Monday, July 30, 2012

A Secret Silence

"To be effective over the long haul, to make a real and lasting difference, you need to have a secret life rooted in a secret silence and calm stillness." - Brian McLaren

Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Equation of Tragedy

I've been ruminating over a conversation I had with my sister, who has a master's degree in psychology. It looks as if it will soon become apparent that James Holmes (the Aurora shooter) was suffering from mental illness: perhaps paranoid schizophrenia. If this does indeed turn out to be the case--that he has a profound psychiatric disorder--will we be able to rise above the mob mentality and instead extend mercy and treatment to him?

Mental illness is a very complicated thing. I have read that 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness at some point during the course of their lives. Usually it does not take a violent turn (and when it does, the violence is often directed toward oneself, not others). But, in contrast to the complexity of mental illness, I do see a fairly simple equation in all of this. Here are the variables and the result:

1. Young men suffering from mental illness (a statistical inevitability)
2. Immersion in a culture that glorifies violence and the use of violence to "right wrongs."
3. Incredibly easy access to semi-automatic guns, assault weapons, large quantities of ammunition and high-capacity clips. =
Tragedies like Aurora and Columbine and Virginia Tech and myriad other shootings perpetrated by the now proverbial social misfit/loner gunman.

We can't easily change the first variable in the equation. It is difficult for even experienced psychiatric professionals to pre-emptively identify patients who will take a violent turn and it is extremely difficult to have someone committed against their will unless there is clear evidence that they pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. We can only alter the second variable in the equation by choosing not to participate in the glorification of redemptive violence (in our entertainment, our views about war, etc.). Doing so as a culture seems like a longshot. It appears that the third variable is the one which we can most easily change; by placing more stringent restrictions upon what kinds of guns and accessories can be purchased, and by whom and from whom.

Albert Einstein--who was a physicist, not a mental health professional--supposedly stated that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results*. What this actually defines is stupidity. It is time for us to overcome our collective stupidity and break the equation of tragedy.

(*It is difficult to find proof that Einstein ever actually said this. I have also seen it attributed to Alcoholics Anonymous and to Narcotics Anonymous and to various other sources.)

Quaker Wisdom

"The beyond is within." - Rufus Jones

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quaker Wisdom

"To embrace a faith that fits us comfortably is a poor way of accepting religion; more than that, it is in a real sense a wrong and pernicious way, for it reverses the true order of things, placing the people who are to be re-formed into the position of the Truth that is to re-form them. It is an impiety that transposes creature and Creator. Faith must be a continuing challenge to which we must respond, a discipline to which we must submit, not a feather bed to protect us against the sharp edge of living." - Edgar B. Castle (from the book Plain Living: A Quaker Path to Simplicity)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


There aren't any Chick-Fil-A restaurants in the Seattle area, but when I travel (as I often do) I like to occasionally eat there. I respect and affirm their right, as a privately owned business, to monetarily support whatever (legal) organizations they choose too. However, I'm not comfortable with the thought that money I spend at Chick-Fil-A may be used to support organizations or causes which are antithetical to my own beliefs and are (in my opinion) hurtful to others. As a result--for conscience sake--I will no longer patronize Chick-Fil-A restaurants. I'm sure I won't be missed. My intent is not to change their views or practices, but to be consistent about my own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

James Naylor

James Naylor, a 17th century Quaker, was tortured and imprisoned by the British government for his religious expression. After two years at hard prison labor, his health was ruined. Upon his release, as he made his way home to Yorkshire from London, he was attacked, robbed and left for dead in a field. A day later he died. These were his last words:

"There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It’s conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is to tell the truth.” - Howard Zinn

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Robin Parry - Hope For All Humanity

Here is a great interview with Robin Parry, PhD--author of The Evangelical Universalist (he writes under the pseudonym of Gregory MacDonald).

