It's been on my mind more and more lately, I think hearing quakers talk about "sharing the good news" or really "gospel" in any context (it means good news, right?)
And in my experience, the "good news" that christians want to share with non-christians (or likely other christians who they don't think actually have it "right" quite yet) is that the news-eee is headed for the fiery furnace unless they do (believe) what the news-er says.
Now, this is, of course, from my news-ee perspective. I know the news-ers see things quite differently (primary, they believe that it's a fact that everyone is going to hell, so they don't see that as part of the "news" but of course, for many of us it comes as quite a shock. here we were thinking we'd just fertilize gardens, or maybe come back as a cow if we're lucky, but NOO, we were clearly mistaken, and that news is quite shocking, and dare I say, not good.)
So, I'm a little freaked that I hear quakers using this term more (and "gospel") not because I think that's what they really mean (I still haven't heard quakers talk much about hell - though that's come up for the first time as well recently! - scary stuff!)
What is the quaker "good news"??? Is it necessarily Christian?? If so, what does that mean?? We wouldn't even know the word "christ" had not it been a handy political tool for years of roman emporers. This causes a certain reluctance in me to center my faith around it.
But (what some call) Christ spirit, I think I know it. Not like a book, but like a tree in my yard, like the smell of my home.
I heard Temple Grandin on the radio the other day. She's autistic (I think) and talked about language and how some people don't think in abstractions, and therefore in words. She said she doens't have an abstract concept "bowl" - to know what you are talking about when you say it, she has to think of a certain bowl that she's seen - like the one she ate breakfast out of this morning.
I don't understand. Sometimes I think I could think almost entirely in abstractions, and have been "caught" by frustrated friends who want me to actually respond to something that's actually happening, rather than to theorize about such a situation.
I can't tell whether Christ and the word "christ" are the same thing or its inverse. Christ spirit seems quite abstract to me - no form, except when it's tangible, immediate.
But why is that Christ, and not just the experience it is??? What's more, why does it matter that it's Christ??? what does the word mean??? that it's true? that it's good and not bad? why would connecting it to a 2,000 year old story mean that??
I think perhaps my brain just doens't work that way, I have spiritual autism, or most other people do :)
Back to the gospel. I do believe that there is "good news" out there. Perhaps that the kingdom of God is at hand, that there is no waiting to live as if justice and love reigned.
But most often I hear the "good news" as something negative, perhaps not always "you're going to hell, unless" but usually some "tamer" version "you can join my club, but beware if you refuse.....", "you are outside my circle of concern, unless", "I hereby declare you uninteresting/blind/spiritually bereft/morally bankrupt, unless you......"
I have met a few christians who preached the good news effectively, but they never ever not once said a thing about what I should do, or what I was missing out on. One of them never said thing one about christianity period. she was a nun who volunteered at the co-op that I worked at. She just radiated love. Mostly we cut and wrapped cheese, and talked about politics, or preschool children, together, but if anyone might have ever "converted" me, it might have been her. Another is a friend who speaks of her relationship with christ frequently, but not aggressively, and again, simply radiates it. She "converted" her husband from a "Rush Limbaugh dittohead" (his words) to a man who could march proudly with the lesbians in a pro choice rally. And she convinced me that God loves everyone passionately, for real. Mostly by telling me how much he loved her ex husband (whom she still hates) but more by simply radiating that love.
I don't think, actually, that she thought I was missing out on a thing. Her God's love is so powerful that there's no way I could miss out on it, even if I tried really really really hard!!!! I suppose that there's something about being blind to it, an "open thine eyes and see' version of the "good news" - but that seems so plain, We're swimming in it, why insist that it's hidden in a very old book when it's all around us, and filling us up???