Friday, December 21, 2007


who has them? particularly on "living the love which Jesus spoke about" - from a recent post of mine.

I wondered what it would mean to define ourselves as "seeking to live out the love which Jesus spoke of" (paraphrasing Jeanne)

and, in the comments, the question was raised, to paraphrase,

Well, doesn't EVERYONE seek to do that? Can't we claim that we've actually experienced it? (done it?) Don't we have something more special to offer the world? (evidence that it's possible?)

Freaked me out.

I'm still not sure what to say about it.

I'd like to say that my first reaction was excitement that that's true of Quakerism - not only do we seek to live in that love, but we actually, as a whole, do it. Heck, I'd be excited to think that everyone else is trying to. That hasn't really been my experience.

So, really, my frist reaction was SCARY CHRISTIAN! (note: the commenter is a friend of mine and member of my home meeting, and I can attest is not scary in the least) I have a visceral, unhappy reaction, to any implication that anyone has some special "in" with Jesus, or especially with LOVE, especially me, or my group.

Also, and I think I've said this before, I've met a few people who actually do, in my experience, live in and radiate that sort of love, and they're all Catholic, or at least were for most of their lives.

I'm not making some giant statement that Catholicism is the way. They're also all women, and I believe that sort of light is available to men, too.

And, in spite of this repeated experience, I'm not Catholic. I'm just not. Much like I'm not straight, even though most of the relationships I would like to emulate are heterosexual ones.

That doesn't mean that I have to be straight to find true love, it does mean that a lot more people are straight, so it's more likely the good relationships I see will be straight (the worst ones I've seen have been straight too)

There are lots more Catholics than Quakers, too. And I don't even want to get into how easy it is to find Catholics who are NOT managing to be someone I'd want to emulate spiritually (or any other way)

So, back to the beginning, CAN we claim that we know it's possible? that we've done it?

I don't know. I think maybe I've done it in tiny moments here and there throughout my life, but now, it's not my general state of being.

As for Quakerism, I've found that it offers ME more of an opportunity to tap into that love, or to nurture it, than anything else I've tried.

But a huge part of my (universalist) quaker experience is standing in awe of how many paths there are to it, how many guises it takes, and how true one can be for someone else while being the worst fit in the world for me.

So, for me, I SEEK, I don't really claim to have found or accomplished much. But the seeking is important, and the moments where it works out are amazing.

And I love quakers, but I'm not exactly blown away by our superior level of spiritual evolution or anything. I expect us to be flawed, and I'm not all that disappointed in that expectation.


Allison said...

I think the Quakers do a lot of good loving in terms of caring about what's going on in society. The verdict is up in the air whether they are loving in person because I haven't been around them long enough to know yet.

I don't think there is a dibs on who's loving best. I volunteer with a woman who is pretty radical and she was raised Catholic but now considers herself nothing. She says she doesn't want to be a Christian, she wants to be a Christ, she doesn't want to be a Buddhist, she wants to be a Buddha. The others around her that I've met are largely Christian but the radical kind that don't get into proselytizing, or practice independently from organized religion for one reason or another.

I have seen love in other places as well. Some of the most loving people can live the most appalling lifestyles. Who knows?

I like the lovingkindness meditation practice that says we must first love ourselves and let that emanate outward. It is very helpful to me, someone who always loved the world but wasn't good at loving myself.

I have a new site:

Canine Diamond said...

I love quakers, but I'm not exactly blown away by our superior level of spiritual evolution or anything. I expect us to be flawed, and I'm not all that disappointed in that expectation. I really don't expect us to be any better, on the whole, than any other religion. I would never think of my non-Quaker friends as less, or be surprised at their capacity for love, just because my belief system did not appeal to them.

I think the vast majority of our meeting really tries to achieve this but everyone is different; some people have further to go to get there, some people have a greater natural capacity, and probably everyone has a slightly different view of what, exactly, it means.

I'm a pessimist and skeptic by nature and I'm afraid mine comes in small bursts: Making sure my college friend had a ride to the ER at 3:00 in the morning when he OD'ed on something; being persistently friendly but firm with that frighteningly-emotionally-needy holy terror in my FDS class; etc. I definitely do not radiate it, though. On the other hand, my friend Teresa (Catholic, formerly Methodist; fairly religious but not inclined to talk about it) does not exactly radiate, either, and would look at me funny if I said she did, but she's spent her life taking care of her extended family and teaching GED classes in the correctional system. I would say she lives it more than anyone I know, but never calls any attention to it.