Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Re: [quf] hello and questions

Expand Messages
  • Henry Scherr
    Welcome to the QUF group, even though it appears to have been very inactive. So has the other Quaker group, quaker@yahoogroups.com. I have found much of this
    Message 1 of 30 , May 2, 2005
      Welcome to the QUF group, even though it appears to have been very
      inactive. So has the other Quaker group, quaker@yahoogroups.com. I
      have found much of this latter group to be too Christocentric for me,
      sometimes rabidly so, with a lot of bashing of Liberal Quakers (which
      would include Quaker Universalists).

      Your concerns reflect mine almost exactly. I come from a background
      that includes things like New Age spirituality, Unity and New Thought,
      Unitarian-Universalism, Buddhism, and Neo-Paganism. Although there
      seems to be no opposition to non-Christocentric thought at our St.
      Louis Friends Meeting (which would qualify as Liberal Quaker), what's
      most evident and taken for granted is a Christocentric focus. Unlike
      the Unitarian-Universalist Sunday School curriculum, which includes
      material from a variety of world religions, the Quaker First Day
      School curriculum most of the time is about "what we learned in the
      Bible today." I personally would like to see a more universalist
      emphasis as the Unitarians have. On the other hand, I have usually
      felt that Unitarianism tended to be too rationalist-humanist, with
      little appreciation for the mystical.

      In other words, I find there are allowances for non-Christocentric
      thought and expression, but the default or standard is still
      Christocentric.

      Henry Scherr
      St. Louis MO
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: minerva_nine
      To: quf@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2005 3:11 PM
      Subject: [quf] hello and questions


      Greetings everyone --

      I joined the group a few weeks ago. I am at this point a
      questioner,
      not knowing very much yet at all about Quaker faith and traditions,
      but having read and studied many other religions and belief systems,
      found myself interested. Essentially, I have been looking for a
      long
      time for a form of community that makes allowance for individual
      understanding of the larger questions of life, and the Quaker
      tradition seems to be one of the few long-standing faiths that not
      only allows for this but encourages it. However, all my readings
      about it seem to emphasize the fact that it's a Christian faith, and
      I wondered what Uninversal Friends felt on this issue.

      I personally think that Christ's message was a universal one, that
      the things he said, when read correctly, are universal truths that
      could be applied to any person of any belief. I don't believe he
      was
      the literal "son of god," and at this point one of my main stumbling
      blocks appears to be an inability to believe in any sort of
      traditional god at all. Are there others here contemplating the
      same
      issues? Is it possible to feel and have a connection with an inner
      light that one isn't convinced emanates from a divine source, and
      still call oneself a Quaker?

      I have explored other non-theistic traditions but find them so
      hidebound in dogma and ritual that I simply can't go further.

      Any and all comments are welcome.

      Minerva








      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      --------
      Yahoo! Groups Links

      a.. To visit your group on the web, go to:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quf/

      b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
      quf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

      c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
      Service.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Greg Southworth
      I have come to believe that Quakerism may have been the rebirth of Gnosticism in its modern incarnation. Gnostics have/had an amazingly tolerate view of other
      Message 2 of 30 , May 2, 2005
        I have come to believe that Quakerism may have been the rebirth of Gnosticism in its modern incarnation. Gnostics have/had an amazingly tolerate view of other faith traditions saying that the current existence is an illusion (sounds Buddhistic to me), but that we can reconnect with God (Christian), which is the Great Light (Pagan), as we all carry the spark of the Divine (Pantheism) within us. Some older Gnostics postulated about the existence of lesser divine entities (Hinduism) but still more modern ones see those as archetypes (modern Jungian psychology) of that struggle which goes on inside each of us (a jihad as Muslims call it) as the Inner Divine seeks to awaken (Buddhist) to the Light (Pagan and Pantheist).

        I hope that made sense.

        Greg

        George Amoss <g_amoss@...> wrote:
        From my reading of early Quaker material, it seems to me that there was
        no question that Jesus was the Christ and that the Christ was God. But
        neither was there any question that those who were born into the life
        of the Spirit by submitting to the Light's inward leading became
        members of Christ and therefore partook of the nature of God (hence
        their perfection). Fox argued those points forcefully. For example, in
        The Great Mystery he asserts, "Doth not the apostle say, the saints
        were made partakers of the divine nature?" (See the Historical Material
        section of my Quaker Electronic Archive -- http://www.quakerarchive.org
        -- for selections from The Great Mystery and other early writings.) The
        universalism of early Quakerism was based on the belief that the Seed
        or Light of Christ is in everyone, and that therefore anyone who turns
        inward and submits to the guidance of the Light can be reborn as part
        of the one divine, spiritual "body" of Christ -- "to be of his flesh
        and bone."

        That's how our tradition began; I feel strongly that we need to
        acknowledge, understand, and respect those beginnings if we want to
        retain the heart of Quakerism as we help guide its evolution. The
        language may be strange to us, but the core truth of being lifted up,
        transformed, and joined together in love is something we know from
        experience.

        George Amoss

        --- Barbara Birch <birchcarl@...> wrote:
        > When I read the original testimonies of early Friends, I find that
        > many of them resisted making clear statements of belief about Jesus
        > and the Christ. It seems to me that they were trying to walk a fine
        > line between outright heresy and openly admitting doubts about Jesus
        > as divine. Their statements seem very vague and opaque, almost
        > intended to say one thing and mean another. Many, of course,
        > suffered greatly for their expression of their beliefs.
        ....


        __________________________________________________
        Do You Yahoo!?
        Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
        http://mail.yahoo.com


        ---------------------------------
        Yahoo! Groups Links

        To visit your group on the web, go to:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quf/

        To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
        quf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

        Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


        __________________________________________________
        Do You Yahoo!?
        Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
        http://mail.yahoo.com

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Pashta MaryMoon
        At 05:40 PM 02/05/2005, you wrote: Hi George, For me (again) I see Quakerism as a progressive religion - and well, not really a religion itself, but rather an
        Message 3 of 30 , May 3, 2005
          At 05:40 PM 02/05/2005, you wrote:

          Hi George,

          For me (again) I see Quakerism as a progressive religion - and
          well, not really a religion itself, but rather an approach to
          spirituality. While it is important to take note of what the original
          Friends believed and wrote - and wonderful if we find evidence that new
          approaches actually have some rooting in them - I don't see holding to
          their specific beliefs.

          I fear that we move towards 'glorify' them ( in a sense, make them
          into another Jesus or bible) - as they were somehow distinctly 'more' than
          modern Friends, and not themselves (like us) 'spirit-led' people struggling
          (as we are) to make sense of their rejection of the old and finding a new
          'way' that spoke more authentically to them. In this sense, I think that
          we run the risk of dis-honouring them, by holding to their words as
          'written in stone' or as absolute.

          I realize that you are not saying this, but I just wanted to make
          note (in light of what you said) that there is this tendency amongst
          Friends, and in so doing, not fully honour how the 'spirit leads' in this
          day and age.

