Archives For Quaker

Diversity

For decades people have been prophesying about American Christianity’s demise. Church attendance is dropping, our culture is becoming increasingly immoral and the president is probably the Antichrist. Various pundits, experts and research groups have seemingly made a living predicting American Christianity’s downfall, and yet, while Christianity has become extinct in numerous parts of the world, it continues to live on—and sometimes thrive—within the United States….

There are faith communities for those who are conservative or liberal, egalitarian or complementarian, Calvinist or Armenian, traditional or modern, young or old, Norwegian or Cuban—you get the point. We often view are differences as a bad thing, as a sign of disunity and mistrust, but we serve as a sort of system of checks and balances. American Christianity is a beautiful patchwork of unique characteristics, all united in Christ, challenging each other, holding each other accountable and complementing our various strengths and weaknesses.

SOURCE: The Six Best Things About ‘American’ Christianity | Stephen Mattson.

I am a very strong believer that what makes the U.S. so unique is our diversity. Most of us celebrate our differences without attacking others who think differently than we do. I firmly believe that our ability to do just that is what make for our longevity as a democratic country. I am in awe of our founding fathers being able to create the framework to make that happen.

I celebrate diversity in most things but I have seemed to lack that facility when it comes to my spirituality. I have not been able to understand that it is also a strength when it comes to why we continue to be for the most part a nation aligned with Christian values while so many other countries are quickly falling away.

But I came to this game to have something to live/play, not something to offer/justify; to find the Teacher within, not teach others that they’re ignorant of the importance of an ideal; to belong with others united in comraderie, not divided by heritage or heredity. 

SOURCE: http://www.quakerquaker.org/profiles/blogs/the-quaker-game-of-life

Like my Quaker friend in the quote above come to this game play and not to justify my existence. I hope some of my words here are taken as teacher and not to just push my ideals on you.

Helping The Poor – Reason 2

December 29, 2013

2)      It’s Not a Sin to Be Poor

In a culture obsessed with consumerism, money is seen as the ultimate form of power and success, but it’s not a sin to be poor. For Christians, especially middle-class Westernized believers, it’s easy to assume the worst of the poor. We blame them for not working, being lazy, having drug addictions, making poor choices, and not trying hard enough.

We often equate financial worth with personal value, and we place the poor in the lowest system of our preconceived (often subconscious) human caste systems. We treat them accordingly—bad, and are continually blaming, humiliating, and shaming them through our condescending criticism, “instruction,” and judgment.

We need to remember that being poor in and of itself isn’t a sin and doesn’t make a person less valuable in the eyes of God—if only Christians could realize this.

SOURCE:  Stephen Mattson: 5 Reasons We Should Personally Help the Poor | Red Letter Christians.

This is the second post of five for reasons to help the poor as cited by Stephen Mattson.

I know the above comments are probably at the heart of many who have an ingrained prejudice against the poor. We blame them for things that at least partially are their own faults. We blame them for making poor choices that might have contributed to them being poor.

I, like many others evidently, was very turned off my Mr. Romney’s 47% comment. He basically said being poor was their own fault and we should let them stew in their own makings.  We Christians far too easily treat the poor as if their sins are somehow worse than ours and that therefore they don’t deserve grace from us or society at large.  Being firmly entrenched in the Quaker belief that there is the light of God in each and every one of us, I do my best to realize that being poor is not a sin and even if it were we should forgive that sin as God forgives ours.  After all isn’t the phrase “forgive us our sins as we forgive others” found in the Lord’s prayer applicable today as it was two thousand years ago.  It is about time we started living up to that pledge we recite so often.

To Be a Christian….

December 12, 2012

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To be like Christ is to be a Christian  - 1718   William Penn’s last words  

Although I have never attended a meeting I feel quite close to the Society of Friends known as Quakers. They are so throughly grounded in “being” a Christian instead of just proclaiming a set of beliefs.  To see William Penn’s last words here it is obvious that he was a faithful Quaker.

Eternal Peace…

November 18, 2012

Several years ago I came across a small book entitled Quaker Spirituality – Selected Writings. I’m still not sure what made me pause on the title but I am glad I did. Inside that book was an essay by Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941) talked about the “Eternal Presence”. I didn’t know it then but this essay put me on the path to learning much more about Quakers. It gave me the most complete understanding of who God was that I have ever had in my life up to that point.

Here are some of the words from that essay. I am just going to give you bits an pieces but enough to get its message across:

Continue Reading…

Here is a letter from my Quaker friends at AFSC that I thought you might be interested in. If enough of us speak out we might just be able to force some of the politicians to actually do some of the things that they campaign on. :)

If you want to sign this petition click on this link   https://afsc.org

God’s Dwelling Place

February 26, 2012

Source: God’s Dwelling Place – QuakerQuaker.

There is no such thing as a sense of integrity that acknowledges the measure of light I have within me while at the same time ignoring the corresponding light within my neighbor. As that light is as constant within him or her as it is within me, there is no reasonable way or appropriate time to withhold the integrity my neighbor deserves as much as me. Nor are we to be honest and truthful with some and not with others because of such vain differences as race, gender, age, income, and sexual orientation. God dwells in a wide variety of places.

