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.

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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?”

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

Quakerism 101: A Very Basic Introduction with Suggested Readings

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Earlier this week there was a conversation on Twitter that pointed out two realities that we are seeing a lot within Western (and often more “liberal-Liberal”) Quakerism: a) that Quakerism is viewed primarily in the secular West as non-religious; and b) that even within Quaker meetings there is so little religious education that many do not get anything to help in framing the Quaker tradition differently Quakerism in any way other than a morally-based, secular practice.

As someone said on Twitter today, they always thought of it less as a religion and more of a flavor. This is not an uncommon view among many Quakers. I have witnessed the latter problem within Programmed and Evangelical Quaker meetings as well: the lack of Religious education – as it pertains to understanding and framing the Quaker tradition (history, theology and practice) both as it was understood and how it is made manifest within Quaker meetings today, worldwide.

Therefore, I wanted to offer a short reading list with some basic background to the Quaker tradition here in hopes of helping those who are getting started out and want to know more about the history, beliefs, and practice of the Religious Society of Friends. I hope that this list can be of use in folks’ quest to make their understanding and practice of Quakerism more rich, more full, and more critical. I believe that there is a push to make us lose our robust religious language in favor of a very safe religious language that will not challenge the imperial powers, that will not challenge the ego of self, that will not lay us open before Love or call truth to power. We have much to learn from and grow into. I hope what is offered can help give you but a taste.

Continue reading Quakerism 101: A Very Basic Introduction with Suggested Readings

A Concise Sermon on the Mount by Peggy Morrison

We currently have this up on the white board at Friends Center and we’ve been discussing it in various groups. It has generated a lot of good conversation and it seemed right to share it here with all of you. It is from my good friend, Peggy Morrison.

A Concise Sermon on the Mount

The down will be up – 5:3-12

You are supposed to be effective –5:13

You are supposed to be noticed – 5:14-16

Don’t do it to be noticed – 6:1-8,6:16-18

Perfection= inside and out the same – 5:17-28

Make peace – 5:23-26

Get rid of whatever traps you – 5:29-30

Give without limits – 5:38-42

Tell the truth – all the time – 5:33-37

Love without Limits – 5:43-47

Pray – simply and often – 6:9-13

Forgive – 6:14-15

Trust – it is the anxiety killer – 6:19-34

Don’t judge-

It makes you look stupid and hypocritical – 7:1-6

Ask persistently – 7:7-11

Treat People right – 5:31-32, 7:12

This is simple but not easy – 7:13

You may have to do it alone – 7:14

Don’t be fooled by imposters – 7:15-20

Act on what you know – 7:21-23

It is a foundation that will not fail – 7:24-29

-Jesus (via Peggy Morrison)

 You can download a .PDF of this here: A Concise Sermon On the Mount.

Building a Participatory Pedagogy

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Given my love for teaching, and my forced time off this winter semester, a time I would typically be teaching, and the various teaching opportunities I have with Camas Friends, I have been reflecting a lot on what it means for me to be an educator. I want to share some of the key building blocks I am using as I try and build participatory pedagogy.  I see three main areas of a participatory pedagogy being: the Quaker tradition, participatory culture, and liberation theology.

All learners are learners within a tradition; apprentices participating in the learning of particular skills, dispositions, vocabulary, practices and styles of thinking and ways of constructing arguments. Therefore, I see myself as an apprentice within the Quaker tradition, seeking to educate other apprentices. Every large-scale tradition has had to develop its own modes of inquiry as it seeks embody its particular arguments in the world. For instance, the Quaker argument that “Christ has come to teach the people himself” becomes for Friends an argument that our ongoing tradition contends for. If Christ has indeed come to teach the people himself then what kind of community must we be? How must we be formed and informed? What are the practices and dispositions a community needs to participate in in order to live into the reality that Christ has come?

Continue reading Building a Participatory Pedagogy

A Hidden Wholeness Chapter 2 – Sketchnotes

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Over the next ten weeks or so we at Camas Friends Church are working through Parker Palmer’s book, “A Hidden Wholeness: A Journey Toward an Undivided Life.”

I will continue to post our discussion guides and the sketchnotes here for those who may be interested in using them for your own study or small group discussions.

Here is a link to the full sketchnotes for Chapter 2: Across the Great Divide.

Here is a link to the discussion guide.

If either are helpful to you, feel free to download, reuse, or remix however you like.

 

Meeting is a Muscle: Teaching Worship To Children / Chad Stephenson

Children Meeting for Worship / Photo PYM

This is a guest post written by Chad Stephenson a Quaker from San Francisco. It is a response to the Friends Journal article “Bringing Children to Worship” and my follow-up article found here. This article comes largely from Chad’s work with children as a librarian as the San Francisco Friends School. He’s a good friend of mine and I’ve always appreciated his insights and thoughts, I think you’ll find the same is true for what he’s written here.

Continue reading Meeting is a Muscle: Teaching Worship To Children / Chad Stephenson