Thursday, July 22, 2010

Core Truth of Quakerism?

Earlier this week, I sent out a one-question survey asking people what they thought the core truth of Quakerism is and has been since the beginning. So far, 80 responses have come in. We will be doing much more with this information - mostly using it for further discussions and conversations and encouraging Friends how our individual and collective belief informs our actions and our stances on issues. What I want to do here is to give people who are curious the most basic overview and observation about the responses
First, an observation about the responses (something I would encourage people to have further reflections about): it was not always clear whether people responded based on what they as individuals believe the truth to be, or what they believe it is based on what they know and observe corporately. For others, it also seemed that their responses were what they felt this truth should be, but is perhaps not what it is.
Second, about the responses themselves: they seem to fit into 3 main themes. The first (and the one that received almost half of the responses) is along the lines of "There is that of God in everyone." The second was similar, except for a "continuing revelation/availability" component. For example, the Light of God is available to all, but there must be some seeking for it to be there. The third area was the Quaker Testimonies (mostly, Peace, Integrity, Community. The few "Equalities" I categorized with "there is that of God in everyone"). The last category, at this point, is more of a miscellaneous, very Christ-centered. I'm going to ask Faith to spend some time with me on these.
Each of these areas can be good for reflection. One thing Byron and I talked about, however, is that the first two themes ("There is that of God in all" or is available to all through continuing revelation) I think call on us Friends to look at how we engage with others. In both these cases, if we hold them as unequivocal truths, shouldn't we commit to engaging with all people - including FUM? In the first theme, if God is in all, it is there as well, and we won't see it if we disengage. In the second theme, continuing revelation means staying with things and seeing what unfolds. Of course, revelation is different than strategizing and planning - it takes that leap of faith, trusting that core truth.
As for the theme of the Testimonies, these present a different level of discussion. For example, if our core truth is Peace, what does that mean? We live in a violent world, so just saying "peace" accomplishes what?
My hope is that this starts a vibrant exploration among Friends: What is your individual core truth? What is the Truth of Friends? Are they the same? How can they be the same when the answers are so different? Can we find a "common denominator"?
More to come...

1 comment:

Colby Cheese said...

an excerpt from
by Doug Sloan

- - - - - - - - - -

What is not the Good News:

Committing acts of war, violence, brutality, coercion, intimidation, discrimination, or exclusion in the name of faith or religion or scripture or Buddha or Jesus or Mohammed or Allah or God or in the name of any entity divine or mortal.

Viewing a faithful life as being in a war or a combat operation or viewing the faithful life as requiring a warrior mentality or viewing faith as a weapon or a shield.

Claiming a specific faith as a national or cultural identity or the practice of that faith as an act of patriotism, citizenship, or civic duty.

Compelling or attempting to compel others – as individuals or as community - to celebrate, observe, or respect religious holidays in accordance with religious or nationalistic or populist or commercially specified behavior.

Claiming a literal or singular or absolute or sole authoritative interpretation of scripture.

Using scripture as justification or empowerment or authorization:
- to commit or to incite murder or violence or physical assault or property damage
- to commit or to incite verbal abuse or the use of demeaning labels or ostracism or shunning
- to commit or to incite intimidation that threatens to use any of these acts
- to control or to attempt to control the lives, behavior, and choices of others.

Standing on a city street or in the middle of a college campus and shouting at people about the supposed errors of their supposed sinful lives.

Practicing discrimination or exclusion or an “us/them” and “here/there” world view instead of an “us/here” world view.

Advocating a patriarchal, matriarchal, racial, ethnic, caste-based, tribal/family-based, or political/citizenship/empire-based social order as the will of God.

Requiring belief in a torturous execution as an atoning sacrifice.

Preaching eternal damnation and preaching that eternal damnation can be avoided only by conversion to or by the acceptance of a rigid pre-ordained belief system or membership in a particular faith, sect, denomination, or congregation.

Preaching that post-mortal existence is a reward for or a consequence of how mortal life is lived, that post-mortal existence is based on conditions instead of grace.

Claiming knowledge of the details or the nature of a post-mortal existence.

Preaching that the Kingdom of God is a future existence or a future apocalyptic event instead of a present reality and a way of living now.

Being focused on or concerned with a post-mortal existence to the exclusion or diminishment of life here and now – especially when it eliminates or diminishes or opposes the active and involved faithful service to and with others – for example: to feed, quench, clothe, heal, welcome, and visit in prison.

Preaching that how and what we believe is more important than how we live individually and as community and in relationship with each other.

Viewing the ascension to free will or the acquisition of free will as a sinful act that eternally separates from God all people for all generations instead of being viewed as a parable of success for both the people and God.

Viewing free will as strictly an earth-based and a human trait.

Requiring belief in the convoluted theology of a divine trinity.

Having to view Buddha or Jesus or Mohammed or any person as God or equivalent to God.

Having to view the Cross or the Bible or the Qur’an or any text or any object or any symbol or any person as being worthy of worship or worshipful reverence.

Requiring belief in ascensions, post-death appearances, physical resurrections, virgin births, divine interventions, or any so-called “miraculous” occurrence.

No matter how reassuring it is made to sound, proclaiming that a disaster or a death or an injury or an illness or a harmful loss is the will of God.