A new post on Bloghaunter:Characteristics of Fascism: The rule of fear and certainty

07/05/2020 § Leave a comment


See it here.

Climate Spirituality: Re-enchantment, (re)births, and the “buffered self”

07/01/2020 § Leave a comment

Preface
My aim in this whole long series is three-part: [i] to work out for myself some of the layers of spiritual challenge presented by the current climate crisis (and related catastrophes); [ii] to articulate how the gospel is intrinsically related to these challenges, and to our response; [iii] to articulate how Quakerism — faith and practice – both sheds light on the subject, and at the same time provides a framework for enduring and acting with hope as Children of the Light in increasingly dark times. One collateral benefit of this analysis, once complete, I believe, is that it may provide a way for Friends who do not like to think of the gospel — or who are unclear about how to live it and proclaim it — to grow into a re-engagement with the gospel message as a source of inward and outward unity and power.


x        x         x        x        x        x         x



For those keeping score, my series on “Climate Change as a Spiritual opportunity” has been working on Charles Taylor’s ideas about 3 key elements in the “disenchantment” of Western civilization, as it moved into ” a secular age.” We have now arrived at how we understand ourselves in relation to the universe (or cosmos, depending — that’s for next time). I enter on this with some trepidation, because Taylor is a major sociologist and philosopher of “the self” but sometimes (as Walt Whitman told us in “When I heard the learn’d astronomer”) sometimes it’s better to take your own look at the sky. 

Porous and buffered

Taylor argues that one of the major shifts in the “modern mind” has been a change from seeing the self as “porous” to one that is “buffered.”  The modern, “buffered”  self  clearly distinguishes self from not-self — there is a (mostly) firm boundary between inside and outside.  Inside a self is where psychology happens, where decisions and feelings and thoughts happen, where values are chosen and put into practice;  outside is non-personal, un-intentional, value-free — natural forces, forces of chaos, or of order imposed (or emerging) from natural processes.  We all know very well the ways that our culture relates to these, and shields the self that lives inside the shell. 

The porous self, on the other hand, as understood by our ancestors, was deeply open to influences of all kinds — for example, from the stars, from the elementals, from demons and from good spirits.  Though much of what we are linked to, and moved by, is “natural” (like the weather or disease), many of the forces that impinge on us are beings with their own purposes and “selves.”  Consequently, in such a world, and as such a self, we would need to negotiate, placate, or contend with these external beings.

As Taylor writes:

the porous self is vulnerable: to spirits, demons, cosmic forces. And along with this go certain fears that can grip it in certain circumstances. The buffered self has been taken out of the world of this kind of fear….an important part of the treatment [of the world by the buffered self]  is designed to make disengagement possible….the buffered self can form the ambition of disengaging from whatever is beyond the boundary, and of giving its own autonomous order to its life. The absence of fear can be not just enjoyed, but becomes an opportunity for self-control or self-direction.

He goes on relating this idea back to his big theme of “enchantment/disenchantment”:

the boundary between agents and forces is fuzzy in the enchanted world; and the boundary between mind and world is porous, as we see in the way that charged objects can influence us. I have just been referring to the moral influence of substances, like black bile. But a similar point can be made about the relation to spirits. The porousness of the boundary emerges here in various kinds of “possession”—all the way from a full taking over of the person, as with a medium, to various kinds of domination by or partial fusion with a spirit or God. Here again, the boundary between self and other is fuzzy, porous. And this has to be seen as a fact of experience, not a matter of “theory” or “belief.”

I am glad you added that last bit, Charles Taylor (and the emphasis on experience is his)!

 Taylor’s challenging analysis provokes thought and insight, and I am grateful to it.  Certainly the “buffered self”, independent for good or ill, Decider, chooser, consumer, is very convenient for modeling, marketing, and manipulation — in the world in which humans are seen first and foremost as (f)actors in a Market.  But even if you grant that he has captured something compelling and true about our culture, it’s important to note that no person starts out that way.  The world, and the culture, is created anew with every birth, at least for the newborn. Quakers, whose vision focused on two major ideas:  the fact and work of “Christ in you,” and the progress of the soul walking in the Light, understood that this simple, most basic fact of human experience — that we come fresh into the world — had profound theological consequences.   

