Source: http://infiniteoceanoflightandlove.blogspot.com/2017/01/in-midst-of...

It is curious to me the author does not recognize the Quaker way wherein those gathered in the sufficiency of the inshining Light in the conscious and conscience are come out of these "types" or forms ("the mystical, the evangelical, the rational, and the social"). Through the visitation of the inshining Light in our conscious and conscience, it is discovered unto us that we are no longer informed by, or identify with, the mystical, evangelical, rational, and/or Social. In this habitation, the inshining Light is our sole, complete, and sufficient Guide and Teacher without regard to mysticism, evangelicalism, rationalism, and society or any outward formal constructs. We will not find peace by seeking to a balance of these types. It is the very process of identifying with these types and seeking to balance them that is the source of fragmentation. Once we lay them down and take up habitation in the inshining Light itself in itself we will know Peace again amongst the gathering of the Children of Light.

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Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 2nd mo. 2, 2017 at 9:24am

Thanks for standing and speaking.

I have a few questions:-)

#1 Is not "gathered in the sufficiency of the inshining Light..." an example of the "mystical" according to Brinton?

#2 Why are "the mystical, the evangelical, the rational, and the social" considered "types or forms..."

(Based on my own readings of Fox, Fell, Penn, Woolman, Mott, etc., it seems that they weren't against "forms" themselves, but only against empty forms.)

#3 The question is, will NWYM and NCYM listen to your witness?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 2nd mo. 2, 2017 at 11:29am

Hello Daniel,


I appreciate your taking the time to push me a bit with your questions. Please feel free to push further as you see fit. I feel this will take protracted discussion to tease things out, so I am going to address your questions one at a time with the hope that questions two and three do not get lost in the minutiae of my answer and ensuing discussion to the first.


You quote the author as speaking to a " ... an emphasis on mysticism results in a religion which is individualistic, subjective and vague ..." It is a common mistake to conflate the direct experience of the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself in the conscious and conscience with mystical experience in general and individualism specifically. The connotation is that experience of the inshining Light in the conscious and conscience is subjective or individualistic. The direct experience of the visitation of the inshining Light upon the conscious and conscience is specifically not a subjective experience. It does not fall into the categories of subjective and/or objective. Habitation in the inshining Light shatters these outward ideological constructs as points of reference.


Surely, there is mystical experience that the experiencers themselves agree is subject and individual. This form of individualism has to do with self-government. Meaning, that the experiencers themselves testify to a life wherein they are guided and ruled by their own individual (or under the pretense of God given) ideologies, emotions, desires, and etc. and set out to manifest and realize those self-centered outward forms. This sort of self-government or self-rule is not of the nature of a conscious anchored in and a conscience governed by the Light itself in itself. The rule and government is the Light itself without regard for or identification with outward ideological constructs and the people and institutions that profess them ... that are of the ego nature or self-government.


There is a way of being or existence on this earth wherein the conscious and conscience is guided and ruled directly and without mediation of outward political and religious forms, institutions, teachers, etc. There were, at the time of George Fox (and as there are even today), Children of Light (Quakers) who testify to the witness of a Life that (is) come out of gaining meaning and purpose through identification with outward forms (individualism) and into a Life of meaning and purpose through the direct mediation of the inshining Light itself in itself without regard for outward forms. This other Quakerism spoke out against Fox's, Fell's, Penn's, etc. imposition of outward formal constructs through intimidation, exclusion, demonization, and even excommunication.


This salvation experience has nothing to do with mysticism (subjectivism) or individualism.


The author talks about the mysticism of the first century of Quaker experience. While there is no doubt a sort of mysticism or subjectivism or individualism existed amongst the Children of Light , he has misrepresented other Quakers of the time by conflating the experience of the inshining Light as sufficient guide and teacher in itself with the subjectivism of mysticism. Again, They are two different experiences. And by conflating them he has misrepresented the experience of many Quakers both at the founding of Quakerism and today.


Thank you for your question. I look forward to any thoughts you may have on this reply.


Thank you,


Keith Saylor

Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 2nd mo. 4, 2017 at 12:42pm

Good morning Keith,

Thanks for your detailed reflection on my question.

First, I will say, one of the central points of the Society of Friends that led me toward it in 1967 during C.O. service was this emphasis upon the Light. I had recently escaped out of Evangelicalism's constant theological wrangling, disputation, contradictory infighting, etc.

