People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us." When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.- Book of Jonah

In this passage from one of the last books of the Old Testament, the prophet Jonah has been instructed to destroy the wicked city of Nineveh It is full of sinful people, and like Sodom and Gomorrah, God initially decides to eradicate from the face of the Earth this particularly large place. But at the last minute, God changes his mind and decides to spare the city from destruction. Jonah is infuriated by God’s reversal of initial plans. God response to Jonah is that the city has changed. It has heeded the warning of Jehovah and completely reversed course, for the better. Jonah is angered, as he has made many plans to act out, plans full of vengeance and hatred. He does not want to heed the command to cease these actions, as he has become obsessed with killing and waging destruction.

It is this story that first comes to mind for me when I think about the violence and toxic philosophy of Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists. Some of us are no doubt full of bile and furious anger when we contemplate their actions, and we observe the combustible opinions and deeds of those who want Confederate monuments to remain. There has been a tremendous amount of ugliness and negativity that makes me very sad. Surely we can do better, regardless of what side to which we have allegiance.

Sometimes people wish that judgment and destruction would come upon sinful people whose wickedness seems to demand immediate punishment. But God is more merciful than we can imagine. He feels compassion for the sinners that we want judged and he devises plans to bring them to himself. What is your attitude towards those who are especially wicked? Do you want them destroyed? Or do you wish that they could experience God’s mercy and forgiveness? 

God believes that anyone who is willing to ask for forgiveness can receive it. None of us are trapped forever by our behavior, especially evil behavior. Everyone can change, even the people we least expect. Quakers like myself believe that the basic nature of every living human is good, and as much as some will disagree with me, I adhere to the basic tenent of my faith. It is easy to be more sensitive to our own interests than to the spiritual needs of people around us. 

This story is, at bottom, about mercy. Jonah learned a valuable lesson about mercy and forgiveness. God’s forgiveness was not only for Jonah or for Israel alone, it extends to all who repent and believe. Every person has the ability within them to change. I’ve seen examples of this in my own life. Change is possible, even for the worst offender. When we do not believe this, it compromises our own humanity in the process. If we respond in obedience, he will be gracious, and we will receive his mercy, not his judgment. We sometimes feel that we have turned too sour and bitter, but we are always capable of returning from unhelpful and soul-killing points of view. I pray for this country for many reasons, and what I have described is a large portion of my concern. 

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 21, 2017 at 7:18pm

This nation lives in a state of denial. Very few of us have any interest in honoring the war criminal I'm named after...

but most people still imagine that our use of atomic bombs against Japan was necessary or right. Most people at least profess to believe that the war we waged against Vietnam was a well-intentioned mistake -- or at least that our occasional wars against and habitual subversion of the governments of other nations is meant to promote 'democracy' among ignorant nonwhites who just couldn't govern themselves [in our interest] without our help.

Easy to deplore the blatant sort of racism that marches with torches and drives cars into people -- and all too easy to ignore and condone the covert racism of still-segregated schooling, pervasive malign neglect, and the criminally-prejudicial police/judicial/prison system.

I don't think we'd better count on the Repentance Defence, because so far there doesn't seem to be all that much repentance. Can we plead "Forgive them, for they know not what they do"?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 22, 2017 at 10:31am

Forrest. The process of identification with outward political constructs like racism, segregation, prejudice, diversity, is in itself the cause of war. The more you preach up outward constructs like anti-racism the more you nurture it. The more you preach against segregation, the more segregation will manifest in innumerable ways. The more you outwardly identify and preach against war ... the more you nurture war. The more Obama and Trump takes up outward physical and ideological weaponry against terrorism. The more they nurture it.  The process you participate in is flawed at its core. It is of the nature of the first covenant which was also flawed and promised peace and heaven by identifying with divinely inspired outward rules and prescriptions. The very rules nurtured and sustained their opposite.  There is only one way out of this loop ... lay down and shatter the process of the first covenant and come into the second.

Comment by Sarah Kirby on 8th mo. 22, 2017 at 1:22pm

I agree with Keith. And Kevin if I am understanding his message correctly. There was a terrible incident around here a few years back where 2 young people were involved in a horrendous murder of a third. Having a child similar in age, as I read about the story I internalized it and could see my own child falling to a pattern of events that could have put them on either end of that situation. ( God willing this never happens but I think any honest person understands how sometimes small bad ideas can snowball in to terrible large events).

