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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
The Role of Fantasy
Let’s take each in turn.
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.
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
We may picture God as weaving a pattern with the lives of men and women. We can glimpse but small fragments of the whole design; in moments of inspiration we can see more clearly, while the saints see most of all. Through it there runs a Quaker strand. It may be only a single thread but it is not insignificant, for without it the pattern would be marred. Yet that thread of itself does not make the whole design. The Society of Friends is but a part of the Christian church, and the measure of truth which it possesses may only rightly be considered in relation to the whole. The work of the Church in the world today is surely not something to be carried out in miniature by each part, but it is a mighty whole to which each should contribute according to its special gifts and strengths.
I recently read Eboo Patel’s new book, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer (2016). I’d recommend it to any student looking to go into the field of interfaith work, or any minister or religious leader trying to find ways to reorient their spiritual work in this changing religious landscape. Patel’s vision is timely and much-needed. Given the growing the misunderstandings between religious groups, the trend towards increased fundamentalism, and the reality that Christendom in the West is crumbling (or already has crumbled?), we need new ways of thinking and practicing religious life together. Patel’s book is wonderfully practical, and backed up with theory throughout that will provide plenty of background to help formulate the vision. As the head of campus ministry at the Quaker college where I work, it is clear to me that we too need a new vision for how divergent religious groups can not just coexist, but actually learn from one another, grow in partnerships, and work towards shared goals and how we help foster in our students this kind of leadership. What does it mean to have a Quaker heritage, while also having a very religiously diverse student body? What does it mean to be a person of faith in these times, especially a person of faith from a nondominant religious tradition?