Mike Huber on Authority, Conflict, and Love in Quaker Contexts

I am busting at the seams wanting to share this message from Mike Huber, the pastor of West Hills Friends in Portland, Oregon, who preached a really important and timely message on Quaker conflict with authority and love. I am a regular listener of their Sunday morning podcast (iTunes), but this has to be one of the most powerful messages I have heard on this topic. It’s worth listening to multiple times as I have done myself.

Here are some key excerpts that I have transcribed myself from the audio, please forgive any errors in that process.

Quakers Challenging Outward Authority

This is what it feels like being a Quaker to us when we get to use our inward authority to challenge some outward authority. We love it! We want to challenge the outward authority of earthly powers…you know who I am talking about. We feel like Quakers when we confront polluters, corporate criminals, and bullies of every kind. We want to take them down. Not using violence but using the power of our inward authority, we want to confront them and we want to shatter their sense of complacency in their own authority by revealing on a deeper authority that undermines the very things that they are saying. We love this as Quakers. This is the script we want to follow.

And it is a pretty good script. We’ve done some pretty good things with it.

But the danger is because we love this script so much we can decide to use it on one another.

Continue reading Mike Huber on Authority, Conflict, and Love in Quaker Contexts

To Publish “Truth?”

I was asked to speak at Quakers United in Publications earlier this month at the beautiful Penn Center on St. Helena’s Island in South Carolina. It was a lovely road-trip south and a nice time seeing friendly faces. I was glad for the opportunity to spend some time thinking and writing on the question they posed:

Are Quakers Still Publishers of Truth?

I took the challenge because I have been thinking about this subject since Peggy Morrison, Kathy Hyzy and I put on a weekend retreat we called “The Nursery of Truth” a few years back.

nursery-banner

Initially, the question brought up more questions:

  • What is an obligation to publish truth when others are disinterested or don’t care?
  • What does it mean to publish truth when we do not lay claim to another’s theological tradition or practice?
  • And of course, what does it mean to speak of truth? How is it anchored in a community of practice? How is truth experienced? What does it look like? Who gets to decide what truth is?
  • How does truth get understood in today’s political and cultural climate where we easily turn a blind-eye to “alternative facts,” and outright lies from leaders in every arena?
  • Are there ways in which we might apprentice people within our faith tradition(s) to the truth? Are there ways in which we can learn from the past in rebuilding some kind of “nursery of truth?”
  • Finally – What role does our understanding of truth play in the ongoing disagreements and fracturing of our faith communities?

Continue reading To Publish “Truth?”

Rethinking Productivity and Vocation

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I am certainly a sucker for productivity blogs, podcasts, and books. I’m sure it feeds into all kinds of aspects of my identity and anxieties, not to mention being a 3 on the Enneagram. While I think that it can be good to set goals and be organized enough to get the key things done you are responsible for, I see the underside of this tendency as well, which can be very much about feeling inadequate, like a failure or that you never measure up. When a life is shaped primarily by what it can produce, then it is bound to get caught in a cycle of scarcity. Inasmuch as productivity is primarily about achieving something outside myself, something I don’t yet have, then getting the carrot at the end of the stick will never be enough.

Instead, how can I begin with my identity, my true self and I am in God outside of how I am shaped by capitalist desires. Thus, I have wondered if, in late capitalism, where it seems like everything is built around personal brands, entrepreneurship, and an achievement mentality, there is any alternative way of thinking about productivity as the highest goal?

If so, this is not so much what I want, but certainly what I need. Continue reading Rethinking Productivity and Vocation

Make Your Own Discernment Flowchart

Back in February, I had the opportunity to travel back to Portland / Camas to speak at Chris Hall’s “Way of the Spirit” spiritual apprentice retreat program. I go to talk about the Bible, talk about discernment, Quakers and be in conversation with retreat goers. Some of the kinds of things I like to do.

While I was there I was reminded of my little discernment flowchart I created last June for my care committee (it’s like a personal support group for people under a particular ministry or calling). The flowchart is a pretty simple, yet fun activity of reflection one can do alone or in a group. So I thought it’d be worth sharing with others, in hopes that you find it useful as well.

Continue reading Make Your Own Discernment Flowchart

Code Switch it President Obama’s Legacy

Code switch is a podcast about race in America with some really incredible hosts. It’s worth subscribing and listening to, but this last episode where the begin a three-part series of looking at President Obama’s legacy as president, especially in regards to race and how that plays into the challenges he faced, is really on point. I can’t recommend it enough:

Rev. Barber: We Will Take Back Our Country, by Moral Means | Diane Ravitch’s blog

Diane Ravitch recently posted excerpts from an article Rev. Dr. William Barber wrote for Think Progress on December 15, 2016. If you do not know who Rev. Barber is, you should find out. He is the president of the NAACP in NC and a pastor of a church in Goldsboro, NC and wrote a book called, “The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear,” which I cannot recommend enough.

I learned about Rev. Barber a number of years ago when he helped build the Moral Monday protests, which were in response to the “extremist makeover of North Carolina’s government,” in other words, what it looks like to “take back America.” And this past spring, I had the good fortune to meet and work with Rev. Barber as we invited him to Guilford College to be our commencement speaker (video of his talk here). That was an incredible experience for me in so many ways. I admire Barber’s political insight as a community organizer and I am inspired by how it flows out of his theological commitments and analysis as a pastor and theologian. Barber is building a “fusion coalition,” rooted in a history of the fusion party in the South, of people across various issues, needs and communities, something he is working to build across the country.

Here is an excerpt of his piece via Ravitch:

When Obama broke through in North Carolina in 2008, we witnessed firsthand the whitelash that America is reeling from right now. Some folks are saying we’ll have to wait and see what a Trump administration decides to do. But we’ve already seen it in North Carolina. The blueprint for what it looks like to “take back America” in the 21st century was laid out in the extremist makeover of North Carolina’s government during the 2013 legislative session. What’s the policy agenda of Make America Great Again? I can tell you because we’ve seen it:

Give tax breaks to corporations and to the wealthy, attack public education, deny people access to health care, attack immigrants, attack the LGBTQ community in the name of “religious liberty,” strip environmental protections, and, finally, make it easier to get a gun than it is to vote….

First, we must recognize the need for indigenously led, state-based, state-government focused, deeply moral, deeply constitutional, anti-racist, anti-poverty, pro-justice, pro-labor, and transformative movement building. There’s no shortcut around this. We must build a movement from the bottom up. We must build relationships at the state level because that’s where most of the extremism of the current-day deconstructionists are happening. They see the possibility of a Third Reconstruction, which is why they’

Source: Rev. Barber: We Will Take Back Our Country, by Moral Means | Diane Ravitch’s blog

 

Mary: Revolutionary for Our Time

The Black Madonna

It is advent, a critical moment in the church calendar.

It is post-election, a critical moment in the life of the United States.

Advent is marked as a time of quiet, expectant waiting. There is hope in birth narratives of Jesus, but it is hope tempered by loss, defeat, and suffering that comes from living under a brutal imperial regime. There is no fanfare in his coming, it is noticed only by poor shepherds and Pagan Stargazers. The priests, pundits, and powerful elite were unaware.

This US election is marked by something vastly different. It unmasked the anger, pain, division, and in many cases, hatred of those ‘others’ operating as scapegoats for the US Empire. Fanfare is on order for the triumphant party, running victory laps, rallying one side over and against another. Whipping people up into a frenzy for a great return. The priest, pundits and powerful elite rejoice. Continue reading Mary: Revolutionary for Our Time