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Knowledge & News
Thought provoking topics and series, necessary news and information.
The Call of God
I am a member of the Orlando Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, a body more commonly known as the Quakers. I have been a Quaker all of my life. For about 20 years of my life, however, I was a member of a Presbyterian Church, instead of a Quaker meeting. I joined the Presbyterian Church because, at that time, I did not find among Quakers enough emphasis on Jesus. After 20 years, I left the Presbyterian Church because I did not find among its members enough emphasis on the Divine. I returned to membership in a Quaker Meeting. I now recognize that I am the “moving target.”
What attracted me to Quakerism was its permission to seek and hold different answers to Life’s questions. To William Penn’s question, for example, upon his decision to become a member, whether he, as a soldier, must give up his sword, George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, is reported to have said: “Wear your sword as long as you can.”
In other words, Fox gave Penn permission to be a “moving target.”
Quakers have no published creeds; no sacramental rituals are routinely observed. The focus is on the inward journey. For more on Quakerism, visit HERE
What attracted me to Collective was expressed in its Community Statement, valuing “the metaphor of journey.” That Community Statement gives people like me, on an inward journey, permission to be “moving targets.”
I heard the same acceptance expressed during the Threshold Weekend with Peter Rollins, hosted at Collective.
That would not be alarming, either, if we held to the metaphor of journey. It is an alarming statistic only if it threatens our sense of safety. For many, of course, it does.
Religions tend to build into their belief systems barriers to change, labeled, for example, as “heresy,” or “apostasy,” or “blasphemy.” Historically, severe penalties for deviations from established dogma were threatened or imposed. Warnings of catastrophic consequences were intended to discourage whatever was then perceived to undermine the relationship between people and God.
In our time, the consequences may simply be exclusion from the community. Communities then become “echo chambers,” or worse, “fortresses.” They run the risk of becoming stagnant or irrelevant.
If, however, we can accept the discomfort of “not knowing;” of being on a journey, the threat to our safety is reduced. We are reassured by those parts of the “old” faith about God’s love and forgiveness. We rely upon the promise of the rainbow.
That discomfort, sometimes referred to as the opposite side of the same coin of Faith, allows us - indeed motivates us - to grow and mature. We “exercise” our faith, just as we go to the Y to exercise our bodies.
The survey referred to above suggests that America’s comfortable religious clothes may no longer fit. We must shop for new clothes (or wineskins, to use an apt Biblical analogy).
Those of us who can accept that Growth is a positive (indeed unavoidable) consequence of Life, (and thus is not threatening), should reach out to those who are fearful of change, with words of compassion, love, respect, acceptance, and encouragement. If, in response, we are met with violence, in word or deed, we must practice active, but non-violent, resistance. Violence begets violence. We must respond only in Love.
“Yes, everyone who knows me knows that I deny The Resurrection. Every time I turn away from injustice, I deny The Resurrection. Every time I turn my back on the homeless, I deny The Resurrection.” - Peter Rollins.
That is active non-violence.
Frederick Buechner suggests that “the Call of God is where your deepest joy, and the World’s greatest need, meet.” I believe that a new understanding of God is the World’s greatest need. In building a community of “misfits” to join in the search for such a new understanding, I believe that Collective is answering that call.
Other Responses in the "Losing / Finding Faith" Series
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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