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Timothy Travis: There is a spirit...

Quaker stuff.

Last Build Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 14:11:36 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2005 Timothy Travis

Fri, 25 Feb 2005 12:46:42 GMT

I came across a new understanding of "idols" this morning--not completely new, just nuanced.  It was in the New Living Translation that my daughter uses.  John 5:21 says:

          "Little children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your heart."

Both the King James Version and the New International Version translate that verse as "Keep away from idols."

If an idol is something that takes God's place in my heart then...

     by what standard am I judged?

     by what rules do I live?

    by what principles am I guided?

    by whom am I taught?

    by what am I guarded?

In the end, where am I safe?

Perhaps there is a clue to the importance of this right above this verse, in 1 John 5:19. 

    "We know we are children of God but the world around us is under the power and control of the Evil One."

I think this is what all that early Quaker talk about the "offices" of Christ is about.  Christ is our priest and our minister and our teacher and so on.  The Spirit serves these functions for us, present to us and to others through us, as it is present to others and to us through them.  (That's what the community is about--another way that God is manifested to us.  We cannot look to things other than that immanent Spirit for our guidance.)  Those things, things apart from that Spirit are of the world, of the flesh and not of the spirit.  Those things come to control us, they become the standards by which our lives are judged , the source of the rules we follow, the principles to which we look to guide our lives, the teachers to whom we look to make sense of our experience, the means to security, to means to guard ourselves.

All of this the world is pleased to do for us, all of this we are pleased to let the world do for us--because it claims to speak to our needs.  But in all of this there is really but one, Christ, the Living Spirit left with us, who can accomplish this in such a way that the result is life and not disappointed, bitter and alienated frustration.

To remove the mystical, present, conscious seeking of God and replace it with "common sense" or an understanding of "the way the world works" is to worship an idol.  We are misled when we think of idol worship as dancing around a statute.  Idol worship is taking place every time someone says "Well, no one will ever know..." or "If I don't take advantage of this person's vulnerability someone else will..."  It is not the flashy car that is the idol, or money.  It is not the car or the money we worship.  Rather, we worship (and fellowship with) the spirit that tells us--convinces us--that the car or the money will bring us happiness.  If that spirit, that idol, had not replaced God in our hearts, we would not be misled.




Sat, 19 Feb 2005 14:13:22 GMT

Works don’t work—but they do.

The paradox. We cannot manipulate God into favoring us. We cannot control God, we cannot bend the Transcendent Reality to our will, by what we do or do not do. Sacrifices and rituals and magic do not obligate the Spirit to bend to our will or to our desires. How many people in how many places and in how many times have learned this through experience? How many spell books have been thrown down in defeated disgust and frustration?

All of us, as children, grew through a phase of magical thinking. Although the incantations we wove were idiosyncratic the chant about avoiding stepping on sidewalk cracks, for fear of breaking our mothers’ backs, for my generation, in my culture, epitomizes them all.

We don’t wholly grow out of this. Aside from sports fans, who true believe that whether or not they watch their favorite team play on television will control the outcome of the game, our culture is riddled with superstition. It is often apparent when people talk about a God who intervenes in our lives on a daily basis that such theology can contain elements of magic and superstition.

Mine does. I believe that if I observe a "practice" or a "discipline" that the Holy Spirit will change me into the creature that God wants me to be, with the explicit promise of salvation here and now as well as there and then.

How is that different from someone who believes that he can make a volcano stop rumbling by throwing a virgin into its fire pit?

Isn’t the practice, the discipline, isn’t that a "work?" Isn’t it something I do for the same reason that some people make and save money? Aren’t we both doing what we think our experience teaches us, what our magic assures us, will "save us" from what we fear?

Aren’t I actually trying to manipulate the Transcendent Reality with my Bible reading and worship and my participation in the life of the meeting?

Perhaps, I tell myself, I am trying to manipulate myself, trying to bend myself to the will of God rather than the other way around. It’s what I tell myself, it’s what I believe. "Not my will, but yours…"

In the end, or at least what looks to me, today, to be the end, it’s about faith—faith in the works, faith that produces works. It’s faith that all this counter-intuitive stuff that the Spirit leads us into produces the works—the condition—to which we are exhorted in the Bible and other spiritual writings, exhorted by God/the Spirit as we walk our walk, avoiding the sidewalk cracks.

Thu, 17 Feb 2005 12:48:36 GMT

Trials can clear up our mistaken impressions about ourselves.  Trials can show us who we are.  Good times allow us to rest on our illusions about ourselves and about the world.  Trials show us what we are really made of, how far we have come and how far we have to go. 

Blessing comes from enduring temptation.  Trials change us, or give us the opportunity to be changed. 


Wed, 16 Feb 2005 13:02:13 GMT

My own thought is that temptation is driven by the lie that some need of mine will be satisfied if I do what I have been told not to do and if I do not do what I have been told to do. 

The truth is that this need, whatever it is, will actually be made bigger if I do what I have been told not to do, if I do not obey the exhortation to behave righteously.  The need will actually grow in the way that a hole becomes deeper when, rather than putting dirt into it we shovel more out.

We have been shown the way to satisfy our needs, the greatest of which is, contrary to our conditioning and our culture, being loved.  Sin seems to me to be either a wrong approach to seeking to be loved or trying to put something in our lives to replace it.


