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 William F Rushby on 10th mo. 30, 2015 at 7:44pm

Howard Brod wrote (to me): "You have so much Quaker information just oozing out of you. "  Howard, I don't always get it exactly right, so read my comments with a bit of caution!

Somewhere, you noted that Lucretia Mott was rather belligerent and domineering in style, not the saint she is pictured to be in the hagiographic literature.  I think that Lucretia was a brave woman.  One time a mob set out to confront her at her home, and she went out to the porch or steps to face the music.  One of her admirers was in the surging crowd and, when it approached Lucretia's house, he made his way to the front of the mob and led them on down the street, right past Lucretia as she waited for the confrontation!!!!  It pays to have friends in (forward) places!

Another time a young Hicksite minister named Elwood Conrad was approaching the arch at the entrance to the Race Street meetinghouse to attend a session of the Hicksite yearly meeting.  Suddenly, a text bore down on him ("Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." I Cor. 3: 11)   He knew then that he would be summoned to preach on it at the session about to begin!

The Hicksites had a dearth of preaching in their meetings, especially by young minister like Elwood Conrad (I hope I got Elwood spelled right, possibly a double L).  Theologically conservative Elwood was very popular with the Hicksite young people, which apparently alarmed the powers that be.  When he had finished preaching, an older woman arose and denounced his sermon.   I don't live close enough to Philadelphia to check out her identity, but I suspect that I know who she was!

Comment by Howard Brod on 10th mo. 30, 2015 at 8:59pm

It's like you were there, Bill, when I read your accounts!  I love it.

I do need to let you know that it wasn't me who made the comment about Lucretia Mott.  I always viewed her as you do.  I did always think she was a Progressive Quaker primarily.  But then the Progressives and Hicksites intermingled quite a bit.  I have gotten the impression that although the Hicksites were continuously irritated with the Progressives, they were not inclined to disown one of their members who also frequented the Progressive meetings. And Progressives were always welcomed in their meetings - so much so that they greatly influenced the Hicksites to liberalize over the ensuing decades.  Do you have any insight about any of this?

Comment by William F Rushby on 10th mo. 30, 2015 at 9:45pm

Howard: My source of information and insight would be Chuck Fager.  Chuck certainly has various axes to grind, but he really comes up with some valuable insights.  He is perhaps the best source of information about the Progressive Friends.  Let me also note that Thomas Hamm is (that last I knew) working on a history of the Hicksite Friends. 

Comment by Olivia on 10th mo. 31, 2015 at 10:00am

Hello All,

This is very interesting.  I'm short on time to read it through but wanted to get included on subsequent posts. 

I see Micah as both a mystic and a Christian...and he defers to the specific-ness of Jesus Christ and the Christian story, which I can respect, and also defers to the concreteness of thought and the possibility of planning, which I think God also created.  Is that heretical?

I don't believe that people are universally called to stay "formless" any more than I believe we are called to be body-less.  Many people who are powerful interfaith/divine consciousness sorts also pick one faith of their own.  I see that as a grounded thing to do, a way to learn about one inroads to God, really deeply, and own that route to the Divine. 

I see that people who try to keep everything "without form" miss out on part of the Creation story and the Gospel message....   and I accept if some disagree with me on this. 

I simultaneously believe in the limitless of the Divine and that God/Light appears in various forms.  Slowly my life keeps teaching me though and forcing me to see that when I am willing to get specific, make a plan, believe in a particular faith, try Jesus Christ the man, etc etc....when I am willing to live as a part of these specifics....then GOD can be the transcendant one in our relationship -- and even better, even more effectively, because I am grounded.

Similar to what James said, who knows Micah from experience, my sense is that Micah is both a Mystic and a Christian....and as such he certainly has right to call for the inclusion of reason among people who are neither mystically connected or doing what he sees as living out the Gospel.  Keith, I don't think he means you, even if you identify with that possibility.  Perhaps reconsidering that would help you to sense the value of him arguing for reason, from people whose "faith" is not about Gospel kindness OR about reason OR about seeking the Light directly. 

