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Re: [quf] New member saying hello

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  • jgrossman
    You might start by looking at/ sitting with Gospel of Thomas, #70. Especially as it relates to that of God in everyone ... jim ... [Non-text portions of this
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 5, 2006
      You might start by looking at/ sitting with Gospel of Thomas, #70.
      Especially as it relates to "that of God in everyone"...
      jim


      On Thursday, Oct 5, 2006, at 07:47 US/Mountain, Pam Winters wrote:

      > Greetings:
      >
      > I'm interested in what it means to define oneself as a Quaker but not
      > as
      > a Christian. This seemed like a good forum for this issue, although I
      > imagine that most of you have dealt with it exhaustively--here, at
      > meetings, or within yourselves--already.
      >
      > If anyone would like to recommend resources to me, I'd appreciate it.
      >
      > I believe myself to be a Friend, as much as I am anything (it's hard to
      > adopt labels, isn't it--they're so limiting!), but I do not believe
      > myself to be a Christian, at least insofar as I understand
      > Christianity.
      >
      > I was raised as a Protestant Christian and held fairly traditional
      > Christian beliefs throughout my youth. Later--once I'd realized that my
      > beliefs were not strictly Christian--I joined a Unitarian Universalist
      > congregation--since my beliefs were literally unitarian and
      > universalist--but it was an unsatisfying experience, mostly because of
      > political issues within our congregation, but also because I couldn't
      > tap into any depth of spiritual experience there.
      >
      > I find myself limited in my growth as a Quaker because of all sorts of
      > baggage that, perhaps, I'm attaching to the faith rather than genuinely
      > finding there. The customary language. The idealism that exceeds my
      > own.
      > Certain ideas about how I ought to present myself. And, certainly, the
      > Christian orientation.
      >
      > I know that there are others in my Meeting who do not identify as
      > Christians, and I think there may even be agnostics (which sorta blows
      > my mind!).
      >
      > Oh, well, I'm starting to ramble, as I tend to do, and I fear that my
      > ramblings are too stark a contrast to the thoughtful erudition
      > concerning the Pope. So I'll knock it off.
      >
      > Best,
      >
      > Pam
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Barry Crossno
      Hi Pam: My experience is that there are many Quakers who see themselves as other than Christian and for the liberal branch of Quakerism this is fine with
      Message 2 of 7 , Oct 5, 2006
        Hi Pam:

        My experience is that there are many Quakers who see themselves as other
        than Christian and for the liberal branch of Quakerism this is fine with
        Christian and non-Christian alike. This is part of what attracted me to
        Quakerism.

        Perhaps one way to look at Quakerism is that it is not primarily an identity
        (though many of us identify as Quaker) or a beleif system. Quakerism is a
        practice. It has some relatively straightforward core values that stem from
        the mystical experience that there is that of God in Everyone. The
        practices of non-violence and simplicity stem in part from this. Quakerism
        is unlike most traditions in that it does not ask someone to adopt a creed
        and "be" that. Quakerism asks you to use a set of tools such as expectant
        waiting to create a dialogue within yourself and with the presense (whether
        the presense is a traditional sense of God or a unifying force or experience
        is up to your experience) to grow. If the tools don't fit you that's OK.
        This may not be the best way for you, but it might as you experience it
        more. You'll know if it's serving you. The Quaker path does ask us to take
        a lot of responsibility for our own unfolding.

        However, in terms of Quaker baggage there is a cultural identity to
        Quakerism that stems from the history of the practice, but really is not the
        practice itself. Saying "first day" or "thee" and "thou" has nothing
        objectively to do with being in communion with the source. However, for
        some Quakers engaging in these cultural practices helps remind them of
        Quaker history and some of the strong figures of the Quaker tradition like
        John Woolman. This connectedness can encourage their practice by giving
        them a sense of identity around which to form and guide their behaviors. If
        this works for them, great. You'll also find many people who do not use
        these cultural forms but do fully adhere to Quaker practice in terms of
        listening spirituality.