Hope for All Humanity:

The Aurora Cinema Massacre

I'm saddened and sickened by the mass shooting at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado. Will tragedies like this bring us to deeper reflection about the level of violence in our culture? I fear that horrific events like this will continue to occur until we decide we've had enough and determine to do something about the prevalence of guns in our society. Film critic Roger Ebert has written a very thoughful piece about the cinema massacre in Aurora. We've Seen This Movie Before

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Error, humility and grace

I was having a conversation the other night with friends about error, humility and grace. The upshot was this: If we are honest, we will admit that we have been mistaken about things in the past--including matters of theology and doctrine. We can thus infer that we are probably currently mistaken about some things--including matters of theology and doctrine (but, of course, we don't yet realize *what* things we are mistaken about). This ought to make us humble and gracious towards other views. If we are going to err (and we most certainly are going to err), let us err on the side of grace and compassion.

Welcoming in the Gentiles

I have posted this link before, but it bears re-posting. It is one of the best things I've read pertaining to churches wrestling with questions about inclusion of people who are LGBT. It was written by Dr. Sylvia Keesmaat (a colleague of N.T. Wright and professor of biblical studies and hermeneutics):

Welcoming in the Gentiles: A Biblical Model for Decision Making

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Ethiopian Eunuch

At our Bible study last Sunday we looked at the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. This story comes right after the account of the Samaritans embracing the Good News about Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit (thus demonstrating that, although generally despised and rejected by Jews of the day, the Samaritans were accepted by God and by the disciples of Jesus).

Right after the Samaritan account, we have the tale of the first Gentile convert to Christianity recorded in the book of Acts. And isn't it interesting the degree to which this convert is an outsider? And not just nationally and ethnically and culturally. He is also a sexual minority, and his sexual status--according to the Torah--explicitly excludes him from being counted among God's people; for Deuteronomy 23:1 states, "He that is a eunuch by crushing or mutilation shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD."

The Good News that Philip tells the Ethiopian Eunuch is that he is loved and accepted by God, despite what the Torah says. When Philip encounters him, the Eunuch is reading Isaiah 53 and is puzzled by it. The Eunuch is returning to Ethiopia from Jerusalem where he had gone to worship the Jewish God. What the Eunuch would have encountered at the Temple in Jerusalem would have been a wall that blocked Gentiles (and, even more so, Gentile eunuchs) from entering beyond the exterior Court of the Gentiles. The Ethiopian Eunuch would have only been allowed to worship from a distance.

I believe that, in explaining Isaiah to the Eunuch, Philip probably first took him just a few paragraphs farther, to Isaiah 56. Take a moment to read it--it's a mind-blower.

The Book of Acts, like the Gospels, is an account of a God and church that practices radical inclusion, rather than exclusion--that erects welcome signs, rather than barriers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Non-Judgement Day

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Quaker Wisdom

"Do you try to set aside times of quiet for openness to the Holy Spirit? All of us need to find a way into silence which allows us to deepen our awareness of the divine and to find the inward source of our strength. Seek to know an inward stillness, even amid the activities of daily life." - Quaker Faith & Practice

Friday, July 13, 2012

Manitoba Hal -- 16 Tons

Proof that you can play the blues on a ukulele...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quaker Wisdom

"But there is a wholly different way of being sure that God is real. It is not an intellectual proof, a reasoned sequence of thoughts. It is the fact that men experience the presence of God." - Thomas R. Kelly

Monday, July 09, 2012


"We used to look for evil to judge, evil to name, shame and blame. But that was an easy thing, so easy that we now find the whole exercise rather boring, childish, and small-minded. It was also an ego-flattering and prideful thing, placing us in a godlike position. We now wish to see without that arrogance, without the air of superiority or supremacy.

