A New Kind of Nursery of Truth – Part 3

Revisioning
Photo Credit – Eric Muhr

This is the third of a three-part series 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).*

For a quick recap, in the previous post, I suggested that those who consider themselves politically/theologically progressive can get caught in a cycle of thinking of truth as facts stripped of any emotion, narrative, or even joy. If this is anywhere near an accurate assessment then the next step is to invite you, my dear readers, to consider becoming people who utilize ethical and creative storytelling, humor and other similar methods, such as what Stephen Duncombe calls “Ethical Spectacles,” to subvert dominant narratives and to serve social justice. Telling the truth slant and or being purveyors of the “pert near true” (something that is so true that it doesn’t really matter whether it happened or not) is something that can and should be used in service for the good, just as Jesus himself exemplified.

In this final post, I want to suggest a few, very limited, ideas about what we might do to create a new kind of nursery of truth for today, where we could learn these practices together in community.

A New Nursery of Truth

How do we take all of this into account and really begin to re-envision a nursery of truth for today?

Are there ways in which we can respond to polarizations, speak into pluralistic spaces and be far more creative in our approach to truth?

If we are to be publishers of truth today (or the “pert near true” if you like), we need a nursery of truth that takes into account the many challenges we, and the people in our communities face in these times of racial injustice, religious bigotry, class struggle, and attacks on LGBTQ+ people. One that understands that any claims to truth must really be able to account for and be in solidarity with those most vulnerable.

How do we publish this truth, and more importantly live it, in ways that are effective and shape a new generation’s imagination and practice? Continue reading A New Kind of Nursery of Truth – Part 3

The Original Nursery of Truth – Part 1

Revisioning
Photo Credit – Eric Muhr

This is the first 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).*

The following two parts will be posted in the coming week. Therefore, the links are currently “dead.”

Some of you are already familiar with the idea behind the historical “Nursery of Truth” (and here is a link to a more contemporary version). The idea comes from early Quaker history. As Friends were traveling from Britain to the colonies they often stopped off in Barbados where there was a large amount of Quakers at the time. According to Elbert Russell, it was shortly after 1656 that Barbados became a “major distributing point for most Friends.” As early as 1657 Friends there received a letter from George Fox about his concern for the enslavement of people by those living there.

Barbados

It became a kind of gateway into the colonies for many traveling Quaker ministers. As missionaries, early friends knew the importances of training and preparation in the truth before heading to America to spread Good News and establish more Quaker meetings. By 1661 George Rofe calls it “the nursery of Truth” (Russell 1979: 39). The nursery of truth was a spiritual nursery where Quaker missionaries and ministers went to grow, be nurtured and pruned.
Continue reading The Original Nursery of Truth – Part 1

To Publish “Truth?”

I was asked to speak at Quakers United in Publications earlier this month at the beautiful Penn Center on St. Helena’s Island in South Carolina. It was a lovely road-trip south and a nice time seeing friendly faces. I was glad for the opportunity to spend some time thinking and writing on the question they posed:

Are Quakers Still Publishers of Truth?

I took the challenge because I have been thinking about this subject since Peggy Morrison, Kathy Hyzy and I put on a weekend retreat we called “The Nursery of Truth” a few years back.

nursery-banner

Initially, the question brought up more questions:

  • What is an obligation to publish truth when others are disinterested or don’t care?
  • What does it mean to publish truth when we do not lay claim to another’s theological tradition or practice?
  • And of course, what does it mean to speak of truth? How is it anchored in a community of practice? How is truth experienced? What does it look like? Who gets to decide what truth is?
  • How does truth get understood in today’s political and cultural climate where we easily turn a blind-eye to “alternative facts,” and outright lies from leaders in every arena?
  • Are there ways in which we might apprentice people within our faith tradition(s) to the truth? Are there ways in which we can learn from the past in rebuilding some kind of “nursery of truth?”
  • Finally – What role does our understanding of truth play in the ongoing disagreements and fracturing of our faith communities?

Continue reading To Publish “Truth?”

Building a Participatory Pedagogy

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Given my love for teaching, and my forced time off this winter semester, a time I would typically be teaching, and the various teaching opportunities I have with Camas Friends, I have been reflecting a lot on what it means for me to be an educator. I want to share some of the key building blocks I am using as I try and build participatory pedagogy.  I see three main areas of a participatory pedagogy being: the Quaker tradition, participatory culture, and liberation theology.

All learners are learners within a tradition; apprentices participating in the learning of particular skills, dispositions, vocabulary, practices and styles of thinking and ways of constructing arguments. Therefore, I see myself as an apprentice within the Quaker tradition, seeking to educate other apprentices. Every large-scale tradition has had to develop its own modes of inquiry as it seeks embody its particular arguments in the world. For instance, the Quaker argument that “Christ has come to teach the people himself” becomes for Friends an argument that our ongoing tradition contends for. If Christ has indeed come to teach the people himself then what kind of community must we be? How must we be formed and informed? What are the practices and dispositions a community needs to participate in in order to live into the reality that Christ has come?

Continue reading Building a Participatory Pedagogy