Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
John A. Minahan has written this week’s featured Friends Journal article, a nicely paced exploration that touches on personal memoir, human milestones, cultural memory, and the Book of Genesis: > Now the astronauts had used that same rhetorical strategy but on a planetary and even interplanetary scale. Speaking the words of Genesis, they sent a message of healing to a wounded world; they expressed a certain cosmic humility about our place in the universe; and, most of all, they shared goodwill, jaw‐dropping in its simplicity, with “all of you on the good earth.” A moral and existential vision took hold of me in that moment and has never let go. Though I couldn’t have articulated it as such then, it was a realization of original goodness.
British Friends become first church in UK to pull investments in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine. From recording clerk Paul Parker: > As Quakers, we seek to live out our faith through everyday actions, including the choices we make about where to put our money. We believe strongly in the power of legitimate, nonviolent, democratic tools such as morally responsible investment to realise positive change in the world. We want to make sure our money and energies are instead put into places which support our commitments to peace, equality and justice. As you’d might expect, there’s been backlash. The [Board of Deputies of British Jews](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_Deputies_of_British_Jews) has [condemned Britain Yearly Meeting’s decision as a “biased and petulant act.”](https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/quaker-boycott-divestment-israel-palestine-profit-from-occupation-board-of-deputies-1.472765).
From Wess Daniels: > I have put this talk together in ebook form complete with lots of pictures and illustrations and formatting that adds to the reading experience. I wanted to share this with all of you and make it as accessible as possible, so it is free to download. It should work with most modern-day eBook readers and apps. If that doesn’t work for you, I have also turned the talk into a downloadable .PDF.
Okay, it’s not quite so referential: Mike’s lifting up three books in September’s _Friends Journal_ book columns that “help ‘white’ readers go deeper into self-awareness about the hidden dynamics of racism.” He also tells a little of his own story of color-blindness. > When my “white” friends said I couldn’t bring my “black” best friend to their lunch table, I shrugged and sat with him at a “black” table. On the minus side, when someone in the school parking lot shouted nigger lover, and my friend wanted to fight, I just told him I didn’t mind the insult. That was probably my first seriously hurtful act of “white color-blindness.” It took me decades to realize, to my shame, that it was he who was being insulted, not me.
This week marks the hundred-year anniversary of the end of the “Great War,” World War I, branded as the war to end all wars. Our annual commemoration of the armistice in the U.S. largely went by the wayside in 1954 when Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Instead of marking the end of a horrific war that literally consumed much of European resources and people for years in trenches that never moved, we now spend the day filling lectures with cliches of military service. But the hundred year anniversary also means we can start remembering the aftermath of the war. The First World War set up the second. We largely think of the mistakes and half-efforts of the victorious powers but Quakers were part of more righteous storyline: > Even more food was sent by American Quakers under the leadership of Herbert Hoover, providing daily meals for 60,0000 starving Berliners for five years. The Germans labelled this massive effort, Quakerspeisungen: “Quaker Feedings.” It saved thousands of lives, including those of the family of Oscar Schindler who famously went on to help 700 Jews to escape the gas chambers at Auschwitz in the Second World War. Schindler’s sisters spent six months recuperating with the Hall family and one even attended Thirsk Grammar School for a term. Friends Journal Bonuses: Quaker work in Germany in the 1920s and 30s was the subject of[Quakers in Germany during and after the World Wars](https://www.friendsjournal.org/2010034/) from 2010. Relief efforts in Spain were part of a more recent story that tied it to present-day refugee assistance in [Gota de Leche](https://www.friendsjournal.org/gota-de-leche/).
Timothy Taylor on radical objectivity: > But near what feels like an especially divisive election day, it seems worth posing his insights as a challenge for all of our partisan beliefs. While I am not a member of the Religious Society of Friends, I attended a college with Quaker roots and married a 22nd-generation Quaker. The Quakers have a term called a “query,” which refers to a question–sometimes a challenging or pointed question– that is meant to be used as a basis for additional reflection. His list isn’t really in the style of classic Quaker queries (surprise). It’s the modern style of leading questions that get called queries. Too often this form ends up being a rather transparent attempt to impose a kind of political orthodoxy but Taylor’s questions feel refreshingly challenging and useful for whatever side or non-side one takes in politics. . Hattip to [Doug Bennet](https://riverviewfriend.wordpress.com) for the link.
