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, October 24, 2009

Historically, the Voice of God is More Often Heard in the Voice of the Dissident

Seth Arthur Lorcan Florence (Mum) by Eugenie Gilmore-Otway


Jesus, Gandhi, King, Bonheoffer, Dekanawida, Fox… I have a hard time thinking of a time when God’s voice was heard in the words of the brokers of power and privilege. And yet, for any institution, even our own Meetings, it is the voice of the dissident which is the most feared and suppressed. And yet, again and again, history finds the voice of the dissident was that signpost on the arch of justice, proved right by the passage of time. So, a foundation of Quakerism is to joyfully include a diversity of opinion on committees - knowing that though it makes for more difficult roads to discernment, the outcome is God’s voice expressed in our unity. To exclude dissident voices, because of the paths picked by those few who would be leadership in a Quaker community, is to exclude the voice of God from our processes. I realize that today it is quaint, in the face of corporate interests, to believe God speaks to us, but there is much about me which some find quaint, and I am unapologetic about the quaintness of my faith.

Many know that taking care of a sick parent, a seriously struggling business, makes it impossible for me to be at the next Quarterly Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. I know, deeply in my heart, that those who support the "truth" as defined by power and wealth, by "the way of the world" by "corporate realities in the modern world" will be very happy that I am called elsewhere. My greatest hope is that one Friend may, in the light of courage, in faith, read the letter from the Birmingham Jail, read of Fox standing in church and stopping business as usual, let God lead you to say the time to live our faith is now, and in the spirit of King, Gandhi and Fox, stop business as usual until such time as we stop the politicking and allow God into our Meetings. http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

For those who ask how can is it possible to stand up to the powers that be in this quarter and demand a place for dissident voices, let me remind Friends that when two Friends were both marginalized by their past disagreements - on opposite sides of the factions which unfortunatly exist in our Meeting, one was outright blacklisted from service in our Meetings, and the other refused to serve, I labored to get one voice onto nominating, then immediately labored to get the other onto Pastoral Care… it is not about the outcome, not about representing one point of view or another, it is about voices in process.

It takes one courageous voice to stand up in Meetings, with King, Gandhi, Bonheoffer, Dekanawida, Fox, Jesus, and God. Business as usual is worship, it is simply business. You can be one of the crowd who stood by as Citizen’s Committee’s did their terrible work, or worse yet, as the NRA co-opted King’s memory for the Gulf war, you could stand with the crowd who watched Rome do its terrible work in Judea, you can stand with those who watched as Fox was dragged from churches and beaten, or you could be moved to hear the voice of the dissident, sit at the lunch counter, as hard as that was and is… stop business as usual.

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