Hi Everyone, I’m so excited to announce that my new EBook from Barclay Press on the book of Revelation is now out. It is available through Amazon.com. Check it out!
I was re-watching The Last Jedi with the family yesterday and the scene with Yoda and Luke at the Sacred Tree with all the old texts hit me like a ton of bricks. Yoda is totally convergent, wanting to see the tradition renewed and remixed, while Luke is seen here clinging to “traditionalism.” This reveals an interesting twist, that often it is the one student who believes they are the ones with the responsibility of protecting tradition who turn out to be guilty of leading it towards a slow death. Luke is rebuked here by Yoda as essentially policing/protecting the tradition in a way that will kill it off. Yoda points out that the tradition can actually live without any of the “trimmings and trappings” that Luke has associated with it. I think this scene sums up the key ideas of a convergent model of renewal beautifully.
This past summer I decided to create a little side-project, roasting coffee and selling it at our weekly farmer’s market and online. Some of you are aware of this, but I have never announced “Fireweed Coffee” on Gathering in Light.
The purpose was to really make a creative outlet for myself, give me an opportunity to build community with folks in Greensboro, and improve my roasting skills. 5 Months later we’re going strong, selling about 13-15 pounds of coffee a week to friends, colleagues, and folks in the neighborhood. I love selling my coffee at the farmer’s market each Saturday. It gives me an opportunity to connect with folks and have fun “wearing a different hat.” One of the things I really love about this side project is that it remains creative rather than stressful, and it is a very basic, concrete thing to give someone a cup of hot coffee, see them taste it, and then have them smile because they really like it.
If you want to read more about the story behind all of this there are two places online:
- My friend and owner of the best coffee shop in GSO – The People’s Perk did an interview with me here: Small Batch Coffee Roasting Can Mean Big Flavor in Your Cup: Micro Roaster Fireweed Coffee Partners with The People’s Perk.
- And I was in our local free paper – the Triad City Beat: Fireweed, and the neutralizing power of coffee.
I came across this passage in my reading this morning and it struck me. Like so many things, this connects to some of the things I’ve been working on and thinking about these past few months. Back in January, I went to a great workshop with Soulforce on “Christian Supremacy,” and that has got me thinking a lot about where supremacy, elitism, and what Rohr calls here “sacrificial or bogus religion” play into our attitudes about ourselves and others.
“There is an early state “holiness” that looks like the real thing, but it isn’t. This is sacrificial religion, on which the scribes and Pharisees in every group pride themselves…All zealots and ‘true believers’ tend to be immensely sacrificial on one highly visible level, and fool almost everybody. ‘I sacrifice myself by obeying these laws and attending these services or even serving the poor.’ And by being more heroic than you are, they might think. Often they do not love God or others in such heroic ‘obedience,’ they are merely seeking moral high ground for themselves and the social esteem that comes with it (See Luke 18:11–12). Or as Paul puts it, ‘I can give my body to be burned, but without love, it is worth nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:3:). Most bogus religion, in my opinion, is highly sacrificial in one or another visible way, but not loving at all. Yet it fools most people. I will not dare to name names here, but you can fill in the blanks.” (Breathing Underwater – Richard Rohr – p.23–24)
As I read this, I did that really “bogus religion” thing where I first thought about who else this applies to, but as it steeps down into my bones, I can’t get away from the query: “How can I make sure I am not falling into this trap?”
In the book Breathing Underwater, where Rohr compares AA and Christian Spirituality, he points to AA as having a process to do this kind of elitism. AA does not reward this kind of “worthiness” behavior and puts everyone on equal ground, “I am an alcoholic.” With this confession of unworthiness, “Suddenly religion loses all capacity for elitism and is democratic to the bone.”
Or as Paul once said, “It is when I am weak that I am strong.”
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
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
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.
Originally posted to her blog: http://sillypoorgospel.blogspot.com/2013/03/witnesses.html
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.