Plus, about that time I experienced an endless deep of God's infinite love that had nothing to do with doctrine, dogma, or organization. Rather than try to explain it in prose, here's a portion of a poem I wrote of this mystical experience. (I give it so you may partially understand where I am coming from, and why generally I don't think that Quaker meeting usually have a "gathered" meeting).

Outside the Limit

Working through the Thursday graveyard shift
      At 7-11, I stock cold shelves of ‘cours’
      Then write a college essay on dreiser’s
      Claim, ‘life is thin surface, all negation;’

But alert in that night, I muse in the stillness
      While beyond store glass, the parking lot lies
      Vacant, lit by neon signs and street lights–
      When so unexpected my mind transports.

I rise outside of self, see far beyondness,
      Perceive myself sitting between store rows,
      Observe my little ego, skin, and skull
     My bodied self--finite with staid cans and jars.

Suddenly drowned in awe, awash in fire here
     Luminous presence, aware beyond words, vivid bliss
     Blessed all-encompassing exhaulted surpassing
     Great transcendent infinite awareness

This experience wasn't subjective, but very real, yet not mundane or transient. 

In Friends meeting for worship, several times, an encounter seemed to happen for us BEYOND all verbal normal events.

BUT generally, it seems that most meetings get caught up in various ideological or theological or doctrinal views and that most sharing seems to be of that, not an encounter with God.  Sadly, some Quakers come to "worship" who don't even think the Light exists!!         

Heck, look at the focus and controversy now in NWYM and NCYM which tends to be power plays, outward organizational forms, etc.!

Having explained this, I do think that my experience with God alone after loading Coors cans into a cooler at 7-11 at about 2 am:-) and what has happened rarely in meetings, when the spiritual encounter happens for a whole group, or at least a portion of the meeting,
is "mystical." Not illusionary, not doctrinal, but very real. But such experiences are 'beyond' the normal thinking sensing daily life.

Such "mystical" encounters have nothing to do with your statement, "This form of individualism has to do with self-government. Meaning, that the experiencers themselves testify to a life wherein they are guided and ruled by their own individual (or under the pretense of God given) ideologies, emotions, desires, and etc. and set out to manifest and realize those self-centered outward forms."

As for the early Quakers, as a literature/history teacher, I read extensively in Friends history, especially the early period 
after I became disillusioned with modern Quakerism. I kept trying to get back to the "real thing.":-)

I was so frustrated, saddened by modern Quakers meetings contrary drift either toward nontheism  or Calvinistic fundamentalism:-(

BUT what I found was that, while there were more dramatic encounters with God it seems, generally, early Quakers weren't that different from modern Quakers.

Many of early ones were as flawed as modern Quakers. They disagreed, were at times petty, revengeful, ideological, etc. They were caught in political and theological wrangles, and so forth like modern meetings.

Then you wrote,  "...he has misrepresented other Quakers of the time by conflating the experience of the inshining Light as sufficient guide and teacher in itself with the subjectivism of mysticism."

Where did he do that?

What particular early Friends are you thinking of when you say "There were, at the time of George Fox (and as there are even today), Children of Light (Quakers) who testify to the witness of a Life that (is) come out of gaining meaning and purpose through identification with outward forms (individualism) and into a Life of meaning and purpose through the direct mediation of the inshining Light itself in itself without regard for outward forms"?

It's been a while since I last re-read Friends for 300 Years, and there are points of Brinton's that I strongly disagree with,
but I don't remember him "conflating...with subjectivism of mysticism."

Just to be clear, if I've not been enough, my understanding of the definition of "mysticism" is

the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality."
1st definition in Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

"Mysticism" in this definition is completely contrary to "subjectivism."

## Maybe if you share your perspective on the current crisis in NWYM and NCYM--ground your view of the Light in a here-and-now happening, I will understand better, too, what you mean by the "inshining" as you are using the term.

Thanks for the discussion:-)

Comment by Keith Saylor on 2nd mo. 4, 2017 at 1:07pm
This is wonderful Daniel. Thank you for your response. I need to spend some time with it. However, as preface, when you ask "What particular early Friends are you thinking of when you ..." I assume you are aware of William Rogers what is commonly called the "Wilkinson/Story schism. I am currently involved in keyboarding and publishing the "The Christian Quaker ... by William Rogers and other works connected with the Period that are not readily availiable. Here is a link to that tracks my progress on QuakerQuaker.

http://www.quakerquaker.org/profiles/blogs/online-version-of-willia...

I too appreciate the discussion.

