Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Do we conceive of the universe as having a definite nature, condition, truths as to how it behaves and how it doesn't?
Does it make sense for us to ask what that nature is? Are such questions so far unanswerable as to be meaningless?
The Quaker answer to this, from our beginnings, has been that we can know the universe because (and only because) its underlying reality is spiritual, because that reality wishes to communicate Itself.
Your words don't need any reply but I'm writing just to be company....:-)
So how do you think George Fox dealt with the unruliness of the Light? I ask because of your specific conclusion which expressed great definiteness.
As I understand it GF wanted everyone to mind the Light within themselves and let it guide them directly, not through him and what he says it all meant. I am still seeking understanding about to what degree he ensured or guided them so that it was the Light that they were listening to and not their own egos' wishes. He seems to have been both fierce about seeing the Light and the Darkness, and simultaneously removed about directing others in proper interpretation of it. I am not well read on this though....
George could be quite dogmatic about how Getting It Right ought to be done. But at his best, he could point people to what they could recognize as 'light' inside them. And trust that influence to be self-correcting.
Being a child of the generic puritan movement, he tended to see this light as ~'what showed them their sin and enabled them to overcome it.' (Not my favorite aspect of God, though one I've needed to meet from time to time.)
Company is a good thing!-- certainly welcome here!
Would you say there's a taboo against "definiteness"? How come? How, would you say, did Friends progress from "It's here! You can meet with it!"-- to "People once imagined there was something like that around here but now we know it they just made it up-- and now that we know that doesn't have anything to do with what really matters we can be so proud of ourselves!" Or, conversely, back to clinging to God-in-a-book?
An old friend of mine once wrote that hardships and suffering had left her with "an unshakable faith-- in Something." Sometimes that's what it takes; I'd rather have it be easier for people!
Nothing is wrong with being clear within yourself, and centered, but I suspect that anytime we are definite about what other people need to do and how other people need to interpret the Light we may have overstepped our bounds -- as much as we want this way to be the only way and as much as we hunger for the freedom it brings.
I have a mystical orientation so my sense is that definiteness might actually indicate the person has lost sight of the mystery and freedom of God a little...
"The Quaker answer to this, from our beginnings, has been that we can know the universe because (and only because) its underlying reality is spiritual, because that reality wishes to communicate Itself."
...and the idea that there was one "Quaker answer to this" and that the cause and effect of it worked this way seemed to presume a little that may be better not stated FOR people but allowed that they discover for themselves. Or may not be quite the cause and effect that God actually arrives at. It brought to mind -- and I say this very good naturedly -- that if I was in the vicinity of GF in 1600-whatever and he came up to me to teach me about the Light of Christ, the following might transpire:
If he seemed to exude the Spirit of Christ, the power of Love itself, and Freedom, then I would try whatever listening he suggested, and immediately!
If he seemed to be too intense, getting into my personal space, and hitting me with a Fundamentalism of "I have the answer and you don't," one that did not resonate for me (let's say he got up on the wrong side of the bed that day), well then I might want to sock him and say that the Light within me did it!
In truth, it's a very bright (heh), very wild Light.
joking, but in all honesty,
Well, from our beginnings there has been one Quaker answer. I say this because that answer is the essence of the Quaker discovery, because "Quakerism" without it is a pointless game.
Part of that answer has been that one can discover it for themselves. And must, because nobody else can do the job.
We're only able to do this at all, because there is an Answer that wants to be known. Otherwise, we couldn't have gotten off the ground.
It is not going to be "different answers" because we are not, in our essential selves, "different people." It is one universe we live in, and things around here accelerate downward (given the opportunity) at ~32 ft/second**2. Until something interferes. I'm not imposing anything on you by saying that any dense object you drop is going to act that way.
Some places, it would be some number of centimeters/second**2. That isn't 'another science'; it's what the universe looks like measured in centimeters.
I can wait around for people to shatter all their dishes, or I can tell them, having no reason to doubt it, that if you drop them they will fall.
If I'm nasty enough in how I tell people, they could just drop all their dishes out of spite. I hope not, but some people do interpret certainty as a demand that they should be certain where they aren't.
What I do want to tell them: "If you weren't so busy congratulating yourselves on your ignorance, there are some truly wonderful things you could be learning. If you just searched, kept searching until you found what's behind all this talk!"
Gravity. Not just a good idea; it's the Law.
That's a pretty focused, clear answer. Let it speak to whomever it will. For me, the Light has been far too wild and the words far too clumsy. If you can save anyone suffering their own consequences (as I suffered) more power to ya. Go Forrest, yay God and all that.
Oh, I do agree that this Light isn't anybody's tame puppy. And can't say I've been able to learn much, myself, without falling down.
There's an orientation issue. If you recognize something at work teaching you, if you can give some credence to those witnesses who say this is not your enemy, but a friend far wiser than you... One can get through all that Flaming... Stuff-- with less waste motion.
If you know that it's possible to ride a bicycle-- A lot of arguments about "Where should our feet go?" answer themselves. If people thought a bicycle was just "a nice thing to sit on" -- That's analogous to how people have tried to use the SoF sometimes.
& I think we've got to start doing better than that overall, because "The world needs us and we need the world."