Micah Bales and that “extreme” “interventionist” “crazy talk.”

Micah Bales and that “extreme” “interventionist” “crazy talk.”

In a recent piece entitled “God” is no Substitute for Strategy” Micah Bales breaks down the founding Quaker testimony of and witness to the sufficiency of the immediate and direct inward presence of the Spirit of God as “crazy talk.” He then doubles down by labeling or characterizing those who trust  completely and solely in the intuitive “intervention” of the inward Spirit of Christ as “extreme.” He calls us in derision “interventionist.” He also suggests later in the article that those who do not have faith in outward forms manifested through the human facilities (reason) do a “disservice” to God. That is, they are not serving God!

Reading his article is like reading the talking points (tactics) of a political strategist. The article has negative labels tagging crazy interventionists as having a “tendency against advance planning and rational thought.” Watch the strategy in his words. Actually, he is moving between strategy and tactic. The strategy is to bring people into the embracement of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward teachings, ideas, or plans. The tactic is showing sympathy on one hand by acknowledging Fox’s statement “Don’t think, but submit” [to God].  While on the other hand, questioning the very thing he just agreed with by saying all that trusting completely in the sufficiency of the inward Spirit itself to guide and inform is excessive.  See, this ideological sleight of hand is a time honored political tactic. You have to show some sympathy or they just won’t follow you. Set up an artifice based on sympathy; then slowly add other foyers, rooms, and carports so that the original artifice is unrecognizable. You look around and wonder: “Wow, this isn’t what I moved into.”

But how does Micah label his own outward artifice? Unlike those crazy, extreme, excessive, interventionists who wish to “replace” human facilities (Watch! You first have to agree with or buy into his construct that those crazy people who have faith completely in the inward Light to guide them, “wish to replace the human facilities”), Micah says it is God’s intention to “restore the whole creation - body, mind, and spirit - to its “intended maturity and vitality in Christ.” Watch! By implication, those excessive and crazy people want to “replace” creation and upset God’s intended purpose. Micah is saying if you are a person whose life, meaning, purpose, and identity are anchored in a conscious illuminated by and a conscience informed by “immediate” (in Micah’s own words) Presence itself, that experience is not intended by God. In fact, being that is fulfilled by faith in the grace of Presence itself, works against God’s restorative work and does not serve God. Micah sets himself up as one who is on the side of restoring the whole creation to its intended maturity and vitality in Christ. He is on God’s side and serving him in the fulfillment of God’s intention purpose. By implication, Micah is moderate and reasonable … not excessive. He is a “co-creator” with God … not an excessive destroyer like those crazy people.  

Now what is it about this experience of the sufficient immediate inward Presence itself as the sufficient source of meaning, purpose, consciousness, in the conscious and conscience that is so troubling to Micah? Watch!  Living actively in immediate intuitive Presence itself that is anchoring the conscious and informing the conscience Micah finds cripples “our general inability to do long-range planning.” He doesn’t set out any examples of long-range plans he thinks should be implemented. He merely wants the reader to warm up to the outward idea that abstract outwardly expired long-range planning that comes through the human faculties is how we begin to go about helping God realize his intended purpose. Micah wants the reader to follow his outward reasoning to the place where they are open to a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward long-range plans. That is, wherein their identity, purpose, meaning, and actions, are anchored in and informed by outward ideas and plans. For those who have faith in outward forms, it is a must that people are open to and willing to identify with and adhere to the process of the formation outward plans and practices. This initial posture is fundamental … it is essential because once those with political and religious agendas gain inroads to the conscious and conscience, anchoring the conscious and informing the conscience with outward plans, ideas, conceptual forms, etc. those outside plans and ideas capture the minds and become sources, of meaning, purpose, and direction from which leaders direct people to realize their outward civil and religious agendas. Those of us whose conscious is anchored in and conscience are informed by experiencing inward Presence itself are a problem for those with outward political and religious agendas they wish to see fulfilled in the outward society. We just are not of the right mindset. Our very life and meaning is mis-directed in Presence itself. We cannot be captured or agitated into compliance with the outward forms and plans of the civil and religious state because we live a Life in a completely different State. Those of us who adhered solely to the guidance of inward Presence and are ever touched by the Light itself in our conscious and conscience are just crazy people who cannot be controlled and directed by the outward agendas of people who would rule and oversee and guide through the outward structures of the civil and religious state.