My first response was anger and judgement ( I could probably qualify for a "Judgement Olympics " event. It's horrible but it's the truth and I am working on it). At some point that day the story came out I had logged onto a social media site and a friend was also talking about the event.  I didn't comment, because I try to follow the "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all" rule. But I followed that conversation. I remember very clearly the moment I understood what "love thy enemy" means. Another mother had made a comment detailing what she would do if she got her hands on the 2 responsible for the violent event. I won't go into detail but it did involve public nudity and violent sexual involvement with a broom handle. 

In that moment I stopped and reflected on the entire situation. God forbid but what if my child was on the other end of it? How would any of that make the situation better? It wouldn't bring back or undo what had been done. No one would grow or learn from it. And you wouldn't be any better than those who had been involved in the first place.  It would only compound a horrible connection. 

Over the years I have taken a great deal of grief from all over for my current understanding of God's love and leadership. I have been laughed at, screamed at, disowned, ignored just generally made to feel that I am clearly a moron. But every time, my idea has held true. "You cannot defeat the monster by becoming that same monster yourself." 

Very often faith is framed in the idea of childish belief. I believe this to be true. Not in the form of naivete but in a form of innocence and willingness to grow and adapt into a person that is influenced by example.  

I absolutely think the world is a much better place than it ever has been since people have been running the show. And I think the only way to make it better is to live a life that shows an example of how to rise above and do better. Falling into familiar patterns of anger and revenge will do no good. 

Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 22, 2017 at 3:18pm

I have not made war against those who make war; and certainly not against the many innocents who buy into their leaders' attempted justifications for all the crimes and cruelties that war implies.

I have not made war against hypocrisy nor against the Quaker Testimony of Euphemism. But I do try not to practice them.

The idea that one can or should try to deal with the inequities and iniquities of the World by idle words about identifying with the Light simply contemptible.

It was not what Jesus did. He didn't make or endorse war against anyone; but he was out in public denouncing the  thefts and cruelties of his nation's rulers until they had him killed.

Keith, old tedious sparing-partner... I don't know whether or not your belief system reflects an honest confusion; but the way I've too often seen you use it -- is as a convenient rationale for denouncing anyone who publicly identifies the prevailing evils of the world and our nation's bloody-handed involvement in them.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 22, 2017 at 4:08pm
It is true the "idea" that one can or should try to deal with the inequities of the World by idle words about idenitifying with the Light within is of the same nature as the first Covenant. However, I am the Light and the Light is within me and and I own the Light as sufficient in all things and circumstance to guide and rule the conscience and human relationships. I am an experience not an idea. I am not guided or informed by the outward concepts of "inequities" or "inequalities." It is the process of being guided by these constructs that is the cause and manifestion of them. Laying down the very process of identification with outward constructs and coming into the direct impulse of the Spirit of Life itself in itself as sole guide (the second convenant) is the sauve that soothes and heals.

I completely understand that you find this message worthy of your contempt. It can be no other way. Your professed idenitification with outward ideological constructs is the cause of your manifest contempt. It is of the nature of those who are in the first covenant to manifest contempt those who do not share their process of politick of contrivance or the outwards form they paint over the world. That contempt is expressed to me from all sides of the politick of contrivance.

Truly, for one who participated in the process of idenitification with outward ideologies, it their nature that they will paint and judge another as confused who does not participate in the process and who shares a different way of conscience and being that is come out of the process altogether by the inshining appearance of the Light itself in itself.

There is a different way Forrest and that way involves laying down the very process of identification with outward ideological forms to rule and govern human relationships and the conscience. I have merely said that it is the nature of the process of identification with outward forms to rule and govern human relationships to nurture and manifest war and disunity. It is just the nature of the process. I understand you have faith in that process. I do not. I am of a different nature and a different process.

