Archive for the ‘Quaker’ Category

Emptiness on Easter

It has been a wonderful week in Oregon, and we are getting ready to head back to MA very early tomorrow morning. It seems that vacation would be a good time to really write out some posts, but this one was full of time with family and friends we had not seen for some time, so the writing took a back seat.

I did want to point out two great things:

1) This article on an  emergent type of group was on the front page of The Oregonian today. It is well done!

2) Gregg’s sermon  today was powerful and right on. It was great to worship at Newberg Friends. We really miss the community here.

That is it for now! Happy Easter, and may the Lord make himself present to you today.


Random Weekend Bits

I have been delinquent this past weekend in writing! There has been so much going on that writing took the proverbial backseat, and here I am now trying to bring it back to the steering wheel. Here are some highlights from the last time I posted:

Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River, came to Gordon last Thursday to talk about the writing process, and about his book. All of the freshmen here were required to read it (I am sure that at least half of them did…) as part of the Freshmen Seminar course I (and several others) teach. While there are many other directions I would have loved for him to take, he focused his lecture on writing as entertainment, and the value it plays in entertaining the reader. One comment he made, which I can see in the development of his characters, is that entertainment is meant to expose one to the “bigger picture.” And in the exposure to the big picture, three things happen:

1) You realize how small you are

2) You realize that everyone is the same size as you

3) Your empathy and gratitude for the other is increased.

Like your novel, Mr. Enger, this is well stated and rings true.

– On Sunday, I ran the Hyannis half marathon with a friend. This was a delight not just for the completion of the task and the subsequent endorphin boost, but for the conversation that accompanied the 2-hour-each-way drive. Our conversation ranged from running to the Quaker view of sacraments – what more could there be to talk about!! – and it was a blessing to be able to wrestle with these issues as pre-race jitters overwhelmed us and post-race fatigue beset us.

(Insert soapbox) You should run! If there is one thing I am continually amazed with it is the diversity that arrives each race-day morning at the starting line. Old, young, big, little, fast, slow. It is, as my friend Heather continually describes it, the “great cloud of witnesses.” Running can feel so isolating when you hit the road by yourself or with a few friends each day, and then – boom – you show up for a race and out of the seeming woodwork come runners of all shapes and sizes. It is encouraging and it is fun. You should run! (Remove soapbox)

– New blogging friend Zach Alexander accepted my forwarded meme, something it seems he does not do often. Bravo, Zach!

AJ brought up forgotten memories in her response to the meme. Thanks, AJ. That is what old friends are for…

– Finally, I plan this week, as fellow blogger Wess has recently done, to post my reading list for the year. Feel free to send along suggestions!

More Pacifism

Cherice has continued the conversation of pacifism and its merits, and has the context of wrestling with the issue as part of a class in which she may be the lone pacifist amidst a group of just war theorists. I found the essay intriguing, but also enjoyed the comments that have followed, including the comment from the originator of the comments to which Cherice is responding.

It is interesting to note that, as my experience and Cherice’s tend to convey, that the majority of students attending seminary are strong, if not vehement, just war theorists. I am not sure that this bodes well for the church! Cherice’s interlocutor is quick to point out the main source of his just war theory is a reformed Mennonite, as if that provides the necessary validation for the topic. What of the many, as I have even learned this past week, who have converted to pacifism? Do their voices not carry at least equal weight in the conversation?

It is, to be sure, an age old conversation, and one I am glad folks are still pursuing. May it continue!

A Response to Pacifism Comments

My most recent post has drawn a lot of interest, lengthy comments, and thoughtful interaction with the issue of pacifism. It has been a delight to read your thoughts and to continue to wrestle with the issue. I did want to provide some feedback to a few of the comments, which is what follows (my comments are in bold):

Rich Accetta-Evans wrote:

Even before that, when military service was not an issue but violence was, Fox had chosen to respond to violent abuse with what we would call non-violence. I don’t have the exact quotation handy, but I recall one occasion on which he was being man-handled and turned to offer himself as a target for more blows, saying “here’s Gospel for you”, a reference to Christ’s teaching about answering evil with good.

I really like this quote, Rich. It has been fun to imagine Fox uttering this line in the face of oppression for his beliefs, and I can clearly see the conviction with which he would have uttered the line. I can clearly see how Fox used love for Christ and love for others to infiltrate everything he did and said, one of the reasons I look to him as a spiritual hero.

Will T

It is not surprising that this was a process the early Friends were making it all up as they went along. It took a while to work out all of the implications of Quakerism for daily life and it was mostly a process of seeing what God required at any given moment.

Will T, my main issue with this is that it makes the earliest forms of Quaker belief/action as reactionary and not as a life lived with firm conviction based on what the Holy Spirit was doing in their midst as individuals but also as a community gathered in Christ.

Thy Friend John

God forbid that the Quakers should make a doctrine out of pacifism! But I believe that the living Christ made a doctrine out of pacifism, and gave it to us Quakers.

Thy Friend John, this is exactly why I wrote the post originally. Doctrinal positions have historically been avoided among Quakers, and yet you insinuate it was preposterous for me make such a comment. In the same way, it seems to me the closest Christ ever came to creating “doctrine” was in the Sermon on the Mount.

kevin roberts

Does it matter whether an issue like this conforms to a modern political orthodoxy?

Kevin, thanks for your comment. I guess for me it matters because there is correlation between someone’ s faith values and the expression of those in the public sphere. So a pacifist belief, while it should not conform to modern political orthodoxy, still highly influences modern political “praxis,” at least among fellow Quakers.

Thank you all, for the time you have spent in your lives considering this issue, and your desire to share it with others. May the Lord continue to bring you peace and the rest of the world peace.

Is Pacifism a Quaker belief?

The Jerusalem and Athens Forum at Gordon College is holding a debate this year on just war theory. Since I am a Quaker (an anomaly here) I have been sought out by one student who was assigned the con side of the argument. Admittedly, I have not yet come to a solid stance on pacifism, and for a while was a bit ashamed to profess that, in fear it made me less Quaker! So, in order to have an educated conversation with this student, I have been reading up a bit from Quaker history on the subject. Continue reading

Dancing Together

I just finished It’s a Dance by Patrick Oden yesterday, and loved it. Oden uses narrative theology to begin a conversation on the emerging church’s view of the Holy Spirit. It is fresh in its approach, deep in its theology, and very readable.

The book builds nicely from chapter to chapter, and as someone interested in Church history, I love how it ends with a section from Tertullian’s writings. Doing so provides a link from the early church to the new(ish) emerging movement. Continue reading