It is never once even considered in the article that perhaps human being sustained and nurtured in Presence itself is long-range planning. Imagine a witness to the living in the activity of the Spirit of Christ fulfilling our conscious and informing our conscience as long-range planning … viz. eternal life. For many of us that is bold living and acting ... presently and fearlessly … in the eternal Kingdom. For many of us the Kingdom is here … there is no-thing to create. There are no objectives to attain. In the inspired Light of Presence itself there are no outward institutions to build, no outward political or religious agendas to fulfill.  They are fulfilled in the immediate experience of Presence itself. It is the actual living of the Life that fulfills and sustains.

These arguments and labels against those whose conscious is anchored in and whose conscience is informed by inspired Immediacy itself are not new in Quaker history. The outward words and sentiments used to capture the conscious and inform the conscience of people may change slightly but the meaning, intent, agenda, and derision are the same.

There are those of us who know a life wherein our very consciousness, meaning, purpose, and direction, is guided in and through adherence to the long-range (eternal) perspective of the directly experienced inward Light itself. We have a long-range perspective … the eternal life we are living in this world and at this moment. Ours is to share that Life through testimony and witness. We do not look for or trust in the outward plans, ideologies, and institutions, of the civil and religious state. Ours is to live the long-range inward Plan manifested through personally experienced inward Presence itself. There is our hope. There is our peace. There is our joy. There is our heritage.

I know our way is not the way of those whose conscious is anchored in and conscience is informed by outward forms. We have been lead out of that way and into a different way. That way is sufficient for us in all things and in all circumstances in our daily lives and all we do is share the Way and trust the inward working of the Light itself will convince and guide. We acknowledge that our way is crippling to other ways. However, we will continue to share our way.

Historically, since the very beginning of Quaker history, when we came into contact with others who derided and mis-represented our resting solely in the guidance and meaning of inward Presence itself we reciprocated in kind and derided those who derided us. Today, by power of increased measured of Light filling our conscious and guiding our conscience, we are so deeping into the LIfe itself that the outward feelings and thoughts of anger and retaliation have lost their power and are but on the distant horizon of our soul and managed and overcome in the candling Light itself. By the power of the Candling itself; we do not respond in kind with weapons of outward ideological warfare.

To some, our message of the sufficiency of Presence itself comes across as demeaning. It is true the experience of the sufficiency of inward Light demeans a faith in outward forms in the sense that it cripples the outward designs of the civil and religious state by freeing people from dependency upon outward forms, traditions, and practices for meaning, purpose, and direction, in this life. Again, While we acknowledge this, it is ours to share the different Way.


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Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 11:38am

Hello Jeff, 

Many of us experience a different way of being and consciousness, a different paradigm, than the outward form of following a linear alphabetical schematic. We live and rest in the space between the letters. In our experience, some of us do go from A to Z. Some go from D to P and then from B to V. By the power of the inward Light illuminating our conscious and informing our conscience, we are in an awaiting posture where ever we are between A and Z or even outside of the A through Z structure. Wherever we are, the eternal space between the letters is ever present and there we find Love.

Comment by Diane Benton on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 12:15pm

I, too, found Micah's post troubling.  I appreciate your careful analysis.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 1:01pm

Hello, Jeff. Thank you so much for correcting my mis-understanding. Please feel free to engage me even if only to correct me. I have found that if you stick with it, even written words will communicate over time. I know how it feels to be mis-represented and I appreciate it when people correct my mis-understanding of their written words.

God Bless,


Comment by James C Schultz on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 6:44pm

I'm all for long range planning as I am sure God is.  However, as I tell my wife and all who will listen, God has this perfect long range plan for my life every day and then I wake up and make a decision and half the time God has to revise His plan for my life.  This process continues throughout the day until I finally fall asleep.  Even then I can't be sure someone else I don't even know is doing something that calls for God revising His plan for my life.  Now you might ask why don't I assume more responsibility for my plans?  Well years ago I had a conversation with God and said "but not my will but thine!"  However, having said that I will go back and read Micah's article as I did not take it the way you did.  Probably because at my age long range plans don't mean the same as they do to someone Micah's age.  We also have to understand that God calls different folks to man different parts of the ship.  Some hoist sails to catch the wind; some man the wheel to keep the ship on course needing faith that the compass and stars will guide them; some lay out the course itself, leg by leg; and someone decides on how much and which supplies must be taken aboard to make sure everyone gets to the destinations.

