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Hello Mike,

Will you re-write the "not a belief system, but a spiritual discipline" by replacing the words 'belief' 'system' 'spirtual' and 'discipline' with the meaning of each word as you understand them?

Of course:  once we start having the conversation about what Quaker-ism is we start participating in a belief system. This includes statements like: it is a way (a set of practices) and not an -ism.

IMHO this is less about whether we have/are a belief system as how open to renegotiating the system boundaries and subsystems we are when new information is introduced through reality verification (i.e.,"this I knew experimentally...").

A good question, Friend Kieth.

I take my definition of belief system from James P. Carse (see my 2008 blog post "Weeds (Part II)"):

In The Religious Case Against Belief (2008), Carse analyses the error he sees in most of our arguments over religion. Through compassionate yet incisive examination, he reveals that “what is currently criticized as religion is, in fact, the territory of belief” (book jacket). The distinction, as he defines it, is enlightening.

Belief systems are “comprehensive networks of tenets that reach into every area of thought and action” (32). They claim to define all that needs to be known, they mark the boundary beyond which orthodox thinking must not go, and they name anything and anyone beyond that boundary as enemy.

Religions may produce belief systems, yet “they are not at their core intelligible, and they are saturated with paradox” (36). Unlike the Roman civitas, a society ruled by law and structured by clear lines of authority, a religion is a communitas stretching across time and space, a “spontaneous gathering of persons who identify themselves and one another as members of a unified body.” Unified, Carse writes, by “the desire…to get to the bottom of the very mystery that brings them together” (84).

For spiritual, a brief hint comes from James Hemming's 1986 essay, "The Spiritual Reach of the Human Mind" in Quaker Universalist Reader Number 2: Universalism & Religions:

"Spiritual" entails a special sort of relationship between the individual and the universe...concerned with the clarification of vision."

I wander the illusory boundary between so-called "theist" and "non-theist." My perspective is that all religious or ideological statements, all stories and creeds and rituals, are descriptions of how we human beings experience our interrelationship with the Real, not descriptions of the Real itself or of it’s “will” for us. As the Zen admonition says, they are fingers pointing at the moon.

In my usage above, the word discipline refers to a deliberate path of practice. For example, since 2008, I have observed the discipline of Taoist tai chi practice. This means not only that I go to regular classes (just as I go to meetings for worship), but also that I practice the set daily and that, at any moment of a day, I may notice that my posture and movement are not aligned in a healthy way, and so I make the corrections and get back into the discipline.

Lots of words...but is this helpful?

Blessings,
Mike

Hello Mike,

Yes, your response is helpful. Is the sentence below a valid re-writing of the phrase in the meme based upon your detailed explanation?

Original: Quakerism is not a belief system, but a spiritual discipline;

Rewrite: Quakerism is not a comprehensive network of tenets that reach into every area of thought and action, but a special relationship between the individual and the universe … concerned with the clarification of vision based upon a deliberate path or practice.



Mike Shell said:

A good question, Friend Kieth.

I take my definition of belief system from James P. Carse (see my 2008 blog post "Weeds (Part II)"):

In The Religious Case Against Belief (2008), Carse analyses the error he sees in most of our arguments over religion. Through compassionate yet incisive examination, he reveals that “what is currently criticized as religion is, in fact, the territory of belief” (book jacket). The distinction, as he defines it, is enlightening.

Belief systems are “comprehensive networks of tenets that reach into every area of thought and action” (32). They claim to define all that needs to be known, they mark the boundary beyond which orthodox thinking must not go, and they name anything and anyone beyond that boundary as enemy.

Religions may produce belief systems, yet “they are not at their core intelligible, and they are saturated with paradox” (36). Unlike the Roman civitas, a society ruled by law and structured by clear lines of authority, a religion is a communitas stretching across time and space, a “spontaneous gathering of persons who identify themselves and one another as members of a unified body.” Unified, Carse writes, by “the desire…to get to the bottom of the very mystery that brings them together” (84).

For spiritual, a brief hint comes from James Hemming's 1986 essay, "The Spiritual Reach of the Human Mind" in Quaker Universalist Reader Number 2: Universalism & Religions:

"Spiritual" entails a special sort of relationship between the individual and the universe...concerned with the clarification of vision."