Thu, 27 Jan 2005 13:13:57 GMT

Quaker writings (eg Penington) often speaks of "forms" and how things once "of the Spirit" degenerate into hollow or rigid forms.  The Balby letter, after laying out what seem to be some fairly rigid rules about how to do things warns Friends about accepting these as "forms" although apparently exhorting them to accept these as something else.  Mostly we understand this talk of forms in terms of ritual, empty ritual, the going through the motions, even with the best of intentions, rather than living the experience that the ritual (the form) is intended to be.   I found an intereting example of this in regared to the meaning of "The Law" as that phrase is used in Psalm 1.                                2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. "the law," in my Hebrew-Greek Key Word Bible, is designated with the number 8451 and is, in the Hebrew, Torah.  And exerpt from the discussion of this word is:                 "So Torah was much more than a law or set of rules.  It was not to be perceived as restrictions but the very means by  which one could reach a spiritual ideal.  If Israel would keep the Torah, then Israel would be kept safe.  However, the people came to understand it as something which was imposed for its own sake rather than what God intended them to become." The Law, once seen as a spirit filled way, becomes the form that Jesus condemns in his day.  He does not condemn the law, but the way it is responded to, the practice it has become.  For in the sermon on the mount he says: 17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.         18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.         19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.         20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.   It is not the observance of the Parisees, the going through the motions, the adherance to the form, that would lead to the entrance into heaven.  It was the righteousness, the product of the The Law, the product of actually living The Way. This is what he came to fulfill.  [...]

Sat, 22 Jan 2005 14:49:11 GMT

I am taken with how different it is to read the Bible from a Quaker perspective, about how things jump out that did not, before, about how much richer the experience is.  All of the stuff about the Spirit being the inward teacher, about a God who is available to show us what is right and empowers us to do it was always in there but I never saw so much of it as I do, now.


The phrase "waiting on the Lord" is an example of this.  It's so common in the Bible but before the Quaker experience the phrase had a one dimensional meaning to me and was little more than an admonition to have patience with the mysterious but undoubtedly slow pace at which things unfold in God's realm.


But with a perspective on waiting that says that work is being done in that period, that the transformative power of God is bringing about change in us as we wait, and that the waiting is a necessary part of the change, it all means something more.  Understanding that we are to wait is an instruction to abide in the discipline that cultivates, in us, this change, this process, this transformation.


For example, 1 Corinthians 4 seems to say that we have to wait to see whether or not people who are have been given trust are worthy of it.  And it does say that. 


"Judge nothing before the appointed time but wait until the Lord coimnes.  He will bring to light that which is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts."


Sooner or later if someone is pulling our chain we are going to know it because that person's actions will reveal that to us, the spirit that animates that person will lead them to telling actions, the Spirit will cause people to do convicting things no matter how hard they try to hide their weakness.


But it says more than than.  Aside from judging leaders and teachers it guides us in discerning our own response to every day life, discerning our leadings and movements as we respond and react to people and situations around us. 


When we set about things we are often moved to act from some place other than than which takes away the occasion of all war, to act in a way we have been conditioned to act by a world built on the false premises and illusions of earthly wisdom.  We are often motivated, at least in the first place, by fear or greed or hurt feelings or lust or pride.  But the Spirit will, if we wait, work on these things and over come them, show us what is going on and show us the way out of the destructive control of these motives.  The Light will expose these to us when they are in us, when they are moving us, and, once exposed, give us the strength and the power to withstand this temptation to be animated by them.  The transformative power of God will enable us, if we give it time and attention, to act in a way that edifies us and comforms us to that power. 


And it is in waiting on the Lord/Spirit/transformative power of God that the snares are melted away in us, in which the dross is burned away, when the scales are caused to fall.  Waiting...





Sat, 27 Nov 2004 14:53:07 GMT

On SRQ it was posted:

> But I dare to hope that convinced Friends will recall
>our obligations to non violence and individual liberty.

To which I replied:

While these two values are a part of the creed of a certain type of
contemporary libertarianism, Friends have no obligation to either.
They are both at variance with the traditional Quaker discernment that
developed in the mid seventeenth century.  This is a discernment that
still survives so as to form the basis of spiritual aspiration for
some Friends, despite the workings of various impulses that have moved
others away from it, in one direction or another, through the years.

Thus it is that among those who call themselves Friends, at the
beginning of the 21st Century, there are many beliefs and one is
challenged to find some thing, any thing, that can be said to be
common to all who self identify with the Religious Society of Friends.

Some Friends have embraced political, economic and social creeds, and
the ideologies that are developed from them.  The fact that some may
do so does not create any obligation on the part of other Friends to
adopt those creeds, to conform to the orders these creeds espouse or
to abandon the guidance of the Spirit in favor of rationalistic
ideologies.   While Friends are certainly free to walk these walks it
is confusing (at least to outsiders) to refer to the creeds that
underlie them as something to which Friends in general have
obligations.  As I say, I am a loss as to what, precisely, it is that
Friends, in general, have an obligation.

The term "liberty" that was so freely used by founding Friends had an
entirely different meaning than what "individual liberty" means in the
libertarian ideology of today.  As another current thread in this
newsgroup makes clear, the definition of a word can "drift" over a
period of time.  This drift makes it possible to ascribe beliefs to
people long ago that would distort their message, even with a complete
absence of malice.

The peace testimony, as developed at the dawn of the Quaker covenant,
was not, and for some Friends still is not, a synonym for what
contemporary Americans mean by "non violence."

"Friends are not opposed to all forms of coercion.  Proper police
activities, incidental to carrying out the rightful purposes of the
state and directed solely against persons who refuse to abide by the
law, seem necessary and helpful.   From its earliest days, however,
the Society has held that war is contrary to the will of God, and it
has counseled its members to refuse to bear arms or to accept
membership in military forces."  (Faith and Practice, North Pacific
Yearly Meeting)

socialism--libertarianism--capitalism...although some Friends have
embraced these ideologies, and other ideologies, some other Friends have
continued to find unity in the traditional Quaker discernment that
there is but one, Christ, who can speak to our condition, both that
condition as it is and what it can become under the guidance and the
transformative power of God, the Spirit, the Light, The Word. 

