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, July 20, 2006

Mark Wutka's Wonderful Questions

Mark Wutka really summarizes all the questions in looking at theology and philosophers, I think. Do read his comment to yesterdays posting. Mark thee is correct in thy question. What it boils down to, is a fine line between fact and opinion.

Let me use thy comment as an outline. "You refer to Quakers who talk about George Fox as "backward-looking", yet you have frequently brought up Elias Hicks. Is it only okay to look back at certain people?"

Fox began us on a process of worship and approaching the world in Peace. In this approach he and I have much in common, and if we were to meet over the centuries, we would recognize each other on much about Quaker Process. He was a man of the Seventeenth Century, so, on many scientific facts, he and I would not right off, see eye to eye, but in his process I would stay open to hear him, and I expect he'd be open to hear me. To look back on his facts and opinions is backward looking, as the facts change over time as the process of openness continues. I have access to comparative biblical studies that just did not exist in his day. Most people could not compare early texts of the bible as they were undiscovered or un translated.

Hicks and I agreed on the issue of inclusive Quakerism, and as with the facts of his day and some opinions we would not be in unity. For example, Hicks did not believe, as a personal observation, we should make graven images of each other. Like his nephew, Edward, I love making images and do not believe it violates my faith. The strength of the Hicksite tradition, is that from the example of Elias' dearness towards his nephew, and treatment of others with whom he did not agree, I know Elias would have stayed in process with me and I would not worry about him driving me from my meeting.

"You say you are not anti-Christian, but you seem in many of your posts to be discrediting Christianity as a corruption and misunderstanding of a Jewish Rabbi."

Some Christians consider me a Christian, and I don't run from that definition. If as a Christian, it is meant that the message of Yeshua is vital in my faith, as is the message of Fox and Hicks. However, as with Fox and Hicks, with whom I would not be in unity on certain opinions and facts, I know as a matter of scholarship, that the Jesus of the present Bibles cannot be the Yeshua of history. The statement that Christianity is a corruption and misunderstanding of a Jewish Rabbi, I would say, is a fact provable in a court of law. The changes in the texts, in order to conform his life and teaching to a violent growing institution of Christendom where so extensive that much detail of his life and much of his teaching has been buried under the weight of untruths. However, I think there is an outline that is valid and more, is vital.

Yeshua was born in Judea. He, as a young man follows John the Baptist. John believed that ritual washing was central to Judaism. Yeshua fell out with him over this, coming to believe that feeding each other, both literally and spiritually was the central ideal in Judaism as we were spiritually clean, and that we needed to feed each other in these ways beyond the division of nation or faith, and in so doing, we walked in the light of God. He was crucified and during that, this man who said we will not thirst cried out that he was thirsty and was forsaken by our father. His followers were pitched into despair. Shortly there after, a stranger prepared a meal for them as they landed from fishing, and they said, "he is risen." For me, they meant the seeds he planted grew, strangers were feeding strangers, literally food and spirit.

Now, am I less a Christian because I do not believe his body was reanimated? For many yes. For them, I am not a member of their tribe, and some who feel I am not their tribe turn their back on me, block me from comment on their blogs, bar the door of their heart to me. Which of us is Christian, well, that is a matter of theology. For me, we should all feed each other, literally and in spirit. I try and do that each day. Even those deep dark days in this past worst year of my life, I remain committed to Yeshua's lesson, feeding others as I can and remaining open to be fed as they can feed me.

"You say that "we should not bar the door to the Christian Bible", just after you mention violence in early Christianity followed immediately by the fact that people refuse to use nazi research. What kind of a conclusion are we supposed to draw from that?"

I draw the conclusion that we look at the violence we brought into our hearts in creating a Christian tribe, rather than following the tribeless faith of Yeshua. Once we make Yeshua a God, or the only intermediary of God, then we express the violence of the bible and reject his lesson of feeding each other, and tribelessness. Once we need others to believe the facts of our faith, we build walls between us, and I think walls between us and the message of Yeshua.
We accept the violence of the genocide against the Cathars, the Jews, all who did not accept the editorial and factual changes that made these books the present bible and all the other books officially false.

"Perhaps you are only trying to argue against requiring Quakers to be Christian, but your result is that you are belittling the entire tradition in the process."

Exactly. Right on the point. As someone who was led to inclusion by the processes traditional to my Hicksite upbringing, I feed lovingly Quakers who believe Jesus is God, or God's only son, or a perfect being... but, I will speak to their power to build walls that exclude me in the same way I will speak truth to the powers that drop bombs. In love and in the courage to know it will take time and effort.
I would not say belittling. I am rejecting as I reject all violence, that part of Christianity which is a prize of war. I am not belittling or rejecting thee, or any other who accept those parts of the story which come into our homes on the blood of Cathar or Jewish martyrs, or all those burned, shot with arrow or bullet, all who were starved in prisons, or drowned in the tides. This telling of the story of Jesus, whose blood as a drop in the process that included the blood of so many innocents, killed for their loving faith.

