Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
In preparing for a Quakerism class on 'testimonies' I rejoice that many are feeling as I, that we get away from understanding the core meaning of what it means 'live the testimonies' when we use shorthand.
I find that is actually true for many things, actually. When we use shorthand, there is more of a tendency for people to get hooked incorrectly on the meaning we want to convey.
So I am really enjoying Pink Dandelion's 'An Introduction to Quakerism' ... well, for many reasons (it's hysterically funny in places) but esp. for page 221 where he writes: Testimony ... can be defined, historically, as the consequences (sic) of living a spiritual life....The whole of life was testimony to the inward spiritual experience... YES! He goes on, and I will use this tomorrow.
I see little reason why Friends schools cannot talk about this rather than using the shorthand they developed. That shorthand can be a nice way to talk about principles... and they do not differ much from many other churches, so it's good to talk about these things in common. When I went to meeting as a child, we recited the Lords Prayer, and looked for other things in common. We do not seem to do that today.
This definition of Testimony reminds me of my colleague Gene Hillman's telling me when we were working on a (now defunct) Quakerism curriculum for adults covering 'faith into action'. "Our lives testify to our faith." What examples do we have? We have the stories of people like Bill Kreidler (in books like Lives That Speak), people in our Meeting who work in our communities or on Quaker work that we can interview. My guess is that Friends schools have teachers who live into that spirit to which God has nudged them. How rich would it be to have interactive engagement on the subject of 'Testimony'! Who was a C.O.? who walks a path of care for the environment? How does it shape your life?
If we wonder why Friends are diminishing, we might look at how we live our lives 'out loud' as Friends often have. Who is watching as we live lives out loud? What are they seeing? How do we engage?
That is what teaching is all about.