Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Love as Testimony

I just got a new comment on a post from last February, good thing I turned on notification for those things, or I'd never have seen it.

Allison (whose blog looks really interesting) asks what I've been thinking since about love as a testimony.

I wrote something the next day, about love being the soil that the testimonies grow out of, which I think is more to the point.

But I'm still frustrated that it's not what we talk about. Jeanne wrote, in a recent post about class, "I think it's fair to say that all Friends seek to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about." in the context of what we're motivated by, and striving for, when we choose to tussle with the issue of class.

Maybe I'm only frustrated with myself. When people who don't know anything about Quakers ask me about it, I go on about waiting in silence, being moved by the spirit, that of god in everyone, what canst thou say, simplicity, equality, integrity, peace (community doesn't seem to be a testimony in my community! - or at least didn't make the list) what if I just said, "Friends seek to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about"?


I mean, aside from sounding more Christocentric than I'd prefer (while not actually being so. Doing something Jesus talked about is totally different from what most people think of as "christian" and what I resist about it - accpeting that he was in some way supernatural)

but aside from that, it sounds freaky, mushy, hippy-dippy, new age, flaky or something.

Why does LOVE sound like that? It's so basic, so essential, like dirt, necessary to life, to growth, unassuming at its best....


Holly said...

I feel like everything I've been saying/thinking about quakerism sounds hippy-dippy earthy crazy.

Micah Bales said...

"Friends seek to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about"

I think you've got something there.

Paul L said...

I would say (or hope we could say)that our testimony is that we have experienced how to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about.

Everybody seeks to do so, but they can't because they're seeking in all the wrong places; if we have anything to offer a suffering and confused world, it is our testimony that it really is possible to live the kind of love Jesus spoke about.

If "trying" is all we're about, then love is merely an ethical principle to be strived for and not a truth we can witness to.

Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allison said...

Hi Pam,

In these seeking questions I've asked, sometimes I feel Quakers are responding as if it's just part of the typical process of someone new to Quakerism (which it might be) but aren't answering my questions to a satisfying degree.

I recently posed a question to a friend of mine who I remembered once said he was raised Quaker. I thought he was a Buddhist now, and asked him why he'd left Quakerism. He wrote back and said although he will always consider himself a Quaker, he considers American Quakerism too rich and too white, made up mostly of intellectual, political progressives. He said he was exploring other faiths to figure out how to help Quakers get beyond this, that as it was, Quakerism seemed almost dead.

I felt vindicated, because here is someone raised Quaker with my same concerns. Yes, we are intellectuals, political progressives, but we're also young and non-white (I'm Asian and he's black). It made me think, if this is what the young people of color are saying, perhaps it's time for our elders to listen to us.

The attitude I've discovered thus far is "if others want to join Quakerism, they are welcome" but this ignores the problem - yes, a problem - that only a certain demographic may be called to Quakerism. In any other aspect of life - universities, the workplace - this would be seen as a great divide. I wonder why it is that so many older, white Quakers are observing that they are surrounded by themselves, yet not seeking out the opinions of younger people of color?

In regards to your post, I am in favor of a strong statement of Love that may be defined partly as the love that Jesus spoke about. Nonjudgmental, unconditional. I feel like that would be the first step. Yesterday I also wanted to pose to someone the idea about having a diversity committee, if they don't already. It would be challenging to come up with a way to draw in new people without evangelizing, but I think could be very rewarding for Quakers.


Jeanne said...

Paul, There's a lot in what you say that leaves me questioning.

Everybody seeks to live out the kind of love Jesus spoke about? Really? Everyone? I don't think I could say that about everyone in TCFM, let alone everyone.

I know people who have other faith traditions who are seeking in the right places and are living that love. So, again, not everyone is failing at their seeking.

It seems that way at times, but goodness and Jesus's love is everywhere. And it doesn't exist more among Quakers than other faith traditions.

Pam was quoting me, and I said "trying" because that's all I feel like I can do at times. It allows me to forgive myself. And I have to see other people as "trying," because we are all human and we all fail miserably at love, even when we don't. And it allows me to forgive others.

Pam, I'm not tied to Jesus language--I am tied to his message of unconditional love. And he expresses it so clearly; his story expresses it so profoundly.

You're right about that love being basic, like dirt, necessary for growth...I really like your metaphor here.

Jeanne at QuakerClass

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I came across this post about love. I just read a book that speaks of and tells true stories of love in a real, down-to-earth, not goody-goody way: "Here If You Need Me" by Kate Braestrup. Kate's book helped me "know" what love is in everyday life, and opened me to seeing it all around me.

I would love to have more conversations among Quakers (or anyone) about what love is and how we manifest it and how we can live love more in our Meeting communities and daily lives.

Anonymous said...

I didn't want to appear as "anonymous." I will try again to get my name and info up. In case it doesn't work, I'm Anita Bower.zv

Liz Opp said...


Will you consider submitting any of these posts about Love to the meeting's newsletter? I think your voice is unique in how you lift up the question of Love as Testimony; I think you would help get more of us in the meeting considering the essence of what it means to be a Friend.

...At least, I can say that you've done that for me.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up