A word from Walt about arrivals and first encounters

Please first read consideringly the following extracts (and I urge you to find the whole of Whitman’s “There was a child went forth”):

THERE was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part 
of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories, and white and red 
clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and 
the mare’s foal and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pond-
side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there, and 
the beautiful curious liquid…

His own parents, he that had father’d him and she that had con-
ceiv’d him in her womb and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.

The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-
table,
The mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown, a whole-
some odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,

The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture, the 
yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d, the sense of what is real, the 
thought if after all it should prove unreal…,

The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away 
solitary by itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt 
marsh and shore mud,

These became part of that child who went forth every day, and 
who now goes, and will always go forth every day

 

Arrivals, first encounters and the ecological self

I was such a child  — and so were you.  As I pointed out in two earlier posts (here and here), Friends interpreted this as a profound fact of human spiritual life: We are given the gift of innocence, as every person has been from birth.  This includes the first layers of development of our “ecological self ” (to use Marjorie Grene’s term), our often-implicit “theory” about our relationship with the Cosmos.  Here also is the beginning of our re-enactment of the myth of the fall and all that follows.  

We accept the world we are given, and draw from it nourishment, instruction, community, delight. As we grow (and it starts early) we begin to use — not intentionally, it’s part of the gift — our burgeoning powers of speech, of memory, of reason, of memory.  We learn to name things, as Adam did in the Garden.  We question boundaries — because we have learned to ask questions — and we learn from others who are more advanced in understanding and experience than we.  We develop a will of our own —  and often our willing is in advance of our understanding of cause and effect.  Wihle still we have little perspective (how could we, within so short a span and narrow a compass of experiences?), we begin to make choices, and to evaluate good and bad — first in stark primary colors, then with more shading, as we learn of mixed goods and mixed ills. In the growth of knowledge, we lose some kinds of clarity, and our developing self gains in power as a center of decision, as a fortress, as a power, and a treasure to be protected. 

The early “intimations of immortality” may wholly be forgotten, or retained as shreds of memory — but have left their residue in some longings for safety, serenity, connection despite our separateness. We can come to see ourselves as a house divided against itself;  or to echo, in our heart of hearts, the cry of the Preacher: Emptiness of emptinesses!  All is vanity!

Our longing for clarity and inward repose is nurtured by hints and guidance from those who have gone before, and by suggestions of remedies for our sense of dividedness. Tender, or longing to be so, we may go seeking: Lo here! Lo there!

The Quaker journals almost always tell essentially this story. Sometimes the search for healing — not just for this wound or that weakness, but something more lasting and reliable — is conscious, and enacted as an outward pilgrimage;  sometimes it is mostly inward and secret.  Discovery may come at a dead end, or a crisis, or as a flower opening.  George Fox’s moment is a paradigm: 

As I had forsaken all the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do, then, oh then, I heard a voice which said, ‘There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition’, and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.

 

“All things gave forth a new smell” and what the first birth cannot do: reconnection in the light of Christ

The first appearance of the Christ is small, however strenuous the conversion experience.  It is like the first opening of the seed, when a tendril reaches out to find stability and a first sip of water, and then a tender shoot moves towards the light.  But if we pay close attention to what is given, we can feel in some way a sense of fresh nourishment, and the possibility of freedom. Taking that in, and “not being more than God would have you,”  more growth is possible, and we grow fiber and rootedness enough to encounter new challenges — and the drought, wind, distractions, losses and setbacks are likely enough to come. 

Or it is like that babe in Bethlehem — The first appearance has few words, and little understanding, and still is safest by keeping close to the loving Guide, and any who serve that Guide.  A few words, the beginnings of motion — but this time we can remember, as we gain some sense of power and ability, that “freedom” does not mean implementing our will, but in each step and word, checking with the Guide for permission, invitation, or command.  James Nayler wrote (in the Lamb’s War)

his kingdom in this world, in which he chiefly delights to walk and make himself known, is in the hearts of such as have  believed in him, and owned his call out of the world, whose hearts he hath purified, and whose bodies he hath washed in obedience and made them fit for the Father to be worshipped in. And such he rejoices and takes delight in; and his kingdom in such is righteousness and peace, in love, in power and purity. He leads them by the gently movings of his Spirit out of all their own ways and wills…and guides them into the will of the father, by which they become more clean and holy.