Now as we learn to behold the good, the world is bathed in a gentle luminosity of compassion instead of a harsh light of analysis, inspection, and judgement. Before we looked for flaws, which gave us an excuse to reject, but now we look for goodness, which gives us reason to respect. Instead of looking for dangers to flee and fear, we look for possibilities to pursue and encourage. We turn from evaluating to valuing. We grow from faultfinding to something far bigger and better: beauty-finding, beholding, seeing in love, seeing with God."

- Brian McLaren, Naked Spirituality

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sympathy for Simon the Sorcerer

During the years that I was a teenager and then a young man, I dreamed of becoming a rock star. That dream became my all consuming passion--my god, if you will. I worshipped the dream and sacrificed much at its altar. When, in my early 20's, I became a follower of Jesus, I kept hold of the dream but transposed Jesus onto it. Now I wanted to be a Christian rock star.

I had come to Christ dragging a lot of baggage with me, and it took time for me to gradually jettison that baggage--piece by piece. I slowly let go of those dreams of rock star glory and allowed the god of my youth to fade away. Sometimes though, even after all these years, bits of it still pop up.

I was reminded of this part of my history today when our Bible study was reading in Acts chapter 8 about Simon the Magician (aka Simon Magus, aka Simon the Sorcerer). Simon was a rock star in ancient Samaria. "He boasted the he was someone great, and all the people high and low gave him their attention... They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic." (8:9-12)

There was a great Christian revival movement going on in Samaria and Simon got swept up in it. He became a follower of Jesus. But he soon got into trouble. He saw the apostles Peter and John imparting the Holy Spirit to people through the laying on of hands (apparently with dramatically visible manifestations) and inquired of the apostles if they would give him this ability, in exchange for money. Peter rebuked him sharply, saying "May your money perish with you!" and told him that his heart was not right before God and that he needed to repent and pray for forgiveness. To this day, the practice of purchasing a position of influence within the church is known as the sin of simony.

Although Simon the Magician is often portrayed as a villain (and a whole corpus of legendary tales later developed about him becoming an arch-heretic and enemy of the church), I can relate to the guy. He was just doing what magicians do: "Hey, that's a cool trick! How much would you charge to teach it to me?"

Simon's baggage was showing.

In Acts 8:24, Simon responds to Peter's rebuke by saying, in essence, "Pray for me!" There is some ambiguity in Simon's response to Peter and, because of that, many theologians have extrapolated that Simon's repentance was only superficial--that he was more worried about being punished by God than with actually having a change of heart. But I don't see it that way. I see in Simon a guy who--despite becoming a Christian--still wanted to be a rock star and was beginning the sometimes painful process of letting go of that thing by which he had previously defined himself.

But maybe that's because I see a little bit of myself in Simon the Musician. I mean, uh, Magician.

Experience and discernment

"Experience is primary. How can we know God? By experience. But it is important to take our 'leadings', as we call them, into group discernment, and ask: 'Is this what God wants us to do?' For Quakers, collective experience has greater weight than private experience." - Ben Pink Dandelion

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Gulley on Ongoing Revelation

This is an excellent essay by Quaker pastor Philip Gulley; part of a series of essays on basics of the Quaker faith.

"This is ongoing revelation--our belief that God did not fall silent when the last page of Scripture was written. We believe God still speaks, that no one book, no one church, no one religion has wholly and thoroughly captured and contained the essence of God. We believe our relationship with God is too important to let other people define it for us."

The Quaker Basics, Part 3: Ongoing Revelation

And it fits well with my recent message about the Parable of the Mustard Seed.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Quaker Wisdom

"Do you want to know whether a group is part of the true church? Very well, note whether they love each other; note whether their hearts are quickened by the love of the Living God; note whether they show that they have the mind of Christ in them. No other credentials are needed." - D. Elton Trueblood

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

One of the most profound and yet simple statements I ever heard came from a Catholic priest. It was just six words, and when I share them you will probably think “Well, duh!” but at the time they really impacted me. What he said was, “Jesus is the revelation of God.” Maybe another way to say that is “If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.” 