          > From my reading of early Quaker material, it seems to me that there was
          >no question that Jesus was the Christ and that the Christ was God. But
          >neither was there any question that those who were born into the life
          >of the Spirit by submitting to the Light's inward leading became
          >members of Christ and therefore partook of the nature of God (hence
          >their perfection). Fox argued those points forcefully. For example, in
          >The Great Mystery he asserts, "Doth not the apostle say, the saints
          >were made partakers of the divine nature?" (See the Historical Material
          >section of my Quaker Electronic Archive --
          ><http://www.quakerarchive.org>http://www.quakerarchive.org
          >-- for selections from The Great Mystery and other early writings.) The
          >universalism of early Quakerism was based on the belief that the Seed
          >or Light of Christ is in everyone, and that therefore anyone who turns
          >inward and submits to the guidance of the Light can be reborn as part
          >of the one divine, spiritual "body" of Christ -- "to be of his flesh
          >and bone."
          >
          >That's how our tradition began; I feel strongly that we need to
          >acknowledge, understand, and respect those beginnings if we want to
          >retain the heart of Quakerism as we help guide its evolution. The
          >language may be strange to us, but the core truth of being lifted up,
          >transformed, and joined together in love is something we know from
          >experience.
          >
          >George Amoss
          >
          >--- Barbara Birch <birchcarl@...> wrote:
          > > When I read the original testimonies of early Friends, I find that
          > > many of them resisted making clear statements of belief about Jesus
          > > and the Christ. It seems to me that they were trying to walk a fine
          > > line between outright heresy and openly admitting doubts about Jesus
          > > as divine. Their statements seem very vague and opaque, almost
          > > intended to say one thing and mean another. Many, of course,
          > > suffered greatly for their expression of their beliefs.
          >....
          >
          >
          >__________________________________________________
          >Do You Yahoo!?
          >Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          ><http://mail.yahoo.com>http://mail.yahoo.com
          >
          >
          >----------
          >Yahoo! Groups Links
          > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
          > * <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quf/>http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quf/
          > *
          > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > *
          > <mailto:quf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>quf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          > *
          > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the
          > <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/>Yahoo! Terms of Service.
          >
          >
          >No virus found in this incoming message.
          >Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
          >Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005

          In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
          Pashta MaryMoon
          Blessed Be

          Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

          Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

          Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

          GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
          http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
          - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
          http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
          - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
          http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

          World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

          ----------



          No virus found in this outgoing message.
          Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
          Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Pashta MaryMoon
          ... P - certainly true for me. Although I work with the language of deities (goddess, god), it is purely poetic. I would go farther and say that it is even
          Message 4 of 30 , May 3, 2005
            At 11:43 PM 02/05/2005, you wrote:

            >Thanks to all the responders!
            >
            >Reading the posts I realized that perhaps the concept of "no god" doesn't
            >necessarily equal "no divinity." I think that's the razor's edge upon
            >which I am currently balanced.

            P - certainly true for me. Although I work with the language of deities
            (goddess, god), it is purely poetic. I would go farther and say that it is
            even better to use the term 'divine' rather than 'divinity', as the first
            is an adjective (although used as a noun) and the second, a noun. Nouns
            have a way of becoming definitions (written in stone - which also leads to
            concepts of perfection, and absolutism, and then fights of which definition
            is 'right'), while adjectives, as descriptive, tend to leave room for newer
            and diverse understandings.


            >I have attended my local Friends meeting, only once so far, and as I
            >suspected, based on my knowledge of my home town population, it appeared
            >to be populated by quite liberal and progressive folk. However, as it was
            >a very quiet meeting that day -- only one person spoke -- I can't say for
            >certain what the group mind of the meeting is. I will probably go back at
            >least a few more times to get a 'reading' -- but I tend to be quite shy
            >and reserved personally so I admit to a good deal of reluctance to attend
            >and strike up a conversation during the informal pre-meeting time beforehand.
            >
            >I did find the act of sitting in silence with other humans for an hour to
            >be quite nice, and while I didn't have what I would term a religious
            >experience, neither did I find it uncomfortable or wrong-feeling, as so
            >many religious rituals I've attended in the past have done.
            >
            >I've attempted to read some of the Quaker 'originals' but have a lot of
            >difficulty getting beyond the Christian language -- my personal challenge
            >-- and at this point I'm more attracted to the actual experience of
            >Quaker worship that gaining knowledge of the sect's history.

            P - for some people, the history is really important. For me, it
            isn't. It is good to have some idea of how/where Friends started, and the
            struggles that they went through - and that is a grounding to who Friends
            are today - but I am more concern about how we are today (given almost 4
            centuries of evolution) and how we move forward, honouring the roots of
            Quakerism but always open to new 'revelation' that places our Quaker
            'spirit' within the context of modern times. Other Friends can probably
            make better recommendations than I could, about a few key books to read to
            understand Friends' evolution. I quite understand the issue of the
            Christian language (translating) - I can deal with it, but I must admit
            that I get tired of doing so!!


            In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
            Pashta MaryMoon
            Blessed Be

            Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

            Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

            Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

            GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
            http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
            - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
            http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
            - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
            http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

            World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

            ----------



            No virus found in this outgoing message.
            Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
            Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • David Dawson
            Greetings Minerva, All that I can add to the discussion at this point is that I feel very much like you do in my religious beliefs. I have been disappointed
            Message 5 of 30 , May 3, 2005
              Greetings Minerva,

              All that I can add to the discussion at this point is that I feel
              very much like you do in my "religious" beliefs. I have been
              disappointed several times at my local meeting when words got in the
              way of the shared experience of sitting silently, waiting for ... I
              don't know what I'm waiting for. And I don't really want to know,
              especially not in any way that can easily be defined. From my
              limited reading in the Old Friends, I am still heartened by the many
              instances in which this point is brought home. Quakers were an
              "experimental" bunch (in the parlance of Fox and his
              contemporaries). Meaning, the experience was paramount. The books,
              the sermons, the creeds, the sacraments -- these were unnecessary for
              those who had experienced "that of God" in themselves and in others.
              Or, if you prefer, "the Light." (I add this because many of them
              _did_ prefer "the Light" for reasons similar to those we are
              discussing now.)

              My experience at my local meeting wasn't at all completely
              disappointing. Just the opposite. I found a community of folks with
              many more questions than answers. During the Clearness Committee
              Meeting for Membership that I attended when I decided to join, I was
              reminded that those seeking certainty and unanimity of belief ought
              to think very hard about joining a Quaker meeting. At this meeting,
              each time I tried to explain exactly what I do believe and what I
              don't believe, I was met with quiet and receptive nods of
              encouragement, followed by passing statements that said, essentially,
              "we don't really care how much or how little you believe in a
              personal god or goddess. Your life speaks much more clearly than
              your words ever can."

              A couple of years ago I found myself defending -- in the pages of
              Friends Journal -- a Friend who had written an article for this fine
              publication declaring himself to be an "apatheist." He defined this
              as a person who doesn't _really_ believe in a deity, but whose
              disbelief is so tiny a part of his world that he doesn't really
              care. Hence apathy + atheist. In a private email exchange with the
              author I learned that he was being roasted via email by the
              traditional, Christian Quakers who had read the article. So I wrote
              a letter to FJ defending and agreeing with his clever moniker,
              because it had come at a time when I needed to be reminded that I
              really don't care much that I really don't believe much either. The
              upshot (you can hear it coming, can't you?) is that I was then, in
              print and via email, roasted by the Christian Quakers across the land
              who read my letter and sought to snatch me back from the jaws of some
              sort of heresy or sacrilege or something.

              And I still didn't care!

              And I still don't!

              What I "believe" is so inconsequential compared to the warm and
              abiding "experience" that I've come to enjoy from unprogrammed
              Quakerism that I can actually learn much more from the Theists and
              the Christ-centered Friends than I ever could back when I took the
              issues of faith and belief much more seriously. Looking back, I can
              see now that these good folks knew lots that I didn't -- namely, that
              acceptance of differences is not only inevitable, but can be
              enlightening when embraced with integrity and love. Which is to say,
              these folks accepted me and my Universalist "apatheist" ways from the
              first day I wandered through their door. Maybe I was lucky, because
              I've heard other stories that weren't handled so well. But in my
              case, it was I who grew to do the accepting and the learning, even
              though I had thought myself to be so far removed from all things
              Christian as to be practically an alien life form.

