Category Archives: Quakin’

Make It or Break It

A few weeks ago while chatting with a friend about her current faith community experience, she made a comment that startled and stuck with me:  “This is a make it or break it point.”  We were reflecting on her participation at a fledgling worship gathering.  Either her passion to see this community grow, thrive, and fly or her cynicism that “institutional” church squashes most creative/emerging sorts of worship expressions was so strong that this experience is an ultimate for her:  ultimately uniting or dividing her from her present faith community.

I couldn’t quite figure out why her declaration bothered me so.  Is it that I didn’t anticipate her feeling that strongly?  We usually see so eye to eye.  Or perhaps it’s that in times past I would’ve been right there with her believing that this new expression was needed and absolute and of course not understood by the ‘stodgy institutionalized’, but in present day I wonder what she’s hollerin’ about:  how can the way we worship be more important than who we worship with?  My youthful fear:  have I slowly melded comfortably in with that that I railed against?

Today I read a post about the current attack/think-to-complain-about in the emerging/institutional church circles.  Jason asked what I had heard about Brian McLaren’s new book:  “Nothing.  I don’t really read emerging church blogs anymore:  they’re just kinda blah.”

The emerging church and mothering sites are what drew me initially into the blogosphere:  daily I would check for new Quakes or young adults crying out for more authentic living and worship (and new funny ‘here’s the many colors of poo of my child today’ stories:  when you’re sleep-deprived, they’re a hoot).   As blogging’s become more normalized, posts feels very mechanical, formulaic.  The topics are rehashed, and unless serious digging takes place, the grand sense is evangelical white males talking about oppression:  something’s a bit off in that scenario.

While listening to a podcast about the need for Free in today’s crafting business world, a comment stuck with me:  “The only thing you have to offer is your self.”  He said there are a million people putting beads on wire or crafting pictures, but only you can sell your experience and your self.  There’s a fine line, though, between offering your experience and personality and stories and views or becoming a commodity to be consumed, and a lot of the blogosphere feels like the later as of late.

I’m not done blogging.  I’m not done seeking for authenticity.  Is the lack I see enough to drive me away, to say that it’s a ‘make it or break it’ experience?  I hope not, either online or in my corporate community.  In an age where people seem to believe only extremes are heard over the roaring buzz of constant information consumption, I’m thinking the quieting hum that soothes my baby girl to sleep is the way to go.

[Plus, the extremes remind me way too much of my toddler, and sometimes it’s hard not to break out into giggles.  “WORSHIP THIS WAY OR I’M LEAVING!” versus  “MY SOCKS ARE TOO TIIIIIIIGHT!”  “You picked out your socks.”  “TOO TIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” 🙂 ]

Ecclectic Reads and a Review

It’s the holidays, and my reading has consisted of things like Siblings Without Rivalry, Knitting for Peace, Cricket at the Manger (check out the stellar illustrations!), Hotel Dusk:  Room 215 (okay, so that’s not a book, but the game has enough words to make up a novel!) and The Genesis Trilogy.   Ecclectic, yes?  But then again, that seems to be the theme of the holidays (as we were going to Jason’s family’s friend’s house and Judah asked if we were going to spend the night there, and if not there, then where were we spending the night that night.  It might be a bit telling of our nomadic nature as of late).

Today I came across a review of a book that sounds like it’d spur some stellar discussion.  The book store is Hearts & Minds (HT Christine Sine), and the book is Peace to War.  I’m particularly interested since I just wrote a piece reflecting on our Yearly Meeting’s Query 10:  what will I say to my sons about war?  How do I live a lifestyle that is reflective and teaching about the way of peace?  How do I not?

The reviewer asked a question that peaked my interest:

Will the Mennonites, Brethren in Christ, evangelical Friends or other such groups lose their bearings as nonviolence is divorced from a full-orbed Biblical worldview? . . . As one reviewer on the back put it (from a Church of God seminary) “Here is a profoundly disturbing read for anyone concerned about faith formation across generations…the implications of this study are worth examining by all traditions asking ‘Will our children have faith?'”

Interesting thoughts as we move into a New Year (which I recently read isn’t so much celebrating a new year as much as marking the day that Christ was taken to the priests for circumcision.  Puts a new spin on the merrymaking, eh?).

Here I am to Worship

Again, crossposting a review for my Seminary class.  Thought it could stand some good ol’ Friendly input. 

When “Professor” Clark alluded to the fact that some of us were going off-roading with our elective reading choices, I think a bright flashing neon sign lit up above my head.  🙂 

After reading about liturgy and fighting commodification through liturgy, I thought it would be beneficial to explore the core elements of worship and its manifestations within differing traditions.  For the past few weeks I’ve been sitting with Evelyn Underhill’s book “Worship”.  I say that I’ve been sitting with it because, at least for this sleep-deprived reader, it’s not a quick read.  Underhill’s most known work “Mysticism” explores the wider topic of communion/experience/”yadah” with God; this follow-up looks at some more practical ways individuals and groups experience this.  Divided into two parts, the book first details the purpose and the elements of worship and then explores these principles and values in specific denominational expressions. 

