Doug Bennett's Blog (71)

John Punshon's Hopes for Friends

March 15, 2013

I’ve been re-reading John Punshon’s Reasons for Hope: The Faith and Future of the Friends Church (Friends United Press, 2001).  I read it quickly in 2001 when it came out, but now see I didn’t give it the care and attention it deserved. What’s more, I can’t find any indication there was much substantial discussion of it among Friends. I think it was and is worth our careful…


Added by Doug Bennett on 3rd mo. 15, 2013 at 10:30am — 4 Comments

Unity and Disunity Among Friends: A Tale of Web Links

March 13, 2013     Important Update Below

I was struck recently – quite favorably – by something written by Colin Saxton, General Secretary of Friends United Meeting (FUM).  Unity was his topic:

“For all of our principled moral and doctrinal stands, however, I keep wondering, “Why is there almost never a principled stand for unity, at least among those who are followers of Christ?” In fact, in the…


Added by Doug Bennett on 3rd mo. 13, 2013 at 10:00am — 9 Comments

Further Consideration of Evangelical Quakerism and Fundamentalism

February 27, 2013

Fundamentalism Among Quakers — Brinton’s View stimulated a number of comments. Some of them were posted on QuakerQuaker, and some on Facebook, after Friends Journal…


Added by Doug Bennett on 2nd mo. 27, 2013 at 10:25am — 4 Comments

Fundamentalism Among Quakers — Brinton’s View

Perhaps the dateline should read “January 10, 1959″ because, rummaging around in the Friends Journal archives, I stumbled across a piece by Howard H. Brinton entitled “The Place of Quakerism in Modern Christian Thought.” It was…


Added by Doug Bennett on 2nd mo. 25, 2013 at 2:00pm — 21 Comments

Prescribing Versus Seeking: Reader Comments on Creeds

“‘Friends have no creeds’ is a creed.” That was a favorite reader comment on my recent blog post Deal or No Deal? Creed or No Creed?  The commenter adds, “Sheesh, have these people never studied recursion or self-reference. Goedel, Escher, Bach?”

True enough. But ‘Friends have no creeds’ is a very small creed. And I could even be comfortable with a slightly longer statement such…


Added by Doug Bennett on 2nd mo. 15, 2013 at 11:30am — 10 Comments

Deal Or No Deal? Creed Or No Creed?

“Friends have no creeds.”  We Quakers often say that. We are committed to no human words but rather to following the Holy Spirit. We believe God speaks to us today – speaks to all who still their hearts and listen. “No official words can substitute for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” We believe that commitment to creed would be a kind of idolatry.

Most Christian denominations, on the other hand, do have a creed. They have an official statement of faith they use…


Added by Doug Bennett on 2nd mo. 7, 2013 at 11:22am — 7 Comments

Metaphors for Quakers

Consider us contraltos in God’s holy choir. Consider us paratroopers in God’s holy army (OK, medics if you’d prefer).  Consider us utility infielders on God’s holy baseball team.  Consider us produce clerks in God’s holy supermarket.

I’ve been searching for metaphors for Quakers. I’ve been searching for an image of what it means to me to be a Quaker, a picture of why that identity has meaning to me. Each of these metaphors pictures us as parts of a whole, parts with special roles to…


Added by Doug Bennett on 1st mo. 30, 2013 at 9:30am — 1 Comment

Borderland Reflections

Care to hear some of the pain, uncertainty and hope being experienced by those of us who have been ‘set off’ from Indiana Yearly Meeting? Then read Stephanie Crumley-Effinger’s marvelous message from this past First Day at West Richmond Friends (formerly IYM): “Camping Out at the Borderland: Reflections on Life in a Liminal Time.”  She weaves her message around the story of Orpah, Naomi and Ruth in Ruth 1:1-14. 



Added by Doug Bennett on 1st mo. 15, 2013 at 10:20am — No Comments

Can We Still Be Friends?

Do you hear anything? Did you hear the cracking, the splitting – a sound like ice fracturing? like hearts breaking? It was a soft sound, muffled perhaps by the brick walls of the church building where it happened. It was a tired sound, a sigh of resignation for some, a sigh of relief, for others.  It was the sound of a fresh schism in Indiana Yearly Meeting. 

 “This is an occasion for sadness for nearly everyone concerned, the sadness that if, as we have always believed, God called us…


Added by Doug Bennett on 11th mo. 25, 2012 at 2:30pm — 12 Comments

God’s Will And Human Action

“Everything happens for a reason…” “It’s all part of God’s plan….” Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear someone say one of these phrases, or something very like it.  I always wince.

These phrases are often meant to offer comfort after some unhappy event.  Perhaps a hoped for job offer doesn’t come through. Perhaps a romance comes to an unexpected end.  A friend then consoles you with these words: “everything happens for a reason,” or “it’s all part of God’s plan.”



Added by Doug Bennett on 11th mo. 2, 2012 at 10:30am — 1 Comment

Can Friends Argue With One Another?

 Can Friends argue? When we are at our most Quakerly best, do we never argue with one another, never present positions supported by reasons or evidence, anticipating that we may well hear alternative or counter arguments also supported by reasons or evidence?