              Which is say, the Quaker way is there for you (and thankfully, for
              me) if you need it, or if you resonate with it, or if -- by some glad
              experience -- you find yourself at home at a meeting somewhere.

              Again, welcome to the group. I hope you can find a way to explore
              some of the rich and enriching aspects of Quaker thought and practice.

              Oh, and "what's quaker-b?" Sorry, I don't know. I think I do care!
              But I don't know.

              David Dawson


              On May 3, 2005, at 1:40 PM, minerva nine wrote:

              > What's quaker-b?
              >
              > For me, the difference in the two terms is so subtle it may not be
              > useful,
              > but here goes: atheists generally seem to deny the existence of
              > anything at
              > all divine or outside human experience. Non-theists seem willing
              > to accept
              > the concept of a divine, but posit that it has no "personality,"
              > i.e., it is
              > not a "being." For instance, Religious Naturalists are non-
              > theists, but
              > could not really be called atheists. If you want to go to semantics,
              > though, the two words mean essentially the same thing: without
              > theology.
              >
              > Min
              >
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: "Chris Roberts" <keynote@...>
              > To: <quf@yahoogroups.com>
              > Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2005 8:26 AM
              > Subject: [quf] Atheists and non-theists
              >
              >
              > > Friends on quaker-b are currently trying to distinguish between
              > atheists
              > > and non-theists. Can we help them? I just took a look at
              > > http://www.universalistfriends.org/ and found extensive use of
              > the terms
              > > but failed to find a succinct distinction.
              > >
              > > Thanks, Chris
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > Yahoo! Groups Links
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > --
              > > No virus found in this incoming message.
              > > Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
              > > Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.11.1 - Release Date: 5/2/2005
              > >
              > >
              >
              >
              >
              > --
              > No virus found in this outgoing message.
              > Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
              > Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.11.1 - Release Date: 5/2/2005
              >
              >
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              > To visit your group on the web, go to:
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quf/
              >
              > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > quf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >
              > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
              >



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Henry Scherr
              Pashta, you did it again! You expressed my thoughts on this more perfectly than I have been able to. This is what I would have liked to express on another
              Message 6 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                Pashta, you did it again! You expressed my thoughts on this more
                perfectly than I have been able to. This is what I would have liked
                to express on another Quaker mail list I was on, regarding the
                evolution of Quakerism instead of remaining stuck in arguing over
                historical authenticity.

                Henry Scherr
                St. Louis, MO
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Pashta MaryMoon
                To: quf@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2005 3:06 PM
                Subject: Re: [quf] hello and questions


                At 11:43 PM 02/05/2005, you wrote:

                >Thanks to all the responders!
                >
                >Reading the posts I realized that perhaps the concept of "no god"
                doesn't
                >necessarily equal "no divinity." I think that's the razor's edge
                upon
                >which I am currently balanced.

                P - certainly true for me. Although I work with the language of
                deities
                (goddess, god), it is purely poetic. I would go farther and say
                that it is
                even better to use the term 'divine' rather than 'divinity', as the
                first
                is an adjective (although used as a noun) and the second, a noun.
                Nouns
                have a way of becoming definitions (written in stone - which also
                leads to
                concepts of perfection, and absolutism, and then fights of which
                definition
                is 'right'), while adjectives, as descriptive, tend to leave room
                for newer
                and diverse understandings.


                >I have attended my local Friends meeting, only once so far, and as
                I
                >suspected, based on my knowledge of my home town population, it
                appeared
                >to be populated by quite liberal and progressive folk. However, as
                it was
                >a very quiet meeting that day -- only one person spoke -- I can't
                say for
                >certain what the group mind of the meeting is. I will probably go
                back at
                >least a few more times to get a 'reading' -- but I tend to be quite
                shy
                >and reserved personally so I admit to a good deal of reluctance to
                attend
                >and strike up a conversation during the informal pre-meeting time
                beforehand.
                >
                >I did find the act of sitting in silence with other humans for an
                hour to
                >be quite nice, and while I didn't have what I would term a
                religious
                >experience, neither did I find it uncomfortable or wrong-feeling,
                as so
                >many religious rituals I've attended in the past have done.
                >
                >I've attempted to read some of the Quaker 'originals' but have a
                lot of
                >difficulty getting beyond the Christian language -- my personal
                challenge
                >-- and at this point I'm more attracted to the actual experience
                of
                >Quaker worship that gaining knowledge of the sect's history.

                P - for some people, the history is really important. For me, it
                isn't. It is good to have some idea of how/where Friends started,
                and the
                struggles that they went through - and that is a grounding to who
                Friends
                are today - but I am more concern about how we are today (given
                almost 4
                centuries of evolution) and how we move forward, honouring the roots
                of
                Quakerism but always open to new 'revelation' that places our Quaker
                'spirit' within the context of modern times. Other Friends can
                probably
                make better recommendations than I could, about a few key books to
                read to
                understand Friends' evolution. I quite understand the issue of the
                Christian language (translating) - I can deal with it, but I must
                admit
                that I get tired of doing so!!


                In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
                Pashta MaryMoon
                Blessed Be

                Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

                Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

                Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

                GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
                http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
                - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year
                God
                http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
                - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four
                elemental stages
                http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

                World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

                ----------



                No virus found in this outgoing message.
                Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date:
                27/04/2005


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                --------
                Yahoo! Groups Links

                a.. To visit your group on the web, go to:
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quf/

                b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                quf-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

                c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
                Service.



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • James Riemermann
                ... useful, ... anything at ... to accept ... i.e., it is ... theists, but ... semantics, ... theology. As a Quaker nontheist, atheist and agnostic (yes, one
                Message 7 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                  --- In quf@yahoogroups.com, "minerva nine" <minerva@i...> wrote:
                  > What's quaker-b?
                  >
                  > For me, the difference in the two terms is so subtle it may not be
                  useful,
                  > but here goes: atheists generally seem to deny the existence of
                  anything at
                  > all divine or outside human experience. Non-theists seem willing
                  to accept
                  > the concept of a divine, but posit that it has no "personality,"
                  i.e., it is
                  > not a "being." For instance, Religious Naturalists are non-
                  theists, but
                  > could not really be called atheists. If you want to go to
                  semantics,
                  > though, the two words mean essentially the same thing: without
                  theology.

                  As a Quaker nontheist, atheist and agnostic (yes, one can be all of
                  these), I find this characterization of the word atheist to be off
                  the mark. An atheist is simply someone who does not believe in the
                  existence of God/gods. It is only a "denial" in the context of
                  someone else's assertion.

                  It is certainly not a denial of the existnce of anything outside
                  human experience. I've never met a person who would deny that there
                  is anything outside of human experience. I can hardly imagine what
                  form such a denial might take. Obviously, human beings are one
                  particular sort of creature among many sorts of creatures, in
                  relationship with both living and non-living entities. I've never met
                  anyone who would deny this. Have you?

                  The word nontheist is very new, and I suspect its creation was
                  primarily an attempt to soften the word atheist, which too many
                  theists have historically equated with "immoral person." In
                  discussions I have had with nontheist Friends, the main justification
                  I have heard for using it is its lack of negative connotations, which
                  stems from the fact that most people don't know what it means. If the
                  term gains currency, I suspect the negative connotations will
                  eventually follow, at least until the prejudices behind those
                  connotations lose their force. This may take a long time.