Fri, 26 Nov 2004 13:48:23 GMT

Years ago an acquaintance of mine suggested that we don't need to
figure out how to redistribute the wealth in this country, at least
not directly.  We need to figure out how to redistribute the work.

If, for example, lawyers, notorious for the number of hours a week
they work, could be convinced to spend only 50 hours a week at work,
instead of the 60-70 of which we read in polls, their physical and
emotonal health would improve, as would their family lives.  Many
benefits would accrue to them and there would be work for other
lawyers, who are not making as much money (don't be misled by averages
of which you read about lawyer earnings--income is very unevenly

I heard, within the last year or so, of a well known television, radio
and book writing pundit who said that if he had to pay any more tax
that he was going to shut his operation down.  He didn't need to make
any more money, he said, and it wouldn't be worth it to him if his
income was limited so he would just quit and put everyone who depended
on his operation out of work.  My thought was "good," and not just
because I don't particularly like what this person has to say.  My
thought was that he and his family would be better off (having heard
him describe his work and family life a time or two on the air) and
there would be opportunity for someone else to earn a better living
than they do by filling his air time, by having the public's book
buying money go to other authors who need the money.  All those people
he is always reminding us that he "supports" would work for those who
flowed into the space his absence would create.

I am not into passing laws (or repealing them) as a means of trying to
reshape the world.  If I were I would suggest that a 100% tax on
income above a certain level would give people incentive to stop
working (at least stop making money--there is plenty of good "work"
needing to get done--starting in our own homes--that does not involve
a monetary pay off) so others would have opportunity and so that they
would have time for other endeavors.  That's as good or bad an idea as
*any* legislative social engineering.   I would hope that people would
develop (or have developed in them) values and light such that they
would realize how they are damaging themselves by putting a
disproportionate amount of themselves into making money (it's an
obsession in our culture, which is in many ways a secular--and, to
some evangelists, a spriritual--fertility cult) and, like John
Woolman, would see how limiting their trade would improve their

We are led to believe that puting all this effort, all of ourselves,
into making money is the way to "security" for ourselves and our
families.  The Adversary (often through investment and life insurance
advertising) tells us we are doing it for our families, for our
children.  Like all sin, greed (which does not necessarily manifest
itself negatively toward others but is characterized by a
disproportionate emphasis on one's own needs) does not deliver what it
promises.  Instead of making our lives better our being centered on
prosperity and "security" actually gets us out of right relationship
and makes us less secure. 

Thu, 25 Nov 2004 15:31:51 GMT

So American churches have $180,000,000,000 tied up in buildings (while millions of children starve in Niger, Mali, and in other places)

to honor a God who, by that God's own revelation, does not live in temples built with hands. 


Happy Thanksgiving. 

Sat, 30 Oct 2004 15:13:24 GMT

>          What counts as debate here is Justine Record and
>     William Rassman, two friends from nearby Marion, in a heated
>     discussion about whether God directly determined Bush's
>     election and the Iraq War (he says) or whether human free
>     will had some small hand in it (she says).

"Now our work in the world is to hold forth the virtues of him that
hath called us; to live like God; not to own any thing in the world
which God doth not own; to forget our country, our kindred, our
father's house, and to live like persons of another country, of
another kindred, of another family; not to do any thing of ourselves,
and which is pleasing to the old nature; but all our words, all our
conversation, yeah, every thought in us, is to become new.

"We are also to be witnesses for God, and to propagate his life in the
world; to be instruments in his hand, to bring others out of death and
captivity into true life and liberty.  We are to fight against the
powers of darkness everywhere, as the Lord calleth us forth.

"...our only controversy is with that which captives and makes them
miserable; for we fight not all with flesh and blood, but with the
principality and power which led from God, and rule in it against God,
to the poor creature's ruin and destruction.

"...we are not man's enemies, against no righteous law, not against
relations, not against governments,not against any thing in the world
that is good; but only against that which is evil and corrupt.  And of
a truth, the corruption of things God hath shown us, and daily calls
us forth after an immediate manner to witness against."

  Isaac Penington
             A brief Account of what we are, and what our work
  is in the world (from "The Way of LIfe and Death
  made manifest, and set before men)

Tue, 26 Oct 2004 15:40:21 GMT

On Mon, 25 Oct 2004 13:54:26 -0700, M----------- A----------- wrote: >Timothy,>>Is there something relatively compact which talks about the current (Book of) Discipline revision process?  How much are you expecting to revise?  New sections? What is driving this? There isn't anything extant that explains what we are up to, except small snippets in various minutes of the NPYM steering committee. It all started with the recent recurring ruckus over the junior friends and the five or six year struggle to get control of that situation, mostly by drawing the line between the high school and the post high school people who congregated under that banner. I was one of the parents concerned about having his children, at fourteen, hanging out with junior friends in their mid twenties, especially because of increasing and well documented instances of...well, perhaps you know all about it.  If not, just leave it at it was not a wholesome scene (from the point of view of the parents) and many families from all over the YM were reluctant to allow their children to participate. In working with this situation I learned that the Discipline had some things to say about what was junior friends and what was not.  When I pointed out that junior friends was supposed to be a high school group I was told that was "changed" since the book was published.  I took the position that the process of change described in the Discipline, itself, had not been followed in order to make these changes and that, therefore, these changes should be changed back until such time as the changes I was told we had to live with were made by the process that was shown to us the last time we were in unity.  (I was led to minister at a business meeting at YM, when we were in the midst of some rather trying times through which  I explained we would not be struggling as we were at that moment if we had followed the Faith and Practice. We were out of right relationship, I preached in the scolding way I can when I run beyond God's light and start working with my own,  with one another because we had not followed the process.  If we had worked with these changes that were causing problems by using the process in the Discipline we would not have the disunity). The process for selecting junior friends advisors that is described in the Discipline did not work out, for some reason, and people just improvised.  They did not seek to incorporate this improvisation into the Discipline and that started a process in which other improvisations were made (including expanding the age of membership upward) without the process of the Discipline involved.  Once these improvisations that were contrary to the Discipline were pointed out to the junior friends, and to their advisors, they took the position that since these were now the practices they followed that it was "Quaker process" to continue to follow them until the YM reached unity to go back to what was in the Discipline (or to something else). I also learned, when I came on steering committee, that, contrary to the Discipline, steering committee itself often "changed" the Faith and Practice through its own process without consulting with the monthly meetings about the efficacy of these changes.  There is an index of such changes that have been made over the years. The  book we call our Faith and Practice does not describe our practice because there have been changes made by the steering committee and by other less "formal" means.  The book, if read by an outsider or even by Friends, does not give an accurate picture of what's happening or how we do things. Also, in the process of becoming a monthly meeting, we in Bridge City discovered that the guidance about that process is both vague an[...]