I guess this is why, over the years since then, I find myself continually circling back to read the Gospels. It is there that I see what Jesus did and taught. I want to understand better the things that God values. As a Quaker, I also know that the living God still speaks to us and teaches us and leads us, if we but listen—as individuals and as communities of faith. 

In the Gospels, Jesus spoke more than anything else about the Kingdom of God (in Matthew’s Gospel, which was originally written for a Jewish audience, it is referred to as the Kingdom of Heaven in order to not offend Jewish sensibilities about speaking the name of God). The Kingdom is mentioned over a hundred times in the four Gospels. In Luke 4:43 Jesus said “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” The proclamation of the Kingdom of God was central to Jesus’ ministry. When He would heal someone or cast out a demon or feed a crowd or reach out to a person on the margins of society, Jesus would say, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” The Greek word for “kingdom” is basilea, which means “the rule and reign.” In other words, Jesus said “This is what it looks like when God is reigning—when God’s will is being done—rather than Caesar’s or Herod’s or the religious authorities’."

But the Kingdom of God, according to Jesus, did not look like the popular expectations of a temporal theocratic government, based in Jerusalem and established by violently driving out the Romans and the Herodians and the corrupt temple officials. Jesus kept saying, in essence, “No, the Kingdom of God isn’t like that. It’s like this…” 

So, for example, in Luke 13:18-19, just after healing a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years, Jesus says “What is the Kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”

Now, if a prophet were to compare God’s kingdom to something horticultural, you would expect him to choose the mighty cedar tree of Lebanon, which was a time-honored symbol of the nation of Israel and of great kingdoms and empires. To do so would conform to expected Biblical metaphors. 

For example, Daniel 4:10-12, referring to the Babylonian empire, states:
"These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed."
Ezekiel 31, referring to the Assyrian empire, states:
"Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage. The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its boughs increased and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters. All the birds of the sky nested in its boughs, all the animals of the wild gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade."
A bit earlier, in Ezekiel 17, Israel is also likened to a cedar tree:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.”
Obviously, in the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus is alluding to these well-known texts. After all, isn’t the Kingdom of God the greatest kingdom of all—greater than the Assyrians or the Babylonians or the Persians or the Egyptians or the Greeks of the Romans? 

But Jesus says something utterly unexpected and quite absurd. Instead of a mighty cedar, He compares the Kingdom of God to a noxious, invasive, common weed! His audience would have either gasped in shock or giggled at the subversiveness and irreverence of what He was saying. Sometimes we forget that Jesus had a sense of humor and could employ sarcasm and parody to get His point across. 

Now, we have all heard this parable explained in terms of something very small growing rapidly into something big; as a metaphor for the early Christian church. After all, a tiny mustard seed does quickly grow into a bush that can reach ten or twelve feet in height. Keep in mind that most trees in Israel don’t grow very tall (except for the cedars of Lebanon) so there isn’t that much difference between a tall bush or plant and an average tree, in terms of height. 

But this parable is speaking about more than just the church starting small and growing rapidly. In fact, I think the main point of this parable is often overlooked. 

You see, in Jesus’ culture, it was not allowed to plant a mustard seed in your garden, as the man in the parable does. This goes back to the Torah and the Talmud (the lengthy interpretation of the Torah). If you look, for example, at Leviticus 19 or Deuteronomy 22, you’ll see all kinds of prohibitions about mixing things: Don’t wear clothing made from two kinds of fabric; don’t plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together; don’t plant different kinds of seeds together; etc. 

The ancient Jewish understanding of holiness, or kedosh in Hebrew, had to do with separating. It is understandable that this view developed when you consider that throughout ancient history Israel was a tiny nation sandwiched between great empires who wanted to swallow up and assimilate them. Maintaining a separate and distinct identity was crucial for their survival as a people—as God’s people, in their eyes—and so separation was equated with holiness. At the very beginning of the Hebrew scriptures, in Genesis 1, you see God separating things: Light from dark; water above from water below; sky from ground; etc. 