I wander the illusory boundary between so-called "theist" and "non-theist." My perspective is that all religious or ideological statements, all stories and creeds and rituals, are descriptions of how we human beings experience our interrelationship with the Real, not descriptions of the Real itself or of it’s “will” for us. As the Zen admonition says, they are fingers pointing at the moon.

In my usage above, the word discipline refers to a deliberate path of practice. For example, since 2008, I have observed the discipline of Taoist tai chi practice. This means not only that I go to regular classes (just as I go to meetings for worship), but also that I practice the set daily and that, at any moment of a day, I may notice that my posture and movement are not aligned in a healthy way, and so I make the corrections and get back into the discipline.

Lots of words...but is this helpful?

Blessings,
Mike

So much for the "elevator speech".

Haven't heard about Carse in a lo-ong time!

Have you read Finite and Infinite Games? It's amazing.

Mike Shell said:

A good question, Friend Kieth.

I take my definition of belief system from James P. Carse (see my 2008 blog post "Weeds (Part II)"):

In The Religious Case Against Belief (2008), Carse analyses the error he sees in most of our arguments over religion. Through compassionate yet incisive examination, he reveals that “what is currently criticized as religion is, in fact, the territory of belief” (book jacket). The distinction, as he defines it, is enlightening.

Belief systems are “comprehensive networks of tenets that reach into every area of thought and action” (32). They claim to define all that needs to be known, they mark the boundary beyond which orthodox thinking must not go, and they name anything and anyone beyond that boundary as enemy.

Religions may produce belief systems, yet “they are not at their core intelligible, and they are saturated with paradox” (36). Unlike the Roman civitas, a society ruled by law and structured by clear lines of authority, a religion is a communitas stretching across time and space, a “spontaneous gathering of persons who identify themselves and one another as members of a unified body.” Unified, Carse writes, by “the desire…to get to the bottom of the very mystery that brings them together” (84).

For spiritual, a brief hint comes from James Hemming's 1986 essay, "The Spiritual Reach of the Human Mind" in Quaker Universalist Reader Number 2: Universalism & Religions:

"Spiritual" entails a special sort of relationship between the individual and the universe...concerned with the clarification of vision."

I wander the illusory boundary between so-called "theist" and "non-theist." My perspective is that all religious or ideological statements, all stories and creeds and rituals, are descriptions of how we human beings experience our interrelationship with the Real, not descriptions of the Real itself or of it’s “will” for us. As the Zen admonition says, they are fingers pointing at the moon.

In my usage above, the word discipline refers to a deliberate path of practice. For example, since 2008, I have observed the discipline of Taoist tai chi practice. This means not only that I go to regular classes (just as I go to meetings for worship), but also that I practice the set daily and that, at any moment of a day, I may notice that my posture and movement are not aligned in a healthy way, and so I make the corrections and get back into the discipline.

Lots of words...but is this helpful?

Blessings,
Mike

It's a poor silly belief system that sits in Meeting with folded arms, its body language proclaiming:

I won't believe in You; I won't believe in You;

You can't make me; You can't make me!

There's no obligatory belief system... Clearly we believe or disbelieve whatever we in fact do, not what we or anybody tells us we ought or ought not. But to deny that anything we don't directly experience has real existence in its own right: That relegates us to _The Mysterious Stranger_ or 'Fiddler's Green'.

The Quaker practice Fox promoted as 'experimental religion' was experiential in the sense of God making Godself known through experience. It wasn't about 'having Experiences', but being given experiences that gave us knowledge of the source and meaning of these. Not 'a belief system', no, but willingness to seek and acknowledge the underlying truth of life as this was revealed to us. Not, then, to deny the possibility of true belief in and knowledge of God, not merely sharing lack of faith together.

I appreciate the emphasis on doing over seeing.  The language of belief tends to emphasize "vision" (we're spectators) whereas a shared practice is more like "dance" (a sense of being guided, obeying a will, a sensitivity beyond sight).  

It's not what you think (i.e. recite as your credo or manifesto, what comes out of your mouth, professed loyalties), it's in your actions, your movements (physically and in spirit), that you share that of God.

I see Mike brings up tai chi.  That's fitting.

Sounds GREAT!

Butttt- do you know the ONLY True God Jesus served?

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