Quaker

Sitting in weekly silent Quaker worship has provided me both the freedom and nurture for ongoing, continued spiritual growth and discovery. That, in turn, led me to join with the Society of Friends, as we Quakers are formally known, and to treasure our communities of faith. Guided by sets of questions (the queries) rather than creeds, and by direct, daily experience rather than ethereal speculation, Friends embody a radical Christianity that emphasizes simplicity, equality, honesty, nonviolence and pacifism, and personal integrity.

As clerk (the presiding officer) at Friends business sessions, where all decisions are made in unity,without ever taking a vote, I’ve learned to sense that one individual, rather than the majority, may be closer to the optimal outcome – and to allow room for “Way to open” as others unite around that position or even a third unanticipated solution that may surface to our awareness. When we’re faithful and closely follow our Guide, the process of reaching this harmony can be exquisite. When we fall short, though, what we feel can be excruciating, ultimately demanding forgiveness and contrition.

My close examination of the writings of the original “Children of the Light” and “Seekers After Truth” in mid-1600s Britain has convinced me that the first Quakers perceived an alternative Christianity – one they dared not voice fully, given the deadly consequences of the blasphemy laws of the period. Couched in their interlocking metaphors of the Light, the Seed, and the Truth is an outline strikingly different from conventional interpretations of Christ and the person of Jesus.

An overview of my conclusions is available in Revolutionary Light, a free PDF booklet available from Thistle/Flinch editions. For your own copy, simply click here.

Light 1

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The story of the Garden of Eden – brief enough to fit within the concept of flash fiction or microfiction – is an endlessly fascinating tale, once freed from its traditional confines. For starters, there’s no Original Sin in the text and no real reason for Eve to bear the brunt of the blame. Why doesn’t Adam come to her rescue, anyway? Instead, he runs for his life!

For me, this Creation story (the second one in the Bible, at that) encapsulates the beginning of human history and its subsequent struggles. As the centerpiece of my reflections, I ponder some of the dimensions suggested in the Eden events. No matter how far we go, I still feel we’re only scratching the surface of endless implications.

Two additional essays here follow alternate pathways the expulsion from Eden could quickly follow. One, confined to Genesis, leaps to Noah and the Great Flood, which can be seen as yet another Creation story in the Bible. The other could link straight to Job and his tribulations.

Crucially, these are not the children’s book versions we typically encounter. Definitely not, even with all the animals on board.

Eden 1

For Eden Embraced, a free Thistle/Flinch PDF edition, click here.

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Living through repeated seasons – especially as they occur within a particular locale or sequence of places – allows for initial experiences that are revisited, amplified, and revised in their similarities and variations over the years. There’s the annual cycle, of course, with expectations that may be met, surpassed, or fail to occur. There’s also the reality of aging – individually and within a group. Perhaps, over time, learning will lead to wisdom. Or teaching will inspire a new generation to continue.

The reflections in Seasons of the Spirit span more than four decades of my practice within the Society of Friends (Quakers), including phases from universalist to historically traditional and on to convergent outlooks. They’re deeply personal, even flawed – and ongoing.

Seasons 1

For this free Thistle/Flinch PDF edition, click here.

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Religion Turned Upside Down lays out an alternative Christianity based on the interlocking metaphors of the Light, Seed, and Truth that were so central to the early Quaker movement. It’s a startling vision.

Spirituality
Religion Turned Upside Down

Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.

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COMING IN NOVEMBER 2017: Originating as brief essays for the Dover Meeting’s newsletter, Stillwater investigates dimensions of daily practice in a life of faith. While focused on Quaker perspectives, the reflections are intended as inspiration for people in all spiritual traditions.

Spirituality
Stillwater

Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.

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Related work has appeared in the magazines Friends Journal, Quaker Life, and Quaker Theology. I have presented workshops at New England Yearly Meeting and the annual Friends General Conference.

My essays on Quaker spirituality also appear at my blog As Light Is Sown.

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Along the way, I’ve skirted traditional Plainness.

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9 thoughts on “Quaker

  1. Thanks for following our blog. I hit “like” on your post featuring the wild turkey which was a coincidence as we just saw two in Marfa, TX. Then looked again at your site when you became a follower and – surprise! Wasn’t sure if you realized that we are also Quaker. Guess we should have realized!

  2. Hi Jnana – I am finding ‘likes’ a useful way of connecting to different thoughts and words. As now. Leaving aside the bloggers wanting to make me rich and drive traffic to me, reading thoughtful pieces is a new education. Thanks for clicking the like button. It has brought your words and thoughts into my life and soul. Did you know goodbye was short for God bless you? I only heard that yesterday. God-b-ye for now.

  3. I’m so happy to have discovered someone of your persuasion through these blogs. I’ve long felt an attraction to the Quaker path, but there are no such gatherings here thatI know of [SW Michigan]. God bless you also, friend!

    • My novel “Ashram” looks at a single day in the life of eight aspirants living with their teacher on a mountain farm. As I look back on the experience, I am reminded that the important lessons were often very down to earth rather than ethereal — insights into our individual emotional workings, the character of others, and the practical matters of making homemade bread or mixing cement. The ebook is available at Smashwords and other digital retailers. Go to the Novelist section of my Bio, and thanks for asking.

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