A little light religion

Yes, maybe that is a touch tautological, maybe antonymic (bit of a contradiction in terms) but then that depends on where you are coming from spiritually.  For many faiths light and religion go hand in glove anyway.  In any case, it's Sunday and I'd like to try to lift my head above the domestic disharmony that overshadowed the weekend (nothing serious, just seven year old tantrums and stuff) so for better or worse here is my stab at a post aimed in a vaguely spiritual direction.

A little while ago I "dugg" this article which I somehow googled towards (Disclaimer; that is not my newspaper of choice, and I have no recollection how I chanced on the article).  It prompted me to muse a little on human nature and how Religion and society interact.  I'm participating in a series of Sunday sessions entitled "twelve [[Quakers]] and..." which tonight is dealing with "... and God". No doubt that played a part in my looking into the article.  Quakers often have issues with the big G in God and the big R in Religion.  Although Wikipedia defines Quakerism as fundamentally a Christian faith there's actually a bit of a schism over that, with the [[Universalist Quaker Fellowship]] at one end of the spectrum and "evangelical" Quakers at the other.  I'll confess I once made a wiki edit to remove Quakers from the Christian category of religions, but it did not even last 12 hours!  Guess that tells you which end of the spectrum I am at (either that or I'm a bit of an anarchist)!.

Coming back to the article, it seems [[Dorothy Rowe]] has quite a back catalogue of self-help psychology publications, but this is surely a piggie back on the [[Richard Dawkins]] book.  I was most provoked by her assertion that "No religion accepts us as the person we know ourselves to be" because I cannot think of anything that jars more with my Quaker faith!  Of course there does remain the question of how far I "know myself", but setting that to one side I do feel accepted as I am within the Religious Society of Friends.  It is interesting how something has to be provocative to get the thought process going.

I know what she is referring to and I can recognise it in many faiths, particularly fundamentalist ones, but to me this is almost the antithesis of religion.  At the very least it surely shows sloppy thinking on her part?  I do enjoy examining religion from a polytheist or atheist point of view though.  I find it more spiritual and thought provoking than any belief in certainties.

When I tell people I am a Quaker I have to prepare myself for questions like "are you a Christian?" and "what do you believe in?" and "Do you believe in God?" and my responses have evolved and are always changing.  I've never really tried a silent response, the Quaker silence can freak some people out and in this context would be misconstrued.  Early on I might proffer a few Fox quotes like we believe "in that of God in everyone".  I have cited the example of a Quaker who got into a heated parking space dispute before Meeting and when asked - "But how can you fight with me over this space, you're a Quaker?" replied with - "Yes!  That's WHY I'm a Quaker!".  I have tried talking about the sharing of common values (like peace, simplicity, community, discernment, charity).  I have been prepared not to snigger or take offense when people think I am [[Amish]] or that I can be polygamous (both have occured!).  People become confused by our lack of sacraments, it seems they need a certain amount of "smoke and mirrors" before they can regard something as "religious".  I think Quakers hold the totallity of life as their sacrament, and since that makes religion somewhat all-pervasive it becomes hard for others to recognise.  I guess it makes Quakers particularly sensitive to Ellas position rather than Siegfrieds?  But the majority of Quakers are very much empowered and driven to aspire to change things in this life, so I think the comparison with Ella ends there.

I am now considering remembering this quote and citing it as the antithesis of what Quakerism means to me.  Perhaps the approach of telling people what Quakers are NOT, whilst exhausting, might be more productive in the long term than trying to sum up what we ARE?  I already see a pitfall though, because the mis-conception that I find the most irritating about Quakers is the commonly held belief that we are "wishy washy" or somehow will not commit or be pinned down on what we do believe.  This misconception is even harder to correct because, believe it or not, Quakers are highly mistrustful of words when it comes to spiritual matters.  If you look into Quaker history you'll soon see they are people of action not afraid to commit and usually highly principled (EG if called to "take an [[oath]]" in court Quakers would refuse, [[George Fox]] having set a Quaker precedent).

This has probably been one of my longer posts.  I hope it did not seem like a sermon!

I have not adopted one of those blogging "code of ethics"; so I'll say here that any comment other than spam will be allowed to stand.  You can even say "God's a s**t", but that will not be very original in this context!.

You will sometimes find me indulging in a little light word play (as when I began this post).  That is part of the reason I added Wordie to the sidebar.  Similarly the Digg flash widget is partly there so that I can "Digg" things I want to flag as possible future post material.  I would appreciate feedback if anyone finds the site becoming too cluttered - already I think I have reached the limit and possibly exceeded it.  My thinking on that subject is that since many of the extras are there to be handy for me as much as any reader I may have two different sidebars and only load the "bloated" one when someone is logged in - that way first time visitors and casual readers will not be troubled by my twittering or "Digging" etc.  Those that want the extras can log in to get them.

Right - well that will give me some coding to play around with tonight, after me and my Friends have discussed our views on God!  Incidentally God is big enough that we do him for two months in a row!

By the way (if any readers are left!) I'm also aiming to upgrade my Chyrp! Blog software to v2rc2 this week - I'll try to put up a "back soon" page while the work is in progress... But I know I don't have THAT many readers just yet!

12:12 PM | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , , , ,