Don't Miss This Must-Read Article by Chuck Fager on Progressive Quakerism

Don't Miss This Must-Read Article!

Get disturbed and urged to think deeply across current theological, political, and cultural divides.

Read this bridge article promoting "progressive Quakerism"!


by Chuck Fager

"...What’s Jesus Got to Do With the Golden Gate Bridge?"

" of the most agreeable years of my life was spent in San Francisco, from mid-1976 to mid-1977. Never mind that I was poor, even officially homeless for part of the time, because life was good. I had steady work as a reporter..."

"...a Progressive Quaker perspective, is inextricably tied up with my memories of one of San Francisco’s signal glories, the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Suppose the Golden Gate Bridge connected, not Marin County and San Francisco, but earth and heaven..."

"This idea is not as silly as it sounds. At the old Lake Street Friends meetinghouse...a large window opened on a view of the bridge. On numerous First Day mornings during that year I sat and contemplated the scene." 

"Often enough the great arched span was caressed and then obscured by rolling sweeps of fog, and it was easy to imagine that the far end came down in some dimension much stranger than Marin County."

"Thus, solid as the bridge looked, and was, not everyone who set foot on it made it to the promised land at the other end. There was no guarantee: to get across, one had first to find the bridge, then walk or drive straight, stay in lane, and keep going."

"And it was not long thereafter when it came to me that the bridge could serve as a parable of the work of Christ, as understood by early Quakers, and Progressive Christian Quakers today."

With this powerful metaphor and vivid image,
so begins a very deep, insightful, and inclusive article by Chuck Fager
on the matters of reality, identity, purpose, ethics, religion, and philosophy.

I tend to be skeptical of "progressive"-labeled writing 
(for a host of reasons, but that's not the 'angles'here).

And I don't much care for long hyphenated words for Quakers,
or anyone else for that matter.
But given the extreme divides and contradictions within Quakerism 
(and most worldviews for that matter), it is probably necessary as shorthand.

Don't miss this article.

See if it is, indeed, one of those deep moments of witnessing in meeting.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

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Thanks for bringing this Chuck Fager post to our attention, Daniel.  When I first started leaving fundamentalist Christianity over 30 years ago, I started reading just the words of Jesus as recorded in the Bible.  I soon realized that I had been taught a big fat lie my whole life.  The words of Jesus alone were simply about being a good person who had love, compassion, and forgiveness for others. through living in Oneness with the divine.  Unfortunately, Christians very soon began to act very human and we can read in the non-Jesus words of the New Testament that they began to view being "saved" through the lens of the distorted human ego that we are all plagued with even today.  And worship and honor towards Jesus became a requirement to 'be in the club'. 

At the time of my awakening due to reading only Jesus' words as recorded in the Bible, I was at first puzzled by the parable of the 'Sheep and the Goats' (that Chuck discusses in his post), mainly because it did not seem to square well with John 14:2 where Jesus is quoted as saying: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” 

But then the lightbulb went off for me.  Jesus routinely spoke in parables and stories, often making his point by personifying his own personal being within the parable.  This manner of his often stumbled listeners - who quite often took him literally, failing to see the spiritual message underlying his personified parable.  This can clearly be recognized in his personified parable during the last supper where he said that by eating the bread, they were eating his body, and that by drinking the wine, they were drinking his blood.  From the rest of Jesus recorded words, it becomes clear that this 'bread and wine partaking' spoken of in this personified parable refers not to eating Jesus; rather, it refers to uniting with him in the spiritual Oneness of the divine.

I believe his words in his famous personified parable, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me”, in keeping with his parable of the 'sheep and the goats' is not talking about literally following the person of Jesus.  It is talking about following his spiritual being of love, forgiveness, compassion, and oneness with the divine.  And more important than following him, he was entreatying his listeners to join him as One with the divine.  It is clear (as Chuck reminds us) that this parable does not require the sheep to say "Lord, Lord" to the 'master'; rather, it requires the sheep to live as the master does.

This same misunderstanding has occurred regarding the words of Jesus when he speaks of his divinity.  What many do not recognize is that Jesus' words in many places also includes that same aspect of divinity for his followers - those who accept his teaching and join him in spiritual unity with the divine. I have come to realize that this aspect of 'that of God' in all of us was the great realization coming from Jesus, which he tried to share in word and deed. 

You wrote, "It is clear (as Chuck reminds us) that this parable does not require the sheep to say "Lord, Lord" to the 'master'; rather, it requires the sheep to live as the master does."

Yes, I think those last few words distill so much of what is true in the NT.

Thanks for your thoughtful and extensive reply.

May I quote some of your response on my blog?

Yes, please do use anything I ever write.  No need to attribute it to me.  There's nothing there that others have not said, as well.


Hmmm... San Francisco, such an eclectic place, a crossroads, where East meets West... or est as the case may be: (a kind of Zen).  That bridge has iconic status in such esoteric literature -- and who am I, an NPYM Friend, to be calling anyone "esoteric". For even more diversity, lets include Disney while we're at it: ("first flight" in San Fransokyo; I suppose for me "progressive = cosmopolitan" so it all fits.

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