Occupy and Convergent Friends

A couple of years ago I had an article published in the Quaker Studies periodical called “Convergent Friends: The Emergence of Postmodern Quakerism” that attempted to identify some of the features of convergent Friends.

Convergent Friends is a hybrid Quakerism that attempts draw together the best parts of the Quaker tradition without feeling the limitations of the plethora of binaries available within our tradition: unprogrammed/unprogrammed, bible/experience, contemplation/action, belief/practice, etc (p. 242). Further, convergent Friends are decentralized, and grassroots. The central characteristic of this group is building relationships with others, listening to one another’s stories, and sharing worship together (different styles and in different places) as a means to embodying Quakerism wherever they are. Convergent Friends is fully participatory. The cross-section between tradition and culture is the roots of this conversation: tradition is the only grounds for renewal (and innovation). Continue reading Occupy and Convergent Friends

Which Direction Are We Headed?

wemily I love traveling, I always have. One thing I have learned is that the type of journey and its destination determine what you’ll pack in your bags. If I am going on a backpacking trip in the Alleghenies (PA) and I’ll be out for 10 days, I will have to pack much differently than I would (and did) pack for a 3-day backpacking trip in Death Valley (NV).

I remember my parents throwing me and four of my siblings into our Oldsmobile station-wagon and heading south. We were on the road headed from Ohio to Alabama to visit our cousins. My parents were, at the time, considering whether or not to move down to Montgomery. As a kid this was an incredible adventure, we packed little, and didn’t really know what we’d find when we got there. And while even as a third-grader there wasn’t a whole lot about Alabama I found attractive, the road trip was fun. Looking back on it now, I am convinced, more than ever, my parents were insane. But, I have to assume, the destination and the purpose of the journey was what helped them stay focused and kept them on track. We never did end up moving to Alabama, but the trip was well worth it, at least if the goal was discerning whether or not to move there. Within a short period of time we knew the answer. Continue reading Which Direction Are We Headed?

Discernment and Remix

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at George Fox’s Chapel on my talk which was titled Tradition, Quakers and the Resurrection Community. I’ll post it here within the next day or so. In the talk I tell a little of my own story, discuss the idea of remix, and suggest that George Fox was a “DJ” in his own right, and that Quakers today might engage in a little resurrection remix of their own.

Turntable Mix

Continue reading Discernment and Remix

Queries for Discernment and Seeking

I was asked by the clerk of a committee I am on to guide worship the other day. He wanted me not to prepare a sermon but rather help prepare our hearts and minds for doing work around discernment. The point for us as a group was to hold that tension between programmed and unprogrammed, to create space for listening and silence, while allowing space to sharing out of the silence around some of the things we’re working through as a group. This of course is a tension I love to explore and experiment with and I personally feel most comfortable in these (un)programmed meetings. The evening before I worked with a couple friends on discerning some queries for our group. I really like what emerged from our preparation and thought it might be worth sharing for others who are doing discernment work or are seeking to hear God’s voice.

Here’s an outline of what we did. Continue reading Queries for Discernment and Seeking

Has Christmas Lost its Power?

snow flake bokeh christmas tree Going through Christmas this year I began to wonder if Christmas has lost it’s power as a symbol and sign in our culture today. Symbols can lose power over time and when this happens there needs to be a reformation of those symbols and signs, or a letting go of them. This is in part why early Quakers did not celebrate Christmas and other holidays, they felt that for whatever reasons it was celebrated, the signs and symbols utilized in that celebration did not connect to the actual reality of Christmas: the incarnation of God.

The history of Christmas has gone through many ebbs and flows. There are times when it has held more meaning and times when it was less important culturally and religiously. It’s not just now, it’s always been like this and for the first 300 years of the early Church they didn’t even celebrate it or call it Christmas. Continue reading Has Christmas Lost its Power?

Logging off from Facebook and Twitter

Some of you have probably noticed my absence already but last Friday I logged off of Facebook and Twitter for the month of december. Call it a digital detox, social media vacation or just plan weird but I decided I really needed a break over the advent season so that I could be fully present to my family and work at “seeing beyond.” For a couple months I have been thinking a lot about my interactions online, the time it takes up, what I learn from doing it and why I engage in online activities and I have been feeling the need to create some space from these things so that I can have a better perspective on their role in my life (I posted a recent reflection here). So there’s not much else to it. I deleted a lot of my fb and twitter apps on my computer and phone so there’s less temptation and I have a few friends who I know will let me know if they see that I’ve logged on for any reason. So far it really hasn’t been an issue. I’ve enjoyed not worrying about what’s happening online. It’s amazing the amount of mental space that stuff takes up. I’ve felt free and less tethered to my devices. And actually, being less tethered has helped me to see I don’t really need a cell phone at all (or not all the time). So my wife and I are going down to one cell phone to be kept with the car at all times. I am going to place great emphasis on getting a hold of me when I am in physical places such as my office or my home. I have had my life dominated by these things and am finding that a little distance has been very freeing. And who knows what will happen come January, I won’t worry about that until then.

Escapism and Citizenship on the Web

The web has been a good place to me. I have formed many meaningful relationships over the web, I have maintained long distance ones, and I have had the opportunity to be a part of a variety of ministry, as well as academic, events because of it. Many of these things have come through my blog Gathering in Light. But as of late, my amiable feelings have been wearing off. Some of it is related to the things I’ve been reading elsewhere, such as things related to Wendell Berry’s book “Life is a Miracle” (read here for some comments on “Creatures are not Machines” and also see this poem). Some of it has come by way of Kester Brewin who has been on a roll lately (see here and here) speaking about social media as being action without action. And finally, folks like Rhett Smith continue to help reframe the impact that social media has on our lives, especially as it pertains to families (here’s a post I found illuminating today). And to be sure, I am not making some kind of universal statement about what everyone else should be doing, this is really just about where I am at personally. But it also moves beyond what I’m reading, to seeing the impact that technology has in my day to day life. I see technology not as neutral but as formative, it forms and re-forms us according to how it works rather than the other way around. In this way it seems that I have become more an accessory to my gadgets rather than my gadgets being an extension of who I am. Given this, I have moved from full embrace to a much more critical stance as I have seen how social media has had both positive and negative effects upon my life. And so I too have shifted my thinking.

Continue reading Escapism and Citizenship on the Web