New Quaker Studies Publications Out

Looks good. Feeling proud. #quakerstudies

For those of you following this blog, I wanted to share with you two recent publications that I’ve worked on this past year in case you have interested in finding out more about them.

Quaker Studies: An Overview: The Current State of the Field Authors: C. Wess Daniels, Robynne Rogers Healey and Jon R. Kershner

Link to the publisher’s page

The first is a book co-authored with two other Quaker scholars, Jon Kershner and Robynne Rogers Healey. The three of us are associate editors on a 6 year project through Brill Publishing on Quaker Studies. We are working with editors Stephen Angell and Pink Dandelion on this this series, which is going to be quite amazing with some new and emerging Quaker scholars in the mix. I’m very excited about it. This initial book is an introduction to the series. Robynne, Jon, and I each introduce a pretty comprehensive look at the work within Quaker studies up until now in each of our respective areas: history, theology, and sociology. Continue reading New Quaker Studies Publications Out

Witnesses by Peggy Morrison

This morning we enjoyed an beautiful Easter sunrise service next to the lake on the campus of Guilford College. We had a bonfire going, read the Gospel of John’s account of the resurrection, enjoyed singing together, and shared in some silence as well. We had students, staff, faculty and members of the surrounding community join us. I found the time to be quite enriching. For the service, I asked a student if she’d be willing to read this passage from Peggy Morrison’s book, La Flambeau: School of Driving, called Witnesses. It’s powerful and worth sharing in its entirety here (with permission).

Witnesses by Peggy Senger Morrison

There are some things I was taught as a child to understand literally that I no longer understand that way. I do not think Noah got polar bears onto a boat. I do not think that all this magnificent Creation around us was made in just seven, 24-hour days. But some things –some very important things –I do still understand that way.

I do believe that He was resurrected. Bodily, on the third day. I will always believe this. For many reasons-but foundationally, fundamentally, deal-breakingly, because I will not betray the women.

All the Gospels say that Magdalene and a few other women were the first witnesses. Mark, the first writer, says that they were not believed. Matthew leaves that little shame out. John inserts Peter, and most likely himself, into the story; he does not mention incredulity.

Luke tries to make amends. Luke is interesting. Tradition says he was a physician in Antioch. Tradition says that Antioch is where Mary, His mother, fled. Luke has stories, like the birth story, that are women’s stories. Luke says this: “Their words seemed like non-sense (idle tales) and they believed them not.” They were not legal witnesses –no woman was. What a betrayal that must have seemed! –Or maybe they were just used to it. The eleven must have felt embarrassed a short time later. I hope they apologized.

Well, I guess some of them did. Mark put it into the story. Matthew and John seemed to want to forget –it would have been so easy to forget, to erase. But Luke was not letting them get away with it. He put the radical, ground-shaking witnesses in the story, and he documented the shame of their brothers. If you were cleaning up a myth to make people look good, you would take that bit out. The fact that Luke leaves it in, rings true. It is making amends, which always comes out of a place of truth.

Others could have erased it later. But no one did. Not the first tellers of the “story, or the first writers, or the successive copiers. The Nicene Council Patriarchs all –chose to believe the women, and document their witness and leave in the shame. For two millennia, no Pope or Patriarch, no potentate or preacher, no man has been able to wipe those women out of the story. No one has had the nerve. Until lately. It has become fashionable to doubt miracles. But to do so, you must discredit the reporters of the miraculous.

I will not discredit the voice of Magdalene, nor her spiritual mothers and sisters. I will not stand with the unbelieving brothers, the skeptics. I will not turn them into metaphor, or allegory, or hagiography. I will not let my modernist sensibilities blackball their words in shadow –less than other words, even the words of the Master. I won’t make them smaller. Their part has been shrunk enough already. I won’t discount them; they are already a bargain.

I know what it is like to not be believed when telling the Gospel Truth. I also know what it is like to create metaphor, and allegory, and hagiography. I have told tales and sold nonsense. I, a story teller, know the difference.

These women told the most important truth ever told. And if their witness is discounted in my presence, I will not be silent.

Because I believe them. Quite literally.

Purchase Peggy’s Book “Le Flambeau” here.

Originally posted to her blog: http://sillypoorgospel.blogspot.com/2013/03/witnesses.html

New Essay on The Speed of Group Discernment

View story at Medium.com

I’ve posted a longer essay on the process of group discernment and some of the things that help move group discernment forward and some of the things that get in the way and keep it from moving along smoothly. This essay is over on my medium blog.

Here is an excerpt:

…When it comes down to thinking about a way forward on a decision, people are expected to distinguish between “principle and preference.”