Sat, 11 Sep 2004 16:35:17 GMT

(posted 9/11/04 at alt.soc.quaker) George Fox was committed to jail in Lancaster, in 1660, on anindictment he was not allowed to see.  He was informed of itscontents, however, by Friends who talked to his jailer.  In hisjournal, on page 347 of the edition edited by Rufus Jones, he beginshis answer to that "sealed indictment."  On page 350 he reaches thepoint at which he answers to the charge that he, and Quakers ingeneral, are "fanatics."  He writes: "And as for the word fanatic, which signifies furious, foolish, mad,etc., he (his accuser, one Justice Porter) might have consideredhimself before he had used that word, and have learned the humilitywhich goes before honour.  We are not furious, foolish or mad; butthrough patience and meekness have borne lies, slanders andpersecutions many years, and have undergone great sufferings.  Thespiritual man, that wrestles not with flesh and blood, and the Spiritthat reproves sin in the gate, which is the Spirit of Truth, wisdom,and sound judgment, is not mad, foolish, furious, which fanaticsignifies; but all are of a mad, furious, foolish spirit in that theirfuriousness, foolishness and rage wrestle with flesh and blood withcarnal weapons.  This is not the Spirit of God, but of error, thatpersecutes in a mad, blind zeal, like Nebuchadnezzar and Saul." I reached this passage yesterday at the end of my reading time, andhaving a very general sense of it, marked it for more carefulconsideration this morning.  It is on September 11 that I turn back toit and, after more than an hour, have not moved beyond it.  This isthe anniversary of the attacks that have brought on this War onTerrorism, perhaps more aptly titled the War of Terror.  This is a fitstatement to consider, on this occasion.  What a coincidence.  Perhapsnot. As it describes those involved in any war with outward, carnalweapons, so this passage describes the people who are engaged inthis so-called war.  Our President, and many, many others, believethemselves to be engaged in a struggle with a group of people.Rather, he chooses to be engaged in a struggled with a group ofpeople, insterad of struggling with the spirit that animates them,instead of the power they serve.  The President serves a power of hisown, and pits it against that of those he sees as his enemies.Perhaps he actually serves the same power they do, a power which,controlling both, is manifested, glorified, magnified, sustained andextended in the world--displacing the kingdom/realm of God. Both the President and his enemies  see themselves as and claim to beglorifying God in this struggle with carnal weapons.  Neither side canget far into its rap without getting to the claim that its side isserving God and opposing evil. Yet both manifest the fury, rage and persecution which Fox described(to one who accused him rudely),  earlier in his Journal (p 286), assigns of reprobation (which means moral abandon, unworthiness, evil,not enduring trial or proof, according to my dictionary).  Fox also revealed the source of such reprobation and fanaticism whenJudge Fell  asked him the source of the persecution Fox endured.  Heanswered that such people manifested the fruits of their priests andministers, and in such behavior of fury, rage and persecution,they revealed that the profession and religion of these priests waswrong. This gives powerful perspective to our predicament in this War ofTerror.  Those engaged in it are captives of such reprobation.  Bothbelieve--and are taught and are confirmed by their (hireling human)ministers and priests-- that their evil is actually good, that theirunworthiness is worthy and that their immorality is the highest moralorder.  Eac[...]

Sat, 04 Sep 2004 01:46:32 GMT

Judge Fell asked George Fox to give an account of his persecution at the hands of the people of a certain village.  Fox replied, "I told him they could do not otherwise in the spirit wherein they were and that they manifested the fruits of their priests' ministry, and their profession and their religion to be wrong."  (Fox's Journal)

How can people be expected to act other than their condition(ing) dictates?

Ezekial 34--the Bad Shepard--"Woe to shepards of Israel who only take care of have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or vbound up the have ruled them harshly and brutally..."

"The one who tries to hide what he don't know, to begin with."  (Bob Dylan)

Fox talks about Jesus coming to teach his people himself.  Can it be that Jesus can break through all of this conditioning that has shaped people and taught them where to look for truth and guidance?  Can the Spirit drown out or undermine the hirelings?  How would people even realize that the bad shepard/hireling preacher has defined the world wrongly and so determined that responses to it will be wrong?