Deeply he lets them know his covenant, and how far they may go and be false, he gives them his laws and his statutes, contrary in all things to the god of this world, that they may be known to be his before all his enemies.

Now, because we have arrived at this place of  renewal as the result of our first experiences of loss and disorientation, we can understand (being “wise as serpents” in some ways of the world) that renovation is not done by wanting it so, but by stepwise attention and rebuilding.  We are to try the spirits by which we are moved, the spirits activating in our choices, and hold fast to the good.  So we move ahead, even until we can understand and join in the experiences of Gethsemane and Golgotha, the empty tomb the encounter on the road to Emmaus, the breathing in of the Holy Spirit in the little room where we and our companions wait, constrained and anxious, until we feel in that Spirit’s coming released and sent forward.  The power is given to be bold, yes, but bold in love:  “The Light says, Love your neighbor as your self;  this, the first birth cannot do,” but the second birth is into that love. 

Now, in this renewal, we are, if we wait to see, given the gift of gratitude and joy, as if in our childhood again (if we become as children indeed), and as Fox, that countryman found, all creation is opened to us, we see the gift it is, and how it is rooted in the same Spirit that is re-creating us. We learn the need to make right use of the creatures, who are children of the same Parent,  but we learn also that the world is not ours, and we learn it from the Word of wisdom that was working daily in its birthing and diversity, a daily delight and faithful craftsman.  The will of the Parent is in the inscape of every thing on earth, and in the Spirit of Christ by which we are led we are  taught to see it, and commanded to steward it.

The end of the buffered self

So our ecological self is renewed, as is every other part of our self — and not to ourselves, for our own purposes, alone.  For we are given in this new vision of connection and dependence, to see that we are also part of one Body, whose parts are diverse and mutually dependent.  And we must be humble enough to see that, not only can the “eye not say unto the hand, I have no need of thee,” but the eye cannot know or imagine how the hand works, and vice versa.  Each must act and serve according to its structure and function within the whole, and trust the others to work accordingly — no wonder we feel betrayed when some organ or limb fails us!

We may come to imagine, taught by our culture and its demands for mutually interchangeable atoms, that each of us is an Iland, entire of it self, but it is certainly not so.  The “buffered self” is an idol, that cannot see, or speak, smell or touch.  Science constradicts it, psychology contradicts it, common sense contradicts it.  Only whole selves can see, taste, grasp, grow.  When we come into the Light, and our sight and even our insticts are little by little transformed, we feel and see how always we are interpenetrated, woven into a fabric — human and non-human, animate and inanimate, past, present, and future.  The love of God, is expressed in cells and molecules, leaves, flowers, and the mating rituals of birds and beasts, reproduction, growth, competition, death — it is all us, and thus ours, and we belong to it just as wholly. 

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New post on Bloghaunter: On pulling down Confederate Statues

06/24/2020 § Leave a comment

see it here.

5- Alarm fire

06/21/2020 § Leave a comment

I was all set to carry on my “climate change spirituality” series with a piece on the Gospel and the “porous self” but need to set it aside for a news bulletin, which I hope you will meditate upon.

While most people have been trying to make sense of corona-virus news, the botched government responses to it, and their plans for the near future;  or pre-occupied by the lawless US administration and its shameless enablers in the media and the Congress, the natural world has continued doing its thing (of course, you can say that COVID-19 is part of normal operating procedure as well).

You might or might not know that this year doesn’t seem to be affected by the almost-periodic appearance of the oceanic-atmospheric phenomenon called El Niño — in which a huge surge of warm water boils up in the western Pacific, and moves across the globe, heating both sea-surface and atmosphere significantly.  Most of the records for global temperature highs have been in El Niño years.  This is not such a year.

Nevertheless, the entire north of the world is currently so hot that temperatures over 100 degrees F were recorded in Siberia yesterday — part of an extended period in which daily temps across the high latitudes are likely continue more than 30 degrees above normal for the time of year.   This is the kind of temperature anomaly that pessimistic climate scenarios were predicting to occur decades in the future — perhaps by the year 2100. 

There have been numerous reports over the past 3 months about how the COVID crisis has reduced carbon emissions, and this is supposed to be comforting.  Do not take comfort in this.  The larger picture is that we are currently living out worst-case scenarios of emissions and warming.  We are guaranteed years of warming, even if we stop all global emissions instantly — and what is the likelihood of that? 

