“We” Is the Most Important Word – William Barber

“‘We’ is the most important word in the social justice vocabulary. The issue is not what we can’t do, but what we CAN do when we stand together. With an upsurge in racism/hate crimes, criminalization of young black males, insensitivity to the poor, educational genocide, and the moral/economic cost of a war, we must STAND together now like never before.”

Source: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

 

Listening and Acting In Quaker Communities

There is so much back and forth on Quaker process. So many jokes. So many who easily dismiss it because it “takes a long time.” And outcomes are all that REALLY matter. (I have plenty of examples of Quakers being faithful quickly, taking challenging stands, going against the flow of the status quo in costly ways, and being truly led by the Present Teacher that I have personally witnessed in my own life). My hope is that we can get past these dismissals and learn or re-learn what it means to truly be guided by the Spirit of Life in our meetings, yearly meetings and institutions. My hope is that we will not miss out on the opportunity that faithful meeting for worship for business has given us so many times in the past and present. I think that we sometimes dismiss it because we don’t know it, or understand it, aren’t committed to it, think it’s weird, have experienced it done in wrong or even painful ways, or we are even afraid of it.

I love what Dorsey says here about process vs. outcome and I think she is spot on. I like that she says:

“It’s not what to figure out what everybody thinks will work, it is what we feel led to do as a group.”

“We are looking for, ‘What are we supposed to do here?'”

Process is so important, but even the word “process” reduces down what is actually happening when we sit and listen for God’s guidance together. Words and phrases like surrender, vulnerability, holding my tongue, breathing, paying attention, joining, “yes and…” and revolution, dear God help us, what is it we are missing here, when I think of what happens in the expectant waiting.

In my estimation there are at least three things that make our decision-making difficult today: First, we are not all coming from the same place theologically and we lack a shared understanding of the practice itself. A second is that we are often all working as individuals trying to get the best and most pragmatic idea lobbied for rather than recognizing that we are individuals listening together for the One Voice. It is easy to lack the wherewithal to be patient enough to wait for it and brave enough to act on it when it comes. Third, it is easy to forget that Listening and Action are inextricably linked. I’m not sure if “Quaker process” exists where this chain is broken. If all that is happening is listening with no action, then we are paralyzed by fear or “failure of nerve” or we are just stuck. But this is not “Quaker process.” And if all we do is act all the time than we are just working from a reactive and shallow place.

My hope and prayer is that we will have enough curiosity, wherewithal, and courage to be a people who listen and act.

Connecting Learning to Tradition

There is an interesting article on how various people find themselves studying religion in the NY Times today. In the article, they talk about how attaching religious conversation and shared language to a tradition helps create a place to build community and that it is keeping these things connected that is one of the gifts and challenges of education today:

Within higher education, divinity programs often stand apart from the cult of relativism in the liberal arts and the utilitarian emphasis in professional schools focusing on business and law, for example.

“If you were simply looking for the skills, you might go to the Kennedy School of Government,” said the Rev. Dudley C. Rose, the associate dean for ministry studies at Harvard. “And philosophy and liberal-arts fields have given up on the project of finding a moral language, an articulation of values. That language isn’t found in many places. And when you find it, it’s not easy to abstract it. You have to connect it to a tradition.”

Source: Secular, but Feeling a Call to Divinity School

What Rose is suggesting has been given up at other institutions, I see as taking place at a school like Guilford College, where I now work. I think the tension is being held between these differing fields at Guilford. There is a diversity of religion and non-religious expressions, but students come together in various ways, learning how to articulate moral language and values or working out in deeper ways what they already come with, that are connected to the Quaker tradition (or challenge it). Of course, not every class does this explicitly, but my sense so far is that the campus as a whole tries to embody this grounding in tradition in ways that make the school rather unique within the landscape of offerings.

Convergent Model of Renewal: Discussion Guide and Sketchnotes (Chapter 3)

Daniels_AConvergentModelofRenewal_01193_copyWe are doing a discussion at Camas Friends Church on my book, “A Convergent Model of Renewal.” This week is chapter three, which covers what we can learn from participatory culture.

I am posting the sketchnotes and  discussion questions here each week for anyone who would like to download them and use them. Feel free to share and dispense however that makes sense as usual things are shared here under the creative commons 4.0 “share and share alike” designation. Continue reading Convergent Model of Renewal: Discussion Guide and Sketchnotes (Chapter 3)

A Fantastic, Participatory, Quaker Meeting

 

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. (John 15:12–15)

Fantastic Mr. Fox

 

The third strength I see is that you are a participatory Quaker meeting (See First and Second Here).

Before I talk a little about what it means to be participatory, I want to say something about what it is not.

One of my favorite stories is the story about the Fantastic Mr. Fox. In the story, Mr. Fox, who is the fantastic one, would steal either a “plump Chicken from Boggis, a goose from Bunce, or a nice turkey from Bean.” And every evening these three farmers could never catch him for Mr. Fox was a clever and fantastic fox.

If you know the story then you know that what transpires between the protagonist and these crooked farmers is an epic battle. Armed with machinery and weapons the three farmers matched by the wits of Mr. Fox and the other animals. First the farmers dig up Mr. Fox’s home in the ground with shovels, then they get great big tractors and dig deeper into the ground, pushing Mr. Fox and his family further underground. The more Fox and the other animals escape the more “wild with rage” the farmers become.

First the farmers dig up Mr. Fox’s home in the ground with shovels, then they get great big tractors and dig deeper into the ground, pushing Mr. Fox and his family further underground. The more Fox and the other animals escape the more “wild with rage” the farmers become.

[Slide] Boggis, Bunce, and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean!
These menacing crooks
So different in looks
Are nonetheless equally mean!

Continue reading A Fantastic, Participatory, Quaker Meeting

Snakes on a pole or The Rut That I Love (John 3:13-21)

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:14–18 NRSV)

This morning I want to address the question: what is salvation? How are we to think about this work, especially in the context of what this famous little passage is saying?

Three images: * Healing * Connection and * Light

Healing

First, let’s begin this message about salvation and the love of God with something that seems unrelated: a snake on a pole.

[Read John 3:14–15]

This is connected to an obscure Old Testament reference – that I assume you all have memorized – where Moses is told by God to:

“Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.” (Numbers 21:8–9) Continue reading Snakes on a pole or The Rut That I Love (John 3:13-21)