These words from the QuakerQuaker blog site truly inspire me. They are from David Madden who is a regular  blogger there and one I have come to quote quite often. As David says it does me no good to acknowledge God’s light in me if I am ignoring the light within my neighbor. Being what David suggests here is a very difficult thing. We all grow up and for the most part pick up our parents prejudices in life. This practice naturally tends to separate us from those around us. Most of these prejudices are founded on making us more noble (you choose the word) than our neighbor.

We must all understand that as David said, God dwells in a wide variety of places. I must quit thinking that I have the light and ignore the light in my fellow human beings who I encounter on a daily basis. A few posts ago I mentioned that I tend to now see people I don’t know with an eye of skepticism instead of  first looking for the light of God in them. I need to do a better job of rubbing this practice out my life. We are all God’s children, even those “smelly” ones we have to occasionally step over while going from here to there, and we should all treat each other as God intended. Contrary to what some of my Christian friends say, particularly the Calvinists among us, He put his light in each of us, not just a selected few. When we kill or otherwise cause the death of anyone on this earth we are extinguishing a part of God’s light before its time.

Thanks David for your enlightening words..

This Life or the Afterlife??

February 15, 2012

Source: This Life or the Afterlife – QuakerQuaker.

I don’t spend much time worrying about where I will be after I die. Instead I try to spend my time just concentrating on the words of Jesus as found in my Bible.  By his words he shows us how to live a God pleasing life. Yes, in spite of what several current Christian denominations say, I believe it is possible to please God by doing, or at least trying to do, what he told us to do. God, unlike what some say, does not just view us as worthless pieces of snot who can do nothing good in our lives.  Jesus didn’t spend over thirty years on this earth simply waiting for his death; he spent it teaching us how he wants us to behave. Jesus spoke many more words about living life here on earth than he did about heaven/hell or the afterlife. Our job while we are here on earth is to do what he taught us. He will take care of everything when our life here is completed.

So, I just don’t worry much about what happens when I leave this earth. I leave that up to God. He told us not to worry about the future or fret about the past but to live in the present. So, when I ran across this blog post I was pleased to see that someone else has the same thoughts and as usual he is a Quaker. Here are some words from his post. Click the source above to see the entire post.

For Quakers, however, it’s not an entirely unreasonable theory. For starters, unlike most other religious traditions, Christian or otherwise, we spend very little time either imagining or worrying about the afterlife. We’re much more concerned with what is happening in the here and now and tend to work very earnestly towards achieving the peaceable kingdom in this life. We’re reluctant to define “God” but strive very hard to be in His/Her/Its presence. Most Quakers of my acquaintance cheerfully acknowledge that they just don’t know what happens next. No seventy-seven virgins for us or Pearly Gates, or, for that matter, hellfire and brimstone. Personally, the furthest I am prepared to go is to claim that whatever the afterlife consists of is utterly beyond the very limited comprehension of our earthbound selves, but that there is a “rightness” about it that totally transcends the picayune worries and concerns and preoccupations of our individual pre-death selves. In fact, I would be deeply disappointed if in my current very limited human state I could imagine anything close to whatever it is.

I like the words “we’re reluctant to define “God”. Many spend much time trying to imagine what heaven is going to be like or dreading hell. I don’t think I can even imagine either one and I’m not going to worry about that fact. I will leave it up to God to determine whether I measure up and where I will spend an eternity. All I can do is try to live as he taught us and put my fate in his hands.

The Power of Love

December 20, 2011

Thank you my Quaker brothers and sisters for being the conscience of Christ where so many others won’t.

One Minute for Peace…..

August 31, 2010

If Only we in the U.S. spent even a minuscule amount of  what we spend for our wars to promote peace…

I want to direct you to a website promoting peace instead of war.  OneMinuteForPeace.org from the American Friends Service Committee. As the site states in the previous year the United States has spent over $1 trillion of military spending. That comes out to almost $2,000,000 every minute! It is sad to say but we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and many many times more to fund our wars than we do to promote peace.

The graph above from their website shows the total U.S. discretionary spending. It is shameful that our war machine takes up so much of our spending.

The AFSC is part of the Quaker faith tradition and is world famous for their peace initiatives. In fact they have received a past Nobel Peace prize for their activity. They go throughout the world helping those who are destitute and/or ravaged by wars. They are trying to raise the amount of just one minute’s U.S. military budget for those initiatives. Please consider giving them some of your resources. It is too bad that small organizations like the AFSC must do the bulk of the peacemaking work when so much is spent of war and destruction.

I find it amazing that many in government say we are spending our grandchildren into poverty while at the same time putting the biggest budget item in the “no cuts” category. It saddens me more to know that so many people who call themselves Christian seem to celebrate that fact. If only we in the U.S. had even a small fraction of our passion for peace that we seem to have for war we could indeed call ourselves our brother’s keeper.

And the journey goes on….