Remember that “warming” is only one part of the picture, since it also means things like:  dramatically accelerated extinctions with concomitant collapse of food chains (and human food supplies); significant changes in precipitation (with negative impacts on human food supplies); speeded up desertification, flooding, and resulting displacement of tens of milions of people; dramatic spread of pest species large and small; speeded loss of ice  and permafrost (feeding more CO2 and methane into the system). 

Why not just “curse God and die,” as Job was advised?

Because it still doesn’t have to work out this way — there is still time to choose an alternative path. And we can participate in the “ministry of reconciliation” — among nations and with the natural world. 

Please read about this.  You can start here, with its links; check out the several tweets from climate scientists and journalists about this here; other voices from the scientific press here,  here, and here

Read the stories, or others like them — remember that these developments have been predicted for over 30 years, with remarkable accuracy.  This is not a surprise

If you read this news honestly, you may at first react with terror, apathy, despair, denial — any of the ways that humans tend to respond to catastrophe.  

Center down and let that pass.  Find the root of hope — not hope that, not hope for, but the freedom and energy to be a healer, a herald, a servant, a teacher. 

It can be different, and you can help.  

A new post on Bloghaunter: Fascism — corporate power yes, peoplepower no

06/19/2020 § Leave a comment

read it here.

“Divine revelations in childhood”

06/14/2020 § 1 Comment

“Divine revelations in childhood” is the title of of chapter 2 of Howard Brinton’s book, Quaker journals: Varieties of religious experience among Friends. As I have been seeking to understand what ingredients of human experience serve as foundational evidence given to us about our relation in the gospel life (remember, the Gospel being “the power of God to salvation”) to the creation and creator, I have been brought back (as previous posts have shown) to soem reflections on doctrines that teach the separation of human from the rest of creation.  One resource that has been used in Christendom in building that imaginary wall of alienation is the doctrine that it is simply inescapable, owing to “the Fall.”   

    The scholarly argument explaining the Quaker rejection of this idea of “inherited sin” is classically given in the Fourth Proposition of Barclay’s Apology for the True Christian Divinity — but Friends from the beginning, in the sin-and-Calvinism haunted 17th century, were already inwardly learning that “original sin” could not be the intent of the God of whom Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock! It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom of heaven.”    Fundamentally, this Quaker understanding was no doctrine, but was a discovery based on experience.  I suspect that many people do not feel the signficance of passages in the Journals recounting early experiences of the Presence and its power at work in a child’s formation — but there was a deep reason why such passages became an important characteristic of the genre. 

Will Caton (from Margarent Fell’s household; 1636-1665) wrote:

While I was yet very young… being inspired with a divine principle, I did in those days sometimes feel the power of it overcoming  my heart.

From a slightly later time, Benjamin Bangs (1652-1741) wrote

Being one day by myself not far from the place of our habitation, I met with such a visitation, as I had been altogether ignorant of before, in which a sweet calmness spread over my mind, and it rose in my heart, that if I could but keep to this, what might I grow up to in time?

I love these stories of the experience of wordless power, which seems to both feed the soul at the time of the encounter, and promise openings that will expand with one’s own growth.  These are roots of reverence, which time, culture, and maturity can preserve — or obscure.  Open time and open space give opportunity both for the reception and the storing up of these things.  If they are not drowned out completely by the noise of later life, they keep releasing nourishment over time, and sometimes can have great motivating power. .

My own experience I once summarized thus: 

Before ever I knew about religious practice, I encountered wonder.  My earliest memory is of standing on the threshold of my family’s barn, on a summer’s day, and looking up into the big space, crossed by shafts of light coming through the roof and sides, and watching barn swallows, dozens of them, dipping and swinging through the air, in and around the bars of light, chattering and creaking, their little voices and effortless aerobatics completely enchanting.  

From the sea that framed my childhood world, I learned something about the age of things, experienced an impersonal, speaking power that was wholly other, that was playground, pathway, graveyard of fishermen, endlessly in motion, and seemingly eternal, with quiet and mystery beneath what I could see.

As time passed, while the primeval joys and implications of nature did not pass away, the life of humanity more and more took center stage, and religion mattered then.

