Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I'd like to speculate that everything we don't like about Quakers (from who is in our meeting and how they handle things, to the conflicts that weigh on us, to the direction that the whole Society is going)...is because this is what happens in any REAL community --- and it IS uncomfortable.
Anytime I have thought about being something other than Quaker -- and believe me I've tried -- I felt that what the other groups were doing was less community than I wanted. Perhaps that's what made it seem easier, more straightforward. They only met on Sundays and didn't discuss things in the meantime, they didn't expect that their decisions had to factor in everyone, etc. So when they did get together they could just SING! and SKIM the SURFACE OF EACH OTHERS LIVES! It was blissful in contrast.
Being acutely in community with one another seems to invite trouble!
Yes, the people we care about can trouble us more than those we don't. And we get naturally brought into relationship-- in any organization-- with people well equipped to trouble and be troubled by us in particular. It's 'supposed' to be that way...
But the other thing going on... is a tendency of people to "go through the motions." As unexcited as I get about the worship of "Quaker Process",
when I get sick enough of the stifling effects of "Process for its own sake" and throw myself into what I think we're Intended to do with that process, I start to see promising signs. If I could hold my nose and keep pushing?
I'm pondering these two ideas together:
-- any real "being in community" is uncomfortable and and invites trouble, and
-- people we are in relationship with are destined (or 'supposed') to trouble us in particular.
It suggests that we are 'supposed' to be troubled BY others....instead of that we simply will all find that we are experiencing trouble together. It seems better to not draw that conclusion about other people that you mention.
I think we are supposed to be uncomfortable sometimes (= growing or being asked to change or figure out dynamics), but this does not signify at all that other people are supposed to trouble us -- or in fact that the blame is on other people for troubling us at all.
In fact by separating these two out and only applying the first one we then become able to not have ego reactions so easily when others say things that irk us, not blame them at all, not feel stuck in any dynamic with them, not need to figure them out, or judge them in any other way -- more FREE essentially.
The view that people are here 'supposed' to do anything to us / trouble us, etc. casts other people as trouble-makers (something many conservatives seem to believe about liberals, I think)...when actually the trouble is found in the truth that we come to know together and only together (that we are limited, that we don't have all the answers we think we do, that we're not as on top of things as we lik to think, etc). This view of "supposed to cause trouble" also seems to cast God as a more vengeful or less compassionate God who sends people to irk you or set you up.
It may become a self-fulfilling prophesy too. Many people do seem to be on a hunt to find meaningful community elsewhere away from "those people" -- whoever "those people" are to them.
I suspect that being in community makes one uncomfortable because it reflects US back to ourselves, including our limited abilities to impact others, others calling us on your own behavior, others asking for the same justice for them that we want to give to ourself or another group but withhold from this one. Other people bring accountability, perhaps Divine accountability -- cause and effect, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, etc.
In community, we discover to our great discomfort that we aren't as together and enlightened as we thought, and that our own answers don't work in the real world. And who wants to find that out!
But it's actually a very cool path once you get over the ego mortification. You find out that Grace is other people. Trying to save you... all your life, trying to carry you when you couldn't carry yourself, showing you what really matters....
If you assume that 'troubling' each other is a bad thing... it could sound like something God was setting up to be 'vengeful'-- which wasn't what I meant.
I meant that troubling each other is a necessary challenge, raising the questions of "Why does this person, saying '____', bother me so?" and "How can we resolve our problems with each other-- without taking or inflicting any real harm?"
One of the reasons we're often put into relationship with people we easily misunderstand-- is that this can serve as an eloquent introduction to the genuine existence of human differences. A chance to observe other people 'running on automatic,' pulled this way and that by their fears and loyalties-- and even to wonder: "Am I doing that too? Me?"
Okay, sorry I misunderstood your intent with that, Forrest. Not a bad query.