Thu, 12 Aug 2004 15:02:40 GMT

It is the evil (one) that both George Bush and Osama Bin Laden serve that is the enemy, not the two men, and it is overcoming this power (and freeing ourselves from its control) and not the victory of one or the other of them, that is our gospel.  As I have said before, it is a sobering experience to put a speech describing "the enemy" by one of them next to a speech accomplishing the same purpose by the other.  Mirrors, projections, illusions. Ephesians 6:10 is instructive in this regard, in pointing out the difference between the power and those under it.  I have been studying and parsing that section of scripture for a couple of days and below is the result.  I do not read Greek and so rely on the lexical aids section of my Key Word Study Bible, King James Version.  I would, therefore, appreciate any comments from those who may have more light to shed on these verses.  Thank you.   Ephesians 6 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power ("kratos"--ability to hold things together) of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles ("methodeia"--systematic, methodical efforts) of the devil ("diabolos"--one who falsely accuses and divides people without reason, slanderer). 12 For we wrestle not with flesh and blood (when used together "sarx" and "haima" can mean mankind as opposed to literal flesh and literal blood) but against the principalities ("arche"--rulers of this [carnal?] world), against powers ("exousia"--authority granted by principalities--"arche"--dominion, government, in Pauline writing often evil powers that oppose Christ), against the rulers ("kosmokrator"--a ruler of this [carnal?] world, spoken of evil spirits), of the darkness ("skotos"--sin and misery, person in such states, infernal spirits as opposite to Christ) of this world ("aion"--with its carnal cares, temptations and desires) against spiritual wickedness ("poneria"--characteristic of one not only evil but expressing evil in such a way as to impact others) in high places. 13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day (that day--or every day--of facing one animated by "poneria," one not only evil but expressing evil in such a way as to impact others), and having done all, to stand.  14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth ("alethela"--the unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with appearance), and having the breastplate of righteousness ("dikaiosune"--conformity to all God's commands); 15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel ("euggellon"--the good news) of peace ("eirene"--that state of mind brought about by the grace and loving mind of God wherein the derangement and distress of life caused by sin are removed); 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith ("psistos"--knowledge of, assent to and confidence in certain divine truths, especially those of the gospel, as produces good works), wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (those animated by "poneria," one not only evil but expressing evil in such a way as to impact others, or in the service of one so animated; sometimes translated as "the devil" or those under the power of the devil). 17 And take the helmet of salvation ("soteria"--deliverance) and the word of the Spirit ("pneuma"--here best meaning seems to be the ability to think of God, to connect with God, our vertical window of consciousness) which is the word of God. 18.  Praying always ("kairos"--whether convenient or not) with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplic[...]

Sat, 07 Aug 2004 14:38:26 GMT

Lusts are the desires that are born of "pathos"--the human condition, the diseased condition of the soul, the alienation from God which is the condition of the "natural person." 


These desires are inadequate means to fill the void left by the absence of the peace of God.  We delude ourselves into thinking that allowing these desires to guide our lives will fill that void but they will not. 


These are the desires that the carnal world appeals to and encourages in us so as to keep us in it and of it, adding our energy to it and thereby adding vitality to it.    We are conditioned by the world to respond to the emptiness we feel by satisfying these desires, rather than by turning to the Spirit and allowing it to work in us to create the peace that will truly fill the void.   A part of that work is an awareness that any relief we get from our lusts, any filling that they do, is temporary and unsatisfactory, like the way that sugar satisfies hunger.  Without that awareness we continue to throw good energy after bad--redoubling our efforts to satisfy our lusts as a means of finding relief from the suffering caused by our alienation from God.



Fri, 07 May 2004 01:14:06 GMT

In SRQ On Wed, 05 May 2004 15:36:02 -0500, It was written >Timothy Travis writes of The fact that those who are stewards of  Quaker Women's Theological Conference have thus far been unable to bring themselves to cease discriminating against men by denying them access to its proceedings. > >>  tt: from what condition does that spring? > >From the sinfulness of humanity, which includes the domination of >women by men.   and includes both sexes doing harm to one another while animated by stereotypes and misconceptions about themselves and the other. >It was to halt such domination that Fox encouraged >separate men's and women's business meetings in the first place. I am not of the opinion that is entirely accurate.  It seems to me that the separation of Men's and Women's Meetings  "divided labor" to a great extent, limiting the business of women's meetings to certain things and men's meetings to certain other things.  It shut both men and women out of certain business of meeting and assigned to women certain duties that are consistent with our western sexist notions of what are "natural" and appropriate roles for women. According to a more or less contemporaneous letter (1674) written by "the Women Friends in London,"  an excerpt of which is to be found in the Faith and Practice of the YM of Great Britain at 19.55, women's meetings were very much about "women's place" and not about providing a haven where women could bloom protected from interference by men: visiting the sick, relieving the poor, elder women exhorting younger to sobriety, modesty in apparel and subjection to truth...stemming gossip among women...admonishing women as to the dangers of marrying unbelievers or being married by priests..." But chiefly our work is, to help the helpless in all cases, according to our abilities." As Braithwaite writes in his second volume (p 273), "It has been sometimes thought, by hasty students of Quaker history, that the separate Women's Meetings were designed to give women some share in Church government but not an equal share with men.  *That was indeed the effect of their institution,* but it is clear from this (a passage from Fox quoted above in the text) and many other passages in the epistles of Fox that the question whether women should be given less or more authority was not in his mind.  What he was concerned with was to give them *their* place, their *right* place, and to stir them up to take it."  (all emphases are of course, mine). Braithwaite goes on to write about Fox " woman her true place of equal partnership with man" but the fact is that it was not equal except in the sense of "separate but equal."  It was the place that men assigned to women and that they, caught in the mores of their time, believed was theirs. (future generations of Quaker women would not be so, in fact, even some Quaker women of that time were not so limited). Perhaps you have a reference for this assertion that they were created to protect women from men that I have overlooked or to which I have not yet been exposed.   Why would men so driven to dominate them allow women to separate if it made them stronger and more able to resist this domination?  I don't get it.  Didn't separate women's and men's business meetings keep women out of "men's" business and relegate women to "women's" business, as the sources I cite, above, indicate?  Do we believe, today, that there is business, as early Friends seem to have believed, in a meeting that is "men's" and other that is "women's?" Braithwaite quotes Fox in hi[...]

