"Let us labor for an inward stillness--
An inward stillness and an inward healing.
That perfect silence where the lips and heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
But God alone speaks to us and we wait
In singleness of heart that we may know
His will, and in the silence of our spirits,
That we may do His will and do that only”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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This makes a lot of sense to me, thanks!

 



Jim Wilson said:

An intriguing thread.  A few comments:

There are manuals of practice in the Quaker tradition which are articulate in describing what the practice of inward stillness is in a Quaker context.  They touch on the meaning of 'laboring' even if they do not use that specific word.  My favorite is 'A Guide to True Peace', but there are others, in addition to scattered comments throughout Quaker history. 

The question about what a non-theist does is, I think, a significant one.  It is my view that most non-theists reject the idea of a transcendental nature and have absorbed the current western idea that the only real world is the world observed by the senses.  This is the heart of a secular world view.  If I am right about this, then waiting worship would be reinterpreted in secular terms.  This might be therapeutic understandings (calming the mind and body), or it might be thought of as a sociological demonstration on how human beings can interact at a more peaceful level than the norm.  Or it might be thought of as a kind of weekly pit-stop; a way of resting from the rush of modern life. 

But the idea of waiting worship as a way of awakening to an eternal presence, to the saving light of God's grace, would be rejected almost by definition.  This is one reason (though not the only reason) why I consider non-theist Quakers to be doing something essentially different; it may have a similar appearancee, but it is a complete reworking of the meaning of the Quaker tradition. 

Thanks,

Jim

I think it's difficult to generalise, Jim, because non-theist doesn't necessarily mean secular.  Personally I don't reject the transcendental, it's more that I don't think of the transcendental in terms of "God".   Personally I prefer to focus directly on the experience of the transcendental, and don't see the need to add labels, beliefs and assumptions.


Jim Wilson said:

The question about what a non-theist does is, I think, a significant one.  It is my view that most non-theists reject the idea of a transcendental nature and have absorbed the current western idea that the only real world is the world observed by the senses.  This is the heart of a secular world view.  If I am right about this, then waiting worship would be reinterpreted in secular terms.  This might be therapeutic understandings (calming the mind and body), or it might be thought of as a sociological demonstration on how human beings can interact at a more peaceful level than the norm.  Or it might be thought of as a kind of weekly pit-stop; a way of resting from the rush of modern life. 

A couple of things:

First, the problem with what you say is that you cite people as the authorities for what it might mean to be a Quaker and you implicitly are saying that *every* view counts equally. You know this is simply wrong and more to the point wrongheaded, but it seems that you're wedded to it. Of course, these days, what it used to mean to be "wedded" to something has changed, too.

If we are not following Christ, we are not Christian; if we are not Christian (which is a choice given to all who hear the Truth) then we cannot be Quaker in any meaningful sense of the word. It's true, I suppose, that you can call yourself "Quaker" and spout any nonsense you want provided your liberal friends will accept it. I suspect that the one thing they will never accept is that the Truth IS Christ. In fact, I suspect that some of the arrogant vehemence of your earlier posts (you have now moved on to patient mode; amused condescension is the next stage, in case you wondered) is due to the inability of liberals of all sorts to accept that fact.

What is more interesting to me (and a fact which exposes the sandy foundations of your beliefs) is that neither you nor anyone else addressed my example of whether or not a civil rights organization would be obligated to accept as a full member, with full rights, an avowed and sincere racist. I used that example on purpose of course, since I imagine that you and your liberal friends would have to resort to a righteous and loud (and patronizing) comment to the effect that, of course organizations are free to exclude those whose beliefs and attitudes are in opposition to their organizational goals and that when one joins an organization one must accept those goals. Of course, if you (or anyone) said that then the parallel with Quakers who "must" accept non-theists become clear and your argument is simply insupportable.

Unless you wish to give up any claim to integrity and the serious nature of religion.


Spiny Norman said:

No, Tim, it's simply that people have different ideas of what it means to be a Quaker.   Some have traditional views, some have more liberal views.  

Tim Lillie said:


Are you serious? People here are pretending to be Quakers, to know Christ and are false and wrong. 

Oh, my...the anger and judgmentalism in your post, Chris, overwhelms me...I am sure that you will benefit from understanding and accepting my point of view as "just words" and that words only mean what we say they mean at the time we say them.... I suggest you take your own medicine.

Chris Beauchamp said:

Only Human!  You may want to read my words again TL . 

I'm not intimidated by you. . or your demands.  And I wasn't a 1960's flower child either.  

You may want to do a liver cleanse. . . for all that anger. 
 