                  That said, the construction of the word nontheist does suggest some
                  differences with the word atheist which might aid in communication.
                  Nontheist strikes me as identical in meaning to "not a theist."
                  Jefferson was a deist, but not a theist, in that he expressed belief
                  in a God who began the universe, but not a God who continues to
                  intervene in the operation of the universe. Therefore I would
                  consider Jefferson, or any deist, a nontheist (that is, not a theist).

                  The newly emerging meaning of the word is, as Os Cresson suggests,
                  much broader than most of the other words for non-belief in God/gods.
                  Anyone who is not a theist is a nontheist. This makes it helpful as
                  an umbrella for a very wide variety of Friends who, for all their
                  diversity, share an reluctance to accept literal or traditional
                  concepts of God-belief.
                • Pashta MaryMoon
                  ... P - while it is my personal drive to find out what (not so much the definition, as the acknowledgment of relationships), I think that there is a real
                  Message 8 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                    At 09:44 PM 03/05/2005, you wrote:

                    >Greetings Minerva,
                    >
                    >All that I can add to the discussion at this point is that I feel
                    >very much like you do in my "religious" beliefs. I have been
                    >disappointed several times at my local meeting when words got in the
                    >way of the shared experience of sitting silently, waiting for ... I
                    >don't know what I'm waiting for. And I don't really want to know,
                    >especially not in any way that can easily be defined.

                    P - while it is my personal drive to 'find out what' (not so much the
                    definition, as the acknowledgment of relationships), I think that there is
                    a real value in 'don't really want to know', in that it avoids putting
                    definitions on something that really isn't definable. On the other hand,
                    sometimes that does concern me - if it becomes a reason to stop 'seeking'
                    and questioning what our beliefs are (and especially those deeply
                    entrenched ones that we are generally unconscious of).

                    > From my
                    >limited reading in the Old Friends, I am still heartened by the many
                    >instances in which this point is brought home. Quakers were an
                    >"experimental" bunch (in the parlance of Fox and his
                    >contemporaries). Meaning, the experience was paramount. The books,
                    >the sermons, the creeds, the sacraments -- these were unnecessary for
                    >those who had experienced "that of God" in themselves and in others.
                    >Or, if you prefer, "the Light." (I add this because many of them
                    >_did_ prefer "the Light" for reasons similar to those we are
                    >discussing now.)

                    P - I agree with the 'experimental' part, and wonder if modern Quakers are
                    sometimes too 'set in their ways'. Tricky balance - keeping grounded in
                    what has given foundation to Friends for nearly 4 centuries, while at the
                    same being open to new 'revelations' as to how that can be most
                    appropriately interpreted in the modern age. Somewhat understandable -
                    people tend to cling more to the 'old ways' when the world is changing
                    rapidly around them - but while there is a need for essential
                    'con-serve-atism', we can too easily end up trapped in interpretations that
                    are no longer appropriate.

                    Although I use the term 'light' and understand what others mean by
                    it, I have some difficulty with it. Humyns are a very sight-biased
                    species, and our culture is very light-biased. In fact, that bias is so
                    ingrained in our language, that we can hardly talk about 'awareness'
                    without using sight/light based words. I think that we have much to
                    re-learn from the other animals, about the conceptual imagery that lies
                    within the other senses - that are distinctly different in
                    'tone/assumption' that sight/light. And much of this (and 'common speak')
                    supports an on-going dualism between 'light' and 'dark' in which light is
                    automatically considered 'good', and 'darkness', 'bad'. Here, I think we
                    also have a lot to re-learn - as both can be negative and positive - and
                    simply because upholding such a primary dualism limits our perspection (one
                    of the sight/light biased words). I don't want to see Friends lose their
                    sense of 'the light' (or the spirit - which has much the same problem), but
                    rather learn to balance them with the positive qualities of 'dark' and
                    'soul' (a word rarely used, and I think, often misunderstood).


                    >My experience at my local meeting wasn't at all completely
                    >disappointing. Just the opposite. I found a community of folks with
                    >many more questions than answers. During the Clearness Committee
                    >Meeting for Membership that I attended when I decided to join, I was
                    >reminded that those seeking certainty and unanimity of belief ought
                    >to think very hard about joining a Quaker meeting. At this meeting,
                    >each time I tried to explain exactly what I do believe and what I
                    >don't believe, I was met with quiet and receptive nods of
                    >encouragement, followed by passing statements that said, essentially,
                    >"we don't really care how much or how little you believe in a
                    >personal god or goddess. Your life speaks much more clearly than
                    >your words ever can."

                    P - much the same as my Membership Committee, David - although I really
                    doubt they had any idea where that would lead me (well, neither did I at
                    the time!!).


                    >A couple of years ago I found myself defending -- in the pages of
                    >Friends Journal -- a Friend who had written an article for this fine
                    >publication declaring himself to be an "apatheist." He defined this
                    >as a person who doesn't _really_ believe in a deity, but whose
                    >disbelief is so tiny a part of his world that he doesn't really
                    >care. Hence apathy + atheist. In a private email exchange with the
                    >author I learned that he was being roasted via email by the
                    >traditional, Christian Quakers who had read the article. So I wrote
                    >a letter to FJ defending and agreeing with his clever moniker,
                    >because it had come at a time when I needed to be reminded that I
                    >really don't care much that I really don't believe much either. The
                    >upshot (you can hear it coming, can't you?) is that I was then, in
                    >print and via email, roasted by the Christian Quakers across the land
                    >who read my letter and sought to snatch me back from the jaws of some
                    >sort of heresy or sacrilege or something.

                    P - interesting term!!! I suspect that it is applicable to many
                    Friends. Again, I can understand the reaction of traditional Christian
                    Quakers, but must admit that I think (and see evidence) that the belief in
                    a distinct/actual deity is a concept that is rapidly being outgrown.

                    >And I still didn't care!
                    >
                    >And I still don't!
                    >
                    >What I "believe" is so inconsequential compared to the warm and
                    >abiding "experience" that I've come to enjoy from unprogrammed
                    >Quakerism that I can actually learn much more from the Theists and
                    >the Christ-centered Friends than I ever could back when I took the
                    >issues of faith and belief much more seriously. Looking back, I can
                    >see now that these good folks knew lots that I didn't -- namely, that
                    >acceptance of differences is not only inevitable, but can be
                    >enlightening when embraced with integrity and love. Which is to say,
                    >these folks accepted me and my Universalist "apatheist" ways from the
                    >first day I wandered through their door. Maybe I was lucky, because
                    >I've heard other stories that weren't handled so well. But in my
                    >case, it was I who grew to do the accepting and the learning, even
                    >though I had thought myself to be so far removed from all things
                    >Christian as to be practically an alien life form.
                    >
                    >Which is say, the Quaker way is there for you (and thankfully, for
                    >me) if you need it, or if you resonate with it, or if -- by some glad
                    >experience -- you find yourself at home at a meeting somewhere.

                    P - I like the terminology 'resonate with it'. I think that that is often
                    what brings people to Meeting and holds them, even if (as you) they don't
                    have a distinct construct of what they are resonating with, and don't care to.


                    >Again, welcome to the group. I hope you can find a way to explore
                    >some of the rich and enriching aspects of Quaker thought and practice.
                    >
                    >Oh, and "what's quaker-b?" Sorry, I don't know. I think I do care!
                    >But I don't know.

                    P - I have heard the term used several times, but also don't know what it
                    refers to, so would also appreciate it if someone could clarify.


