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. 27, 2015 at 7:14pm

Diane, I am grateful for the intention and inward Life you shared. What Grace and Light there is in Presence itself illuminating our paths and choices so that by awareness of a sustained life in Presence we know our path is True.

Comment by William F Rushby on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 7:52pm

Exclusive emphasis on divine inspiration which discouraged intellectual "gifts" and learning had a lot to do with the dearth of spoken ministry during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries in Ohio Yearly Meeting.  For several decades, all but a few of the ministers recognized in the yearly meeting came from outside.  The Charismatic movement and the influx of converts, mainly from more liberal yearly meetings, helped to turn this around.

Comment by Diane Benton on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 9:26pm

Forrest said: "If a person is simply winging it, without that vital connection -- like striving to be 'spontaneous' in some stereotyped way, practicing Creativity without the inspiration -- Then Reason (or her cute sister  Rationalization) will probably work better."

What it did for me was send me down a long series of dead ends until, through a process of elimination, I came to unmediated presence.  

Comment by Mackenzie on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 9:29pm

Keith, here's from the chapter "The Evangelical Invasion," page 225:

In Sandy Spring, Maryland, Roger Brooke declared that Elizabeth Robson was sowing seeds of dissension and the Meeting refused permission for her to make family visits. New York followed the same procedure. She corresponded with many leaders while in America, and did not hesitate to write to Priscilla Hunt, "It appeared to me that thy present state is a dangerous one....I believe there is not anything more injurious to the cause of religion than exercising the reasoning faculties in order to comprehend divine truths."

And as a note since I said the ecclesiastical history book Elias read is mentioned by Forbush, it's "An Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern" by John L Mosheim, which Forbush says occupies a middle position between German Pietists and German Rationalists (he's "orthodox in doctrine but moderate in feeling", and goes over the many different interpretations of Christianity there have been. 

Reading Mosheim gave Elias Hicks a broader understanding of Christianity, and strengthened his resolve that members of the Society of Friends should be tolerant of divergent points of view

Further excerpts here

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 9:30pm

Emphasis on divine inspiration doesn't need to discourage intellectual gifts; but I think that sometimes people try to do everything by ersatz inspiration -- acting as if they were still receiving divine instruction when they've become too set in their ways to hear anything new, and thus have fallen too far behind their Guide...

If people are still learning, God keeps teaching. But if instead they're following the habits of some pious self-image, they might need to sincerely ask for new light.... How to know? If you sincerely question, you will receive the best answer you're ready for. You can trust that answer for your best direction from that point, not because of who you are -- but because of who God is.

Comment by Mackenzie on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 9:32pm

(But I in no way got the impression Hicks would put reason ahead of experience. Too much "notions" (theological ideas) and not enough experience really does seem to be his feeling about the English Friends sent over.)

Comment by William F Rushby on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 9:53pm

Mackenzie: Ironically, later the influential Hicksites mostly abandoned Elias Hicks' theology, and became  extreme rationalists.

Toward the end of the 19th Century, a counter movement set in, and many Hicksites became Spiritualists.  I believe that one of them even received a long spirit message from Elias Hicks, indicating that he had been a Spiritualist all along!  I doubt that you will find anything about this in Bliss Forbush's book!

Comment by Mackenzie on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 9:58pm

I'm aware of the weird spiritualism thing that happened, and I do not get it at all. I don't even get how rationalists could turn into... ouija board users! And no, his book stops at Hicks' memorial service, doesn't include any of the weirdness that happened after Hicks died. 

Comment by William F Rushby on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 10:20pm

I believe that people long to relate to the supernatural, even if they don't admit it.  When one's belief system eliminates God from one's view of the cosmos, there will be a vacuum in one's life.

Since belief in God became unpopular among leading Hicksites, the "spirit world" offered a way to have one's cake and eat it too!

In modern times, occultism has been very popular among liberal Friends.  My guess is that it satisfies the same craving for a relationship with the supernatural.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 27, 2015 at 10:46pm

Forrest. You asked "How to know when following a pious self-image?" My experience in Presence is this: When inward Presence is overshadowed or dims by pious self-image, desire, thoughts, sensations,  that is the way I know. The literal inward experience (active or inactive) of Presence is the guide in my life.


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