Are there any perceived or experienced downsides to reliance on Clearness Committees~?

Isn't there an over reliance on Clearness Committees? Or is it unusual for meetings to consider them a 'cure all' or pardon the figure of speech, 'magic bullet'~?

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Tags:

Introspection,

Priestly Confidences,

Abuse of Process,

Due Process Denial,

Disputes

A clearness committee, at least out here where I come from, isn't supposed to decide anything.(If it's about a question like whether someone should join the Meeting, then, of course, they'd have a recommendation. They did, that I know of, suggest to one applicant in a mental institution at the time: that he should wait to make his decision until he was sure what name he wanted to apply under. He took that as a rebuff, but subsequently joined the nearest other Meeting.)

The person who's "it" is supposed to find clarity about his decision, whatever the occasion might be, aided by the committee's worshipful presence and (hopefully) honest, non-rhetorical questions he should probably consider in accord with the Light as he knows It.

The only time I've had asked a clearness committee to help me with a decision -- and come out with iffy results -- I wasn't asking the right questions, and they weren't any clearer about what I meant than I was. My decision turned out financially ruinous at the time, in that it was no time to start a new bookstore. The effect on my life and the others around me was good. I think I clarified that God and I were okay with the decision; it just didn't work out the way I'd imagined.

Thanks Forest,
I think that is the general understanding, also held by my local meeting.
As my tags indicate, the question arises, Are Clearness Committees recommended quickly, often, or/and in situations where a dispute is involved or likely so~? I suppose the matter could be complicated by the unlikely-hood that Meetings are ready and equipped to offer help when there are disputes.

But under the premise of a dispute, the expectations of Priestly Confidence regarding the 'it' and their subject matter are a likely competitive conflict of interest with any possible considerations of 'due process' of other parties that have even the most remote association with the Meeting or the 'question panel'.
I have suffered just such a scenario, which served as the second degree of conflict extension,  and with resultant degrees following to eight or more degrees. While I can't suggest that Meeting was responsible for that extensive exercise of what turned to serial slander and gossip, they did help exacerbate the working dysfunctional ethic of due process denial and punishment without verification. Though unknowingly and completely unintentional.

The frustration after the fact was that requests to review the process, and its possible abuse, are met with defensive explanatory definitions, such as are agreed generally expected of Clearness, and suggestions that I don't understand what was offered, and that I should seek my own Committee for my own Clearness in the matter. As a long term independent Friend, I haven't felt the need to seek external input for my introspection. I have so much introspection that some would say I'm practically haunted by it. The offer is no exchange for the reasonable due process I've been deprived of in the ongoing disputes.

So the question really begs, is there not a natural 'red flag' perceived upon requests for Clearness that suggest entrenched disputes are involved~? Certainly Clearness could be needed for those in dispute. But the cost to me and local Meeting has been the capacity of trust regarding shrouded subject matter and participants, for which I've been slandered to seven or more degrees beyond Meeting.

Alas, and mostly a lack.

I'm certain there was never an intention or slightest inkling that a Clearness Committee could be abused to foster and fuel a field force of narcissism. Though, that is my witness.

Forrest Curo said:

A clearness committee, at least out here where I come from, isn't supposed to decide anything.[snip]

The person who's "it" is supposed to find clarity about his decision, whatever the occasion might be, aided by the committee's worshipful presence and (hopefully) honest, non-rhetorical questions he should probably consider in accord with the Light as he knows It.

[snip]

At my meeting a Clearness committee follows strict guidelines to never offer any advice or even an opinion to the Friend seeking clearness.  There are only open-ended questions offered with no "right" answer expected; questions designed to help the person seeking clearness as they delve deeply within in order to become more self-aware of the still inner voice which is always clear and is just waiting to be listened to.

This strict guideline is adhered to even in Clearness committees for recorded membership.  No recommendation or opinion from the Clearness committee members is EVER offered.  Simply, at the end of the Clearness committee meeting for membership, the person seeking membership clearness is just asked "At this time are you clear within yourself that you want to record your membership in our meeting and the Religious Society of Friends?".  If the answer to that question is "yes", then the clerk of the Clearness committee brings that decision back to the next Meeting for Business; stating something like, "John Doe is clear that he wants to record his membership".  Any questions from those at Meeting for Business simply center around the process used at the Clearness committee to ensure it was followed according to those strict guidelines of just open-ended questions with no opinion offered by committee members to the Friend seeking clearness.  There is also probing at Meeting for Business to ensure that becoming a member was the person's and NOT the committee's decision or recommendation.