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 31, 2015 at 1:08pm

Hello Olivia. Thank you for your post. I am open to and sympathize with you contention that I may be misunderstanding Micah. I agree with you that Micah has a" right to call for inclusion of reason ..." I certainly have not suggested that Micah not go forth with establishing long-range plans through a reasoned process. Now, please understand. What I am about to say is not from an argumentative spirit but from a descriptive spirit. 

I do not participate in formlessness. I participate in and experience the direct guidance of Presence itself in my conscious and conscience. Presence itself is my Form. That works out, practically speaking, in my life as the experience of Presence itself acting from within my conscious and conscience and guiding me. For example, it sometimes happens, that, while being in Presence, someone does something that manifests a spirit of irritation. Or it may happen that I complete a difficult task and a spirit of happiness manifests. In either case, it can happen that the manifestation of one of those spirits results in the fading , overshadowing, or withdraw, of participation in and experience of Presence in my conscious and conscience. This dimming is my conscious and conscience being guided directly and without the mediation of reason into a re-turning back to Presence itself rather than  irritation or happiness. Just as an increase of Presence is a literal (practical) guiding. I do not reason, by way of discursive thinking, to a decision about whether either of these spirit are good or bad. I experience the withdraw or increase of Presence itself as my mediator not the meditations of the reasoning mind. This is not participating in formlessness. It is the experience of Presence itself as a new or different Form.

When Micah writes:

Like every powerful social movement, though, Quakerism has lent itself to excesses. 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.

 I am responding to his characterization "crazy talk." I am not suggesting he not follow his path as he reasons to it. I am one of those people with an "extreme interventionist" experience  of God, not a "view" or opinion of God that is reasoned to, and who does experience reflection or reasoning as a hindrance to the direct inward experience Presence itself anchoring conscious and guiding conscience. Presence itself is my Plan. Presence itself is my Form. Presence itself is my Guide. In Presence itself, there is no need for adherence outwardly laid plans, practices, forms, etc. In Presence itself, it is not the we do not "think at all."  It is that we live and are anchored in the activity of thinking itself. We do not live in thoughts or thinking about thoughts. We live in the essential activity of thinking itself. We live between thoughts and thinking about thoughts and participate in the eternal activity of thinking itself. Presence itself is the grounding of those of us who experience directly, and without mediation, the inward Light anchoring our conscious and guiding our conscience. 

I agree with you that there are those who are grounded in various outward faith constructions. Mine is to testify to another way. It seems to me the Micah clearly characterizes that way as "crazy talk" because the way itself does not fit well into a context of people who wish to establish long-range outward plans through a process of reflected thought. He even says later in his piece:

"There’s nothing in the Bible that leads me to believe God wants us to be Holy Spirit robots. I’m inclined to think that God had a purpose in giving us the ability to think, deliberate, and envision the future. We do our Creator a disservice when we fail to exercise our reason amidst a life of prayer and openness to the Holy Spirit."

Micah writes those whose conscious and conscience are guided by Presence itself (and not through the reasonings of a reflective consciousness)  as "Holy Spirit robots" who "do our Creator a disservice." And why is this a problem for Micah. Why does he speak out against it? Because, those whose conscious are anchored and whose conscience is informed by unmediated Presence itself as our form and guide is literally "crippling" to those who wish to establish outward long-range plans or forms to guide and inform. If you wish to organize a group of people by establishing them in an outward plan, form, ideology, principle, rule, etc., it just follows, that those whose conscience and conscience are anchored in and inwardly  formed by  Presence itself are ungovernable through outward plans, ideology, etc. and therefore can be crippling to the establishment of outward governance through the medium of outward plans and rules. 

The whole point of my response to Micah is to work through the  issues of characterizations I had with his presentation and to highlight even further the distinction he is making between those "crazy people," and himself. I wrote in agreement with his basic point that those crazy people can and often do undermine or cripple or frustrate the plans of those who wish to establish outward plans, rules, principles, to rule over groups of people. We (those crazy people) are crippling to the establishment of outward forms by the very nature of our experience and the source of our testimony, meaning, purpose, and direction, in Presence itself. I wish Micah well in his work to establish outward plans. It is just a reality that there are those of us "crazy Holy Spirit robots" who are established in and formed by the direct guidance of Presence itself in our conscious and conscience.

