New York Yearly Meeting 2009 Summer Sessions

Event Details

New York Yearly Meeting 2009 Summer Sessions

Time: 7th mo. 19, 2009 at 3pm to 7th mo. 25, 2009 at 1:30pm
Location: Silver Bay, New York (on Lake George)
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Event Type: yearly, meeting
Organized By: New York Yearly Meeting
Latest Activity: 7th month 2, 2009

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Event Description

This Year's Theme: "Equality: Living Into the Testimony"
Featured Speakers: Donna L. McDaniel and Vanessa Julye

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Comment by John J Edminster on 7th mo. 2, 2009 at 3:26pm
I said "might attend" and not "will attend" because I have a scruple about making assertions about the future without adding "God willing" or some such phrase. But I am to attend. Elizabeth and I intend to attend, and are scheduled to attend, at least for the first half session.

About living into the testimony of equality, the theme of these NYYM sessions, it happens that I'm sitting with a feeling that if there's one unnamed elephant in the room we humans are all sitting in, it's our fear of acknowledging our debt to others (God among them), which would make us both repentant and thankful if we could but own it. Fi qulubihim maradun, reads the Qur'an of the unbelieving (2:10, 24:50, 33:12, 47:20, etc.), "in their hearts is a disease." Here is one of that disease's most widespread symptoms, denial of indebtedness, and I'm seeing it as the very anchor of human inequality. It's not surprising that the Twelve Steps of AA, that extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit, address our need to make amends for the hurt we've caused, nor that a school of psychotherapy, Naikan, has arisen to help us heal through the acknowledgement of all that we've received from others and repaid so meagerly.

Romans 1:21 suggests that it was our resistance to giving thanks to God that's given us this dementia we now have that blocks knowledge of God ("they became vain in their imaginations," as the King James Version has it, "and their foolish heart was darkened"). But neither can humans face their enormous indebtedness to the other creatures that sustain their life -- the cows, the trees, the earthworms; nor males their enormous debt to females, white Americans to black Americans, children to their parents and teachers, capital to labor, the richer nations to the poorer nations, and so on -- we are too afraid; and so we go into denial as a defense, and though we may all like the idea of equality, most of us fallen creatures remain terrified of what full equality would mean to our privileges, our comforts, our security, our ego. Unless. Unless God grants us what the Apostles called "repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). The Apostles, I see, were wise enough to recognize that rescue from our state of denial comes only as a gift from God. Interestingly, Paul points out in Romans 2:4 that it's not the agonizing discomfort of our present condition that finally leads us to repentance, but the "goodness" or "kindness" (Gk. chrestos) of God. Such has been my experience of the process.

At 66, I find myself still a beginner at this work of owning my indebtedness, repenting, making amends, showing gratitude, and otherwise starting to walk the path of equality. I'm very grateful to those who've been taking me by the hand, helping me discern the path where it's indistinct, and pulling me back up on my feet when I stumble.

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