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.

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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

God as a Weaving Pattern | Quaker faith and Practice

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.

-William G Sewell, 1946 (Source: 27.16 | Quaker faith and practice)

Moving Into Interfaith Leadership

978-080703362-3I 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?

I read the book with personal and professional interest. Continue reading Moving Into Interfaith Leadership

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

Poverty, Empire and The Bible: Reading the Bible Off-Center (an online study)

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Last night about 35 people from around the Greensboro area gathered at First Friends Meeting to begin a conversation around how we can read and re-read the Bible in ways that not only pays attention to our own privileges and biases we take to the text but the lenses and experiences that the text brings to us. We are reframing our reading based ideas from Miguel A. De La Torre’s “Reading the Bible from the Margins“and Wes Howard-Brooks’ “Come Out My People.”

Because the interest in this study extended beyond those who can physically attend the four Thursdays in October we intend to meet, I made an online component to the class using trello.

You can follow along with the Poverty, Empire and The Bible: Reading the Bible Off-Center study by clicking here.

On this page you will find downloads and readings, and will also have the opportunity to comment back and forth with others in the class throughout the week.

If you are unaccustomed to using trello here is where you should start with the class.

Continue reading Poverty, Empire and The Bible: Reading the Bible Off-Center (an online study)

Being bilingual in Quaker Outreach (Guest Post Robin Mohr)

noun_419930_cc.pngThis is a guest post from my good friend and General Secretary of FWCC Section of the Americas, Robin Mohr, following up on a talk she gave at the Emerging Practices in Quaker Outreach from NEYM.


 

How many of you speak another language? Meaning, raise your hand if you speak Spanish, French, Quechua, Mandarin, whatever, even a little bit.

How many other languages do we speak? In various parts of life, you may speak several languages as needed. There’s a specialized jargon for fashion, for sports, for medicine, at school, for young people, for people who were young in the 60s. Do you think that today, in the United States, there are separate languages for women and men? What about people from different economic or social classes ? African American and White people? Urban and rural, for business people, social workers and students? What are some other examples of different languages you speak? How many of you feel like you speak Cat? Or Baby?

As we go through life, we all learn many languages. Have you thought about it that way before? How often in your daily life do you encounter people who speak different languages because they have different beliefs, culture or social or economic differences? For many of us, we cross these “boundaries” between people daily. For others, this experience occurs rarely and it’s a big deal. Continue reading Being bilingual in Quaker Outreach (Guest Post Robin Mohr)

Brother’s K, Liturgy and Broken People

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Old Truck and Shed via Flickr

 

“But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.” (Revelation 12:11)

The work of the People

One of the signs of a true artist is a willingness to work patiently and lovingly with even the most inferior materials. -David James Duncan

David James Duncan’s novel “The Brother’s K,” is about a family that lives in Camas, WA. The place where I pastored for 6 years before moving to Greensboro. Papa, one of the main characters in the book, is a paper mill worker who has gone semi-professional in Baseball. He does fairly well as a pitcher for his team until he has his thumb crushed in an accident at the mill.

Consequently, he falls into depression and begins to abuse substances. So in an attempt to regain ground and find some life he builds a shed in the backyard where he begins practicing his pitching again. Continue reading Brother’s K, Liturgy and Broken People