Mike Farley, of _Silent Assemblies_, writes of an early Quaker interpretation of anoiting: > I have been struck by the word “anointing”. Elizabeth Bathurst (as quoted by David Johnson) wrote: “But I brought them the scriptures, and told them there was an anointing within man to teach him, and the Lord would teach them himself.” We are not very used, I think, to the term among Friends today. Among charismatic Christians it is much more common, and seems to be used in both the sense of being given spiritual gifts… But I think Elizabeth Bathurst, following the apostle John, as she says, is using the word in a slightly different sense to either of these, and it is a sense we as Quakers should recognise.
Johan Maurer starts with “it’s complicated” and goes on from there. A passage I find particularly interesting is his explanation of why looking at large-scale state-level atrocities like the stealing of native land or the kidnapping of millions of Africans is not just something to be done out of guilt: > Whether you believe in an intelligent Satan (along the lines of Peter Wagner’s ideas) or a more impersonal mechanism of demonic evil (Walter Wink), we shouldn’t pretend that such nodes just go away. Their evil persists. The basis for apology and repentance is not white guilt or shame or any form of self-flagellation. Instead, it is to conduct spiritual warfare against the demons of racism and oppression and false witness, to declare them off-limits in the land that we now share, so that we can conduct our future stewardship—and make our public investments— in freedom and mutual regard. I’m drawn to the old notion of “The Tempter” as a force that leads us to do what’s personally rewarding rather than morally just. I think it explains a lot of internal struggles I’ve faced, even in simple witnesses. As Johan says, these massive injustices can’t just be undone but they need to be recognized for the immensity of their scale. I’ve also seen this weird way in which progressive whites can blithely disregard Native American perspectives on these issues. Listening more and waiting for complicated answers seems essential in my opinion.
From Lucy Duncan at the American Friends Service Commitee: > What if, instead of characterizing folks seeking home as “threats” or “invaders,” we understood them to be our neighbors, that our futures are interlocked and that how they are treated is connected to the well-being of us all? What if we understood love as not constrained by borders or walls, but abundant, and that caring for one another and those most violated by systemic oppression is the pathway toward liberation for us all? What if we, as people of conscience and faith, greeted the migrants at the border as our brothers, sisters, and kin, opened our homes and communities to them, and greeted them as resourceful contributors to figuring out the planetary threats we currently face together?
Over on Medium, consultant Jim Ralley looks to Quakers for the original of the faciliatator’s check-in: > The ‘check-in’ is a fundamental element in the repertoire of a facilitator. There’s no better way to start a session and get everyone present, and there’s no faster way to discover what’s going on under the surface of a group. It’s such a simple an effective process tool that I figured it must have a rich and well-documented history. But it’s proved quite tricky to research, partly because its name is shared with the hotel and airline industries, but partly also, I suspect, because of its simplicity. > Where to start? With such a basic human process, the line through history will surely be tangled and confused. But, for the sake of starting somewhere, I’ll start with the Quakers. I’ve left a comment on the post with missing links. I’ll leave a version of it here. Regular readers will predict that I’ll start with Rachel Davis DuBois, the New Jersey-born Friend who put together racial reconciliation groups in the mid-20th century. She later turned some of the process into “Dialogue Groups” in the mid-1960s and traveled the U.S. teaching them; these evolved into modern [Quaker worship sharing](https://www.friendsjournal.org/60th-anniversary-worship-sharing-comes-to-friends/) and [clearness committees](https://www.quakerranter.org/not-ancient-quaker-clearness-committee/). Those late-60s processes were picked up by the younger Friends, who (no surprise) were also into antiwar activism and communitarian politics. They were codified and secularized by the [Movement for a New Society](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_a_New_Society), which started in Philadelphia in the early 70s but had communities all over the Western world. Much of their work was focused on training people in their style of group process and a lot of our facilitator tools these days are disseminated MNS tools. Many MNS’ers were involved with Quakers and many more filtered back into the Religious Society of Friends in later years. A lot of this relatively recent history has been forgotten. Many Quakers will tell you these things all date from the very start of the Friends movement. There’s definitely through-lines and echos and inspirations through our history but I’d love to see us appreciate Rachel Davis DuBois and the people who made some very useful adaptations that have helped Quakers continue to evolve and (almost) thrive.
A walk through time out of Time. Manifesting those Quakers out of all Appearances.
Thirty years ago, I had an experience of seeing a different way of being, conscience and consciousness. It was a glimpse of a glimpse that held fast and…Continue