Thank you,
Keith
Comment by Forrest Curo on 2nd mo. 4, 2017 at 4:58pm

Mysticism is experience of What is most emphatically real, far more real than what people typically consider 'objective.'

The interpretations tend to be subjective -- and the experiences themselves, of course, can't be passed along for someone else to experience.

The accusation that what's experienced is "merely subjective" -- amounts essentially to a denial of God's reality. It's amazing that we sometimes hear this accusation coming from people who consider themselves believers...

Comment by Keith Saylor on 2nd mo. 6, 2017 at 11:22am

Hello Daniel


I have a difficult time labeling a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the direct and unmediated experience of the inshining Light (immanent Presence) as sufficient in itself to guide and rule in matters of conscience and human relations, as "mystical." However, it probably would only serve to bog this discussion down and not advance it to discuss deeper here the nature of my reservations. So, I will lay them aside and, taking up the definition you shared from Webster, re-direct my response from a different angle with the hope it will better bring forth my mind.


You quote Brinton this way: " Too exclusive an emphasis on mysticism results in a religion which is individualistic, subjective, and vague ..." Now, in deference to the definition of Mysticism in Webster, I will re-write Brinton's words replacing the word mysticism with the definition itself.


... Too exclusive an emphasis on the experience of ... direct communion with ultimate relating results in a religion which is individualistic, subjective, and vague."


Let's tease this out a bit. When I first read this quote, it was strong upon me that there was something wrong here. Once I replaced the word mysticism with the definition my issue manifested and the nature of my reserve came into better focus.


Assuming Brinton would concede the definition in Webster's, look at what he is stating. He makes the case that an 'exclusive emphasis' or focus on direct communion ultimate reality results, by default, results in individualism, subjectivism, and vagueness. Many early and founding Quakers gave testimony to the witness (experience) that the inshining Light itself in itself upon their conscience was sufficient to rule and guide them to the exclusion of all outward forms. That is, they testified to the witness that resting in the habitation of the inshining Light was sufficient and complete. Some of them went even further to testify that turning to outward forms (even as a source of help) was to trample upon the prerogative of the spirit of Christ to rule and guide their conscience. Here Brinton is saying that is not the case; that the spirit of Christ itself in itself is not sufficient to rule and guide in matters of the conscience. In fact, he says to give emphasis or preheminence to direct communion with ultimate reality is to be led into individualism, subjectivism, and vagueness. Many early Quakers and many today, including myself, testify to the witness that in the sufficiency of direct habituation or communion with ultimate reality we come out of individualism and subjectivism. We testify to a witness that is opposite of Brinton's. We discover in our emphasis upon communion with ultimate reality the sufficiency itself in itself of such communion.


It is a common mistake, throughout the whole of Quaker history, to label an emphasis upon direct commune with ultimate reality as individualistic. Better said, it is common for people to use those people who, under the pretense of the freedom of communion with ultimate relativity, justify any behavior, as examples of what happens when emphasis is placed on communion of ultimate reality. Fox, Penn, and Fell, often used the 'bad' behavior of other Quakers as a pretense to justify the establishment of outward rules, prescriptions, and institutions, over against the prerogative of the spirit of Christ as the sole and complete (sufficient) rule and government over the conscience of those in the gathering of Quakers. So to re-state my position better: It is a common mistake to conflate 'emphasis' upon direct communion with ultimate reality with individualism and subjectivism. Truly, there are those who are of a spirit of individualism and who use the testimony of the freedom of direct communion with ultimate reality, without regard for outward forms, as a presence to justify their outward self-centered, individualistic behavior, which is rooted in a form of self-government that tramples all over the prerogative of the spirit of Christ itself in itself to rule and guide. However, emphasis upon direct communion with ultimate reality is not individualistic and does not result in individualism. Communion with ultimate reality is the coming out of individualism and self-government. I suggest, what Brinton is really saying is, emphasis on self-government and self-actualization results in individualism, subjectivism, and vagueness. It is simply not my experience, or the testimony of many founding Quakers, that emphasis on communion with ultimate reality results individualism etc. In fact, such emphasis results in human being governed by that which is not of the nature of self-government.


Again ...


An exclusive emphasis on communion with ultimate reality does not lead to individualism ... using the freedom of communion with ultimate reality as a pretense for ego or self driven behavior only serves to expose or mark a person as of the nature of a self-governing spirit. To equate exclusive emphasis upon communion with ultimate reality with individualism is to expose a lack of understanding of the nature of communion with ultimate reality, and to label it as individualistic misses the mark altogether.


