I also think that Gordon’s spiritual side was key too... I don’t remember Gordon as an overtly spiritual or religious person when I was a teenager, and yet in the course of reading the letters and the diaries, I think his spirituality was definitely something that sustained him.
One reason many Friends have lost touch with the Inward Light and rely instead on external Testimonies is that we have become too conventionally educated and “heady.” There is nothing wrong with relying on reason or on authority to some extent, according to Brinton, but they are not enough. We need the guidance of something greater and deeper than human means, something that Friends called the “Inward Light.”
"How can I embrace those times when I find myself at odds with others, welcoming conflict as an opportunity to speak the truth in love and listen deeply to where the Holy Spirit is leading us together? "
One result of that break is the undermining of the traditional Quaker reliance on spiritual discernment. Private revelations, including the prescriptive kind called “leadings,” are susceptible to delusion and should be subjected to group discernment, but the definition of such experiences as self-validating and therefore exempt from critical examination, a definition which the group itself accepts and promotes, effectively precludes that. Add to that the liberal concern to avoid...
If the Spirit of Jesus is doing wonderful new things in the world (as Quakers have always maintained), what role might the Religious Society of Friends play in this new Movement? We were - and still are - part of those declining church numbers. Is there anything our Quaker tradition can offer to this rising chorus?
"I hope that we begin to understand more deeply that our treasures, whether burial grounds, meeting houses, or Quaker practice and tradition, are not ours alone—that our continued survival and relevance is connected to sharing what we know and understand with others in and beyond our communities, and to learning with and from our neighbors. "
I had never felt so lost and alone as I did when I stood at the edge of what seemed to me to be a huge abyss... My heart longed to offer unequivocal acceptance and affirmation to GLBTQ folk–no more judgment, no reservations– yet my head kept reminding me that I was throwing a lot away if I took that step.
There are things one can do besides just radiate, and practicing them will make the gathered meeting more likely, whatever your spiritual depth. In fact, these practices develop one’s spiritual ‘muscles’.
Illinois Yearly Meeting has launched an oral archive project this year called the Quaker Peacemaker Project.