This idea of maintaining separation—kedosh—holiness, permeated Jewish life and resulted in “purity codes.” If someone was deemed ritually impure (which often had nothing to do with sin or immorality), such as a woman during her monthly cycle or a person who had touched a corpse or someone with a skin disease, they had to be excluded from the community and from worshipping God (which was a communal activity) until they were purified. By the time of Jesus, there was a voluminous purity code—which was particularly and meticulously adhered to by the Pharisees. A man could bring about impurity by eating the wrong things or by eating with the wrong people (such as Gentiles) or by mixing the wrong foods together or by not properly washing one’s utensils or by mixing fabrics or by not planting crops in the prescribed manner or by speaking with a woman in public or by coming into contact with a leper or by touching a corpse, etc., etc. 

And, of course, one’s garden had to be kept kedosh—holy. This meant each type of plant had to be kept separate from the others in neat, tidy rows. 

So what would happen if you put a mustard seed in your garden? It would very rapidly spill out of its row into other rows, mixing and mingling with the other plants, dropping seeds everywhere which would sprout up more mustard plants, and before long it would take over your garden! Plus, why would you even bother to plant mustard in your garden when it grew wild all over the place? It was a common weed. No, you would do everything you could to keep mustard plants (and mustard seeds) OUT of your garden! (If Jesus had come to Washington state—where I live—instead of Israel, He might have likened the Kingdom of God to a blackberry bush!) 

So, imagine again Jesus saying to a gathered crowd, “What is the Kingdom of God like? … It is like a mustard seed, which a man planted in his garden…” It’s absurd! It’s against the law! It’s contrary to our interpretation of scripture!

But it gets worse…

Mustard bushes produce lots of seeds. What do seeds attract? Birds. Who wants birds in their vegetable garden? Most gardeners do everything they can to keep birds out!

In the parable, the birds perched—in other words, they found rest—in the branches of the mustard bush (rather than, as in Daniel and Ezekiel, the branches of a cedar ). Recently I was running an errand and I parked my car on a residential street. As I got out of the car I glanced across the street and noticed a big, ugly bush—probably six feet high and eight feet across—at the front of a residential yard. I don’t know what kind of bush it was, but my first impression was that it was an unruly eye-sore. But then I noticed that there were little birds all through the bush. They were flitting around within it and chirping and seemed to be having a great time. I imagine they felt a sense of security within the bush, being less exposed to predators and weather.

So, back to our parable: The picture that Jesus is painting here is of a nice, orderly, religiously proper vegetable garden that is about to be messed up by an invasive weed! And He says, “That’s what God’s rule and reign looks like! That’s what happens when God is in charge!”

It makes sense though, if you think about it… When you look at what Jesus did throughout the Gospels (and remember, Jesus is the revelation of God), He kept breaking down barriers and disregarding taboos. He flouted the taboos concerning fellowship with sinners. He surrounded Himself with low-lifes and outcasts and those who, socially, were on the margins. Jesus disregarded the taboos concerning fellowship with despised tax-collectors. Jesus disregarded the taboos concerning Samaritans and even made a Samaritan the hero of His parable about loving one’s neighbor; another absurdity, which would have been highly offensive to many. Jesus disregarded the taboos concerning the place of women in society and the segregation/marginalization of women (One of my favorite Gospel stories is the one in John 4 where Jesus is hanging out at a well in Samaria having a cordial theological dialog with a Samaritan woman who has been married multiple times and is currently living with her boyfriend . Another great Gospel story is the one in Matthew 15 where Jesus has a dialog with a “Syro-Phoenician” woman and she gets the upper hand in the discussion. Typically in ancient Palestine, if you wanted to write something espousing the great wisdom of your rabbi, you would not show him being beaten in a debate by a Gentile woman!) Jesus disregarded the taboos concerning touching lepers and dead people.