Just so you know, I am not attempting to ignore your other questions. I merely hope to work through this particular issue. Again, I appreciate your taking the time to discussion this with me ... it is very helpful.

Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 2nd mo. 7, 2017 at 10:51am

Good morning Keith,

Thanks for the detailed response.

I basically agree with this particular criticism by you of Brinton's.

The HUGE difficulty is in the application of our spiritual experiences.

For instance, you wrote, "Communion with ultimate reality is the coming out of individualism and self-government. I suggest, what Brinton is really saying is, emphasis on self-government and self-actualization results in individualism, subjectivism, and vagueness. It is simply not my experience,  or the testimony of many founding Quakers, that emphasis on communion with ultimate reality results individualism..."

But I think that early Quaker encounters with God, (and many since then up to the present), and how they interpreted their experiences often did result  in “individualism” in the bad sense of the word, and in “subjectivism” and very strong disagreements:-(

Especially when it comes to ethics!

That is why I think we need to look at real-life situations, now that we have witnessed to experiences of God and defined terms.

This is where Forrest made an essential comment: "The interpretations tend to be subjective -- and the experiences themselves, of course, can't be passed along for someone else to experience."

Two tragic ethical cases:

 

War /Peace and Slavery/Equality

The early Quakers’ encounters with God dramatically changed them. They spoke anew of equality and peace.

HOWEVER, their actual ethical applications of encountering the Light were often drastically different, very contrary:-( and often horrific.

Some early Quakers put away their swords, opposed war. BUT others engaged avidly in the English Civil War, killing others for God in order, so they thought, to bring God’s peace:-(.

Even George Fox hailed the devoted mass-killer Oliver Cromwell as doing God's will, and urged him to carry his war to Europe.

That is so horrific:-( I recently read a long scholarly biography on Cromwell.  It was extremely depressing, especially how Cromwell, rejoiced in war, commanded civilians to be killed, how his troops wrecked churches, destroyed art, etc.

Quaker historian David Boulton shows in “Militant Seedbeds of Early Quakerism" that, originally, Quakers strongly supported that war, a terrible war of the worst kind ("unkind").

From “Militant Seedbeds of Early Quakerism:

“Consider this message to Cromwell, signed “George Fox” and dated January 1658, where the Protector is lambasted for not carrying his military conquests into Europe and on to Rome itself—even to the Turkish empire:

“Oliver, hadst thou been faithful and thundered down the deceit, the Hollander had been thy subject and tributary, Germany had given up to have done thy will, and the Spaniard had quivered like a dry leaf wanting the virtue of God, the King of France should have bowed his neck under thee,

the Pope should have withered as in winter,

the Turk in all his fatness should have smoked,

thou shouldst not have stood trifling about small things, but minded the work of the Lord

as He began with thee at first...Let thy soldiers go forth...

that thou may rock nations as a cradle.”

George Fox

For, not, heaven’s sakes, even Quakerism’s Margaret Fell said

that the English Puritan army was “the Battle-axe in the hand of the Lord.”

http://universalistfriends.org/library/militant-seedbeds-of-early-q...

:-(((((

And it gets worse. Consider modern Quakers, 19th century Friends, etc. many who speak of encountering God directly,
YET in practice....whew:-(

Next time: slavery:-(

How was it that these transformed Friends who were committed to the witness of equality because of their encounter with God defended and practiced slavery for hundreds of years?!!!

Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 2nd mo. 7, 2017 at 10:58am

Hello Forrest,

I think your analysis is very true, especially the part about, "The interpretations tend to be subjective..."

Rather than repeat myself, see the comments I made related to your quote in my last response to Keith.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 2nd mo. 7, 2017 at 7:17pm

Hello Daniel,


I am throughly enjoying this discussion. Thank you.


"But I think that early Quaker encounters with God, (and many since then up to the present), and how they interpreted their experiences often did result in “individualism” in the bad sense of the word, and in “subjectivism” and very strong disagreements."


I look at this slightly differently. The foundation of individualism and the naturally resulting divisions and schisms from denigration and demonization of others is when a conscious is anchored in and a conscience is informed by outward forms - interpretations, traditions, ideologies. That is, when a person's meaning, purpose, and identity is anchored in and informed by outward formal constructs and institutions, it becomes difficult to tolerate the existence of another outward form. It is when a persons meaning, purpose is identified with a particular outward form that the spirit of individualism and subjectivism is nurtured and manifested.


