Not that I'm signing any manifestos. I've already explicitly refused to lay any claim on being able to define "real" Friends. But I still want to know, does anyone care if you or I are Friends? Do you? Does God? Is any person's life made more whole by the fact that you or I identify with Quakers?
I'm in joyful alignment with the yearning to be transparent and transformed by God's grace. This and nothing else helps me make sense of my earthly sojourn. And as a dedicated introvert, this and nothing else makes me yearn for the company of a group.
That group should moreover be a place where I can confess these yearnings. Not that I can demand total safety: if I did, my group would have no door to the world. ...The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God (from John 16:2). But the weight of the group must be utterly dedicated to God's transforming grace. When I came among the Friends of Ottawa Meeting, as miscellaneous as we were back in 1974, I experienced for myself a sweet echo of Howgill's gracious testimony:
The Kingdom of Heaven did gather us, and catch us all, as in a net, and [God's] Heavenly power at one time drew many hundreds to land, that we came to know a place to stand in and what to wait in....[source; quoted here]Transparency and transformation should be a wonderful purification from elitism: there is no basis to claim superiority when we're standing before God without the filthy rags of prestige or privilege or even years of committee service! But caution caution! our sheer exuberance in this discovery should not become yet another elitism. I almost titled this post "Quaker machismo" (as an echo of "evangelical machismo" part 1 and part 2) but decided not to risk the gender overtones. Still, what I said about the athleticism that seemed to be coming into fashion among evangelicals still seems important to say. Most of us will never become superstars of transforming faith, dazzling others with our ability to be on fire with the Gospel. I want to be yoked with those who are also quiet, modest, uncertain, struggling. Some of us might be almost ready for transformation, but still dealing with addictions or social entanglements. Others are much farther on the path than I am, but their spiritual gifts or temperaments are simply far more private; for now they haven't yet found the way to beckon us alongside. (Oh, please try!) They too are Friends.
However, even with the most generous interpretation of who Friends are, and with the widest possible acceptance of our diversities of temperaments and gifts, there is still a test that is crucial for me. Does the presence of Quakers in the world open the doors to God's family wider somehow, somewhere? Are prisoners and poor people hearing the good news--and can they find a place among us if they desire? In fact, are "they" becoming "we"? If not, if we're dead in the water, then please let's raise up more people with the nerve to tell us we're not really Friends!
I don't want "transformation" to be another low-risk lifestyle enhancement. There's a Lamb's War going on; are we actually taking territory from Satan?
Men respond to Piper on Christianity's "masculine feel."
"The power of choice in Downton Abbey."
"How do we vote with integrity?" (Read and add to the comments.)
"Love Jesus, Hate Religion." Criticisms are quite predictable--I agree with many of them. It's important to withhold judgment long enough to listen.
An interesting thing to see on our bank's Web site: "Accumulation seduces Christians."
Science and religion: "Where the conflict really lies." Don't have time to read Plantinga on science and Christianity? At least let yourself be tempted by this review!
"How to rig an election" and (lest we get self-righteous) how to smother a whistleblower.
I know I've posted several versions of this song. Its message never wears out.