Jesus, in fact, did all kinds of things that would have made Him ritually unclean. Imagine that! The man who is the image of God is doing things that will cause Him to be viewed as impure and ineligible to be in the presence of God and in the community of God’s people!

I think it is because Jesus had a different definition of holiness. A pair of Quaker pastors named Philip Gulley and James Mulholland wrote a wonderful book entitled If Grace Is True, which contains the best definition of holiness that I have ever come across:
"Holiness is God's ability to confront evil without being defiled. God's holiness does not require him to keep evil at arm's length. God's holiness enables Him to take the wicked in His arms and transform them. God is never in danger of being defiled. No evil can alter His love, for His gracious character is beyond corruption. This is what it means to say God is holy--God's love is incorruptible.
Holiness and love are not competing commitments. God is love. His love endures forever. This enduring love is what makes God holy. No manner of evil done to us or by us can separate us from this love. God transforms His morally imperfect children through the power of His perfect love. It is our experience of this love that inspires us to such perfection.
Jesus said, 'Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect' (Matt. 5:48). If this verse was a command for moral perfection, our cause is hopeless. Fortunately, this admonition follows a command to 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you' (Matt. 5:44). Perfection is demonstrated not by moral purity, but by extravagant love. We are like God not when we are pure, but when we are loving and gracious."
So, the parable of the mustard seed is, at its heart, a teaching about radical inclusion. That bears repeating: It is a parable about radical inclusion. Jesus is saying, in effect, “If you allow the Kingdom of God into your midst, it is going to make a mess of your neat, tidy garden. It is going to break down your barriers of separation. It is going to attract and shelter the ones that everyone else tries to keep out. It is not going to look majestic and lofty and impressive, but rather, common and unremarkable and initially very small. But..., it will spread like crazy.”

What are we to do with this? Will we insist on maintaining our neat, tidy theological gardens? Or will we do what is absurd—what is taboo—and allow God’s rule and reign to mess things up? Will we value order and orthodoxy over radical inclusion and extravagant love? Each of us is the man with the mustard seed in his hand. We have only to let go and drop it into our garden and then watch what happens. 

The Immorality of Patriotism

An excellent article this 4th of July.  This Friend speaks my mind.

The Immorality of Patriotism | Friends Journal

Schweitzer on Quakers

"It fell to the church to call men to their senses away from the struggle of nationalistic passions, and to keep their minds focused on the highest ideals. However, the church was unable to achieve this; indeed it did not even make a serious effort to do so. Too often caught up in the demands of history and organization and too little moved by the Spirit, the church fell victim to the spirit of the times and confused dogmas of nationalism and realism with religion. One miniature communion alone, the Religious Society of Friends, has taken it upon itself to uphold the absolute validity of reverence for life as it is expressed in the religion of Jesus." -- Albert Schweitzer, Kultur und Ethic, 1923

Monday, July 02, 2012

Gulley on Salvation

"This is salvation, if I may use that term, to the Quaker. We don’t believe God becomes present in our lives when we go to an altar and invite Jesus into our hearts. We don’t believe our kneeling at altar changed God’s mind about us. That belief is 19th Century Revivalism, not Quakerism. Nor do we believe God becomes present in our lives when we’re baptized in water by someone the Church has authorized to do that. Water can do wondrous things, but it is not a magic potion. We believe God has always been present in us. We believe authentic spirituality is about becoming more aware of God’s presence in us and others."

(Source: The Quaker Basics, Part 1, by Phillip Gulley. Phillip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and co-author of the books If God Is Love and If Grace Is True)

Quaker Wisdom

"Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life." - Quaker Faith & Practice (Britain)

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Quaker Wisdom

"Whether in times of war or times of peace the Quaker is under peculiar obligation to assist and to forward movements and forces which make for peace in the world and which bind men together in ties of unity and fellowship." - Rufus Jones