During a meeting for business the clerk would often remind Friends to consider whether the concerns they were raising were a matter of preference or principle. This is not always easy to do and requires a good amount of ego work. But when I am honest with myself, when I have the good of the community at the forefront of my mind, then I am usually able to adjudicate between the two.

I know difference between saying something like, “We can’t stop doing that, that’s my favorite…” and, “If we did that it would radically change the nature of how we interact with that community and we made a commitment to them when we…” One is rooted in a narrative where my wants and desires and I am the center, the other is rooted in a narrative where our community’s needs or another community’s needs or God’s own calling is at the center.

Usually, in a community that cares for one another, when someone shares a preference, the rest know so, and are able to address it gently, sometimes in that Meeting, sometimes in other, appropriate settings. The same is true for principle. I have been in meetings where I have heard someone share a matter of principle that went against what I wanted. As I reflected on what the Friend said, I realized that what I wanted was a preference that did not rise to the level of a principle and so I needed to step back; I came to a place where I was able to say, “At the end of the day, if I am being honest with myself, this is only my preference and therefore I am able to let it go.

View story at Medium.com

Upcoming Trip to FCNL Meeting in November

I’ll be heading to the FCNL Annual Meeting in November and will be speaking on Sunday morning. I’m looking forward to the time and meeting folks who are a part of that great organization.

Here is a post I wrote for their blog in preparation for our time together there. It is largely about the examples and importance of Quakers holding together both our political and spiritual commitments and that these not need be mutually exclusive. Here’s the post:

Renewing Spiritual Strength, Reinvigorating Our Political Imagination

Convergent Friends  on The “Quaker Faith & Podcast”

MacKenzie Morgan, also known as “Maco” online, of the Quaker Faith & Podcast interviewed me while she was in Greensboro at Guilford College this past week for the Friends Association of Higher Education Conference. I had a lot of fun chatting with MacKenzie about Convergent Friends, Remix and Participatory Culture. If you have a few minutes you might enjoy listening in. And if you have a few more minutes, check out the other episodes that she and Micah Bales have put together.

Episode 11: Convergent Friends

Find more episodes here.

Revelation at Great Plains Yearly Meeting

This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to Great Plains Yearly Meeting, gathered in Wichita, KS to speak about the book of Revelation. The yearly meeting itself was a lovely and joyous gathering, they welcomed new meetings into their group, celebrate past members, and besides getting business done, they had a lot of laughter and celebration. It was quite the joy to worship with GPYM this year.

Below are some links for follow up resources for the people who attended this year’s gathering.

Revelation Resources:

Here is a link to the handouts, sketches and some other material that is useful background knowledge on the book of Revelation.

Talk #1: Revealing Empire

Talk #2: The Four Themes of Revelation 

For Further Reading:

Blogposts and sermons from my blog – Link

Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenze – Revelation: Vision for a Just World

Wes Howard Brook and Anthony Gwyther – Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now

Daniel Berrigan – The Nightmare of God

James Alison – Raising Abel

Rene Girard – The Scapegoat

Continue reading Revelation at Great Plains Yearly Meeting

The Challenge of “Truth” – Part 2

Revisioning
Photo Credit – Eric Muhr

This is the second of a three-part post on whether or not Quakers can be “Publishers of Truth” today. In this series I want to talk about how I think early Quakers understood what it meant to be “publishers of truth” in earlier years (Part 1), just a couple challenges we face when it comes to a conversation about “truth” as Friends in 2017 (Part 2), and what it might look like for us to have a new the nursery of truth and be “Publishers of the pert near true” today (Part 3).*

Truthiness In All Its Beauty

In this second part, let’s look at what some of the challenges are to having a new emergence of publishers of truth today. I see at the very least three:

  1. Polarizations
  2. Whose Truth?
  3. The Role of Fantasy

Let’s take each in turn.

Polarizations

First, when we look at contemporary culture we have a serious truth problem. As I was preparing for this presentation, I was thinking back through some of the ways in which truth has been used, hijacked, and manipulated recently.

Revisioning_the_Nursery_of_Truth.jpg

The most current examples are around fake news and alternative facts. Algorithms within social media make it easy for folks to be stuck within cloisters and once we’re mostly surrounded by people who look, think and feel like us, it is very easy to control a narrative with memes and other newsy-looking blog posts and articles that are really fake news.

Fake news is bad enough, but when you reinforce it with a sense of community, where everyone you know is consuming the same kind of messages you get the potential for quickly spreading falsehoods and dangerous behavior. Continue reading The Challenge of “Truth” – Part 2