I don't think I mean what most people mean, I don't even know if I mean God.
Hello from Gathering! I am giving my voice a rest from my shape note singing workshop this morning. There's free internet access in the student center, which is quite popular and quite handy! (though perhaps not terribly simple)
Anyways, I just commented on Rich's blog with an extensive use of "when Jesus asks us to..." and "if you hear Jesus...." and am realizing that I may sound severely confused to many people.
Having been pretty sensitive on the issue of Jesus and quakerism (I acknoweldge and honor that it has its roots in Christianity, but I also feel that it's important that some Friends have moved on to something else - that is not exclusively christian, that is broader) I feel a bit strange talking about "what Jesus wants" or anything of the sort.
I do not believe that Jesus was super-human in any way.
I do not believe that God "created" the world, universe, life, etc.
I do not believe, actually, that there is a personified energy that "wants" us to do anything - be it Jesus or God or Allah or Brahman or Pele, or..... I could go on an on (especially if I had some sort of religious encyclopedia)
I believe that christianity owes its longevity not so much to any surpreme lock that it has on the truth, but mostly to its usefulness to various political rulers throughout history. I don't actually KNOW if it had the "staying power" to still exist if there had been no Constantin (I'm blanking, was that his name?), if there had never been a catholic church, but I think at the very least it would look RADICALLY different, even to quakers. We aspire to "primitive christianity" - but it's a long game of whisper-down-the-lane (or telephone, or whatever whispers.... that game, you know?) and with a LOT of intentional interference by enemies of what I would suppose to be the "true" message and value system of early christians.
So, with that in mind, I do experience a something - I mean, I'm a quaker, there's something that I wait upon in meeting for worship, there's something that helps me feel whether something is "rightly led" - much of our quaker language resonates with me, but the "God" part is sort of a stand-in for mystery, for something I (we?) don't have the "right" word (or understanding) for yet. ("yet" because it is something that we reach for, hope to move towards, while knowing that there will never be a time when we say now we are done - we no longer see "through a glass darkly".
So, for me, when I say that Jesus wants me to reuse my coffee cup (as I did on Rich's blog) I dont' really mean that the risen Jesus even exists let alone that he's sitting around worrying about what I drink out of. In fact I often make such silly-sounding statements both because they speak to a certain truth, and also because I assume that no one would think that I really mean exactly that .
What I do mean, of course (?) is that that is the course of action that is, as far as I can discern right now, the "best". I do not know if what helps me to know this is study of environmental issues, a simple adherence to my own integrity, compassion for the world around me, some sort of pure energy (unobstructed and unsullied) that I can tap into occasionally, or actually the voice of Jesus (and I simply don't recognize that it's the same guy)
But what's more, actually, is that I don't care too terribly much. There is something beautiful in meeting for worship, and in what happens when we manage to really live into quaker testimonies, and it may be the God of the Bible, it may be Allah of the Koran, it may be Brahman, it may be life force, it may simply be the joy of community for me, a member of a social species.
I find I can talk about "Jesus" pretty easily now - I'm not angry at him anymore, and I'm not afraid of him (I used to worry that fundamentalist christianity would eat my brain if I let my guard down for even a moment!) and because often I really feel like I know what people are talking about (at least some quakers) when they speak of their life with Christ. Not all of it, but some. It's a bit, I suppose, like travelling to another country and learning their words for things, and using them, to make communication easier, even if you have your own words too, or even if you don't.