A response to Brian Drayton's blog post at amor vincat

Source: https://amorvincat.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/from-the-quaker-toolbox...

"We sometimes forget all the tools Friends have used to make this happen. We have used these tools for centuries. They are the ways Friends teach, learn, experiment, and realize a testimony (in the sense of “make it real”)."

"These are not methods to force anyone’s conscience!"

"I urge you to remember that “unity” around a testimony is not the same as “unanimity ..."

"... testimony is a way of saying “We are clear in this matter of what God’s will is for us, and consequently we can say that this should be characteristic of every Friend.”

"The point, Friends, is that — in our testimonies of simplicity, abolition, and everything else — we have needed all of these and others I have not added to the list."

“Success” means that every Friend can see the importance of the testimony, and sees that they cannot ignore it."

I recommend to you that "success" can also mean that Friends do not see the importance of a testimony, ignore it,and do not participate in the advancement of it. The definition of success as the adoption of an outward testimony by every Friend is a contrivance. It does match with the reality of spiritual life. Some Friends may be of a conscience to embrace a Climate Change testimony and for the sake of conscience they should embrace it. Other Friends may be of a different conscience that either rejects the scientific assumptions and methods behind Climate Change theory or that may not see it as important and ignore it. The use of outward institutional practices and methods to recommend outward testimonies like Climate Change as a concern is certainly valid and has been the practice of many Friends since the notion that the inshining Light itself in itself was not sufficient to rule and teach and outward forms were needed and helpful. The resulting outward methods, practices, and institutional constructs were introduced and imposed upon the gathering of Friends in the 17th century over against the consciences of many other Friends through intimidation, slander, labeling, and excommunication. There were are Friends who know the direct experience of the inshining Light itself in itself as sufficient and complete to guide and teach without reference to or regard for outward testimonies, institutions, or persons. In fact, the appearance of the inshining Light upon their conscious and conscience teaches a independency from any and all outward formal helps, structures and persons. These "formal helps" are not needed or valued.

A conscience that scruples against ignoring Climate Change should be embraced in the same way that a conscience that scruples against taking up Climate Change as a testimonial. It is certainly a valid role for an outward institution like the NEYM to recommend concern over climate change to the conscience of other Friends, especially those Friends whose conscience embraces a role at all for any outward institutions, practices, and traditions. However, it is a design of imposition and a trampling upon the prerogative of the inshining Light upon the conscious and conscience as guide for any outward testimony to be established as something every Friend should follow and attend to. To promote and advance an outward testimony as incumbent upon the conscience of all Friends to follow and attend to under the pretense of being a leading or sense of a Meeting (Monthly or Yearly) is to participate in a Politic of Contrivance. No outward institution has such a prerogative. A testimony "cannot be ignored" only when by the appearance of the inshining Light a conscience is convicted against ignoring it. Those who share such a conviction, and the institutions they support, have no role in dictating that all Friends should attend to their conviction. The moment they move from attending to their conviction to telling other Friends, who do not share their conviction in conscience, they must or should follow their conscience even though they do not see it, is the moment they participate in trampling upon the prerogative of the unshining Light and turn their conviction into mere politic of contrivance.

Views: 212

Comment by Forrest Curo on 12th mo. 29, 2016 at 3:32pm

Some of our consciousnesses, alas, feel no scruples against the use of pejorative diagnostic, even moralistic language, to describe persons whose consciousnesses approve the practice of deceit, taking money from those who lack it, or terminating the existence of  annoying bystanders.

Comment by Howard Brod on 1st mo. 1, 2017 at 8:32pm

So Keith, are you saying that in general stating in word or writing Quaker testimonies (in the way many religions state their doctrines) is an error? Most of these (with the exception of the Peace testimony) don't have behind them specific statements to explain them.  They were not even agreed upon by all Quakers in the way Quakers normally come to agreement.  They are vague expressions evolving over time (mostly by weighty Quaker authors in the 19th and 20th centuries) such as the six familiar testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship.  Or, are you saying simply that an assumption that all Quakers agree with these testimonies or even have the same understanding of these testimonies, is the error?  That if we are living in integrity and want others to do so, we would never assume or expect all Quakers to automatically accept each of these testimonies?  That the true essence of Quakerism is simply a constant direct relationship with the divine with the result that we live our lives with the inshining Light illuminating all that we do in a way we each can grasp and live by? 