Mark, dear Mark. Thy questions gave me the opportunity to make this more clear I hope, and I hope thee has more such questions as it leads us to unity in our one God.

Thine, all of you, dearly in the light
lor

17 Comments:

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

PS Mark, just added a link to thy blog

 
At 6:30 PM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:18 AM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Dear Lor,
I'm not sure I understand your answer to the first question. To look back at George Fox's opinions is "backward-looking" but to look back at Elias Hicks is not? I would think that if you think it is important to listen to and understand others, that would apply to George Fox just as well as your next-door neighbor. Instead, it sounds as if you just write him off because you don't agree with him.

I also think that you would have a hard time proving in court that Christianity is a corruption and misunderstanding of a Jewish Rabbi. Yes, you can easily prove the corruption of texts, although to assert that it was a violent movement in the early days requires a very large stretch of the imagination, considering that in the face of persecution by the Romans, the early Christians allowed themselves to be killed rather than fight. And can you really prove that Paul and his companions didn't hear a voice identifying itself as Jesus on the road to Damascus? If you can, I'm sure there are a number of scholars who would be interested in your evidence. Isn't requiring people to accept the facts of one's faith the same thing as requiring people to reject what they believe to be the facts of their faith?

As you mentioned the fine line between fact and opinion, I would urge you to look at your outline of the life of Yeshua and truly question what is fact and opinion, not just in what is there, but in what is not there. It sounds to me like you are using your description as the indicator for what is okay to accept and what was brought about by violence, and that doesn't seem all that different from what you accuse others of doing. Is this a case of becoming what you fight against?
With love,
Mark

 
At 6:26 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear, freind and Friend, Mark...
There is a thunderstorm starting, so this is a quick note... it might require more explanation, but I am not sure if I can get on line after the storm comes for quite awhile... a day of storms..
so excuse if I might not make things as clear as I would wish...

"I'm not sure I understand your answer to the first question. To look back at George Fox's opinions is "backward-looking" but to look back at Elias Hicks is not?"

Ah, thee points to a hole in my post, thanks. There is, in statements of philosophy statements of fact, statements of opinion, and statements of process. Opinions are generally based in fact. The Christian Church up to the time of Galileo observed the fact of the sun moving across the sky and stars wheeling overhead, so they came to the opinion from those facts that the earth was the center of the universe. Their process of discernment was centered on a single last word in the pope, and torture, so this process took some time to accept both new facts and opinions. Much of Fox and Hicks observations and opinions do stand up over time, as they were both very remarkable men. Some does not. Fox initiated a process of discernment which is core in Quakerism, which, as anything else in human activity, grew and changed over time. Hicks added to that process. Our processes change across the board. I don't know of any meetings that have men and women's meetings for business these days. So, I would say, I reject and accept equal amounts of Fox and Hick, as most Quakers do. I don't think any Friends today would say slaves should be faithful to their masters, for example, and very few who feel making a picture of a person is not right.
Another example can be seen in the difference between Marx and communist parties. Marx, clearly in his writing was setting out to explain a method of examining history and politics, not setting out a series of conclusions. When communist parties create lists of unmoving conclusions based on observations Marx made in his life, Karl himself would say, "you missed the point of my writing" I am sure.

" I would think that if you think it is important to listen to and understand others, that would apply to George Fox just as well as your next-door neighbor. Instead, it sounds as if you just write him off because you don't agree with him."

Ah no, not at all. I have read, and I read Fox often. I often quote him. However, as thee knows in business meeting, to take part in the process of unity, thee must be present. Unfortunately when someone dies, they cannot take part in the dialogue of discernment, and so a portion of their opinion is lost to us. So, perhaps there is more Fox would have said about slavery, where he hear now, and had witnessed another three hundred and fifty years of history. But, to quote him as an unchallengeable voice is to give him a proxy in our meetings for business, and thee knows that we do not accept proxy voices at a meeting for worship with an intent to do business. One must be there to listen as much as to speak.

"I also think that you would have a hard time proving in court that Christianity is a corruption and misunderstanding of a Jewish Rabbi. Yes, you can easily prove the corruption of texts, although to assert that it was a violent movement in the early days requires a very large stretch of the imagination, considering that in the face of persecution by the Romans, the early Christians allowed themselves to be killed rather than fight."