Comment by James C Schultz on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 7:05pm

I reread Micah's article.  I don't think it's as one sided as you have taken it.  However, that's the problem with the written word and why we can't divorce ourselves from personal contact with one another.  I have met him and have never found him to be dogmatic so when I read what he writes I read it with the benefit of having fellowshipped with him.  Judging someone's writing can be like trying to know what God is like without knowing Jesus and God's presence as bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 7:37pm

I think one has to view God's 'Long-Range-Plan in the following sense: When parents have a child, their long-range plan is for he/she to grow up healthy, happy, doing what uses their gifts well.

If the child does something foolish and spends some time laid up in a hospital, that's neither 'according to plan' nor 'forcing them to change their plan;' it simply delays and alters the child's path-to-goal.

A 'plan' need not be detailed nor rigid. It implies taking actions that further the intention involved, avoiding actions that defeat the purpose -- and mainly, establishing conditions in which even unexpected events will work to promote the kind of outcome desired.

If a human programmer sets out to anticipate and cover in detail all possible conditions a real-time control system might encounter in navigating the 3-d physical world, and what steps to take in response -- his program will work until something comes along he hadn't considered. The kind of programs that succeed in such tasks are far more flexible, work more by rules-of-thumb to choose 'the right kind of response' rather than 'the one best possible strategy.'

It's like trying to micromanage a discussion group to lead everyone to some prearranged conclusion, vs letting them steer themselves & intervening only when someone's contribution becomes truly counterproductive. One approach is a mechanical, deadening technique, the other is an art form...

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 8:47pm


Micah wrote:

"For centuries, there has been (and continues to be) a strong strain in the Quaker tradition that is suspicious of reason in general. According to this extreme interventionist view of God, human reason can only get in the way of divine inspiration. With the Spirit available to guide us, why should we think at all?" 

"Quite frankly, this is crazy talk."

This is pretty clear statement. He doesn't say that he does not share their experience. He clearly judges them and their experience and conscience as "crazy." No ambiguity here.

Comment by James C Schultz on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 10:27pm

Are you saying that since the spirit is available to guide us we should not think or are you saying that Quakers don't have a history of believing that way?  If the latter maybe you should just challenge Micah on his source for his statement.

As a convinced quaker of a relatively short duration I do not personally have enough information to draw my own conclusion as to the validity of Micah's position that there has been a strong Quaker belief that there is no place for human reason in God's plan for man.

Comment by Jim Wilson on 10th mo. 25, 2015 at 11:33pm

I'd just like to quickly point out that Keith is relying on a formal analysis of Micah's argument to make his point.  This reliance on form would seem to undermine his view of the efficacy of formlessness as ultimate.  Keith, it seems to me that you are willing to use forms when they can be seen to support your own view; but you deny their relevance when someone puts forth a contrary view.  That doesn't seem very sporting.  From my perspective Micah is more consistent.  Just my two cents.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 26, 2015 at 12:38am

I guess the main point Micah missed is that a person or a group can figure and figure, and be perfectly correct about what to do [assuming they haven't made some silly blunder like my recent grammatical glitch in an otherwise good response] in terms of what they know about the situation, which will not include taking account of all those factors and side effects they didn't consider relevant or important (but perhaps should have) -- but such planning can't possibly cover all the future contingencies that will come along, perhaps as a complete surprize to everyone... while God's arrangements, clunky and inconvenient and chaotic as they're likely to seem, will typically turn out to be a perfect preparation for purposes and needs that nobody would have previously had in mind.

Perhaps what was going on in past centuries -- rather than a stubborn distrust of human reason as such -- was that many Friends had ample experience of relying on God's choreography in their lives, and finding that a far superior means of navigation!


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