Next post, back to Climate Change and “re-enchantment.” 

 

new post on Bloghaunter:Frank Wallace, a remembrance

06/14/2020 § 1 Comment

https://bloghaunter.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/frank-wallace-a-remembrance/

Just a personal note.

New post on Bloghaunter:Fascism and post-fascism:media and mind-control

06/10/2020 § Leave a comment

https://bloghaunter.wordpress.com/2020/06/09/fascism-and-post-fascism-media-control-and-mind-control/

New post on Bloghaunter: Fascism and the assault on truth

06/08/2020 § Leave a comment

find it here

 

It doesn’t have to be this way: Proclaming gospel values; with a note on “original sin.”

06/07/2020 § 1 Comment

(adapted from a message given in worship)

I found myself, in a recent meeting for worship (connected by Zoom, as one so often is these days), thinking of my dad. Every year, in his 7th grade science class (1960s and ’70s), he’d have a lesson about Life on Other Worlds. The kids would be engaged, of course, and at some point he’d ask: “What would you do if a flying saucer landed in your back yard, and a Little Green Man came out?” The kids would respond, “I”d run!” “I’d shoot’em!” My dad would strike them dumb by saying, “Not me. I’d try to talk with them.” Then he’d explain why he’d want to hear what the travelers might say, and intend. He’d come home and tell the story with a chuckle. In the midst of the Vietnam war fever, this was an arrestingly alternative approach — counter-cultural, you might say.  

 My beloved, sweet father was not at all free from racial and other prejudices; but he saw the problem with prejudice, and in those years at least responded to communitarian impulses that he thought were the best of America.

This annual 7th grade ritual came back to me, I think, because of the recent protracted public outcry about systemic brutality against black people and all the long list of injustices and outrages perpetrated against the powerless, and especially people of color, by the powerful.

It’s so relentless a feature of human history up to the present, like war and sexism and brutality to children and the earth, that it seems obviously to be rooted in the fiber of our being, ineradicable from human behavior.  No wonder, I think, that the theologians developed the doctrine of original sin: Our natures start out broken, just because of who we are: Sons of Adam, daughters of Eve.  

No wonder George Fox found it hard going to preach freedom from sin, through the power of the Light of Christ within — and his opponents “roared and preached up sin,” with liberation only to be found in the Next Life.  But as he was not the first to note, if “There is none righteous, no, not one,” (Romans 3, after Ecclesiastes), then why are we continually exhorted by scriptures and preachers to live blamelessly, strive after righteousness?  What, after all, can it mean to walk in the light, as children of the light, if we are fundamentally hearts of darkness? What, indeed, is the “relevance of an impossible ideal”?  

It is a cruel teaching, but Augustine and his followers tell us we have to accept it, and accept that all the admonitions of the prophets and the Savior himself to cast off sin and walk in righteousness  don’t really mean what they say. Now, many Friends may object, “Well, so much the worse for them, and I don’t really care what Paul or Luther have to say about this stuff. All that matters is what I can say.”  Yet if we are worshippers of God, and that God is one, the God of Jesus and of Fox and Paul, then somehow the teachings that we believe we receive inwardly must at least be engaged with contrasting understandings apparently from the same source.  After all, the endlessly quoted “What canst thou say?” passage in Margaret Fell’s account is about engaging with Scriptures through the power of the spirit that gave them forth:

[Fox] stood up upon his seat or form and desired that he might have liberty to speak. And he that was in the pulpit said he might. And the first words that he spoke were as followeth: ‘He is not a Jew that is one outward, neither is that circumcision which is outward, but he is a Jew that is one inward, and that is circumcision which is of the heart’. And so he went on and said, How that Christ was the Light of the world and lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and that by this Light they might be gathered to God, etc. And I stood up in my pew, and I wondered at his doctrine, for I had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the Scriptures, and said, ‘The Scriptures were the prophets’ words and Christ’s and the apostles’ words, and what as they spoke they enjoyed and possessed and had it from the Lord’. And said, ‘Then what had any to do with the Scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth. You will say, Christ saith this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?’