This latter paragraph being the case, could not a group of Quakers at least become led to express a common (among them) leading to the world regarding where the inshining Light has brought them as a community, so that others may consider that spiritual journey for their own potential benefit?  Often, such an expression is written as a minute that was approved at the monthly Meeting for Business after a lengthy consideration by the meeting community.  My meeting recently published such a minute after five months of consideration.  It was a spiritually upbuilding experience that (I believe) brought much Light into the hearts of Friends, removing fear, ego, and thinking of the world from the hearts of many of us.  I was simply a statement of where this communal group of Friends were in their hearts at that particular time.  It was not meant to be a doctrine for all time.  It was a way to convey our meeting's spiritual life to those who live around us in our location.

Comment by James C Schultz on 1st mo. 2, 2017 at 10:13am

Your position, which I basicly agree with, presupposes a "Friend" who is following the light within.  If a meeting's clearance committee is performing its role properly anyone with a seared conscience would not be admitted to membership.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 2, 2017 at 12:42pm

"So Keith, are you saying that in general stating in word or writing Quaker testimonies (in the way many religions state their doctrines) is an error? "


I have been holding your questions in a drift until this morning when I found myself up against and anchored to your initial question. It comes to me that I must shake loose of it before moving back again into the drift. I hope you will be willing to work through your post in smaller chunks. Also, please feel free to push me further if my responses do not fully address your questions. I am thankful for your queries and look forward to working through them.

I intend to answer your question directly. Please do not mistake my directness for impatience, frustration, or dismissal. It is my intention to engage with your queries as long as you

Yes, I am saying that participating in the activity of stating or writing testimonies or doctrines under the pretense (for lack of a better word as I write) of these being "leadings" from the inshining Light is to engage in error. Being in inshining Light is being or conscious shined by the Light itself in itself as sufficient and complete without regard for or anticipation of the laying down of outward testimonies. The motion of inshining Light anchoring the conscious and informing the conscience is away from outward testimonies or doctrines not a leading into them. The relative motion and illumination of the inshining Light itself in itself is what leads. This inshining motion itself is sufficient so that there is no reference to outward constructs like Peace, integrity, diversity, community, etc. By the power of immanent Presence inshining upon the conscious and conscience a person or group may manifest what some may call peace in one moment, however, by the power of the inshining appearance of immanent Presence the same person or group may manifest something other than peace in another moment.

To engage in seeking and writing outward testimonies is to move away from being or conscious that is led by immanent Presence itself in itself and to be led back again into participating in identification with outward forms. It is to bring the shadows of heavenly things back into focus (error) rather than to move and sustain in the heavenly thing itself.

I hope this begins to address your initial question. I am trying to writing honestly with the trust that you understand I do not expect that you will agree with me. It is not my intent to convince, merely to answer your questions honestly.

With Love and Respect.


Comment by Howard Brod on 1st mo. 2, 2017 at 1:35pm


Thank you for your very clear response.

I asked this question not to debate you; rather, I am seeking more clarity for my own personal leadings for myself for this whole subject of testimonies, published leadings, and minutes published and disseminated in order to influence others.

This last minute my meeting published, when first introduced, made me uneasy - not because I disagreed with its content.  Rather, I am aware over my lifetime how futile published minutes have been in reaching the hearts of others.  I fear I was not very articulate to the gathering of Friends when expressing my discomfort; mainly because I was not clear why I felt uncomfortable.

I must admit, however, in going through the process of creating the minute as a spiritual community for a five month period, the process was enlightening and an opportunity for the Spirit to awaken many in the meeting to the inshining Light that is our Source and Being.

I am thinking that it would have been more beneficial and spiritually-oriented for us as a spiritual community to simply use the subject of the minute for aiding us to experience an increased portion of Light, without the aim of broadcasting the outcome to others in order to convince them of our "doctrine" we had created. 

So, I am becoming clear for myself that the process surrounding the creation of the minute was no doubt valuable as we all experienced the inshining Light due to the process.  Yet, the final goal of then penning it so as to direct the consciences of others was likely folly, an attempt to reach merely their intellects and echoes.  Clearly, in actuality we can only unify with another's spirit/heart by experiencing with them the divine Love we already both have.  And I now see that publishing a statement of faith to the world, be it a statement of believe or of behavior, is an attempt to control others. 

I wonder if liberal Friends (and all Friends for that matter), would fare better by concentrating on the action of Love and Light in order to bring all things in harmony with 'that of God' within each of us.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.


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