrote in Inside Out, a
memoir of the blacklist. "I appeared contaminated and
they did not want to risk infection. They avoided me,
not calling as they had in the past, not responding to
my calls, being nervously distant if we met in public

Latter in the article he states that:

Political assaults on intellectuals are not new. Nor
are they specific to the US. At the dawn of western
civilization, Socrates was executed for filling "young
people's heads with the wrong ideas". Mao targeted
professors for particular humiliation during the
cultural revolution.

Intolerance, control, wielding of fear, acting out on our fears is not just the way of a definable right wing. Folks who think of themselves as "progressive" folks who believe themselves to be active Quakers, use the same tool of alienation and isolation. We begin to be afraid of sharing light, not because we will find others do not agree with us, but because others will seek to push us out of the less than beloved community. We will be accused of being liars, and even be accused of harassment by Friends.

In Quakerism 101, there is a hypothetical, based on a real event. Thee is one the property committee, and Black activists take a meetinghouse in reparations for slavery and exclusion of Blacks from membership there after in the past. Does one call the police?

In fact, in our history, in such events we did not call the police, we sought clearness through our processes, because we choose to live in a world of our beliefs. Harassment. Well, there is a charge thrown at the persistence of George Fox, and many early Friends who persisted in holding those authorities to the light, who by their actions stifled the light of Friends. That Friends should threaten with harassment Friends who are simply begging that we follow process, well, it does not seem to me to be our way.

In the climate of division in the US today, the way of the world creeps easily into our meetinghouses. We all make assumptions, that we act on them at the expense of our traditions which bore up our faith for so long... well, that's the problem. I've never seen a censor, a dictator, a strong arm that did not think at the root of their actions was a justification. I have a dear friend, a member of the most famous infamous Bike gang, who feels that the violence of his community is justified and righteous. Though he is a friend of mine, I don't support him in this belief.

We Friends should make our lives speak. If we believe in Quakerism, how can we create organisations which don't follow those traditions? Are we so afraid of error that we feel it can destroy our community of faith, and in acting on that fear, have we not already destroyed our meetinghouse?

I met a Romany (Gypsy) family in a restaurant, oh, maybe a little less than a year ago. The father asked about my plain clothes, if I was a pastor. I told him no, I was a Quaker. We spoke about the evangelical movement in the Romany community in America. "You know," the fellow said, "You put ten Gypsies in a room, not one will not be afraid of muloh, all us Roma believe and are afraid of the muloh ( ghosts ). Most of the evangelicals use that fear. They concentrate on the devil, 'Beng', as an evil muloh. I love Devlessa ( God), that is what I believe, that is where I put my faith, in love of God. I think a religion that concentrates on fear of the devil, gives Beng too much power."

When fear of each other cuts us off from each other, we give too much power to Beng.

Devlessa, Romale, Shavale, baxt hai sastimos.


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