Fri, 23 Apr 2004 14:25:15 GMT

from soc.religion.quaker April 23, 2004 It was asked:"Worship seems to be a common word that comes up in the context of Friends' Meetings and in Christian literature. This is something I simply have never understood. Sitting in devoted admiration of anything seems strange to me;  I guess I just don't have the worship nature imbedded in me. Maybe I misundertand what people are referring to by worship... Anyone care to comment?" I responded I use the word all the time and I understand what you mean. It bothered me for a long time, too. Worship conjured up images of "natives" dancing around idols in the firelight or, as you describe, admiration and supplication and such. I think that admiration and supplication are not bad things, and I aspire to be so fully integrated into God's plan as worms are :=]. I also know a wonderful Quaker woman who easily convinces rooms full of people at a time that dancing is a form of worship (although there have never been any idols around). Since the word figures in Quaker practice (Meeting for Worship, Meeting for Worship for Business, Opportunities for Worship) I wondered about this a number of times and began to see worship as acknowledging the presence of God, of connecting with God. That's what I always saw myself doing in Meeting for Worship, and in my individiual worship, centering on the connection, bringing the part of myself that is of God forward in my awareness, listening for that still small voice of guidance, opening myself. A non Quaker pastor who I frequently listen to on the radio talked about worship in a way that was so interesting to me that I wrote it down. He said that worshipping might be praise and singing but that one worshipped God when one was being devoted to God. Reading scripture is worship in that one is devoting oneself to the study of God's word. One is also in worship when one is acting in God's will--doing God's work, that which God would have done, God's will (that which should be done to carry out the divine purpose). This pastor said that worship also included acting in obedience--willing subjegation to that which, in the sphere of divine revelation, is right (to borrow a definition from the Lexical Aids of my Key Word KJV). One is worshipping when one is denying one's fleshy/carnal desires and acting in a holy/spiritual way ("denying the world" is a phrase that comes to mind). He added acting with tenderness and love to the list of things that are involved in woship. As one is devoteed to God and God's way so one is in worship. He didn't say it but after I wrote the words down, Devotion, Obedience, Tenderness, Love--I realized that their first letters spell (in a different order) DOLT. I think this is the way people use the word worship when they say that someone worships money, or they worship fame. they are devoting themsleves to these things, doing what having or pursuing those things dictates. Timothy "So the first act of worship is simply to offer ourselves, totally and completely to God...Our second act of worship is to listen to God...we have not invoked the presence of God nor attractive the divine attention to ourselves, but prepared ourselves to perceive the eternal Presence and to give our attention to God..." Lloyd Lee Wilson Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order [...]

Wed, 31 Mar 2004 13:00:09 GMT

from alt.culture.oregon

 There are many people in the world who are Quakers and don't even know

>Could you explain what you mean by Quakers in this context?

The Quaker Testimonies (which at first blush seem to be what many
people call "core values") are simplicity, integrity, community,
equality and harmony.  

These are values that a great many people aspire to, or would like to
aspire to.  These are the values we see reflected (often but not
always, of course) in the environmental movement and in the movement
of people toward organic food and away from highly processed foods,
products and relationships.  These were the values that underlay the
"back to the land" movement of a couple of decades ago, and despite
the impracticalities that were, in the end, the downfall of so many
who aspired to that lifestyle, the draw of these values is still
strong.  (how many products promise us simplicity while requiring us
to live very complicated lives in order to be able to afford them?)

Many people understand the shortcomings of the lives we are living,
and that in many ways the lives we are living are killing us.  It is
very attractive; removing the complications from our lives, walking
our talk, no longer striving to prove we are better than others (or
kowtowing to those who we perceive are better than us), having a group
that supports and encourages us as we contend with human condition and
living in a way that complements the lives of others and is consistent
within the context of a higher purpose

Our Western Culture is so often referred to as the "vast wasteland"
and the phrase "living lives of quiet desperation"  strikes a chord in
so many of us, at one time or another.  These phrases have survived in
our culture for decades after their sources are forgotten because they
are true--and we know it without reading TS Eliot or even remembering
which team he played for.

I think that is because our lives are distorted and fractured by the
imperatives of the system we have built.  We are required, seeking the
rewards offered by our system, to live very complicated lives, which
require us to often compromise what we have been taught is good, where
we are often alone even among others we know well, feeling
alternatively better and worse about ourselves compared to everyone we
meet, and in conflict with ourselves and the people we encounter.  

The additional piece of this is that Quakers share with many people a
faith in the inward light, faith that the voice of God is mixed in
with all those other voices that we hear every day, and that the
guidance of this Spirit/God/Transcendent Reality can be discerned from
all those other impulses that arise in us from other sources.  

When I say there are people in the world who are Quakers and do not
even know it I mean that they have these values, these aspirations, in
common with Quakerism (regardless of the extent to which they--or
we--are currently able to actually live them), and this faith that the
Spirit is here to guide us if we will be cultivate the ability to
discern its leadings (even if we are not, yet, as good at discerning
it as we will become as the result of our spiritual practice).

The ability to live these values, of course, is based on the ability
to discern to leadings of the Spirit.