William Rogers spends a good part of the Third Part of His The Christian Quaker expressing deep differences with a contemporary of his time, Robert Barclay. However, there are a couple places he affirms basic agreement. Here is one:


R.B1. asserts, Page the 112. "That the Ground of Schismes, Divisions, or Rents in the Body is, when any Member assumes another Place than is allotted it, or being gone from the Life, lets in the Eye that watches for Evil.


This position is Truth, and rightly Stated; but yet notwithstanding, I cannot but Testify, that if any Member of Christs Body doth recommend that Administration or Operation, wherein by Gods Spirit he is Exercised, unto his Brethren, and shall Judge all such Dark Spirits, and out of the Unity of the Body, who on such a Recommendation become not Exercised as he is, or doth not immediately close with his Experience and Operation, though otherwise Faithful to the Measure of Grace recieved, such an one so Judging, may justly be Judged of the Lord, as a Person not only assuming another Place in the Body than is alotted him, but also as endeavouring to draw others into the like Snare: for that it is as probable that a true Member of Christs Body may be as remote from having Experience of his Brothers Operation, as the Ear of the natural Body may be from discerning what the natural Eye doth see; and yet the Ear, according to that of Paul, 1 Cor. 12. 16. may as truly be accounted a Member of the Body as the Eye.


The essential nature of Rogers' and Barclays disagreement is that Rogers find no role for an outward institution to set up "indispensable rules, orders, and prescription, for all members of the gathering of Quakers to follow even when there are those who are not of the same conscience on a particular order or tradition. Barclay basically refers to Rogers' statement as of the nature of a dark Spirit. Rogers basically calls Barclay's advocacy for adherence to outward orders established by outward institutions ... Satanic.


Both have become so identified with their testimonies they essentially lose their Witness when confronted by one another. It is the identification with their testimony and not keeping to their rightful habitation in their Witness that is the cause of their impulse toward demonization, insinuation, innuendo, etc.


As I go through keyboarding (retyping) the whole of Rogers' Historical Manuscript I see it constantly. Now, imagine if one of them and both came to the point where they laid the their identification with their testimonies and moved back into an identification with their witness of the appearance of the inshining Light itself in itself in their conscious and conscience. That is, their testimonies became merely testimonies that they shared without the expectation that any would agree but with the faith that the Light itself in itself may or may not use that testimony to work Grace in the conscious and conscience of the hearer. How does that manifest? What is the token of such a movement into the inshining Impulse itself in itself? Space is opened for both the exist together even if they decide to follow different worship practices ... even different institutional practices. Each or one would say to the other. We are not of the same conscience. Let us go about sharing our differing testimonies while at the same time not striving to demonize and destroy one another even thou our testimonies are completely opposed. The crisis is not that they differ even to the point of separation. The crisis is when their meaning, purpose, and identity become so bond to their testimony that they are unable to tolerate the existence of those who will not conform to their testimony and go about demonizing, insinuating motives to, and seeking to defame. They assume another Place other than in the spirit of Christ itself in itself.


This brings me to the real life circumstance you asked me to comment on relating to the division in the NWYM and NCYM. I am edified by the outcome of both and do not see the results as a crisis at all. To be clear, I do not judge those Meetings who came to embrace LGBTQ people. In the same manner, I do not judge those who do not embrace LGBTQ. By the power of the appearance of the inshining Light itself in itself onto my conscious and conscience I tolerate both sides and I am edified by the results. It is a blessing to know the freedom of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the inshining Light itself in itself. Those who do not wish to associate or worship with LGBTQ people have their space and those who are open to associating with LGBTQ people have their space. Neither are in a place of having the conscience of the other imposed other against the conscience of each other. This is the grace manifested. With that said, Grace is even further manifested when people who do not share the same testimony are able to worship and function together even in the same gathering.


  1. Robert Barclay ↩︎
  2. From Barclay's "The Anarchy of the Ranters" ↩︎
Comment by Daniel Wilcox on 2nd mo. 7, 2017 at 11:31pm

Good evening Keith,

Thanks for the information on William Rogers and Robert Barclay. Its been quite a few years since I read Barclay. I think I read a little of Rogers about 10 years ago.

I received no response from you on the early Quakers and war and slavery?

As for your response related to NWYM, I must admit I am totally baffled: You wrote:
"By the power of the appearance of the inshining Light itself in itself onto my conscious and conscience I tolerate both sides and I am edified by the results."

I don't understand your point at all.

Nor, therefore do I understand at all what you mean by "By the power of the appearance of the inshining Light onto...my conscience..."

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