They did, and during that time there was a great diversity in Christian thought. Then Rome adopted Christianity as a state religion and the oppressors became the medium for spreading Christianity, thereby investing a lot of what today we call a sense of White empowerment. Even the gospels of Paul and John where re-edited after that process.

"And can you really prove that Paul and his companions didn't hear a voice identifying itself as Jesus on the road to Damascus? If you can, I'm sure there are a number of scholars who would be interested in your evidence."

Hypothetical. Thee is in a jury. There come witness, all with different views about the killing of a man. Most say, this man said XY and Z, was killed by so and so, they heard it from those who knew him but, unfortunately it is all hear say. Then one witness says I was struck by lightning, and though I never met him I can tell you what a voice said to me. Now, do you hang your case on the rational world around you, for example, in the four or so examples of describing events after the death of the person, one speaks about the continuation of his work and views, the others speak of an resurrected dead person. Can you really tell me that you would vote to acquit or vote guilty on the strength of the ghost stories or the more mundane story. If it is a case of the first, I am not sure I would choose thee for a jury, unless I thought my client was guilty! I think, in growing up with the Quaker idea that this is the time of revelation, not some distant time when God behaved differently, every moment God speaks and acts with us in the same way, I look to those events which speak to me of the natural law I experience each day in my life.
The reason for this, is that these aspects the story which are not examples of the way the world works, create a bar to unity with others who either believe we live in a rational world, or those who follow other myths. So, can these myths be illustrative? Of course. But, should the belief in them be a shibboleth of our tribe? In my opinion, not if we seek a universal truth. One thing that is observable over the course of human history is that there has never been a single set of fundamentals that has created a perfect system all can follow.

" Isn't requiring people to accept the facts of one's faith the same thing as requiring people to reject what they believe to be the facts of their faith?"

I don't say thee should not believe thy improbable facts. However, I do say that if thee believes that one need to accept these facts in order to be Quaker, then we must return to the schism and be separate faiths. If this happens, history shows us that our Hicksite branch will grow, and thy branch will split into more and more orthodoxies seeking fundamental truths. I don't think that is a model for peace. Does this mean that Hicksites prevailed in healing the schism, well, maybe, but in so doing, the orthodoxy came together as well. So, today in our meetings, Gurnites and Wilberites find common ground again as well.

"As you mentioned the fine line between fact and opinion, I would urge you to look at your outline of the life of Yeshua and truly question what is fact and opinion, not just in what is there, but in what is not there."

That is a matter of continuing research and thought and deep discernment. For example, one can find in linguistic forensic studies examples of additions to individual gospels, some of which are wonderful to contemplate, but are myth and just not fact. For example, there is great evidence that Nazareth did not exist at the time of Yeshua's birth. If it is the same Nazareth that existed about 100 years latter, the topography is not in keeping with the description. Or, how does the early changes in the words Yeshua did or did not speak on the cross change the meaning of his death... when one accepts one or another set of "facts" the opinion changes. So, we see edits which remove from earlier texts the evidence, as some early Christians would put it, that Jesus was a man who God entered the moment of his baptism, and left during the crucifixion and raised for his faithfulness there after, or bibles which were reedited to remove evidence that he had no form but was a projection as early dualist faiths held... the process of looking at why certain things were written to me is vital, as it asks the question, why did these people need this particular history?

"It sounds to me like you are using your description as the indicator for what is okay to accept and what was brought about by violence, and that doesn't seem all that different from what you accuse others of doing."

I don't think so. I think in accepting the total without question is to internalize what above I call the expectation of White empowerment. The unquestioning rightness of the state, or the rightness of us over them. I suggest we always question, and accept with great care and humility.

"Is this a case of becoming what you fight against?"

Well I hope I don't fight against all this, even the lamb's war! A fight assumes no openness to process... Mark, I am listening to thee and laboring with thee and others as we move towards that unity in God. Some things we may never see eye to eye about, but the laboring together is what makes Quakerism very different.
This might be a little rushed, this writing today, the thunder is getting closer, so I have to get off line, more latter. Again thanks for great and thoughtful questions.
Thine, dear friend, in the light and with love
lor

 
At 8:18 AM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Dear Lor,
I hope that the thunderstorm was not bad. My worst travel experience ever was brought about by summer thunderstorms in New York that closed all 3 airports.

You wrote:
Then Rome adopted Christianity as a state religion and the oppressors became the medium for spreading Christianity, thereby investing a lot of what today we call a sense of White empowerment. Even the gospels of Paul and John where re-edited after that process.
I would like to point out that we do have a number of papyrus fragments that are thought to be from the 3rd century, which pre-dates Rome's adoption of Christianity. I think I would like to see a comparison between the Alexandrian text and these papyri before I reached a more definite conclusion, but I suspect that the current critical text for at least the gospels of Matt, Mark, Luke and John and the book of Acts are reasonably devoid of later edits.