By the way. I do not find you at all confused or your profession of idenification with outward ideological constructs to be contemptable. I have only highlighted the nature of such a process and laid down my conscience concerning a different way ... as tedious (I own that tedium) as that may be.
Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 22, 2017 at 4:56pm

Whether or not there are ideological forms you consciously identify with -- aside from your assumptions about whatever I do or don't identify with, aside from whatever beliefs underlie your choice of evils to defend in the name of recommending a more inward orientation --

I entirely agree that it is possible to be guided in one's thoughts and actions by the Divine presence within us -- and insist that this is not some simple restful state which you (as you believe) have comfortably entered into (but we have not) --

It's an ongoing effort to know and love Truth with all your mind, heart and strength. To the extent  we succeed in orienting to God for real (not just in words) we are not going to fall into denial of the many systemic evils our conventional friends would rather not recognize or the widespread suffering these produce at home and abroad.

What evils? Chomsky could give you an exhaustive (and exhausting) list. Michael Hudson could explain the collateral damage of what we call an economic system. If God is guiding you, then God can certainly help you learn that all is not quite right with This World.

Certainly it is for God to overcome these; it is not for us to tastefully help conceal them.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 23, 2017 at 8:33am

Now I have graduated from “contemptible” to a “defender of evil” in the name of the inward Light, all in the matter of two posts. Your words further affirm that the very nature of the process of identification with outward ideological constructs, and the people and institutions that profess them, is the very source and cause of an dysfunctional human relationships. As long as people continue to turn to outward constructs, prescriptions, reflections, and the people who profess, and promote them, to guide and govern human relationships, there will be dysfunction. It can be no other way as long as people cling to their outward forms.

Forrest. Again. Through the power of the inshining Light itself in itself, I am led out of a conscience guided and informed by outward ideological constructs and the people who profession them. I am the Light and informed in and through the Light itself in itself. The reflections of Chomsky and Hudson do not inform or guide my conscience. I do not turn to them. I own the Light and the Light itself informs me. The Light itself in itself is my sole guide in matters of human relationships. I am the Light and own the Light within me and in that Light there is no “Look here” (Chomsky) and “Look There” (Hudson). I am come out of the very process you participate in … I am not of that process. I do not look to or respect the reflections other people and their outward ideological constructs.

I will bring this home to you using your own words. You wrote:

“If God is guiding you, then God can certainly help you learn that all is not quite right with This World.”
The appearance of the inshining Light in my conscience has discovered to me exactly that “all is not quite right with this World” by leading me out of identification with outward ideological constructs and the people who promote them (including Chomsky and Hudson) and manifesting that it is that very process that is what is wrong this world and human relationships. That very process is of the nature of this world. I say to you again. As long as you participate in the process of identification with outward forms, and the people who profess those forms, you help give birth to and nurture that very things you find “not quite right with this World.” Your own words reflect back upon you.
There is another way … a different way … wherein human relationships are guided directly by the inward impulse and motion of the inshining Light itself in itself without regard or respect for outward constructs or the people who profess them. This different way is the Way into pure human relationships and out of the outward powers and principalities that nurture identification with their outward political, religious, and social constructs and contrivances.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 8th mo. 23, 2017 at 9:46am

Not every ideology that captures a person will honestly acknowledge "I am an ideology." The nature of an ideology is to offer facile self-justification, and it uses a person's mind against him to conceal the nature of its grip.

The ideology of Being Apolitical is one of the more insidious. In practice, as Desmond Tutu said, it comes down to tacit support for the authorities; and when you mount your podium from time to time, that support goes far beyond tacit. You haven't "graduated from" anything; I've simply been observing long enough to have reached a stage of no longer humouring your habitual ways of insulting anyone who speaks up against the prevailing injustices.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 8th mo. 23, 2017 at 10:59am

I have, in fact, spoken up against prevailing injustice and will continue to speak out against the inherent injustice of  identification with outward political, religious, and social constructs to rule and guide human relationships and inform the conscience of people which usurps the prerogative of the inshining Spirit itself in itself to rule and govern human relationships and inform the conscience. 

I understand, own, and embrace that you find such a testimony to actual witness (experience) as in your own words "contemptible", "evil", and "insidious."  I am not of a nature the paints people with such out constructs. Such constructs only serve to feed on themselves. It is yours live with and feed upon your your outward judgments of contempt, evil, and insidiousness. For it can be no other way with those who participate in identification with outward constructs and contrivances. 


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