 At times that appears to be the view of Friends, but that doesn’t seem right to me, so here’s an argument for arguments. 

 First, the case for the other side, as best I understand it. 

 “I was not aware that…


Added by Doug Bennett on 10th mo. 24, 2012 at 10:30am — 3 Comments

Dismissing D. Elton

 Saturday was a long day at Farmland Friends Church.  Indiana Yearly Meeting’s Representative Council gathered there to consider, in a meeting for worship for business, the recommendation of a Reconfiguration Task Force about whether and how the yearly meeting ought to divide itself. 

As weary Friends began their drives home late in the afternoon, no schism had been approved, but all knew in their bones we were several steps closer. 

I found myself thinking about what might…


Added by Doug Bennett on 10th mo. 1, 2012 at 11:30pm — No Comments

Releasing Raccoons to the Wild: An Update on the Schism in Indiana

           “Set off” is the phrase used in the recently released proposal to carry through a schism in Indiana Yearly Meeting.  “IYM (the organization) will remain intact and those meetings choosing option B will continue to be part of this body.” … Meetings choosing option A “will be set off from IYM into a newly created ‘yearly meeting’ or equivalent association.”  So reads the proposal.  (You can read the proposal…


Added by Doug Bennett on 9th mo. 13, 2012 at 12:30pm — 34 Comments

Beside the Volcano in Indiana: What I’m Learning About Schisms Among Friends

Ever since I became a Quaker in my mid-30s I’ve been aware of past schisms among Friends and wondered about how they came about.  Those were idle musings so long as the schisms (Hicksite/Orthodox, Gurneyite/Wilburite, etc.) were matters of the distant past, but now as a member of Indiana Yearly Meeting I’m experiencing a potential schism in the making.  It’s a little like seeing a volcano erupt having only ever seen extinct…


Added by Doug Bennett on 9th mo. 7, 2012 at 11:30am — 3 Comments

Indiana: a fresh schism in the making, or an old break refractured?

I hope Friends everywhere are paying a little attention to what is happening in Indiana Yearly Meeting, a Quaker schism in the making.  And as the ground trembles in Indiana, I hope Friends everywhere are praying for us to find God’s way through this.

Nearly every North American yearly meeting has some schism in its past, some episode of disagreement, laced with bitterness perhaps, then separation into separate, smaller bodies.  Some of these successor groups thrive more than others. …


Added by Doug Bennett on 8th mo. 1, 2012 at 1:00pm — 9 Comments

Beneath the words, a deeper communion

 Christians everywhere celebrate communion.  Christians do it because of quite specific guidance given by Jesus in the Bible: “this do in remembrance of me.”

 That instruction appears in all four gospels (Matthew 26: 26-28; Mark 14: 22-24; Luke 22: 17-20), and it is emphasized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26:  “23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given…


Added by Doug Bennett on 6th mo. 28, 2012 at 9:48am — 1 Comment

Our Evolving Understanding of Divorce -- and Homosexuality

Could consideration of divorce help us understand how we make use of the Bible?  And might that help us in understanding what God asks of us with regard to homosexuality? 

In Luke 16:18 Jesus says18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  That’s pretty clear.  But Matthew 19:9 has Jesus saying exactly the same thing and adding “except for immorality.” Matthew has Jesus giving a…


Added by Doug Bennett on 6th mo. 21, 2012 at 6:15am — 21 Comments

Ashamed Not to be a Heretic: Harry Emerson Fosdick

Reading the newspaper this morning, I came across this quotation from Harry Emerson Fosdick: “I should be ashamed to live in this generation and not be a heretic."  That sentence, I learned later, is from the final sermon he preached at First Presbyterian Church in New York City, in March 1925.  The whole quotation is worth noting: "They call me a heretic. Well, I am a heretic if conventional orthodoxy is the standard. I should be ashamed to live in this generation and not be a…


Added by Doug Bennett on 6th mo. 13, 2012 at 9:30am — No Comments

The Never-Changing Case for Marriage

In 1949, Elton Trueblood published a short book on The Common Ventures of Life: Marriage, Birth, Work and Death (New York: Harper and Row).  “The purpose of this book,” he says in the Preface, “is to help puzzled men and women to prepare for the intelligent and reverent facing of those experiences which are so central to man’s life that they have seemed supreme in all generations and in all cultures.”  Marriage is the first of those “common ventures” that Trueblood…


Added by Doug Bennett on 6th mo. 1, 2012 at 7:00am — 2 Comments

Shaming, Reparative Therapy and Suicide

  In the news recently, two events catch my attention -- especially in relation to one another and to Indiana Yearly Meeting’s misguided Minutes on Homosexuality . 

 In New Jersey, Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail, plus 300 hours of community service, a counseling program related to cyber-bullying, a $10,000 fine to be donated to a group that assists victims of bias crimes, and three years probation. In 2010, Ravi had surreptitiously…


Added by Doug Bennett on 5th mo. 25, 2012 at 8:11am — No Comments

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