Archive for the ‘quaker’ Category

Quaker’s Bad Behavior

June 17, 2008

I’ve started using Gmail for my personal mail, including all the Quaker email groups I’m on. One of the Google Ads that just came up above my email said:

Quaker Talk – www-Quaker-Training.comStop Your Quaker’s Bad Behavior Train Your Quaker – Fast & Easy!

If only it were that simple…

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Living faith

March 27, 2006

Yesterday I had the privilege of being at Wellington Meeting. I went to the bible study group first, which given the level of sharing, put me in a much calmer state of mind than I normally have at the start of Meeting.

One of the women ministering at Meeting for Worship spoke about the doll she had as a child, which had been handed down from generation to generation in her family. The doll's clothes had been built to last. She also talked of climbing a mesa in the desert in the USA, getting to the top, and wondering how she would get down. When she turned to descend she found handholds that had been carved out by Native Americans long ago. She asked what we were leaving for future generations.

This got me thinking about while being away from Quakers in my 20s, how the monthly newsletter had been my only link. This along with other writings like QF&P we leave behind us could perhaps be seen as handholds for future generations. Thinking about the bible study group though expanded this for me. The way in the group the conversation flowed between analysis of who may have actually written the words, what Jesus did or didn't say and our own experiences and interpretations of what these meant for us made me acutely aware of the value I place on the living experience of faith, over the written word (yes, I know I'm using the written word as a type right now…)

It feels to me that the handholds I value are those of a living faith. It was the experience of being in that living faith that brought me back to Quakers once my children were old enough. I wanted them to have that experience, to be immersed in a faith community rather than miss out on one, or even worse to just be lectured at about faith. It is this living faith that means so much to me. The words spoken in ministry, or written down in books are just guides. They're not to me essential, or a necessary step to faith. The direct connection with the spirit, that is what is important, that is what enlivens the words, gives them meaning, and enables me to be in this loving community.

Rage and Anger

March 12, 2006

Yesterday morning I read Anna’s post about the death of Tom Fox in Iraq. I have been struggling very hard not to feel angry and outraged about this. It’s the first time the war in Iraq has affected ‘one of my own’. I never met Tom Fox, but I know people who worked and trained with him.

Even more so than Harmeet Sooden who is a New Zealander, I seem to be affected by this happening to a Quaker. The threat of a similar fate befalling Harmeet also weighs heavy on my heart.

During the controversy with the Danish cartoons, I had my first stirrings of anger. Previously I had considered the Iraqi’s the ‘innocent oppressed’. But to see people killing each other, and reacting so violently, to what seems to us in the west just some cartoons, I found very difficult. It just seemed so ludicrous, such a ridiculous overreaction. It made me really start thinking about the harm we can cause by assuming that everyone thinks the way we do.

I was horrified to hear that Tom Fox was tortured before he was killed. In wanting to find out more, I googled ‘Tom Fox tortured’. The first result was from Tom’s own blog Waiting in the Light. It described the torture of four palestinians by the new Iraqi secret police. In reading this my anger abated. It seems so clear that the cycle of violence is so intertwined, feeding on itself, and consuming all in its path in its rage and anger. That Tom could still speak to this issue, could speak to my condition even though he had passed was a true wonder to me.

I think I now understand the Quaker Peace Testimony better. I found this statement on peace from NZ Quakers to make a new, deeper kind of sense to me.
“We totally oppose all wars, all preparation for war, all use of weapons and coercion by force, and all military alliances: no end could ever justify such means. We equally and actively oppose all that leads to violence among people and nations, and violence to other species and to our planet.”

I was also heartened by Tom’s own words, and felt them softening my outrage:

“We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.”

I see that this path we as Quakers and peacemakers choose has no guarantees, it might not even work. It might be slower, or cost more lives in the short term than going to war. But it is the only way that is right. I am convinced it is the only path that will lead to peace. If we have the courage to keep following it perhaps we can turn rage and anger into love and light.

Julian

First Day

March 5, 2006

I’ve become aware recently through various readings that Quakers used to call Sunday ‘First Day’. I’ve always thought of Saturday and Sunday as the weekend, that is, the end of the week, or the last two days of the week. Over the last few years when I’ve installed new calendar software on a computer, it’s often asked “Which day would you like to be the first day of the week”. I found it curious to have a choice.

What would it mean for Sunday to be the first day of the week, rather than Monday? For me it’d mean not starting the week with the mad rush of school and work. It’d mean starting the week with Meeting for Worship, spending time with family and being (at least slightly) more quiet and contemplative than I am during the working week.
So, I think I’m going to start the week on Sunday.

Laughter in a Time of War

February 27, 2006

In this podcast Zach Warren talks about using laughter and circus performance to help heal children’s psychological and emotional wounds in war torn countries.

“One of the first casualties of war” says Zach Warren, “is imagination.”

Right at the end he talks about his path in life being driven by his Quaker faith and values.

What’s in a name?

February 26, 2006

I’ve wanted a blog to share my thoughts on things of a spirit led, Quaker oriented fashion for some time now. It’s taken me a while to come up with a name I liked though. Here’s the story. I’d been reading and posting on Leith and Anna’s blogs for a few months and asked Leith what I should call my blog. We’d been talking about what she should call her new horse as she was struggling to find a name. I thought maybe it’d be easier if we just named them the same thing. Her working name for her foal was “littlefox”. I thought about that for a while, it is kind of ‘Quakery’ with fox in it, and I thought about “littlefoxes” too, but it just didn’t stick.

So, last night I asked my 5 year old son what I should call it, and he said “Nothing Bucket”. That was either very Zen and profound, or maybe he just took a dim view of what I might have to say on a blog. It wasn’t quite right, but I told Anna because I thought it was amusing. She said it reminded her of Dumbledore’s pensieve – a place to put thoughts when there are too many in your head. I looked pensieve up on Wikipedia. It says:

“Like many names in these books, pensieve is a pun: it is a sieve in that it is a device used for sifting out thoughts, and in using it one becomes pensive or thoughtful. It may be notable that “pensieve” is an anagram of Pevensie, the surname of the main characters from C. S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in which the Pevensie children are thrust into another world through a magical cupboard, as Harry is thrust into a memory through the pensieve in Dumbledore‘s cupboard.”

I really liked this. I wanted somewhere I could be thoughtful, and reflective, but which others could also see into. The fact that one of my favourite Quaker quotes comes from William Penn sort of sealed the deal.

So there we are.

Julian