 

But Friends understood that their understanding that God is still with us, still teaching and preaching as from the beginning when He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, means that our imperfect hearing must recognize (as Penington says):

A third great help, which in the tender mercy of the Lord I have had experience of, is sobriety of judgment.  Not to value or set up mine own judgment, or that which I account the judgment of life in me, above the judgment of others, or that which is indeed life in others. For the Lord hath appeared in others, as well as to me;  yea, there are others who are in the growth of his truth, and in the purity and dominion of his life, far beyond me.  Now for me to set up, or hold forth, a sense or judgment of anything in opposition to them, this is out of the sobriety which is of the truth.  Therefore, in such cases, I am to retire, and fear before the Lord, and wait upon him for a clear discerning and sense of his truth, in the unity and demonstration of his Spirit with others, who are of him, and see him

 

Well, it just so happens that, as the world has turned and brought us to the events of june, 2020, my wanderings through the Greek New Testament have brought me to Paul’s great epistle to the Romans, and for fun I have been keeping Erasmus’s Annotationes and  Paraphrase of that book within reach. In chapter 5 comes the passage that serves as an important cornerstone for the idea of imputed sin, that is, that we already start out at birth with a burden of sin, because our forefather Adam (and foremother Eve) committed the original sin.  The passage  (5:12) was translated in the Vulgate to suggest that sin entered the world because of Adam “in whom all have sinned” — with the implication that the sinfulness was inherited.  But Erasmus pointed out that Augustine (whose Greek was admittedly limited) was the only one among the early Fathers who understood the passage this way.  

The alternative is to understand the clause as meaning, “since all have sinned,”  and Erasmus argues on the basis of the next few lines, that the reason we have all sinned is that we are imitating our parents-back-to-Adam: “no one does not imitate the example of the first parent.”   Sin is therefore a learned behavior — all too easy, given human nature.  But if sin is learned, it can be unlearned — though since our proclivity to sin is so great, the unlearning  is only possible when we are willing to acknowledge the need, find and seek to adopt alternative responses to the occasions of sin — and seek and accept the necessary clemency and power of Christ’s spirit.  Christ the teacher, Doctor Logos, can bring diagnosis and the necessary medicine.  It’s up to us to use it — yet God upholds us in our attempt to be faithful to the Light, both with inward help and outward help from other travelers along the way 

Quakers from the beginning have rejected the “imputed sin” idea, even as they (we) rejected the “imputed righteousness” view of the Atonement.  Very many of the spiritual autobiographies, the journals, note that the authors felt that they began in innocence, and they could remember when they started to come under the bondage of sin — often all too willingly.   Victorian Quakers like Rufus Jones or John Wilhelm Rowntree in the same connection were glad to embrace Wordsworth’s account of the child coming into the world “trailing clouds of glory,” and only later coming under the “shades of the prison house.” 

But if sin is learned,it can be unlearned, especially if we find, or are shown, alternatives, so that we learn to seek and do the good, the better that we can see, and recognize and live past the worse, then how important is the “foolishness of preaching,” how important the testimony in deed and word of those who are more experienced in the journey, more practiced in the cycles of seeking, finding, and living up to our measure of the light (and not beyond)!

It is so important that we not be silent in the face of evil, and even if all we can say is “Things can be different!  We can choose life!   This much I have found, and thus have I changed!” then we are making our contribution as citizens of the Transformed Realm, as children of the Light, the Camp of the Lord.  Faithfulness in the little (no matter how little) enables faithfulness in greater trials.  Jesus promised such growth in freedom, and abundant joy in the finding of it. 

 

Notes:

  1. For more about Romans etc., see John Payne (1971) Erasmus as interpreter of Romans. (I can supply a pdf for the interested).  Also see Sylvia Fitzpatrick, Erasmus and the process of human perfection — the philosophy of Christ.
  2. A reminder and a challenge to us all:  
    It is a living ministry that begets a living people; and by a living ministry at first we were reached and  turned to the Truth. It is a living ministry that will still be acceptable to the church and serviceable to its members.  (Testimony concerning John Banks by Somerset Quarterly Meeting)

 

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Abiding Quaker

And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us (1 Jn. 3:24).

Jolly Quaker

Useful theology from a Quaker-shaped Christian

Nancy Bailey's Education Website

Revive, Rally and Recover Public Schools

Naming Spirit

Capturing Eternity in Motion

Save Maine Schools

Helping You Navigate Next-Gen Ed Reform from the Great State of Maine