Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
When people ask me what made me consider Quakerism two years ago, I tell them that I followed G-d to the Meetinghouse near my home in nothern Illinois. And with that straightforward response, people nod and smile appreciatively. Of course, the complete story is significantly more complicated than “G-d told me to”. I have since tried to think of a more visual way to illustrate just how complex my journey with G-d has been. Consider this:
Imagine yourself sitting in a massive room alone. You’re waiting for…something. As a matter of fact, you’re not even aware that you’re waiting for that something. That’s just how lost and oblivious you really are. Suddenly, you notice a trail of crumbs of your favorite dessert leading out of the massive room and around a mysterious corner. Realizing just how starved you really were, you collect (and quickly devour) these crumbs as you follow this bizarre trail. As you turn the corner, you enter another room and are greeted with more of this delicious dessert and a group of people warmly smiling and welcoming you.
That is how I found Quakerism. I’m still working on the imagery but it’s a start. And yet, I’m not completely satisfied with this seemingly happy ending. Quakerism has been much more to me than a room full of yummy food and the people I love. I am in the process of becoming a member of a Religious Society that is struggling with how to define itself. As a result, I must question how I view myself. As I’ve fallen even deeper in love with G-d, I find myself unable to really describe what it means for me to be a Quaker. Does Quaker imply Christian? What would that even mean? I’m in the process of finishing up a semester of one of my favorite undergraduate classes on the New Testament. One of the most beautiful and frustrating aspects of Christianity that I learned in the class is that it is a living religion with a long history of diverse strands of thought pertaining to the nature of Christ. Such is the dilemma before me. Who is Christ to me? If my most intimate interactions with the Divine involve this Spirit which I call G-d then how does Christ factor in? Is there a difference between Christ and G-d? Finally, if all of these questions revolve around petty struggles with man-made schemas and terminology to describe Something as Transcendent and Beautiful as the Divine, then why all of the discussion around the “dangers of universalism”?