        For myself, I find a great deal of freedom in Quakerism. The history gives
        me grounding, but the non-creedal nature let's me explore in ways that I've
        not experienced elsewhere. I hope you will continue to explore Quakerism
        and ground yourself in the experience of the spirit as your primary guide
        while also looking to the experiences of those around you for a sense of the
        possible (as one Friend said, ask a hundred Friends about the Peace
        Testimony and you'll get a hundred answers). More than this, I simply hope
        you find communion or unity regardless of labels, paths or cultural
        identities.

        I hope there was something of value for you in my rambling.

        Barry





        >From: Pam Winters <pam@...>
        >Reply-To: quf@yahoogroups.com
        >To: quf@yahoogroups.com
        >Subject: [quf] New member saying hello
        >Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2006 09:47:24 -0400
        >
        >Greetings:
        >
        >I'm interested in what it means to define oneself as a Quaker but not as
        >a Christian. This seemed like a good forum for this issue, although I
        >imagine that most of you have dealt with it exhaustively--here, at
        >meetings, or within yourselves--already.
        >
        >If anyone would like to recommend resources to me, I'd appreciate it.
        >
        >I believe myself to be a Friend, as much as I am anything (it's hard to
        >adopt labels, isn't it--they're so limiting!), but I do not believe
        >myself to be a Christian, at least insofar as I understand Christianity.
        >
        >I was raised as a Protestant Christian and held fairly traditional
        >Christian beliefs throughout my youth. Later--once I'd realized that my
        >beliefs were not strictly Christian--I joined a Unitarian Universalist
        >congregation--since my beliefs were literally unitarian and
        >universalist--but it was an unsatisfying experience, mostly because of
        >political issues within our congregation, but also because I couldn't
        >tap into any depth of spiritual experience there.
        >
        >I find myself limited in my growth as a Quaker because of all sorts of
        >baggage that, perhaps, I'm attaching to the faith rather than genuinely
        >finding there. The customary language. The idealism that exceeds my own.
        >Certain ideas about how I ought to present myself. And, certainly, the
        >Christian orientation.
        >
        >I know that there are others in my Meeting who do not identify as
        >Christians, and I think there may even be agnostics (which sorta blows
        >my mind!).
        >
        >Oh, well, I'm starting to ramble, as I tend to do, and I fear that my
        >ramblings are too stark a contrast to the thoughtful erudition
        >concerning the Pope. So I'll knock it off.
        >
        >Best,
        >
        >Pam
      • Roger Burns
        ... You ve raised several points. On the one I quote above, it might help us if you could be more specific about how you are using the word Christian. I was
        Message 3 of 7 , Oct 5, 2006
          Pam Winters wrote:

          > I'm interested in what it means to define oneself as a Quaker but not
          > as a Christian.

          > I was raised as a Protestant Christian and held fairly traditional
          > Christian beliefs throughout my youth. Later--once I'd realized that
          > my beliefs were not strictly Christian

          You've raised several points. On the one I quote above, it might help
          us if you could be more specific about how you are using the word
          Christian. I was raised in a mainstream Protestant church. I've come
          to believe that Jesus was closer to God than anyone else mentioned in
          the Bible, or the Quran for that matter. I strive to live by his
          teachings as best I am able. I call myself a Christian, but because
          I don't hold that Jesus himself is God, many would say I am not a
          Christian.

          So, how are you using the word Christian? Or perhaps more to the point,
          what kind of Christianity is it that is presented at your meeting that
          you seem to chafe at?

          I'm afraid there may be innumerable shades of grey across different
          meetings regarding what kind of Christianity each may hold to.
          I don't know that there is a book that discusses the issue of the
          many possible gradations other than the extremes of Christocentric
          vs. universalist. Perhaps that's the discussion you're looking for?

          - Roger
        • Pashta MaryMoon
          ... P - I quite agree. Here is a short article I wrote about that for our local Quaker newsletter. Thoughts Towards an Understanding of Quaker Universalism
          Message 4 of 7 , Oct 5, 2006
            >Barry said:
            >
            >Perhaps one way to look at Quakerism is that it is not primarily an identity
            >(though many of us identify as Quaker) or a beleif system. Quakerism is a
            >practice.