Tim Lillie said:

I am sorry for you Chris and will do my best to pray for your eventual convincement of the Truth. It is really incredible to see the notion that words mean nothing, yet from the same person the assertion that those they don't agree with are "childish" or that people's words show them to be not "open minded".

Do you really think that Christ is a sort of 1960s flower child, who wants to accept everyone as they are, who does not demand that people at least try to stop fooling themselves and that the Truth is not the Truth?

Yes, it's hard to be Christian and I have a long way to go and maybe will never be an example to others. But at least I am not trying to lead people away from God and towards an ethic that is only human.

TL

Chris Beauchamp said:

And Bill you can choose to be offended if you prefer.  It is your choice.    Unless we are sitting down in conversation. . most words spoken here are general at best.    That's all they can be.  And there is no emotion in a word. . .or a sentence..  or phrase.

 

Not very much offends me. . life is too short.  Acceptance is much gentler. 

 

When someone does not understand... . . they see it as arrogance. . which it is not.  If memory serves, Jesus was also often seen in the same light. . not that I'm comparing myself with him. . but I am named after him.   

 

I'm sharing words, that's all. .  words.  They actually have no meaning at all, but what we, individually, give them. 

The tone of your postings doesn't sound very Christian to me.  Far from it, actually.

 

Tim Lillie said:

If we are not following Christ, we are not Christian; if we are not Christian (which is a choice given to all who hear the Truth) then we cannot be Quaker in any meaningful sense of the word.

Maybe this thread has burned out, but I wanted to respond to a statement way back on page 3 I think that the term Christ was not used for Jesus until much later. In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks Simon Peter "But who do you say that I am?" and Peter replies "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answers "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona! For slesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church..."

Clearly Jesus is affirming the use of the word Christ and accepting that for himself.

One thing I will say as a one-time nontheistic Quaker is that when I truly read through the gospels in the New Testament I could not make Jesus say what i wanted him to say, which is that "there is that of God in each of us" and that is all He came to point out to us. That is not what he says and is not his focus. He clearly came to show us Himself and to get us to believe in Him, not in ourselves or each other. I was annoyed and baffled by this. But in my experience very few Quakers (liberal) take the time to really read the Bible to find out really what Jesus said (outside of Matthew 5). Try it, you'll like it. (Or not.)

Barb

PS I wish we could learn to have these discussions in more charitable tones of voice here on QQ. It is a very bad witness to the world.

Oh Barb, how I agree with you on the tone of this thread. As someone exploring "Quakerism" it has been quite distressing to me.

Hello Barbara,

I don't know if you have read the Gospel of Thomas? It has a lot of reported sayings of Jesus including "Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there.Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." Before everyone starts up arguing again I know that this is not a "canonical" work, but it does have much support from biblical scholars. (By the way I fully agree with your PS note)
Ray.



Barbara Smith said:

Maybe this thread has burned out, but I wanted to respond to a statement way back on page 3 I think that the term Christ was not used for Jesus until much later. In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks Simon Peter "But who do you say that I am?" and Peter replies "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answers "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jona! For slesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church..."

Clearly Jesus is affirming the use of the word Christ and accepting that for himself.

One thing I will say as a one-time nontheistic Quaker is that when I truly read through the gospels in the New Testament I could not make Jesus say what i wanted him to say, which is that "there is that of God in each of us" and that is all He came to point out to us. That is not what he says and is not his focus. He clearly came to show us Himself and to get us to believe in Him, not in ourselves or each other. I was annoyed and baffled by this. But in my experience very few Quakers (liberal) take the time to really read the Bible to find out really what Jesus said (outside of Matthew 5). Try it, you'll like it. (Or not.)

Barb

PS I wish we could learn to have these discussions in more charitable tones of voice here on QQ. It is a very bad witness to the world.

Barbara Smith said:

Maybe this thread has burned out, but I wanted to respond to a statement way back on page 3 I think that the term Christ was not used for Jesus until much later. In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks Simon Peter "But who do you say that I am?"


Even if we've got an actual incident, accurately reported (probably, but we don't know because we're dealing here with tradition, not eyewitness accounts) this conversation would be in Aramaic -- And despite that aside early in John's gospel, 'Messiah' does not equal 'Christ' -- in either our meaning nor the way Jesus' contemporaries,  pagan or Jewish, would understand it.

We've got scholars like NT Wright who say ~Of course he believed he was the Messiah; nothing he did makes any sense otherwise. [Quite true as I read it] and scholars like Borg who've said ~Of course he didn't think he was the Messiah; he'd have to be a nut case to think that! [ And there's too much wisdom there to put Jesus in that class; like Wright I fail to see why believing you're the Messiah, if you are, would be irrational!] We do have to say that his way of behaving as Messiah, as the God-appointed and prophetically anointed King of Israel, was an ironic repudiation of everything people expect from and demand of a secular ruler.