I don't say thee should not believe thy improbable facts.
Did you feel it was necessary to insert the word "improbable"? Was that to reinforce the idea that you have a better understanding of them?

I don't think so. I think in accepting the total without question is to internalize what above I call the expectation of White empowerment. The unquestioning rightness of the state, or the rightness of us over them. I suggest we always question, and accept with great care and humility.
I was not suggesting that we not question. However, I does sound like you are approaching the text with an Enlightenment mindset that nothing extraordinary could have occurred in the bible (much less today), therefore these things must have been added later, similar to the approach used by the Jesus Seminar. I would prefer to at least be open to the idea that Paul and his companions may really have heard a voice, that George Fox did hear that voice inside him tell him that Jesus Christ could speak to his condition. I don't have to draw any conclusions about whether this implies any particular divinity or that it forms some theological framework, but I prefer to assume that George was at least telling the truth, and that Paul was as well, rather than just discount it because it doesn't fit within my current belief structure.

I hope you understand that I am not arguing that Quakers should be required to believe any specific facts, or even that Quakers should be required to read or accept the bible. What I am saying is that I think you have assumed a certain set of facts and you use them to suggest that those of us who read the bible are commiting the same atrocity as those that would use nazi research (regardless of your intent, that's what your posting yesterday sounded like to me). You also use them to imply that anything of Christianity outside your understanding of Jesus' life and ministry is a creation of the Romans and was brought about by violent means. In the face of these kinds of comments, is it any surprise that someone from a Christian background might feel more nurtured among a different group of Quakers?
With love,
Mark

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear Mark:

"I hope that the thunderstorm was not bad. My worst travel experience ever was brought about by summer thunderstorms in New York that closed all 3 airports."

It was over very fast, no damage here, 23,000 folks without power in another borough!


"Then Rome adopted Christianity as a state religion and the oppressors became the medium for spreading Christianity, thereby investing a lot of what today we call a sense of White empowerment. Even the gospels of Paul and John where re-edited after that process.
I would like to point out that we do have a number of papyrus fragments that are thought to be from the 3rd century, which pre-dates Rome's adoption of Christianity."

These passing hundreds of years created a vast number of different Christ stories. Even today, with mass media and easy access to information, Dr. King's ministry is already going through a large amount of myth making and rewriting of history. For example, at the start of the first Gulf War, Charston Heston said, this was a war even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have supported. After death folks add their agenda to the words great men spoke. It is human nature.
There is a vast amount to read about all this, for example Elaine Pagels, John Dominic Crossan, Bart. D. Ehrman, all right about comparative studies of early gospels. Ehrman has a wonderful chapter on the coping of early gospels describing the challenges of folks coping long lines of Greek, which had no breaks for words, and how there are obvious errors in skipped lines, and others where scribes thought they were correcting errors.

Crossan makes a good point, in The Historical Jesus: "...But any analysis of a historical Jesus must be open to the disciplined historical methods of its contemporary world and mus be able to stand up to its judgements without special pleading... " Much of the present bible is not in keeping with contemporary writing, the trial of the sanhedran, the fact that there are not separate accounts of the larger miracles, as there are accounts from other parties about, for example, the wars of King David... By the second century the various gospels are already undergoing huge changes, and no contemporary account gives any sense of Judea which conforms to the accounts we have from 300 years on.
Ehrman writes about the complaints of Christians as early as the second century about the revisions made in the texts of gospels by scribes, these are passed on and copied, and copied with an eye and an ear to the story which fits the theological point of view of the writer. Should this lead me to believe that for some reason God chose to break all the laws of the universe to set an example at a time when the passing on of witness is at its most perilous?


"I think I would like to see a comparison between the Alexandrian text and these papyri before I reached a more definite conclusion, but I suspect that the current critical text for at least the gospels of Matt, Mark, Luke and John and the book of Acts are reasonably devoid of later edits."


No, that is unfortunately not the case, for example, in the beginning of Mark, ( from Ehrman) "Just as is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold I am sending a messenger before your face... Makes straight his paths." Ehrman points our that the beginning questions is not from Isaiah at all, but is a combination of passages from Exodus and Malachi. So, scribes changed it to say, " as written in the prophets... " Reading Jewish scholars like Harold Bloom, and others, thee will find that early Christians edited the Hebrew Scriptures to conform to the new story they were telling about the foretelling of Jesus.