            P - I quite agree. Here is a short article I wrote about that for
            our local Quaker newsletter.

            Thoughts Towards an Understanding of Quaker Universalism

            Quakerism can be described as a practical-mystical praxis,
            based on three core elements. First of all, Friends have a faith
            that the deepest stirrings of the soul of each person can directly
            inspire and guide our choices in life, without the intermediacy of
            clergy or even scripture. For many Friends, these 'stirrings' are
            represented in the common phrase "the voice (or leading) of the
            Spirit" (or some concept of the Divine): however, for others (such
            humynists and agnostics Friends), a theistic belief system is not
            required. Secondly, Friends use a worship style of 'listening into,
            and being prompted out of, the Silence' - noting that the reverence
            for this Silence is common to most mystical traditions and goes
            beyond any specific belief system. Ministry is, most often, based
            on personal experience and insight, and can be applicable to a
            variety of belief systems (theist or not). Finally, Friends believe
            in a praxis that one must live one's faith faithfully within both the
            daily and global domains, despite the resistance of the cultural
            'status quo' - which, again, is not limited to any particular belief system.

            There is no question that Quakerism arose within a Christian
            environment - it is our heritage and to be honoured. However, there
            is nothing inherently (rather than historically) Christian about the
            core elements of Friends' practice. In fact, one could suggest that
            the only thing inherent to this praxis is that it is Universalist -
            such implications can be found in the earliest Friends' writings,
            though then limited by an environment in which Christianity was the
            'norm' religion and where little was know about other belief
            systems. Especially in the modern multi-cultural/globalized world,
            Quakerism may be particular significant as upholding a faith
            community where people of faith can share in worship (and the 'living
            out' of its inspiration) beyond the 'dividing lines' of particular
            belief systems/religions, while being both challenged and enriched by
            the diversity of them amongst its members.




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

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

            Journal of Quaker Universalists - http://www.universalistfriends.org/uf043.html

            GreenSpirit Resource Papers - Goddess/Divine Feminine
            http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/resources/Goddess.htm


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


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • James Riemermann
            I will try to answer Pam s question a little more simply. It is entirely possible to be a Quaker, in the (theologically) liberal branches and meetings of
            Message 5 of 7 , Oct 5, 2006
              I will try to answer Pam's question a little more simply. It is entirely
              possible to be a Quaker, in the (theologically) liberal branches and
              meetings of Quakerism, without being a Christian at all, by any definition
              of the term. What it means to be a non-Christian Quaker is a matter for the
              individual to explore over time in a community of Friends.

              I know a great many liberal Quakers who would not describe themselves as
              Christian, and many others who consider themselves Christian in a very
              non-traditional manner described by others in this exchange, without
              accepting notions such as substitional atonement or a literal resurrection
              or ascension. In fact many think of themselves as Christian wiithout
              ascribing any *unique* divinity to the historical Jesus at all. I have often
              heard liberal Friends speak of the spiritual Christ and the historical Jesus
              as very different notions.

              There are also branches of Quakerism--a large majority worldwide, probably
              just short of a majority among English-speaking Friends--for whom
              Christianity is essential, and who use the term "universalist" in a
              different, more exclusively Christian sense than that in the mission of the
              Quaker Universalist Fellowship. ("The mission of The Quaker Universalist
              Fellowship is to foster the understanding that within everyone is a directly
              accessible spiritual light that can lead people to equality, simplicity,
              justice, compassion and peace." -- QUF Steering Committee, November 2005)

              Once again, it is absolutely possible to be a non-Christian Quaker. Whether
              it would be a good fit for you in a local meeting, you'd just have to spend
              some time there and see how it feels.

              james

              --
              James Riemermann
              Twin Cities Friends Meeting, www.tcfm.org
              St. Paul, Minnesota


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