Sat, 27 Mar 2004 14:15:34 GMT

>Your proof of god's questionable existence?  Just because you believe >something doesn't make it true.  If your god is so 'loving' and >'forgiving', why does s/he let all the suffering go on? I have snipped all of your elaboration on this point for the sake of clarity, because this is the gist of your rhetorical questions.  You probably know that there is a whole vein of philosophical/theological inquiry that addresses the logical contradiciton between the existence of evil and of an all knowing and all powerful God who is also a loving and forgiving God.  If you are not aware of it and are interested in looking into it a little, this vein of inquiry is called "theodicy."  Just Google it and you will find rescources. As a believer I have found no logically satisfying answer to the problems of evil, free will and the rest that are raised in this inquiry.   watching myself and others try to resolve these issues puts me in mind of watching a snake swallow its own tail.   But, coming at this as a believer, rather than a non-believer, as you approach it, I have the problem of my experience with God/The Spirit/The Devine/the Transcendent Reality, which has caused a powerful transformation of my life for the good.  If there is no God then I don't know what to do with that experience, what sense to make of it.   Through a spiritual discipline and practice (that includes prayer, individual worship--ie, devotion, obedience, tenderness, love--study of scripture and other spiritual writings--corporate meeting for worship, activity in the life the meeting and so on),  my personality has been transformed toward conforming to the model of Christ--toward simplicity, integrity, equality, community and harmony.  I do not claim to be identical to the Christ or to even approach that level of transformation but only say that the movement is in that direction. Considering where I started, however, a baby step in that direction looks like a journey of a thousand miles. I did not do this through the strength of will, I did not decide to try to become more that way.  It happened to me, as I now see, because I was open to letting the work be done in me.  Christians call the agent of this change the Holy Spirit.   Moreover, I note that this is a similar transformation that can be seen, to one degree or another, in others around me (although certainly not in everyone who claims to be religious) and can be seen in many people from many spiritual traditiond who have undertaken similar disciplines and practice.  This is not an exclusively Christian thing.  This is something that seems common to what I call the "mystical wing" of most spiritual traditions about which I know anything.  It's the unmediated contact with God/The Holy Spirit/The Devine/the Transcendent Reality that causes the change.  It is not the result of intellectual learning or persuading oneself that certain things are true.  It comes through waiting and practice. There seems to be something going on, here, that is real and that is reproduced in the lives of many people in many places.  A very similar result obtains from very similar spiritual practices--all changed in much the same way, throught the same means to the same end, such that the words I use above (which are a form of the Quaker Testimonies) describes them; simplicity, harmony, equality, community and integrity.   A complicating factor is, of course, that not all "religious" people are spiritual people in the sense[...]

Fri, 26 Mar 2004 22:32:53 GMT

from SRQ >Again I ask, why would God bother sending a message to me through >someone who has not eared my respect? it is a mystery. And yet, there have been many messages delivered, in the Bible and outside of it, to people by people with whom they had no relationship and for whom they, therefore, had no respect. Many times those to whom the message was delivered were able to recognize it as beneficial and heeded it. I listen to what I refer to as my "radio preachers" on self labeled Christian radio because, even though a lot of what they have to say grates me and even annoys me and is, from my reckoning, dead wrong. There is some stuff of value in there for me to hear and I benefit greatly from it. This is even true of Dr. James Dobson of the Focus Family. There may be a lot of straw mixed in with the alfalfa they are handing out, but they still feed this sheep. A very common experience that perhaps un programmed Friends can relate to is to be sitting in meeting and have someone stand whose standing is not, for some reason, anticipated with eagerness by those gathered. Sometimes even the most tiresome, the ones who don't really understand what vocal ministry is about, and who commonly drone on and on, producing more fidgets than enlightenment, are actually used by the Spirit to deliver a message that needs to be heard. It's hard to go up afterward and acknowledge and encourage that person, knowing full well that one is creating the possibility that s/he will be reading two chapters of George Fox's Journal outloud, next week. My take is that The Spirit moves through everyone, in one way or another, and it is beneficial to listen to what all have to say that one can hear. I have learned some very important things from people with whom contact was not pleasant and even from some who meant me absolutely no good at all. But God was using those people who meant me no good to tell me something, to shape me through my experience with them. (if the OT spin on things is correct, heathen armies were used to deliver messages to Israel. I am not sure I buy that, but, there, for what it is worth, it is). The "noise" that came with the message, in such instances, made it hard to discern. The medium through the message came, in such instances, made it harder to accept. Both of which factors made it take longer for me to realize the importance of the message. But neither diminished its importance to me, or the necessity that I hear it and heed it. Why did God make it hard for me to get the message? I dunno. Why is there so much about life that is hard when God is powerful enough to change it so that the University of Oregon wins all of its football games? I dunno. Beyond me. It would be so obviously correct to set things up that way. But it's God's creation, not mine. I'm just here to help feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, worship and do the rest of the tasks that have been left for me on the pad by the phone. (and to use that phone, to pray, often) >Is God so powerless that >he is unable to speak to me directly? we are very powerful when it comes to ignoring messages that come from God. we are very able to harden our hearts when the message we are getting is not consistent with what we want to hear, when it conflicts with what we "know" must be right. Jonah's experience illustrates (whether we believe, literally in the most famous part of Jonah's story, or not) the lengths to which God must sometimes go in causing us discomfort because we will not listen [...]

Fri, 26 Mar 2004 22:26:21 GMT

"Being attuned to the Spirit also allows a different response to
woundings we do and receive throughout our lives. I have never been
able to avoid periodically hurting the people most close to me, not to
mention strangers, whether through inattentiveness, preoccupation with
other things, or any of a million other reasons. When I am paying
attention to the inward monitor, I am less apt to harm others. When I
am focused on my own needs, and do harm, attention to the Light makes
this more visible to me and prompts me to make amends. I don't always
respond, buy the potential to do less damage is there for me if I will
take it. Similarly, when I am listening to the Inward Guide, I am
less apt to take offense when others inadvertently hurt me. This
entire process seems akin to what the Buddhists call "non
attachment"--not holding on to my own sense of being the center of the
universe and being more present to others in a less self interested
way. Being changed and being healed in the process is ongoing and I
expect it to take the rest of my life or longer."

"layers and layers of preconceived notions and bad habits take time to
be perceived and be let go. If baptism is a process of dying to the
old self and entering new life, for many of us, this does not happen
all at once. Many small deaths, many times of letting go appear
unexpectedly through the years."

