Sunday, March 05, 2006

a good rant

Just want to hold up an essay that James posted recently on the nontheist Friends site, "A liberal Quaker rant against conservative-leaning liberal Quakerism"

This is still weighing heavy on my mind and heart (as it probably will for a while) and I don't agree with everything he says (wow, quakers disagreeing, there's a shock) but I found it a good overall statement of some of what we struggle with.

I feel that we are in a state of adolescence - lots of new information, lots of changes, some crazy-acting, some writing each other off forever and then realizing that we don't really want to leave our home, that we can grow up and become a more mature and complete version of what we were before.

At least that's what I'm hoping.



Liz Opp said...

I want to thank you for mentioning this essay. Lots of food for thought, as usual.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Lorcan said...

Hi Pam:
Lorcan here...
If thee would, send me an email, as there is a thing or two about thy comment on my blog, that I wouls say to thee off the public forum... on the nature of good and evil, more about sin and forgiveness and atonement... and the pain of this world...
Well, hopes for joy to thee

Robin M. said...

Dear Pam,

I wanted to comment on about six of your posts but only have time for one. Thanks for all your writing. Liz Opp reminded me of the URL for your blog and I have found my way back after an unintentional absence.

First, Rob Buchanan asked me to post James's "rant" to the Quaker Quaker weblisting, and I have finally done that. I really liked the exchange of comments, and the sense that Friends in real life were finding ways to connect and listen to each other online, perhaps that would have been more difficult in person, I don't know the individuals well enough - or at all, really, to know about this.

Second, maybe it is just the modern or post-modern human condition to feel alienated. In my Meeting, which has a lot of Friends who would consider themselves christian and a lot of Friends who would never ever apply that label to themselves - they all feel like the outsiders. What is it about modern Quakerism that attracts so many people who never feel like they're in the "in crowd"? Even when, objectively, they are holding positions of power (such as it is in Quaker Meetings:) in their own Meeting? Is this left over angst from high school, from our chronological adolescences? I am not a psychologist, but I think this is very interesting.

And last, I liked Amanda's and your image of the knitting vs. tatting classes and the craft fair. There are always some people who think that knitting is the only way, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us who like to knit (and I don't, this is just an example) feel that way.

Good for you for coming to the place where you can name what it is you are looking for in your spiritual journey, what you need to move forward, and for being able to recognize people who have some of what you want, even if you don't think you can take the same road to get there. Maybe your paths will converge at some points, for a little or a long while, just to use another metaphor.

I, like some of the most convinced Christians in my Meeting, am still really conscious of how ridiculous it feels to say we're Christian. How short a time ago it would not have been at all true. I can write it, but I can't actually say that out loud yet without qualifying it and physically cringing. I have tried, and it is not yet possible. So maybe it's not yet true?

But I too have seen glimpses of how this Jesus/Christ thing is not going away, for me. It keeps coming up in my own spiritual experience, not because someone said I have to think about it, but from some more irrational place, some Divine influence I really think. Ick. Can you tell I'm more than a little conflicted here? But when I sink down, and let myself rest in what is True, I find God, and more and more, I find Jesus. Rats. What am I going to do about that?

Not that it's your job to answer these questions for me, I just wanted to share that these are some of MY questions. Things I don't have to question right now: being pacifist, queer-friendly, environmentally conscious, and Quaker. These things have all and will all have their day for questioning (like, how hypocritical am I?), but fortunately, I don't feel like I have to wrestle with them right now. Whew.

Geez, this turned out to be a long comment.

Robin M. said...

Dear Pam,

I was moved and worried by a comment on James's post. I was further moved to comment here.

If I could edit my comment above, I would put the following frames around it:

This is the part where I meant to talk about other people, including but not exclusively you:

"First, Rob ... another metaphor"

And this is the part that is just about me:

"I, like ... right now. Whew."

And here is something that I didn't/couldn't/wouldn't say:

"I wish you would find Jesus too just because it's been so wonderful for me."

which is one of the things that separates me from evangelical Christians. I mean, I know that for some evangelicals, this is a really kind thing to say. And for others, it's like saying they wish that you/I/one could be more perfect, like them.

But it would just not be true for me. For the first 15 or so years of my active spiritual seeking, there was no mention, no vision of Jesus in my relationship with God. That is changing now, but I can totally see that it might not for other people. Ever. And that could be true for their entire, profound, intentional spiritual journey.

One of the hard things for me about communication, either by email or in person, is understanding the metaframes that I put around what I say or write, and how the frames change, and I'm not good at making them clear as I go along so that other people can follow along.


earthfreak said...


thanks for clarifying. I don't think I had taken offense at anything you said, but it's always good to check in,

Though I've never heard the word "metaframes" before.

I think that you touch on something that's key for me, the idea that people will become christians, or theists, once they've evolved enough - It's easy for me to think that people will give up popular myths once they've evolved enough, but I find more and more that that's not true.

You just clearly stated that you dont' feel this way, but it strikes me that, for example, my journey in terms of sexuality and identity began to make a lot more sense to me when I allowed myself the possibility of falling in love with women. If the only support and insight that I could offer into your romantic and marital life was "once you admit you're a lesbian, it's so much easier" you would pretty soon give up on me, I think.

I find myself really frustrated with what I see as a lack of celebration of diversity (I initially wrote "acceptance" but that's not what I mean) - it DOES often seem that we tolerate that other people don't "get" what we "get" - and hope that eventually they will, when often it's simply that they do something else. At potlucks we don't want everyone to bring salads, or desserts, or maindishes, but a bit of each, which is often what happens if we just let people be. And what's important, it's NOT that people who dont' "get" maindishes" make dessert, or vice verse, it's what they like, what they're good at, what they inherited from their grandma, etc. and it's good.