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Blog Entries Quotations

The End of Words

Quaker theologian Isaac Penington once wrote:

And the end of words is to bring [humanity] to the knowledge of things beyond what words can utter. So, learn of the Lord to make a right use of the Scriptures: which is by esteeming them in their right place, and prizing that above them which is above them.

This is one of the more powerful insights of the Quaker tradition. Our practice and worship are meant to bring us into the reality that lies beyond spoken word. Words can help in this process, they can be our guides, and can help frame what it is that we hear, but they are not the end in this process, only the means. And words can fall far short of the mystery of God as well. Words can harm, restrict, and dupe. Words can create new worlds both false and true. When we begin to explain, we can direct and we can also misguide. But to meet Christ, through however or whomever, is to begin to move beyond our mere utterings and encounter the mystery of God. God is within our words, as God is within our world. But God is also beyond them, and outside them.

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Featured Practices The Theological

If You Can’t Go Over It, then…

One of L’s favorite books, and if we’re being completely honest mine as well, is “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.” It’s a great adventure story that begs to be interacted with, the pitter-patter of hands on your legs for running, the squishy sounds for mud, you all have been there before, right? Well, the line that keeps popping into my head is the part that repeats: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we gotta go through it.”

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Blog Entries

Getting Ready for a New Year in Seminary?

As another school year is starting up for all you seminary students I thought I’d link to a few trips and tricks posts I’ve written over the years. Hopefully you find them helpful.

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Featured Sermons Six Months Quaker Preacher

There is No Time for Weeping (Jeremiah 8)

I thought I would post what I would have said, if I would have preached the other day. (Given that please forgive the very unpolished nature of this piece).

The love of a Parent is powerful. For instance, the other night L came running into our room balling. Now typically, I sleep like a rock but when one of our two children start balling in the middle of the night I’m up in a flash. That night, I was up and running toward L before I realized what was happening. In the middle of crying she said something about owls and was almost unconsolable. My heart melted, I hate seeing her scared of anything. Similar feelings come when she prays at night to be able to eat eggs again (she’s currently on an elimination diet that includes eggs because of some pretty serious food allergies). Finally, one of the good feelings a parent has is when they see their child excited and happy. The other day we were at an unnamed store and L found a piano she was totally into. She played with it and begged us to take the piano home. While we didn’t buy the piano it was fun to watch her take so much pleasure in making music, it brought real joy to both of us. For parents there is a 1 to 1 correspondence between how their child feels and how they feel. Whether pain, saddness or joy, we feel it.

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Blog Entries The Theological

Joan Baez – Virgin Mary (Had One Son)

Re-Watching some of the “No Direction Home” documentary this evening on Bob Dylan and was reminded of this haunting video by Joan Baez. I absolutely love it.

YouTube – Joan Baez – Virgin Mary (Had One Son).

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Blog Entries

Questions for Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

At Camas Friends, we have a variety of ways in which we do the “message” portion of our service. Generally I preach, but not always. Sometimes we have a discussion around the text, sometimes we utilized drama or interview like portions to add to the mix, sometimes we invite people up from our community to share their stories and at least once I’ve told a narrative. I personally love the freedom to be creative and practice different ways of entering into these texts. This past Sunday we just had a discussion around Jeremiah 8. I asked a variety of questions and interspersed comments along the way. It was a lot of fun (at least for me) and our community seems to really enjoy this method of learning.

Here’s some of the questions I asked on Sunday:

  • I wonder what part of this text you like best?
  • I wonder what part of this story is about you?
  • Given what we’ve been talking about os far in Jer. what do you think is going on in this passage?
  • Is there something meaningful to you that this text evokes?
  • What is the good news of this text?
  • What meaning might this text have not just for each of us individually, but as a church community?
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Blog Entries Quotations

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant

Thinking about this poem today:

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—

Success in Cirrcuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind—

via Tell all the Truth but tell it slant — Emily Dickinson.

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Blog Entries Convergent Friends Quaker

Brent Bill: A Modest Proposal – For the Revitalization of the Quaker Message in the United Staes

Brent Bill, Quaker, author, convergent Friend, and all around good guy, is beginning a series on his blog that I am really looking forward to. In it he’s going to be looking at what the Quaker message is for today.

I admitted that I had some interest in the future of the Friends message in North America. Particularly, I said, I was not so much interested in the institutional survival of the Religious Society of Friends (and it’s various structures) as I was a recapturing of the vitality of the Quaker understanding of the Gospel — a Good News that combines the story and work of Christ Jesus with the amazing power of the testimonies as an understanding of how the Gospel is to be lived. I then showed some statistics that appear to indicate there is widespread interest in the general public in the Quaker understanding of the Gospel and yet we, as the Friends “church,” are failing to reach out to people who seek places to connect with this message.

via Holy Ordinary: Quaker Thoughts on Life: A Modest Proposal: For the Revitalization of the Quaker Message in the United Staes.

You can follow the series by following this link.

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Wake Up Everybody

Here’s a new video from John Legen and the Roots. I love the Roots so that’s how I bumped into this, I’ve never really listened to John Legend before.  I find the video really uplifting, and the song has a good tune with some great lyrics. It just kind of makes me happy all around. The first time I watched it Common’s lyrics stood out clearest: “Even in this generation living on computers/Only love, love, love can reboot us.”

YouTube – Wake Up Everybody.

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Blog Entries

Turning Messages Of Hate Into Poetry of Love

Came across this yesterday. It’s a really cool blog called God Loves Poetry. It’s a group of people subverting the hateful message of Westboro Baptist Church. Turning their anger into messages of hope with a black marker and some creativity. It’s a simple act, but it reminds us just how inspiring and powerful a simple act can be. How long do you think Westboro will continue to do this kind of “news release” once they know that this is going on? Do you think they will respond, if so, how?