Forrest wrote: If we bring to bear the collective attention of a group of interested people, mentally centered and open to whatever message the Spirit may have for us, on some specific occasion, then we can see God at work, using it in and among us!

Yeah! I guess this is where I'm at. I want to live in this living tradition with all of you, but I don't see how we can do that unless we are doing it together, like we are here on QuakerQuaker and in our Meetings. If we're not living with scripture in our community, scripture's no use to anyone. I feel a great need for a communal engagement. For me Christ-with-us is in the community - amongst us as much if not more than than within us.

Communication seems so rich, and we as people are so diverse. We need careful, creative, loving, attentive conversations, teaching and learning from each other, even just to understand what on earth we are on about. I guess I want scripture to be the basis of our study together in order to keep us and scripture alive and in community. I know how precious the openings of scripture are to me, but also how very dependent I am on others in our community opening them to me.

We only have so much time to consider and talk, there is so much to be done in the world to feed the hungry, comfort the bereaved, discomfort the comfortable, raise up the oppressed and so on - God's whole program, right? If we are going to listen and learn with each other in God, to be fed and raised in God's ways to meet the needs the world has, we need to speak with each other to learn a common language. I want to the written Gospel and all its tendrils to be part of that conversation as well, because as Forrest says if we don't live with those authors they are dead words.

I don't think I can fully understand scripture without hearing how it comes across to you, how you hear it and show me the Most High speaking through it, and through our process as we study together. It's not about enforcing anything, it's not about being better, I don't think it's anyone being in a special position as sons of the kingdom or anything like it - God is what puts us all on a equal footing! Isn't learning God's ways together, living with each other in that present, universally available, unifying and transforming power, the basis of our community? I think the Way of Christ is not an individual one, I think we need each other and we need to be with and for each other and for all who are suffering. Or maybe I just know I'm not one of those who can do it on my own - I think I need you.

I'm not denying how hurtful misuse of scripture is, or the abuse that takes place even in Jesus's name. I know it's bad, and I think it's really important that we work together so we can all be healed, and I know from my own experience that the healing is not necessarily instant. I think healing our relationship with God is the top priority, because otherwise we're like computers before the internet, or devices that aren't plugged into the mains. I believe God is the power which unites and transforms us, leads us into participation in the healing of ourselves and the world, God is the basis upon which we can meet all others, and that's the same power that sent forth the prophets and triumphed. I've experienced Quakers to be a place where I can work through that stuff, with the help and the time and healing I need.

What I think I've found underneath all the accumulation of idolatry and power-abusing human generations is a God I can honestly worship (give worth to? Put first, put at the centre? Open myself to? Be shaped around? Be transformed by?). God is a God that loves and puts my brain to work as well as the whole of the rest of me, loves me with all my scientific training exactly as much as the most innumerate or illiterate person we have. A living Word given to us, a God that speaks through the reality of the world, witnessed to by all generations before us, as they wrote in scripture and since and around the canon of scripture was set. I've benefitted from teachings about the midrash tradition of story-making around scripture, and from Catholic teachings such as Ignatian meditations on scripture - there are a hundred ways we can work on it when we are willing to, and none of us need be any less than our full selves.

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 5th mo. 20, 2009 at 11:55pm
There sometimes needs to be waiting... I wanted to respond to this, but I wanted to respond with a Message, and didn't have one pending. Sometimes I can wing it, fly out over some verbal cliff knowing I'll be held through incredibly silly acrobatics... but you know, this better not be about me showing off!

Ah well, there's much I need to write down about that crazy gift of mine, about doing it justice without worshiping or abusing it, helping it shape itself into God's tool instead of just-mine. But what you are talking about here has been a fond wish of mine, also.

The God we've got. When He sees the people of Babel building their tower towards the Heaven they desire, to reach the ideal world they imagine they want... instead of, as Alan Lew said, continuing to live in the harmonious world God has placed them in... God is dismayed, and interferes by making them misunderstand each other.

I agree that what you are calling "God's program" ought to be done. But I keep wondering, Why can't people understand and agree with that? Atheists would agree with that! But God, by all visible evidence, doesn't see things that way, and deprives us of what we thought was our common language.

I used to take what Jesus said, about loving your neighbor as yourself, and I'd think, "Wow! I've got exactly the same right to this bed as the guy sleeping downtown on the sidewalk." So I shouldn't tolerate a system that deprives anyone of a decent place to sleep... but God tolerates it! There are, it appears, there must be things worse than the suffering people currently endure, fail to endure-- live or die or utterly freak with, as the case might be. We have to see the intolerable routine atrocities of this world as somehow contained in God's harmonious order--while remaining determined, if & when we see our way clear, to mitigate it!

Does this sound like a rational program? Or does the Bible, and the world that contains it, present us instead with a sort of Christian koan? As in the Gospel of Thomas, where Jesus, asked when the Kingdom will come, says that the Kingdom is spread out over the world, though men do not see it!


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