                    In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
                    Pashta MaryMoon
                    Blessed Be

                    Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

                    Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

                    Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

                    GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
                    http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
                    - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
                    http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
                    - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
                    http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

                    World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

                    ----------



                    Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
                    Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                    Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Pashta MaryMoon
                    ... P - thanks, Henry. While I think that there are a lot of Friends who actually think the same, they tend not to be outright about it. P.S. re Christian
                    Message 9 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                      At 05:03 AM 04/05/2005, you wrote:

                      >Pashta, you did it again! You expressed my thoughts on this more
                      >perfectly than I have been able to. This is what I would have liked
                      >to express on another Quaker mail list I was on, regarding the
                      >evolution of Quakerism instead of remaining stuck in arguing over
                      >historical authenticity.


                      P - thanks, Henry. While I think that there are a lot of Friends who
                      actually think the same, they tend not to be outright about it.

                      P.S. re Christian language - a correction to my statement below
                      - it really isn't so much that I get tired of translating Christian
                      language, but that so many Friends insist on using it when it is very
                      questionable as to whether it is really what they mean. When asked, a
                      fair number really don't know what they mean by it, but because it is the
                      cultural religious language (as well as traditional Quaker), they continue
                      to use it. What bothers me is that there is little consideration of the
                      baggage that it carries, and then the entrenched (but not always obvious)
                      implications that it communicates to others. AND the (often insistence)
                      assumptions that it SHOULD speak to/for all of us. If someone is using
                      Christian language because it really speaks for them, that's fine with me:
                      totally different case, when they are presuming that it speaks for me.


                      > P - for some people, the history is really important. For me, it
                      > isn't. It is good to have some idea of how/where Friends started,
                      >and the struggles that they went through - and that is a grounding to
                      >who Friends are today - but I am more concern about how we are today
                      >(given almost 4 centuries of evolution) and how we move forward,
                      >honouring the roots of Quakerism but always open to new 'revelation'
                      >that places our Quaker 'spirit' within the context of modern
                      >times. Other Friends can probably make better recommendations than I
                      >could, about a few key books to read to understand Friends'
                      >evolution. I quite understand the issue of the Christian language
                      >(translating) - I can deal with it, but I must admit that I get tired of
                      >doing so!!

                      In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
                      Pashta MaryMoon
                      Blessed Be

                      Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

                      Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

                      Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

                      GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
                      http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
                      - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
                      http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
                      - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
                      http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

                      World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

                      ----------



                      Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
                      Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                      Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Pashta MaryMoon
                      ... P - I must admit that sometimes I find the nontheist Quaker discussions very confusing (to my mind, contradictory, but that may only be my perception).
                      Message 10 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                        At 08:31 AM 04/05/2005, James wrote:


                        >It is certainly not a denial of the existnce of anything outside
                        >human experience. I've never met a person who would deny that there
                        >is anything outside of human experience. I can hardly imagine what
                        >form such a denial might take. Obviously, human beings are one
                        >particular sort of creature among many sorts of creatures, in
                        >relationship with both living and non-living entities. I've never met
                        >anyone who would deny this. Have you?

                        P - I must admit that sometimes I find the nontheist Quaker discussions
                        very confusing (to my mind, contradictory, but that may only be my
                        perception). It does seem to me that some of them are claiming that
                        nothing exists outside of humyn relations, which has always seemed really
                        strange to me. Not only is there the 'rest of the world/universe', in
                        which we are an almost infinitesimal factor, but all of this (what we call
                        'alive' or not) is in a cohesive and dynamic energy relationship. One may
                        choose to perceive that as entirely a 'scientific relationship' - although
                        from that perspective, I think that the sense of 'the Whole that is more
                        than the sum of its parts' (which all 'wholes' are) get lost. For me, it
                        is that ultimate Whole that is the Divine - more than the sum of its
                        physical/scientific parts (where it is all of the parts, but most
                        significantly, the 'more' than can never be defined - defining is a 'parts'
                        related process). I don't know how they can claim that this energy
                        relationship 'whole' doesn't exist - whatever they choose to call it.

                        >The word nontheist is very new, and I suspect its creation was
                        >primarily an attempt to soften the word atheist, which too many
                        >theists have historically equated with "immoral person."

                        P - I can't speak for others, but I consider myself a nontheist, but not an
                        atheist. The distinction is a bit fuzzy - I am definitely not an atheist,
                        but I don't believe that the Divine is an entity/deity (therefore,
                        non-theist/deist). I use deific language all the time, but clearly as
                        poetic personifications (by humyn need, not the Divine's) of the essential
                        polaric nature of the dynamics of the Universe.

                        >In discussions I have had with nontheist Friends, the main justification
                        >I have heard for using it is its lack of negative connotations, which
                        >stems from the fact that most people don't know what it means. If the
                        >term gains currency, I suspect the negative connotations will
                        >eventually follow, at least until the prejudices behind those
                        >connotations lose their force. This may take a long time.

                        P - as above, I think that it is in the process of being defined right now
                        (on the nontheist egroup) but there is still a lot of debate.


                        >That said, the construction of the word nontheist does suggest some
                        >differences with the word atheist which might aid in communication.
                        >Nontheist strikes me as identical in meaning to "not a theist."
                        >Jefferson was a deist, but not a theist, in that he expressed belief
                        >in a God who began the universe, but not a God who continues to
                        >intervene in the operation of the universe. Therefore I would
                        >consider Jefferson, or any deist, a nontheist (that is, not a theist).

                        P - interesting distinction - I am not sure that other nontheist would
                        agree with it, BUT I have requested that Friends on the nontheist egroup
                        distinguish between nontheist and nondeist, and no one has responded.


                        >The newly emerging meaning of the word is, as Os Cresson suggests,
                        >much broader than most of the other words for non-belief in God/gods.


                        P - I would agree with that, and suspect most of the nontheist on the
                        egroup would as well.

                        >Anyone who is not a theist is a nontheist. This makes it helpful as
                        >an umbrella for a very wide variety of Friends who, for all their
                        >diversity, share an reluctance to accept literal or traditional
                        >concepts of God-belief.


                        P- yet what is very interesting to me, is that some nontheist insist on
                        continuing to use 'God' language (and here I mean Abrahamic deity
                        language). Personally, I think that it is very confusing.




                        In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
                        Pashta MaryMoon
                        Blessed Be

                        Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

                        Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

                        Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

                        GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
                        http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
                        - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
                        http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
                        - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
                        http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

                        World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

                        ----------



                        Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
                        Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                        Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Demi Miller
                        Dear Minerva, You will probably feel fairly well at home in this community - but you should prepare yourself for a 3month - 3year time-frame for becomming
                        Message 11 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                          Dear Minerva,
                          You will probably feel fairly well at home in this community - but you
                          should prepare yourself for a 3month - 3year time-frame for becomming
                          fully engaged. (Some of us have been wrestling with your very same
                          questions for 3 decades.)
                          Also (as everybody on this list will affirm) you will also need to find
                          a local Quaker group (or start one- if none are available) in order to
                          get a real sense of the way the the Inner Light informs and guides a
                          Faith Community which employs the classic Quaker silent worship format.
                          The real learning/ engaging has to occur at that level: the shared
                          worship/ meditation that is our raison-d'etre.
                          Most - but not all - Universalist Friends are quite comfortable with
                          the words and teachings of Brother Jesu - and understand that real
                          discipleship means fidelity to his Teachings and the more universal
                          Truth that underlies them. We (like the protagonists in Dan Brown's
                          popular novel "The DaVinci Code") often find ourselves at odds with a
                          Christian Orthodoxy that insists on elevating Jesus into a neo-Pagan God
                          whose priests demand loyalty to their doctrines and the classically
                          authoritarian (and self-serving) worldview they promote. This elevation
                          puts him and his teachings conveniently out of reach of the rest of us
                          who are expected to tow the line - or face ostracism or charges of
                          blasphemy or herasy.
                          Having noted that, I believe that most Christian churches contain at
                          least some sort of balance between the Discipleship emphasis and the
                          Atonement on the Cross emphasis. My personal discipline is to reach out
                          to that of the former in all Christians. Because Quakerism is an inward
                          God-seeking discipline, where/when Quakers express an affinity to
                          Christianity it it most likely to be heavily into the Discipleship model.