The entire, "In the begining was the word... " was a latter addition...

"I don't say thee should not believe thy improbable facts.
Did you feel it was necessary to insert the word "improbable"? Was that to reinforce the idea that you have a better understanding of them? "

No it reflects decades of reading commentary by historians who point to the factual inaccuracies in the gospels. Understanding? Well that is a matter of theology, and I think, even with flawed history we all draw great wisdom from seeking understanding of the lessons in the texts... even in those suppressed by the church, like Thomas.

"I don't think so. I think in accepting the total without question is to internalize what above I call the expectation of White empowerment. The unquestioning rightness of the state, or the rightness of us over them. I suggest we always question, and accept with great care and humility.
I was not suggesting that we not question. However, I does sound like you are approaching the text with an Enlightenment mind set that nothing extraordinary could have occurred in the bible (much less today), therefore these things must have been added later, similar to the approach used by the Jesus Seminar. I would prefer to at least be open to the idea that Paul and his companions may really have heard a voice, that George Fox did hear that voice inside him tell him that Jesus Christ could speak to his condition. I don't have to draw any conclusions about whether this implies any particular divinity or that it forms some theological framework, but I prefer to assume that George was at least telling the truth, and that Paul was as well, rather than just discount it because it doesn't fit within my current belief structure."

I think we are in unity on that. I do believe Fox and Paul and others heard the voice of God. I do think that it is when we attempt to put in into strict human language that we get into trouble and divide.

"I hope you understand that I am not arguing that Quakers should be required to believe any specific facts, or even that Quakers should be required to read or accept the bible. What I am saying is that I think you have assumed a certain set of facts and you use them to suggest that those of us who read the bible are committing the same atrocity as those that would use nazi research (regardless of your intent, that's what your posting yesterday sounded like to me)."

No, I would say that those who use the bible to divide us into a new schism, might be internalizing the unbending sense of rightness that cultures who commit genocide build into their mind set. It is hard to say I don't know when thy culture has violently conquered the world.

" You also use them to imply that anything of Christianity outside your understanding of Jesus' life and ministry is a creation of the Romans and was brought about by violent means. In the face of these kinds of comments, is it any surprise that someone from a Christian background might feel more nurtured among a different group of Quakers?"

No, in fact, I am saying that all I know of Yeshua's teaching, I can only say this or that might be true, as the two thousand year purge of heresies has buried a lot of who Yeshua might have been. I am fairly sure I have to search for him in Jewish contemporaries, like Hill el, as Yeshua did not surround himself with others than Jews, he followed Jewish law. I am quite close to most Christocentric Friends in my meeting. My concern for them, and in seeking unity, I write about these things here, rather than giving messages about this in meeting, as I know that messages about this, are not for all in the meeting, and will divide us. This is not the case of many Christocentric Friends, who sometimes preach, with an intent to convince, which in a meeting with many points of view, seems to me to be not trying hard to find a transcendent message.

Joy and good weather to thee!
Thy friend
lor

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear Friend Mark:
A question for thee. How would thee deal with a Friend who taught in First Day School, that as Fox said slaves should work diligently for their masters and not rise up, and the bible accepts slavery that this First Day School teacher feels Woolman and Hicks diverged from our faith in opposing slavery? Does this not raise the same questions as thee poses to me?
Thine in the light
lor

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Dear Lor,
I'm not sure which of my questions the slavery one is related to.

I think I would start with a discussion about taking the bible literally, vs. understanding it in light of continuing revelation. In the case of Paul, while in our time we see his position as undesirable, what he was proposing was at least a more humane relationship. Paul is often difficult to deal with when read literally, but that doesn't mean we should avoid him. I think perhaps that I would start from Jesus' admonition to love your neighbor as yourself, and that this being the second greatest commandment, and that enslaving your fellow human is in no way an act of love, that Woolman and Hicks were not diverging from our faith.

I would also urge a little caution in patting ourselves over the back as far as Woolman goes, and I'm not sure about Hicks. I saw a talk by Vanessa Julye and Donna McDaniel where they pointed out that Woolman was advocating that Quakers not own slaves, but not necessarily the abolishment of slavery overall.

With respect to biblical scholarship, is it possible you are drawn to more radical authors like Crossan, Pegels and Ehrman because they are more likely to support your viewpoint? Also, my point about the early manuscripts was not that there weren't changes, but that these changes predate the Roman adoption of Christianity, so it is difficult to see how they were a result of the Romans imposing a culture of violence over Jesus' teachings. There was also a different view of scholarship back then, so I would hesitate to attribute some dark plan to authors who may have taken some liberties with the Hebrew scriptures. It may be scandalous to us today, but it was not during their time.

