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, August 26, 2006

Quakerism 101 Name Calling in the Society of Friends

Paul L's comment that Martin's article is well balanced is rather disturbing. In America today, we seem to have lost sight of the difference between statements of fact, the basis for loving confrontation and opinion and insult. For Quakers and Christians this is not a light issue, it is the core of our faith, which contrary to what Martin has said, IS to be present to that of God in everyone. I agree with a Wilberite recorded minister, with whom I discussed this several weeks ago, that the core of our faith is in the recognition of this and the living of this presence and one has removed oneself from process to the point that one is no longer a Quaker without this presence to God in others.
I think we really need to get back to basics. In the last post, I might not have been clear enough. I see name calling again and again in the Society of Friends. It can be funny, when it is the all too human frustration in a Friend who then actively looks inside. For example, I received a call a few years ago from a Friend who was beside himself, as another Friend called him a liar. I said to him that he was right, that is not right, If a Friend does not see eye to eye on the facts of a thing, instead of saying the Friend is a liar, one should seek out that Friend and say, I don't understand thy conclusion, I see it like this ... name calling gets us no where, it stops the conversation and breaks the relatedness at the core of our society. "Your right," the Friend replied, "the bitch!" True story. But the end is what makes if funny, that Friend looked within at the conflict within himself and came to terms with his own conflicts.

When a Friend accuses another of whining, of this is simply name calling, simple ad hominem attack and does not bring us to unity. To claim to be in the Quaker mainstream and be a Friend at all is to show a complete lack of understanding of our faith and our practice. The only road to unity possible in the face of name-calling is for one or the other to leave the meeting, and that is not our way. The mainstream of faith demands a degree of personal humility and bending towards each other. This faith only works when Friends respect each other, and actively work for peace in our meetings. I think the most critical part of my being a mainstream Friend is that I walk to meeting. I have seen many Friends who travel to meetings because they can't get along. If a Friend can't get along in the Friend's home meeting, that Friend might do well to actively seek out the reason why, not in others, but in that Friend's heart.

If the Friend believes that the Friend as clerk does not call on young Friends, has this Friend approached the Friend and asked for clearness? If Friends support this Friends observations, instead of supporting him in his name calling, have they approached the Friend and attempted to help bring about clearness? All this is not only the first fundamental of ALL expressions of Quakerism, it is fundamental and core in Christianity, in the sermon on the mount when we are reminded not to go into the temple without attempting to end on going conflicts... Frankly, I am at a loss. I see more and more Friends supporting conflict over loving confrontation and adding fuel to the fire by supporting those who express hateful things, who divide us while refusing to meet for clearness with other members. This is no little matter. Without loving attempts at unity this is simply an exercise in hypocrisy. Now, let us look at that... I am not calling Martin a hypocrite, that would be simple name calling. What I am saying is that none of us can claim to be a member of a peace community if we slam the door in each other's face. The aspect of hypocrisy is the simple. How can you call yourself a person devoted to peace if you (pl.) can only make peace with people with whom you agree? Peace is about opening to those with whom you are in conflict. War is just that, folks killing each other until they have lost enough that they seek peace. We who as Friends state we will not study war anymore, seek peace first, open ourselves with respect to each other.

Folks often seek power by pointing people to their inner weaknesses. The oldest trick in the book is to become leadership by saying, "folks don't treat you right, but together we don't need the others ... we are an elect..." Such movements do not move to the center of a community but become a self supporting clique within. It takes the realization that thee and the other are both deserving of respect to become part of the mainstream. We are not a community of marginalized angry people, we are a single society of love. There are other faiths that point fingers, and name call, and dig in, fortress ing our prejudices, angers, hurts, but this is not Quakerism.

If I did not love Martin, as much as any other Friend from the youngest child in our meeting to the oldest member, I would not pursue this. I will not give up on him assuming that he is beyond introspection. I continue to invite him to meet for clearness, with me and with all the others in our society who he attacks on line by name or by inference. I invite him to enter the main stream of the society he claims membership within.


At 10:37 AM, Blogger Thee, Hannah! said...

Oh, how I wish our meeting were reading both of these posts. I have not seen the Philadelphia article, but based in Martin's post, on the one hand, I can understand the frustration people feel--the running joke at our meeting is that people become clerk and then drop out for five years after their terms are over, out of sheer exhaustion and disillusionment. We're burning out our most capable leaders.

On the other hand, we've certainly shot ourselves in the feet repeatedly in the past through careless words, egotism, and tunnel-visioning our own pet causes without regard to the input of fellow f/Friends. I can think of so many examples of this it makes me shudder.

You're right; this is counterproductive on so many levels. Not only do we get defensive and not communicate with each other, I imagine we get defensive and don't communicate with ourselves because we're too busy worrying about who called us what.


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