Marge Abbot

Fri, 17 Oct 2003 14:37:29 GMT

George Fox said that there was one, Jesus Christ, who could speak to his condition. I have always taken that to mean his "situation" as a human being and while I still think that’s an accurate characterization of where he was coming from I think that substituting the word "conditioning" for condition illuminates.

Conditioning is the process—intentional or circumstantial—by which a creature is conformed to the demands of an environment.

We are all conformed, throughout our lives, to the demands of this earthly, fleshy, carnal existence that is going on around us. We are conditioned to react to stimulation in certain ways in order to be a part of where we live. This is, in a real sense, how it is that we "owe the world a living." (Did your father ever tell you that the world doesn’t owe you a living? Yeah. Mine did. He never explained to me that the point is that I owe the world a living—that in order to get from it what I want I must conform to it. Of course, more deeply, if I am to get from the world what the world has taught me that I should want then I must do that which the world demands).

Christ/The Spirit/The Light/The Transcendent Reality is the means to be conformed away from the conditioning. The conditioning tells us we need the world, the conditioning tells us that the world is where it’s at. But the world doesn’t solve our problems, our basic emptiness, our alienation which is the human condition. The world just takes more and more from us and then, when we are spent, leaves us with nothing.


Thu, 09 Oct 2003 16:31:50 GMT

"Because the Inward Light was everywhere unitary and identical, true communication and persuasion were effected by the reaching of the Light in another person. Truth was felt in the resonant chord struck within one’s conscience by another’s message. Accordingly, "the true ministers need no human authority, to authorize their ministry; for they have a witness in every man's conscience.""(J. Aynsloe, 1672, A Short Description of the True Ministers and the False) "…his words and his ministry, proceeding from the inward power and virtue, reach to the hears of his hearers, and make them approve of him, and be subject unto him." (Robert Barclay, 1831, Truth Triumphant, Vol 2, p 280).

The immediate objection heard to this is that false communication and persuasion can reach that of the flesh of hearers, that carnal messages have a witness in all people, as well. Those, then, who proceed from earthly powers and corruption also have the ability to reach into the hearts of their hearers, where they find approval. People will heed such false messages, as they will the authentic, and will act according to the lies they have heard.

How then, can we tell the true from the false, that which proceeds from the Light and that which proceeds from the flesh?

Fruit, of course.

Does the message guide with Truth, or with illusion? Does it edify? Or does it degrade?

If the message grows the seed of God within us, if it turns us toward a reliance on the Spirit to direct us, then it is of the authentic source. If it grows the worship of the flesh, encouraging us to live through earthly passions, then it is not.

Is the person directed toward, or along, the path that leads to simplicity, harmony, community, equality and integrity? Or is direction toward means of meeting our needs that rely on complication, discord, alienation, subordination and duplicity to make our way through the world?



Mon, 29 Sep 2003 01:28:32 GMT

A Friend left our meeting, recently. Although he had a Quaker history, this Friend had not been to meeting for a long time before coming to ours and frequently expressed, while with us, that it brought joy to his life and he was glad to have found us. But he stopped coming and, when some Friends made inquiry, he said it was because there was too much "Christ centered language" to suit him. This made me very sad because I am a Christ centered Friend. I felt as though my expression of my spirituality had chased away someone I loved. Our Meeting is as eclectic as any I have encountered. We have a little of everything on the Quaker spectrum, including some evangelicals who come, on and off, going back and forth from our unprogrammed "liberal" meeting to a Quaker church. One of the things that we have frequently commented on, one of the things we consider to be the strength of our meeting, is that we are a diverse community in which people of different spiritual orientations worship and live together and contribute to one another's spiritual condition. Messages at our meeting come from many spiritual contexts, Christian and pagan and Jewish and Buddhist... This is a very big deal in Quaker circles. The divide that seems to exist between Christian and universalist Friends is an elephant under the rug when Quakers meet outside their home communities. I have heard it said that Quakerism was accidentally a Christian religion, that the accident of where and when it was born made it Christian, in the way that the where and when of the birth of people who live around me made them, for the most part, Americans. Born in a different time and place I would be an Armenian or Chilean and, the same can be said of Quakerism. I am less certain of that than some, but I think about it. First Friends (George Fox and the multitudes of seekers he found waiting for his message) came to believe in the light within, the indwelling spirit. This was called the "Christ within," as well. The idea was that all people have a measure of this spirit and that, if they will set aside the forms of worship and the theological notions they have been taught, this spirit will teach them and change them, this light will show them the way. It will transform them, conform them and they will exhibit new behaviors and attitudes that will testify to the change that has taken place within them as the result of this inward change, this work done within them by the Holy Spirit. But, although first Friends were Christians and any that doubt that have but to read what they have written, they also very firmly believed that this spirit, this light, existed in all people, regardless of their faith. The lyric in the Quaker song is "...there's a light that is shining in the Turk and the Jew, there's a light that is shining, Friend, in me and in you." Among the first Friends were those who went to the Turks, and to the centers of power of many spiritual traditions (with little actual success) to expose them to The Truth of the light, the spirit, a measure of which waits in each of us to do its transforming work. Nonetheless, the idea that the spirit, the light, exists in all is firmly a part of Quakerism. Although I am a Christian Quaker I take this universalism seriously and it has wider importance to me than it did to first Friends. And I do believe that anyone, anywhere, regardless of his or her spiritual tradition or lack of one, has access to this spirit, t[...]

Fri, 19 Sep 2003 14:17:38 GMT

how frustrating. 

I just spent an hour or so writing a piece about my first Quaker meeting and, when I pushed the button to post to the weblog I got a "cannot find server" (the "white screen of death") and what I had written was gone.