I am sorry that you feel tht in your meeting people are trying to convert you to their point of view. I know it must be painful, but it certainly feels at times that you are sort of hitting back by your depiction of Christianity. I'm not sure that is right, either. It isn't exactly a transcendent message when you tell people that their bible is a corrupted product of a violent culture.
With love,
Mark

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Mark:

The end of your note, is really the point in all this, when Christocentric Friends sow disunity on important leading's, such as support of the family and Friends of Tom Fox ( see Richard's blog... )

So...

"I'm not sure which of my questions the slavery one is related to."

The idea of standing on the Bible as history rather than inspired writing. If one takes it to be history, and exact in that history, the bible advocates slavery, and the idea of not questioning Fox, fox was at best week on slavery...

"I think I would start with a discussion about taking the bible literally, vs. understanding it in light of continuing revelation."

Yes indeed. Just as we may be careful in saying that we should not believe in, for example, that of God in everyone, because Fox did not say this, as was a matter of concern in our meeting lately... and the inspiration of this post... "

" In the case of Paul, while in our time we see his position as undesirable, what he was proposing was at least a more humane relationship. Paul is often difficult to deal with when read literally, but that doesn't mean we should avoid him."

I agree, there is wonderful things in Paul, and yet, I feel one should be careful about the objectification of a human being or the devaluing of the Hebrew Scriptures one finds in Paul and in John.

" I think perhaps that I would start from Jesus' admonition to love your neighbor as yourself, and that this being the second greatest commandment,"

Yes... it is in the spirit of Hill el saying to do nothing to another that is abhorrent to thyself, that is the Torah and the rest is commentary...

"and that enslaving your fellow human is in no way an act of love, that Woolman and Hicks were not diverging from our faith."

Yes. And the fact that Fox did not say "there is that of God in everyone", and said things, such as slaves should obey their masters, is an example that revelation continues, and a reason that in our faith we do not have popes. And that we can say to each other, to make an object, even an object of worship out of a man, devalues that man, makes him into a golden idol, and we can labor with that together without feeling alienated from our faith, but part of the process which ended slavery. Perhaps new data will show that in fact, the Hebrew Scriptures which were reordered and edited by Christians, were forgeries, and I will have to change my view... I am open to new revelation.

"I would also urge a little caution in patting ourselves over the back as far as Woolman goes,"

True, I have heard Vanessa speak as well...

"and I'm not sure about Hicks."

Hicks was pretty good! He said, not only should we free slaves, but we had a responsibility to include them in free Quaker education. He was an early believer in reparations.

"I saw a talk by Vanessa Julye and Donna McDaniel where they pointed out that Woolman was advocating that Quakers not own slaves, but not necessarily the abolishment of slavery overall."



"With respect to biblical scholarship, is it possible you are drawn to more radical authors like Crossan, Pegels and Ehrman because they are more likely to support your viewpoint?"

Maybe, but I have read authors who support Biblical authority, from Bonhoffer to those who advocate against evolution. Bonhoffer, who I love dearly and respect greatly, writes with great logical presentation, often stepping away from logic at the end of a paragraph to say that the conclusion is only possible in Christ. The creationists, I find I disagree with because their methodology is not honest. Crossan is not really very radical in scholastic circles because he backs every thing he says with hard factual evidence, secondary sources, and archeology.

"Also, my point about the early manuscripts was not that there weren't changes, but that these changes predate the Roman adoption of Christianity, so it is difficult to see how they were a result of the Romans imposing a culture of violence over Jesus' teachings."

Yes, I think thee missed my response. Before Rome adopted Christianity, there was a huge diversity in opinion about the nature of Jesus. A quick off the top of my head listing, 1. Jesus was born of Joseph and Mary and was a great rabbi. 2. Jesus was born of Joseph and Mary and lived a perfect life and so God entered him at Baptism and joined with him abandoning him during the crucifixion, then raising him for his faithfulness. 3. Jesus was a projection of God, in an evil world created by the devil who is the God of the Hebrew Scriptures, and so was "born" of a virgin, Mary, who was also born of a virgin. 4. Jesus was born of a virgin impregnated with the spirit of God, died on the cross and three days latter arose. There are a bunch of other scenarios. The one that won out, did so, not simply, as at first by re-edits, but after Rome adopted several of the multiplicity of gospels, that Gospel had the advantage of being protected by the sword and the rack. So when the truth of this final adoption of the gospels are promoted to me as being true by their being inspired by God alone, I am a little doubtful. I wonder what the gospels would have been like had they evolved without a big and dangerous institution behind them?

