Thursday, February 09, 2006


I wrote another post a few days ago, but it doesnt' seem to be showing up. hmmmm......

I am not sure what I want to talk about.

I have lots of stuff going on in my personal life, and am not clear what's "in bounds" to talk about on a public forum.

Clearly feeling very tender about a perceived tendency of many young christian and theist quakers to band together and draw a line that keeps me out.

Also, coincidentally, more and more aware of how little I "jibe" with many nontheist friends. I seem to find quakerism much less an intellectual exercise than many nontheists.

And realizing that I might go off with those who share my spiritual perceptions and values, if I could (freakin') find any. Where is the mass movement of feminist, pagan, treehugger, vegan (aspiring!), intensely-spiritual-yet-God-free quakers? perhaps I am before my time?




Zach A said...

Ooh, ooh, me, I'm one! :-D

(if by God-free we mean both theist and nontheist depending on what we mean by "God", as you are saying on Rob's blog... same goes for the C word...)

I don't know specifically what you mean by the perceived tendency of young Christian/theist Friends to be exclusive, if you mean liberal ones becoming more exclusive, but I think it is probably a real danger, and something that I expect I will feel led to speak up about, if I see it happening in a group I am in.

Be well,

earthfreak said...


I find more and more that I am looking forward to meeting you in person. I trust that that will happen someday...

(Perhaps by God-free, I mean something like an organization my sister used to be involved with called Dance-free - not without dancing, but dancing free of any preconceived notion of what dance should be)

The christian/theist movement that I am talking about strikes me as many things at once. I see an amazing power in many of my f/Friends in welcoming/noticiing/celebrating Jesus. Occasionally I skim along an edge of this experience myself.

And I find that good (with echoes of genesis "and god saw that it was good")

And, again, I often run up against a resistance, a cocooning, a shutting out. A sense that some who find joy in Jesus are feeling protective of that, and in that protectiveness seek to "shut out" not just those who would try to tear down their faith, but anyone who doesn't share that faith. The sense that that is happening saddens me deeply.

I can't say that it's "wrong" in any objective sense, it just saddens me.



Paul L said...

Pam -- I don't know that anyone is drawing a line that keeps you out.

I think it's more like they've built a house -- with an open door to invite you in. (Or, to be drawn out by you?)

I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who wrote one of my favorite images -- I think he was describing heaven as a gate without a fence -- you have to walk through it, but you're always on the inside.

Keep on caring.

earthfreak said...

Paul -

thanks for the image.

I think it's both. What I'm reacting to when I'm worried about it is a sense that many who are embracing christianity anew are setting "boundaries" - I know many for whom I see their experience of christ as simply a joy, not in any way diminished by hearing my joy in another manifestation of spirit.

But I also feel like I encounter a whole range of things that remind me of why I rejected christianity. Basically a sense that it is "the only way" - ranging from simply feeling somehow degraded by worshipping with non-christians, to a more nebulous sort of "I have found the truth, and when the rest of you grow up enough, you'll see it too"

Certainly I have never felt that I am not invited to become a christian But my sadness is more that I think some will never seek to answer that of god in me unless I do.

Liz Opp said...

But my sadness is more that I think some will never seek to answer that of god in me unless I do [see things the way they see things].

Pam, it may or may not surprise you to know that I have had much the same thought about me.

In recent days, I have had to face up to projecting onto Friends my hopes and my need to be understood, rather than giving that over to... well, to That Which Knows My Divine Self.

At the same time, I want all of us, each of us, to find the spiritual home, the faith community that will help us live into the Light we have been given, which often means worshiping and being in community with others who reflect our best selves back to us.

Oh dear, I hope I'm making sense.

In any event, I sense your faithfulness and I am enjoying reading your online ministry.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Amanda said...

Dear Pam,

I'm SO glad to see you blogging again. I'd been missing your voice.

I'm one who is recently rediscovering the message of Jesus for myself, and finding ways to re-imagine my (in the past, very troubled) relationship with my religious heritage, which happens to be Christian. While connecting with and worshiping with people who are sharing this path with me is becoming important (their light on this subject and our shared experience helps aid our mutual growth on this path) I would never never never never never desire that at the expense of my nontheist non-christian path brothers and sisters. I haven't got the slightest sense that my path is the best or the only, just that it's an inescapable part of me, and part of what I need to work with on my journey to authenticity.

In my experience I am finding that it is possible to form non-exclusive small groups to explore these sorts of leanings, without trying to force your vision or your path on your Meeting or Society at large. I think of the Christ-centered groups I have found in the past the same way I think of a knitting group or a book support and fellowship for people with mutual interest. I am deeply admiring of people who have different crafting skills than I do, and I celebrate their creativity and expertise, and marvel at the beautiful things they make. It would never occur to me to burst in on a tatting group and demand that they begin to knit. I might visit the Tuesday tatting group and begin to learn to make lace, and I might invite them to show up on a Thursday and learn how to knit. And then we'd all meet up at the craft fair and share what we've learned and what we've made with the techniques and traditions we know.

Okay, this analogy has gotten way, way too dorky. I'm dropping it.

But thank you for your writing, Pam, and for sharing your tender places with us.

earthfreak said...


I love what you wrote, I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to it.

And then we'd all meet up at the craft fair and share what we've learned and what we've made with the techniques and traditions we know.

This in particular. I guess my fear (and maybe it's completely unfounded?) is that some people whom I really really value won't come to the craft fair. That they ONLY want to knit, to talk about knitting, that they think something is a little bit off about people who tat.

I guess that I have to make my peace with that, because, though my fear may be exaggerated, some WON'T come to the craft fair. They care deeply about what they're doing and just don't get why anyone would do anything else. And I guess that's okay, it just makes me sad.

And I know I can be the same way. I am a little suspicious of Christians (I hate to say it) - there is a lot of historical reason to be wary of anyone associated with that word (as there is to be drawn to them) I make assumptions that I don't really know to be accurate (which, I suppose, is why they're assumptions!)

And I know what it's like to want to be with "your own" - If I could find a community in which I felt at home, understood, enlightened, would I find my way back to the broader community of quakers to share every now and then? or would I be content to be among "my own"??? I don't get the chance because there aren't that many people with an experience of God that looks like mine (or that much like mine) but I think I know how tempting it would be if there were.

Another thought occurs to me, though. There are a reasonable number of vegetarian quakers, simple-living quakers, queer and very queer-friendly quakers, "pagan" quakers, nontheist quakers, but in none of those groups do I think "these are my people, it makes sense here". I would actually assume that "Christians" would experience at least that much diversity in a "christian" group, is there something different there? Some more unifying factor?