                          --
                          -in Love and Peace,
                          -Demi Miller

                          "Those who can make you believe absurdities
                          can make you commit atrocities"
                          -Voltaire

                          "We can have Democracy in this country,
                          or we can have great wealth concentrated
                          in the hands of a few.....
                          but we cannot have both."
                          -Louis D. Brandeis

                          "When morality comes up against profit,
                          it is seldom that profit loses."
                          -Shirley Chisholm

                          "There is more to life than increasing its speed."
                          -Gandhi

                          "Whenever the people are well-informed,
                          They can be trusted with their own Government."
                          -Thomas Jefferson, 1789

                          "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
                          -Emma Goldman

                          "I decided to accept as true, my own thinking."
                          -Georgia O'Keefe

                          "Fire does not burn from the top down - it burns from the bottom up!"
                          -Jesse Jackson


                          Minerva,_nine wrote:
                          > Greetings everyone --
                          >
                          > I joined the group a few weeks ago. I am at this point a questioner,
                          > not knowing very much yet at all about Quaker faith and traditions,
                          > but having read and studied many other religions and belief systems,
                          > found myself interested. Essentially, I have been looking for a long
                          > time for a form of community that makes allowance for individual
                          > understanding of the larger questions of life, and the Quaker
                          > tradition seems to be one of the few long-standing faiths that not
                          > only allows for this but encourages it. However, all my readings
                          > about it seem to emphasize the fact that it's a Christian faith, and
                          > I wondered what Uninversal Friends felt on this issue.
                          >
                          > I personally think that Christ's message was a universal one, that
                          > the things he said, when read correctly, are universal truths that
                          > could be applied to any person of any belief. I don't believe he was
                          > the literal "son of god," and at this point one of my main stumbling
                          > blocks appears to be an inability to believe in any sort of
                          > traditional god at all. Are there others here contemplating the same
                          > issues? Is it possible to feel and have a connection with an inner
                          > light that one isn't convinced emanates from a divine source, and
                          > still call oneself a Quaker?
                          >
                          > I have explored other non-theistic traditions but find them so
                          > hidebound in dogma and ritual that I simply can't go further.
                          >
                          > Any and all comments are welcome.
                          >
                          > Minerva
                        • Demi Miller
                          Dear Friends, Here s my take: Both the term Atheist and the term Agnostic are pretty dated. Both of these are problematic for 21st century people of Faith
                          Message 12 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                            Dear Friends,

                            Here's my take: Both the term "Atheist" and the term "Agnostic" are
                            pretty dated. Both of these are problematic for 21st century people of
                            Faith - because they are both implicitly rooted in the classical
                            Patriarchal 19th century "God!" Which the early 20th century
                            Fundamentalist movement set in stone - along with their notions of
                            "Biblical Inerrancy" (i.e. anti-Biblical historical scholarship and
                            anti- the Darwinian/ Evolutionary views of creation.)
                            With the rise/acceptance of Fundamentalist principles comes an
                            inevitable rigidifying of the nature of God - with no allowance for
                            ongoing revelation or any discussions about "The Word" or "Divine Truth"
                            or other speculative thoughts on the nature of the Divine -- except as
                            postulated by these turn-of-the-last-century, reactionary (as above)
                            theologies.
                            Central to this is the presumption that the English (usually King
                            James Version) Bible is the direct written and unassailable Authority -
                            "God's exact words." The insistence on and enforcement of (KJV)Biblical
                            inerrancy greatly simplifies the claims of leaders within this
                            fundamentalist school of theology to their authority and their divine
                            right to control the content of any and all debates.
                            [Most kids growing up in Fundamentalist traditions will recognize a
                            certain phrase as the one they always got in response to their
                            inevitable, curious and skeptical, Youthful questioning - in the face of
                            monolithic Adult pronouncements:

                            "God said it! I believe it! That settles it!"]

                            Thus "Atheism" is really a reaction to this 19th century framing of
                            the nature of "the Divine." The opposition of someone calling
                            themselves an "atheist" is clear - but so is a kind of backhand
                            acceptance of the definition. Likewise for Agnosticism: Agnostics claim
                            the right to be undecided - but they didn't/don't challenge the right of
                            the 19th-20th century Fundamentalist movement to define what "God" they
                            are deciding for or against. In other words they don't bother to
                            challenge the terms of the debate - and thus end up losing it and
                            marginalize themselves before they even start.

                            So the new phrase that many people are adopting is "non-theist" (or
                            non-theistic)- meaning we get to look a religion as a process, or as an
                            ethical system, or as Faith communities, or complex psychological
                            movements - but without reference to an implicitly defined, conventional
                            "God" which is already laden with these Fundamentalist assumptions and
                            controls.

                            To put it another way the phrases: "I'm and Atheist" or I'm and
                            Agnostic" are both answers to the Fundamentalists challenge: (but) "Do
                            you believe in God!?" - Which question, of course, automatically
                            presumes a prior agreement on just what "God" means. And naturally - if
                            we don't challenge it - it means "the only God their is!" (Thus letting
                            them win the debate because they always provide the default definition -
                            their own!) - It's the same classic framing ploy that is often
                            exemplified by the question: "So when did you stop beating your wife?"
                            Choosing to call yourself either an Atheist or and Agnostic means you
                            agree with their right to control the terms of the debate and limit the
                            nature of God to their definitions.

                            The deeper question is not "Do you believe in God?" but rather,
                            "What do you believe in?" This is rhetorically neutral and inherently
                            democratic. It allows everyone to speak from their own insights and
                            experiences. Yes, cultural pressure will still prevail most of the time
                            and lots of very conventional answers will result. But phrasing the
                            question in this manner allows a debate to ensue and keeps the
                            Fundamentalists from claiming the right to control the discussion.
                            [Ironically a desire to exert complete control - rooted in the fear
                            of anarchy or disorder, and enforced through threats of sanctions or
                            violence - is pretty much the hallmark of all fundamentalist movements,
                            regardless of their larger Faith traditions. This is ironic in
                            Christianity, for example, given that real personal Faith ought to
                            liberate us from fear and allow us to be truly free to be in the world
                            as it is: "Perfect Love Casts out Fear."]

                            So again claiming to be a "non-Theist" means: (or can mean - we
                            still have to assert our claims to the meaning of this term or we lose
                            them!) that we reject the Fundamentalists right to control and restrict
                            definitions and claim that right for every individual believer. We also
                            get to look afresh at such things as Jesus' own teachings or some of the
                            new authoritative histories of the church and how the scriptures came to
                            be written and by whom - again without accepting any restrictions
                            imposed by pronouncements Ex-Cathedra.
                            It also allows us to look again at the notion of "ongoing
                            Revelation" and cast it both in abstract theological terms ("surely if
                            there is an all powerful God there is no way that that God would chose
                            to be powerless to continue writing new scripture and actively guiding
                            the Faithful along new paths") - or in non-theological terms - such as
                            my favorite quote from the 19th century poet, James Russell Lowell:

                            "New occasions teach new duties;
                            Time makes ancient Good Uncouth.
                            They must upward still, and onward,
                            Who would keep abreast of Truth."

                            (The above is a good example of a powerful bit of non-Theistic
                            Epistemology.