" There was also a different view of scholarship back then, so I would hesitate to attribute some dark plan to authors who may have taken some liberties with the Hebrew scriptures. It may be scandalous to us today, but it was not during their time."

Yes indeed. In a semi oral tradition it was easier to say, these old stories don't get it right. And those edits and early Christians did not so much have trouble from their fellow Jews, but were fed to the lions by Romans, who also oppressed Jews. I actually had a Hasid friend explain his view of Yeshua's power, and was surprised that it virtually paroled some early dualist theologies and wonder if there is a survival of some early Christian stories in very orthodox Jewish oral tradition.

"I am sorry that you feel tht in your meeting people are trying to convert you to their point of view. I know it must be painful, but it certainly feels at times that you are sort of hitting back by your depiction of Christianity. I'm not sure that is right, either."

More to the point, to break the unity of a meeting on this, on matters tangential, like support of Tom Fox's meeting's minute.

"It isn't exactly a transcendent message when you tell people that their bible is a corrupted product of a violent culture."

Exactly... which is why I would reject as likely ego, a message which comes to me in meeting about this. It is an intellectual discussion for blogs and worship sharing, where we labor with each other on leading's and theology, rather than meeting where we seek transcendent truths. We are fully in unity on this.

With love,

lor

 
At 7:37 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

PS Crossan was also a Vatican Historian, until his findings ran afoul of Church doctrine, not really radical background, but rather impressive scolastic credentials, as has Ehrman who is the chair of the religios studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began is journy as a Christian fundimentalist... I do like Harlod Bloom who is perhaps radical, and somewhat controversal, but mostly because he has this remarkable sense of irony. He really is a lot of fun to read.

 
At 7:02 AM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Dear Lor,
Crossan is quite interesting, and does have a lot to teach. I heard a talk he gave here in Atlanta last year. I wasn't able to attend, I just listened online. Ehrman is likewise interesting. In a debate earlier this year about the Da Vinci Code (warning: very long), he mentioned that he had attended Moody Bible College and said "where 'Bible' is our middle name". I didn't mention these men, nor Elaine Pagels, to discredit them, but that they all represent a certain viewpoint and likely you picked them up and read them because they bolstered your viewpoint. I think we all tend to do this, and while it is difficult not to, I think it is important to realize it, and to occasionally challenge ourselves.
With love,
Mark

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Mark:

The point, I think, I am grasping at, is that it is not the system that is good or bad. That there is nothing uniquely bad about Christianity, or uniquely good. There is good in Christianity, but that good is common to humanity at large. The bad stems from the belief in the damnation of others. Belief in damnation, negation, shunning and killing comes from the belief in the uniqueness of the good in one's system.
So, British people believe in a unique good in being British so they murder millions at the start of their industrial period, from Ireland to China they leave a trail of the damned heathens. The United States people believe in a unique good in being a citizen of the United States, and so they murder Africans by the million to build our nation, destroy hundreds of nations of Indians, drop bombs today... Russian Communists believed their system uniquely good and killed everyone from Austro Marxists, to landed poor farmers, Chinese Communists believe their system to be uniquely good, and so they kill untold millions, South Africans, West Africans, East Africans, North Africans, Persians, Mongols, all damning and negating. All systems based on exclusion.
There are few systems of inclusion in the world, as we tend to not be as strong, because we don't damn, negate and kill. Exclusive Quakerism does not kill, but it negates and damns. Inclusive Quakerism does not. I don't call for shunning another because of a set of principles, in fact I would not shun another for any reason.
That great statement by Hill el, that we should treat each other as we would be treated and love God, is the faith and the rest is commentary, is what it is all about. When we make the commentary our faith, it is a hollow truth.

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Dear Lor,
It might be better to find a different way to describe things other than "inclusive Quakerism" vs. "exclusive Quakerism". It seems to me that your description of non-Hicksite Quakers does not describe them accurately. It feels like you attribute to them some of the worst practices of those professing to be Christian.

The early Quakers used the bible as a guide to make sure they were following the guidance of the inward Light, not as a rule book to be followed. They were considerably different from most of the Christian groups at that time. They also felt that the community had some responsibility for the spiritual guidance of its members, and vice-versa. This wasn't always a perfect system, since egos often caused problems - elders might have been selected for some reason other than that they demonstrated good discernment, for example.

There are some groups of Quakers who try to continue these practices. As far as I can tell, they do not suggest that other groups are damned to Hell or anything like that (yes, I know there are Friends that do just that). These Friends have found that the bible and writings of earlier Friends help them realize when they may have strayed from the inward guide - and sometimes they acknowledge that they are led to do and say things that earlier Friends did not.