I think Jesus made some strong hints of the Hindu insight that "Atman is Brahman" -- that is, that God lives as the deepest mind/soul/heart within each human being (though not at all being reducible to that role). But as you say, he had many things to say besides that.

Patrice - It surprised and frankly disturbed me a few years ago when I discovered QQ that in posting replies Friends do not use the same quiet pausing before speaking that we are encouraged (or trained) to do in a meeting, or a business meeting. This thoughtfulness before speaking is actually what drew me to Friends in the first place and impressed me with the Truth of their way. But this is often missing here. Maybe it is the nature of the electronic media, especially of discussion boards which can be confusing with multiple "conversations" going on within a thread, but it is too easy to think of a snap reply and post it with the click of the mouse without allowing time for the best response to arise. I hope we can all take care of our words and try to listen to the Inner Guide before posting replies. Especially knowing how public Internet is! It is not like having a personal discussion over the back fence!

In Love to all,

Barb

Patrice Wassmann said:

Oh Barb, how I agree with you on the tone of this thread. As someone exploring "Quakerism" it has been quite distressing to me.

Good Morning Friends:

A few responses:

Patrice: Thanks; I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Spiny: From my perspective you are using labels as much as anyone else.  I don't mind, it's not a problem.  Except that the claim to be beyond labels and concepts, to rely solely on experience, doesn't seem, from my readings of your posts, to actually be the case.  And I have often found that discrepancy among universalists; their claim is that they are above doctrine and that everyone else is narrowminded.  I see it differently: that universalists have created their own religion with its own views, its own doctrines, and its own version of what is acceptable.

Barbara: I had the same kind of experience when reading the Gospels.  Reading them really opened up a new way of looking at the world for me, a way that was completely unexpected.

Regarding the nature of the discussion here: I think that is just how the internet effects discussions.  Topics tend to go sideways, focus gets lost, people feel free to bring up their pet peeves, etc.  Online discussion differs from personal discussion and I have found it is difficult for people to remain on topic.  It is no different here, at QuakerQuaker, than anywhere else on the web.  It would be nice if QQ were some kind of refuge, but I honestly don't know how to achieve that in an online environment.  I have been a monitor, at times, for online fora, and it is a very difficult job.  There is something about cyberspace which brings out the negative.  I'm not sure why this is so, but I'm convinced that it is the case.

Ray: Regarding scholars and Thomas; views range widely.  Personally, I think it is a very late, somewhat nasty, compilation.  I find it elitist and anti-female.  Gnostics, in my opinion, were often anti-female as a consequence of their dualist views.  Just my opinion.

Forest: I think your skepticism regarding sources is unwarranted.  One of the odd things about modern biblical criticism is that the standards applied to evidence, and the demands placed upon the evidence we have, is, from the perspective of traditional historians, extreme to the point of surreal.  There is, for example, every reason to believe that two of the Gospels, Matthew and John, are eyewitness accounts.  The other two, Mark and Luke, are based on eyewitness sources.  And notice how you slip in the idea that 'tradition' means 'falsification', an inference that isn't self-evident.  If historians had this much material on, say, Alexander the Great, they would regard it as excellent.  Although this is not the place to go into the intriciacies of modern biblical and textual criticism, suffice it to say that their theories are often extreme and, in addition, seem to change as often as the seasons.

Best wishes,

Jim

'Tradition' does not imply 'falsification'; it merely says that what we're getting is what people believed happened.

The value of a source is only partially a matter of how much it gives us; you also have to consider that there's no such thing as a neutral source, particularly in the ancient world. Wright is pretty scathing on how readily NT scholars have run over the evidence with their own assumptions -- and others have good reason to doubt their dating of the gospels; but we aren't talking journalism or diaries.

Titles like 'according to' were added later; all we can know for sure about these books is that the earliest versions -- which we do not have -- were what followers of the movement believed happened, and not all that soon afterwards. Writing down what 'everybody knew' -- in Greek -- would be, at earliest, about the same time as Paul's letters, when the church was increasingly getting foreigners who hadn't been there and couldn't be left to just run with anything they imagined...

To people who really study this, my own position of placing things that early is stretching the limits, and you aren't even on the field. Some of that comes down to academic fashions; but I imagine that mostly you've got intelligent people who really do want to understand what actually happened, are looking at the evidence in detail, and giving it their best shot. I can't say the same for everyone who wants things to have been just the way they see it in the Bible; that takes far too much stretching & cutting -- or inattention.

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