                            --
                            -in Love and Peace,
                            -Demi Miller

                            "Those who can make you believe absurdities
                            can make you commit atrocities"
                            -Voltaire

                            "We can have Democracy in this country,
                            or we can have great wealth concentrated
                            in the hands of a few.....
                            but we cannot have both."
                            -Louis D. Brandeis

                            "When morality comes up against profit,
                            it is seldom that profit loses."
                            -Shirley Chisholm

                            "There is more to life than increasing its speed."
                            -Gandhi

                            "Whenever the people are well-informed,
                            They can be trusted with their own Government."
                            -Thomas Jefferson, 1789

                            "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
                            -Emma Goldman

                            "I decided to accept as true, my own thinking."
                            -Georgia O'Keefe

                            "Fire does not burn from the top down - it burns from the bottom up!"
                            -Jesse Jackson

                            Chris Roberts wrote:
                            > Friends on quaker-b are currently trying to distinguish between atheists
                            > and non-theists. Can we help them? I just took a look at
                            > http://www.universalistfriends.org/ and found extensive use of the terms
                            > but failed to find a succinct distinction.
                            >
                            > Thanks, Chris
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > Yahoo! Groups Links
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                          • George Amoss
                            ... Central to this is the presumption that the English (usually King James Version) Bible is the direct written and unassailable Authority - God s exact
                            Message 13 of 30 , May 4, 2005
                              --- Demi Miller <peersupport@...> wrote:
                              "Central to this is the presumption that the English (usually King
                              James Version) Bible is the direct written and unassailable Authority -
                              'God's exact words.'"

                              But Demi, if the King James Version was good enough for Jesus and the
                              apostles, it's good enough for us! ;-)

                              As much as I wish that the term "atheism" would be received in the same
                              sort of sense as words like "alogia" and "apraxia," I can't but agree
                              that "atheism" has been reframed by "true believers" (not only
                              fundamentalists, though; I'm thinking, for example, of some things the
                              Catholic theologian Jacques Maritain wrote) to connote active
                              anti-theism and even moral degeneracy. I'm on record, so to speak, as
                              calling myself an atheist, and one reason for that is that, as I wrote
                              when "coming out" and more recently in response to a message from
                              Charley on this list, I really did experience the ending of my belief
                              in God as a loss. But that loss brought me powerful freedom, too, and
                              that freedom I find reflected in the "a-" prefix as well. Nonetheless,
                              lately I have found "nontheist," or the statement "I'm not a theist,"
                              to be more useful as communication because often it doesn't seem to
                              evoke the same reflex that "atheist" does. But I suspect that, as has
                              been noted by James Riemermann, it may be only a matter of time before
                              "nontheist" gets reframed as "anti-theist" as well. For true believers,
                              it seems, "you're either with us or against us."

                              George Amoss




                              __________________________________
                              Do you Yahoo!?
                              Yahoo! Mail - Helps protect you from nasty viruses.
                              http://promotions.yahoo.com/new_mail
                            • James Riemermann
                              ... Demi, it s good to hear from you. I applaud the efforts of nontheists as well as theists who are working to salvage concepts of God and the divine that
                              Message 14 of 30 , May 5, 2005
                                On 5/4/05, Demi Miller <peersupport@...> wrote:
                                > Choosing to call yourself either an Atheist or and Agnostic means you
                                > agree with their right to control the terms of the debate and limit the
                                > nature of God to their definitions.

                                Demi, it's good to hear from you.

                                I applaud the efforts of nontheists as well as theists who are working
                                to salvage concepts of God and the divine that fully acknowledge the
                                scientific breakthroughs of the last XXXX years, as well as the limits
                                of human knowledge. There are legitimate reasons for certain
                                nontheists to avoid the word atheist, and perhaps even the word
                                agnostic.

                                I will not be joining this effort, however, mainly because I would
                                find it personally evasive. I do not believe God exists, and I believe
                                that the existence of God is at least currently (and probably forever
                                will be) unknowable. This seems to me worth saying.

                                What God do I not believe in? Well, pretty much any sort of God whose
                                existence can be coherently believed or disbelieved. One cannot
                                coherently disbelieve in "ultimate reality," but neither does the
                                phrase communicate anything distinctive. Nor is love, sometimes
                                equated with God, a particular entity one holds either to exist or to
                                not exist. There are circumstances in which I can use the word God
                                fruitfully, just like the words magic, miracle, angel--none of which I
                                believe exist.

                                The fact is, the notion of God/gods as the supernatural
                                creator/creators of the world has been dominant for millennia. It is
                                not a modern distortion, but the most central meaning of the word
                                throughout most of recorded history. The 19th century did not mark the
                                birth of the concept of God as the entity who created and rules the
                                universe, but the beginning of that concept's death. The word atheist
                                is ancient, but only after Darwin did many of the great thinkers begin
                                using it to describe themselves.

                                It is also worth noting that there have always been mystics with
                                distinctive, non-dogmatic, experiential views of God. I also suppose
                                that the great Hebrew poet/s who wrote Genesis knew s/he was writing a
                                story, not a history, to serve as a poetic reflection on the mysteries
                                of life on earth.

                                But even these subtler, less literal conceptions of God do not fill
                                the bill for this particular atheist. One can believe in a loving
                                creator who guides our paths, or a deistic creator who steps away from
                                creation after the initial act, without believing in the narrow,
                                fundamentalist version of God; a large number of theist Friends I have
                                spoken with, in fact, believe in such conceptions of God. I do not.

                                I occasionally use the word God as it suits me. As a rule, I find it
                                is a better metaphor for the voracious, generous, destructive,
                                creative, merciless, powerful forces of dynamism and life inherent in
                                the physical world, than it is for love and the "inward light." This
                                God of creation is an extraordinary conception that is captured far
                                better in Hindi and ancient Hebrew images of God than in any Christian
                                conception I am familiar with. Shiva, perhaps, is the most "accurate"
                                image of this God I have come across, eternally creating and
                                destroying worlds underfoot for the sheer exuberance of the dance,
                                with no trace of concern for the suffering caused by that dance.

                                Once again, this is not for me the same as the inward light, that
                                which impels me to dedicate myself to be in covenant community and
                                practice caring for my fellow creatures and the natural world on which
                                we depend.

                                In any case, I am not concerned with reclaiming and redefining the
                                word God in a way that allows me to believe in it. I will use it as I
                                see fit according the the many and slippery connotations is has in
                                common language. In communicating my own beliefs, I will wrestle with
                                all the words I need to get across what I'm trying to get across. In
                                that effort the word God, with its powerful historic meanings and its
                                growing modern vagueness, tends mostly to get in my way.

                                My honest answer to the fundamentalist's challenge: "Do you believe in
                                God?" is "No." It's not a debate, and there is no winning or losing.

                                --
                                James Riemermann
                                Twin Cities Friends Meeting, www.tcfm.org
                                St. Paul, Minnesota
                              • Pashta MaryMoon
                                ... P - as far as I can tell, in what research I have done, there seems to have been (maybe) a period at the very beginning of humyn evolution where the Divine
                                Message 15 of 30 , May 5, 2005
                                  At 11:01 AM 05/05/2005, James wrote:
                                  >Hi James, I am only going to comment on two things here, not your whole
                                  >email. Excuse me for using it to jump off to my own issues. I applaud
                                  >you however, for 'sticking to your guns' (has anyone come up with a good
                                  >alterative to this saying? - hate it) about the issues of 'belief in God'.
                                  >
                                  >The fact is, the notion of God/gods as the supernatural
                                  >creator/creators of the world has been dominant for millennia. It is
                                  >not a modern distortion, but the most central meaning of the word
                                  >throughout most of recorded history.