The Hicksite Friends seem to have mostly morphed into a group that rejects the idea of using anything as a guide - it is just important what you discern as an individual. There is not as much emphasis on inward guidance (sometimes even outright denial of it) as there is on interrelations with others. It also seems like the Hicksites are not immune to the idea of "we're right and you're wrong" given the amount of condemnation I have heard towards Christ-centered Friends.

For some Christ-centered Friends in Hicksite meetings, I think there is some level of frustration that a discussion of the bible does not lead towards how it applies to their spiritual life, but becomes a condemnation of Christianity or of the bible (see above discussion). That frustration manifests itself in different ways, some of which are calls to return to a more Christ-centered version of Quakerism. Others just wander off to find people that speak their language, or that have practices that they find helpful in their path to unity with the Divine Spirit within us.

It is equally obvious that many Hicksite Friends feel frustrated and excluded because they are unable to believe in any concept of God, and they feel like they are being made to feel unwelcome or excluded by people who do feel this way. There are people who feel that everything should be able action, and that "doing something" means that they are listening. On one hand, it is good that these people can come together and worship, but I think there is also something lost because people are more hesitant to talk about their spiritual life on a deep level for fear of making someone feel excluded.

I guess what I am saying here is that I don't think you should necessarily label Christ-centered Quakers and groups as exclusive and Hicksite groups as inclusive, because there is a certain amount of inclusion and exclusion happening on both sides. To do so seems to gravitate towards the "we're right and they're wrong" mindset that you attribute to many Christians.
With love,
Mark

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mark and Lor,

Related to the point on inclusion and exclusion, I see a problem in a kind of pendulum swing at work among some Quakers and Quaker blogs in the present. At times you can discern, for example, judgments bordering on: "17th Century good, 20th Centuries bad - George Fox good, representative Rufus Jones bad" - returning to first Fox foundations good, building on Fox foundations since his era suspect.

Pendulums like this are common in many places - in education the three Rs make way for the open classroom, and back to strict 3Rs. The open classroom peeked in 1968 or so, "No Child Left Behind" marks a new high for standardized 3R testing. The timing of the swings is different in different fields. in the fashion industry last season's designs seem more outdated than designs a decade or two back. Hang on long enough, and it all comes round again. Or an impoverishing pattern comes clearer.

But we may not last long enough here. Convergence and Quaker 2.0 may need to deal with this pattern. By any means necessary, we might aim to comprehend and honor one another's good mission and way better - converge for real.

Thank you for this very important exchange.

Eleanor

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger xianchick said...

you guys are pretty funny.

you know how holy wars start?

by one person worrying about if the other one is offending God.

i love the dialogue, btw, but can one really argue with a quaker? are they not arguing with the Holy Spirit in that case?

 
At 8:50 AM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

xianchick,
I don't think either of us has been discussing whether someone is offending God. I was saying that it is sometimes difficult for people to find the right word for fear of offending the listener. As far as arguing with the Holy Spirit, I think that assumes that Quakers are always listening to and speaking for the Holy Spirit, and while that may be our goal, I think most of us have difficulty doing that 100% of the time.

Lor,
I came across this review of "Misquoting Jesus" that I thought you might be interested in.

With love,
Mark

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Mark:
I read the article thee sites, and it is not badly written, however, it does what much scholarship which seeks to prove the bible as history does, it ignores that any one book is part of a larger world of scholarship. Ehrman does not set out to disprove the Christian Bible in full, but to add to the bulk of work on the subject, an analysis of the manner by which the text of the bible changes for several reasons and explain how that occurs, not a list of each of the 400,000 some changes. I am reminded of the exchange between a Christian writer who said that there are no examples of transitional fossils in human evolution. A archeologist posted several dozen photos to show transitional fossils, and the first writer said they mean nothing.
Well, when trying to prove myth is history, all the proofs in the world are meaningless. I think, personally, then trying to prove myth is history, the meaning behind the myth also looses meaning. I assure thee, I have read, and continue to read scholarship which seeks to prove the history of the bible as fact, I just remain unconvinced. I promise I continue to read, with the open mindedness that Bertrand Russell advises, as if a blank slate... but I can't suspend the scholastic training I received over the years, to weigh the text against contemporary documents and common sense.

PS Thee speaks my mind to my friend Xianchick, in fact, if thee reads my lates comment on Richard's post about That of God within... I agree with the Hasidic story, that we can't be alianated from our God, only not be aware of God... in the words of the old Anglican hymn, "His trust ever child like, no deed can destroy." That still small voice is always there for us, we might struggle to understand that voice, but it is ever present and loving.
Thine in the light
dear fFriends
lor

 

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