This strictness regarding the process is present at our meeting because in the distant pass there have been disastrous results when these guidelines regarding 'non-intervention' were not followed - even for membership.  I'm always curious why most Quaker meetings do not trust the purity of the Clearness process to help a Friend - without the Clearness committee members giving THEIR opinion to the Friend seeking clearness - when the answers are within the Friend just waiting to be revealed TO HIM OR HER.  And it is not the 'culture' of our spiritual community to ever pass judgement on the worthiness of anyone to become a member of our meeting.  It's between the Friend and the divine.

Pacific Yearly Meeting has it that when a committee meets with someone to consider their request for membership, it is "for both the applicant and the committee to discern the rightness of this relationship" -- but that is not a matter of the individual making some personal decision, but precisely agreeing to a relationship in which the Meeting, after all, is one of the parties.

I have seen one such committee ask questions about a matter which had already been irresponsibly gossiped about, one which I suppose they theoretically needed to look into -- but perhaps not with an applicant who'd been pretty thoroughly rubbed emotionally raw by the whole fuss, which was clearly enough (to his friends) based on a cultural misunderstanding in the first place.

Straight clearness committees, no, I haven't seen them be intrusive in any way.

Thanks Howard, and again Forest.

You've both focused on the execution of the process, which has also been the tendency here. Determinations are in fact involved in arriving at spirit led query development. 
And I suppose it's hard to ask the question succinctly, which is not regarding the cautious application of the system, but it is about how the Committee is offered in the first place. Is there a propensity to its usage because of a lack of other solutions~? Like I mentioned the question, are Meetings typically equipped to handle dispute resolutions~? Is Clearness a 'go to' proposition in most or many occasions~?

I do appreciate the non-interventionist expectations. And wouldn't question their implementation. I found myself defending Clearness on a QuakerSpeaks video to someone suggesting the battery of questions offered also implied a 'Scientology' cult like programming opportunity or abuse, which seemed laughable.

The issue I'm raising is not relative to judgements from the panel, but rather the concern that judgement, as a human frailty, cannot be dismissed when a Committee engages in the process with its expectant shrouding and the issue is regarding a dispute that spurs slander and gossip. A person in dispute with a Committee 'client' can be discussed and reviewed without participation. And upon knowledge of the Committee process, that person is put in the unfortunate position, unable to trust the personal shrouded judgements and reflections of unknown Meeting members, thereby fostering a mistrust in the Meeting at large regarding potential status, defamation, and posturing regarding the potential slander. I'm glad to hear that this is a seldom seen 0ccurence.

I'm not sure what it's called; but I believe anyone can call for a committee to help seek reconciliation  with someone he's in dispute with -- and then, of course, both parties would necessarily be present; and the object would not be to settle or judge the matter, merely to put the disputants on the same page. But I've got no idea of the mechanics.

I myself get pretty annoyed with people who follow "the process" without the openness to Spirit -- or the willingness to consider respect  for other views -- that are needed to put the juice in it.

I have had a committee suggested to me because (I believe) the Clerk of my Meeting at the time didn't understand or sympathize with a stand I'd taken, & suspected I'd gone a trace bonkers. That's not the usual practice at all!

Excellent tip, Forest. And humorous example.
In a quick search, it seems DC Meeting has an established Committee of Reconciliation, and Newtown PA Meeting has an Ad Hoc one on Conflict Resolution. Interestingly, the Ad Hoc Committee lists multiple approaches all the way to formal legal action, stressing that the less formal are usually more mutually productive. I suppose the lack of other glaring examples shows the likely spontaneity and seldom usage.
Thanks again.

http://newtownfriendsmeeting.org/committee-pages/committee-handbook...



Forrest Curo said:

I'm not sure what it's called; but I believe anyone can call for a committee to help seek reconciliation  with someone he's in dispute with -- and then, of course, both parties would necessarily be present; and the object would not be to settle or judge the matter, merely to put the disputants on the same page. [snip]

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