                                  P - as far as I can tell, in what research I have done, there seems to have
                                  been (maybe) a period at the very beginning of humyn evolution where the
                                  Divine was seen as a presence and/or weaving of forces. But as humyns
                                  began to really 'take control of their reality', they also began to project
                                  their own entity-ness onto that presence - in a combination of humyn and
                                  animal characteristics (especially while humyns were still purposefully
                                  learning the skills of other animals), and then fully humyn
                                  anthropomorphism. It is not at all clear that the earliest people
                                  designated this 'presence' as 'creator of the world', but certainly that
                                  concept arises as soon as the projection began. So I quite agree with you
                                  here.

                                  >The 19th century did not mark the
                                  >birth of the concept of God as the entity who created and rules the
                                  >universe, but the beginning of that concept's death. The word atheist
                                  >is ancient, but only after Darwin did many of the great thinkers begin
                                  >using it to describe themselves.
                                  >
                                  >It is also worth noting that there have always been mystics with
                                  >distinctive, non-dogmatic, experiential views of God. I also suppose
                                  >that the great Hebrew poet/s who wrote Genesis knew s/he was writing a
                                  >story, not a history, to serve as a poetic reflection on the mysteries
                                  >of life on earth.

                                  P - perhaps, although it is pretty much accepted now that Genesis is a
                                  revision of the Sumerian creation myths - and so not clear that the
                                  writer(s) were themselves clear that it was a story and not a
                                  'history'. In part, this is because ancient peoples didn't make as
                                  distinct a difference between myth and history, metaphor and fact, as we do
                                  - so we may never really know who much it was possible for them to
                                  recognize the difference.

                                  As for mystics, my study of them suggests that they are often
                                  closer to each other (different faiths) than they are to adherents of their
                                  own faith. Still, their terminology (if not conceptuality) was limited by
                                  their faith's language/imagery (as is any 'age' in humyn evolution) - while
                                  radical for their time, not necessarily that radical for ours.

                                  What I find interesting (from my own bias, of course) is that
                                  their imagery generally tends towards feminine ones (though not necessarily
                                  blatantly), much more so than the 'popular' version of the faith (did an
                                  essay on this for my Religion degree in University) - and I would say that
                                  that was, at least in part, because they tended to use more feminine
                                  imagery, and that tends to be less distinctive/definitional than the more
                                  typical masculine type. Across the world/time, the femel has been
                                  considered the more 'mysterious', un-definable, etc. - in part because it
                                  tends towards the 'unseen integrative' whereas the masculine tends towards
                                  the 'see-able definable' (which itself presumes 'able to separate
                                  out'). Much of this is founded in the simple fact that a womyn's
                                  biological creative power (reproductively) is a body part which is
                                  'unsee-able' (womb) and integrates, and gestates 'unseen'; whereas a man's
                                  biological creative power is a body part (penis) that is 'see-able' (and
                                  able to be distinguished from the rest of the body) and naturally
                                  'thrust/projects outwards'.


                                  In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
                                  Pashta MaryMoon
                                  Blessed Be

                                  Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

                                  Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

                                  Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

                                  GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
                                  http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
                                  - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
                                  http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
                                  - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
                                  http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

                                  World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

                                  ----------



                                  Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
                                  Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                                  Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Pashta MaryMoon
                                  At 06:29 PM 02/05/2005, you wrote: Hi Greg, Yes, It does!!!! And while I wouldn t say that that description is necessarily Gnostic, that term is probably
                                  Message 16 of 30 , May 9, 2005
                                    At 06:29 PM 02/05/2005, you wrote:

                                    Hi Greg,

                                    Yes, It does!!!! And while I wouldn't say that that description
                                    is 'necessarily' Gnostic, that term is probably one of the more familiar ones.

                                    I suspect that it goes farther back than that - that in some ways,
                                    Quakerism is just a fairly recent form of a 'perennial practice' that
                                    probably stretches back to the humyn pre-literate stage. Every culture
                                    're-discovers', but of course, 'dresses it up' in the language/symbology
                                    and conceptuality of its age.

                                    Personally - in terms of worship style (at the least) - I consider
                                    Quakerism to be based on an ancient principle, and to be the best
                                    opportunity for 'inter-faith worship'. Lots of inter-faith groups exist
                                    to deal with issues of concerns, but actually practicing together (rather
                                    than switching back and forth between what faith community might lead the
                                    beginning prayer/etc.) - I think - can only really happen in the personal
                                    ministry, lead by the inner spirit, and coming out of the Silence.

                                    >I have come to believe that Quakerism may have been the rebirth of
                                    >Gnosticism in its modern incarnation. Gnostics have/had an amazingly
                                    >tolerate view of other faith traditions saying that the current existence
                                    >is an illusion (sounds Buddhistic to me), but that we can reconnect with
                                    >God (Christian), which is the Great Light (Pagan), as we all carry the
                                    >spark of the Divine (Pantheism) within us. Some older Gnostics postulated
                                    >about the existence of lesser divine entities (Hinduism) but still more
                                    >modern ones see those as archetypes (modern Jungian psychology) of that
                                    >struggle which goes on inside each of us (a jihad as Muslims call it) as
                                    >the Inner Divine seeks to awaken (Buddhist) to the Light (Pagan and Pantheist).
                                    >
                                    >I hope that made sense.
                                    >
                                    >Greg

                                    In the Soul, and by the Spirit, of All in W/Holiness,
                                    Pashta MaryMoon
                                    Blessed Be

                                    Pagan Pastoral Outreach http://www.paganpastoraloutreach.ca

                                    Pagan Federation/Fédération païenne Canada http://www.pfpc.ca/

                                    Faith In Action http://www.humanhorizons.net/FIA/

                                    GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
                                    http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm
                                    - Rituals - Samhain - Freeing Ourselves in the Death of the Year God
                                    http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/samhain.htm
                                    - Yule 04 - Birth of the Universe, through the four elemental stages
                                    http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Yule.htm

                                    World Prayers Site http://www.worldprayers.org/index.html

                                    ----------



                                    Internal Virus Database is out-of-date.
                                    Checked by AVG Anti-Virus.
                                    Version: 7.0.308 / Virus Database: 266.10.4 - Release Date: 27/04/2005


                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • brian.zimmer@juno.com
                                    Not to squelch anybody s enthusiasm here, but Quakerism cannot be regarded as a form of Gnosticism. It does not possess the distinguishing cosmology, negative
                                    Message 17 of 30 , May 9, 2005
                                      Not to squelch anybody's enthusiasm here, but Quakerism cannot be regarded as a form of Gnosticism. It does not possess the distinguishing cosmology, negative interpretation of nature nor arcane return journey of the soul that distinguishes all known gnosticisms.

                                      Gnosticism is an old "charge" leveled at Quakerism by its opposition, mostly by those who did not understand the term and found it an easy -if meaningless - perjorative. The idea of the Inward Light is certainly found in Gnosticism but it was ubiquitous in antiquity from Heraclitus to the Stoics to the Gospel of John...

                                      This same mistake is often made by the opponents of advocates for the inclusion of the Gospel of Thomas in the canon. While Thomas was found among other actual gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi in 1945, the gospel itself displays no credible gnostic characteristics that hold-up under scrutiny. While distinctive from Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, there is nothing Gnostic about it.

                                      That said, I do not refute the notion that Quakerism holds within it the heart of ancient perennial philosophy and spirituality. I agree with Greg and Pashta on that point and celebrate the fact with them.


                                      Brian

                                      ___________________________________________________________________
                                      Speed up your surfing with Juno SpeedBand.
                                      Now includes pop-up blocker!
                                      Only $14.95/month -visit http://www.juno.com/surf to sign up today!
                                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.