Maybe, the whole impetus for my response would not have occurred had Micah refrained derisive labels.  It is telling that not one person, throughout whole of this thread, considered the nature of Micah's characterizations ... the nature of his choice of labels. Again, I actually agree with his distinction even as I do not share his wish to establish outward plans and forms to rule over people. I am of a different conscience and established in a different form in Presence itself. It was important to me to display, that even though Micah would label us in derision as"crazy excessive Holy Spirit robots" we are, in fact, people who do cherish our life in adherence to the inward guidance of Presence itself in our conscious and conscience. We cherish unmediated inward Light and adhere to it even in the face of derision. 

Again, this is not written in a spirit of argumentation. It is written in a descriptive spirit. 

Comment by Howard Brod on 10th mo. 31, 2015 at 2:32pm

I tend to over-simplify things even though I do not live in a simple manner outwardly.  My outward life is somewhat complex for a number of reasons that I have accepted as a tool that I am called to use for spiritual reasons.  I did not reason my way to where I am; rather, I have found myself mindfully here at a place where it seems the Spirit has placed me.  And the Spirit has ministered and comforted me in this place because it is not where I would choose to be if I were left to my own reasoning.  This circumstance I find myself in outwardly for many years, has driven me spiritually to focus inwardly ever more intently.  Had I used my reasoning and planning abilities, I would be in a different outward place than I find myself.  I would have driven my being to a more simple outward manifestation.  But the outward form of simplicity has not been mine to be experienced.  Instead I have been driven to inward simplicity.  Quaker form would have dictated that my outward life be simple.  But I have chosen to listen to an inward Voice; and not the voice of Quaker advices and queries, nor passages written in any so-called Holy Book. I have known which was the True Voice by discerning which voice spurs me to experience and provide more Love and Light in my and others' being.  That has been my True Guide.

I'm not sure if the prior paragraph makes any sense to you, my reader.  But I offer it as background for the reality I've been shown regarding the place of outward forms. And I include "reasoning and planning" in those outward forms.

I have come to understand that they are all merely tools to be embraced or discarded without attachment.  Used properly they are tools placed in our hands by our 'Source and Life' for the sole purpose of Loving more fully and for Lighting our being with the fullness of the Spirit.  They are for God's purposes to bring others to that same state.  "Others" may be just one person or they could be many.  It is not for me to worry about it, plan it out, or monitor its outcome.  I trust I will be guided at the right time what to do next. 

I will attest to all that the more forms we attach to in our spiritual walk, the more 'lost' we are in danger of becoming.  By "lost", I mean sidetracked from the direct absorption of Light manifested as a fullness in Love.  I have found a 'sign' that sidetracking is occurring; and it is when my ego gets into gear.  The ego is merely an absence of Love and Light at a given moment.  If I am getting angry, anxious, or fearful it is of the ego and it is a moment of not operating from the Presence of Light.  If I get prideful or enthralled with a compliment, again it is a moment of not operating from the Presence of Light.  It is then time to take a deep breath, enter into silence, and pray for the 'Spirit of Truth' to enter my being to show me the way back to Love and Light.

During every moment of attaching onto a form, whether it be Quaker tradition, human reasoning and planning, Christianity, Quakerism, an obsession with Jesus, a label for God, whatever - I have ceased using that form as a temporary tool and have crossed into idolatry. Idolatry keeps us from seeing and seeking 'that of God' in others if they don't also bow down to our same idol.  And I find myself in that idolatrous state many times in a single day.  Idolatry is nothing more than an ego-attachment to an outward form instead of our spirit's attachment to our true Source.  I think this is what the earliest Friends were speaking about when they were suspicious of "reasoning", because they knew how insidious our ego thoughts are as they seduce us into idolatry, and therefore away from 'Light and Love'.

Comment by Diane Benton on 10th mo. 31, 2015 at 3:07pm

Howard, I appreciate your words.  They were understandable and inspiring to me.

Comment by Keith Saylor on 10th mo. 31, 2015 at 3:13pm
Thank you Howard.

In Light and Love,
Keith

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