The twofold mission of Friends (Marty Grundy)

I had a conversation with a Friend today who had led a book group at our meeting recently. They read God's Politics by Jim Wallis. She said there was a regular group of about 12, a third of whom were into the politics of it, a third of whom despaired of anything to do with national or global politics, and a third of whom didn't believe in God and wanted to criticize anything to do with organized religion!

It struck me as odd that a person who was so disgusted with organized religion would (a) show up at a Quaker meeting regularly, and (b) read a book called God's Politics.

The answer to (a) is that we unprogrammed liberal Quakers are the least "organized" of the organized religions. Sometimes to our detriment, like when we do a worse job of organizing a Quaker children's program than we would a political rally for children's rights, but that's a different rant.

My Friend's answer to (b) was that, hey, they wanted other people to talk to and this was a nice group of people to hang out with.

I was left thinking about the creative tension involved with being a hospitable, welcoming place, including for "religious refugees," while at the same time being a community where we can support, both individually and collectively, growing together in the Light, to quote Will T.

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I typed the following passage up some time ago to hold in reserve. I'm publishing it now in light of the conversation today.

It's by Martha Paxson Grundy, from an essay called "Christ Teaching Us," published in Walk Worthy of Your Calling, edited by Peggy Senger Parsons and Margery Post Abbott, p. 130. (Buy it at Quaker Books of FGC!)

My vision of the mission God has given to unprogrammed Friends has been twofold. The first part is to provide a "gateway" for seekers and social activists....

But the other half of our mission is to invite those who enter the "gateway" into a growing, deepening experience of a Quakerism that is more than an absence of the things some seekers have rejected. We have a vision provided by our seventeenth-century spiritual ancestors whose lives were radically changed because they moved into increasingly compltee obedience to Christ.... The half of our mission that involves living into this vision is not done very well. I meet people who are hungry for increased authenticity--for posessing God's Truth and not just professing it, or assuming that because we are Quakers we automatically have it. If our meetings are content to stop at the "gateway," these people will go elsewhere, because they will be fed. That breaks my heart because the Quaker vision, as it was experienced and can be lived with newness now, has so much that answers the anguish of our times.

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Simon St. Laurent is posting excerpts from H. Larry Ingle's First Among Friends over at Light and Silence. I found this post to illustrate how early Friends answered the anguish of their times.

I find many of the Quaker blogs to be living into the search for authenticity that Marty writes about. Some use the language of Christianity. Some use the language of the Light. Some use the language of non-theism, or "atheology" as James Riemermann called it. I'm not so bothered by the differences in language. I'm excited by the willingness to reveal, to share, to be vulnerable, to seek together in love.

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