“Worship is here considered in its deepest sense, as the response of man to the Eternal; and when we look at the many degrees and forms of this response, and the graded character of human religion, its slow ascent from primitive levels and tendency to carry with it the relics of the past, we need not be surprised that even within the Christian family there is much diversity in the expressive worship which is yet directed towards a single revelation of the Divine” (xxi).  This statement contains elements of the sentiment of Luke Bretherton’s picture of Deep Church drawing from the same well of tradition as well as Andrew Walker’s thoughts on Deep Church and paradosis:  “What is new about this retrieval is that it is a quest for something old, and its modus operandi is not a technique, but a turning back (epistrophe)” (50). 

While looking at the fundamental characteristics of worship, Underhill often details the extremes manifesting from the response to Reality (most often comparing the Anglican church and the Quaker meetings) sharing the strengths and weaknesses of each expression.  For example:  “Habit tends to routine and spiritual red-tape; the vice of the institutionalist.  Attention is apt to care for nothing but the experience of the moment and ignor the need of a stable practice, independent of personal fluctuations; the vice of the individualist.  Habit is a ritualist.  Attention is a pietist.  But it is the beautiful combination of order and spontaneity, docility and freedom, living humbly – and therefore fully and freely – within the agreed pattern of the cultus and not in defiance of it, which is the mark of genuine spiritual maturity and indeed the fine flower of a worshipping life” (22).  This almost reminded me of the characteristics of the modern (ritualist) and post-modern (pietist) movements.  As she moves on to describe early Christian worship, she notes that the earliest form of Charismatic expression was taken on by Hellenistic Christians who moved away from the Jewish models (180).  This seems similar to the modern/postmodern movement as well where the postmodern group is trying to follow a new expression of worship that seems so dissimilar to the previous standard.

Underhill gives some details not only about current worship, but the history of worship starting with the Hebrews and moving to the early church and the denominational splits.  Interestingly she noted in Jewish life that “it was surrounded by a number of small ritual observances; which can easily be dismissed as formal or superstitious, but were really directed – like the small external pieties of the ‘good Catholic’ – to the sanctifying of all the common events of everyday life, by a constant and humble remembrance of the claims of the Eternal God and His Law” (156).  Sounds a little bit like Bretherton’s “mundane holiness” to me where “in our day Christian disciplines and practices must act as antidotes to the attempt to shape our personhood through consumerism, technology, and the myriads to Pasnopticanlike institutions of the corporation state” (244). 

I spent more time looking at Underhill’s evaluation of Quaker/Free Churches than the other denominations because this is the tradition I come from.  I have been a bit disheartened reading “Consuming Religion” with Miller’s thesis that liturgy fights commodification of religion.  One of the main characteristics of the Friends is the lack of symbol/ritual/liturgy of the high church.  In the preface to George Fox’s “Journal”, William Penn notes, “The bent and stress of their ministry was conversion to God, regeneration and holiness, not schemes of doctrines and verbal creeds or new forms of worship, but a leaving off in religion the superfluous and reducing the ceremonious and formal part, and pressing earnestly the substantial, the necessary and profitable part, as all upon a serious reflection must and do acknowledge.”  After hearing this most of my life, it’s easy for me to assume that Quakers are anti-ligurgy.  Miller quotes Terrance Tilley:  “The significance or meaning of the doctrine of the Real Presence can be paraphrased or summarized theologically, but it cannot be fully understood except when it is connected with the ritual practices of the community that holds the doctrine” (202).  Tilley was speaking of the Eucharist, but his reference to the “Real Presence” seems to mesh with some of Underhill’s thoughts:  “It points past all signs and symbols to the Invisible Holy, trusts the immanent presence with men of the Invisible Holy, and perpetually reminds us of the awe and humility, the pause, the hush, the deliberate break with succession, with which man should approach the great experience of communion with teh living God:  ‘not hurrying into the exercise of these things, so soon as teh bell rings, as other Christians do'” (237).  Perhaps there’s more liturgy involved than I had previously thought, but it simply looks different.  But what does that look like today within the differing branches of Quakerism with some being evangelical and some not, some being programmed and some not? 

I’m uncertain as to what to do with this book.  It seems very black and white, all or nothing.  Underhill describes strengths and weaknesses, but it’s either the best of the strengths or the worst of the weaknesses – not a lot of inbetween or what happens with the introduction of shallow bricolage.  It reminds me of the difference between analyzing something in the lab under ideal conditions versus using it in the real world with unknown variables.  Her explanations of symbols and sacraments were incredibly helpful (they are a means of God sharing Truth with us).  I greatly appreciated the pointing out of similarities of truth and purpose and principles within the traditions:  she detailed the similarities without making them the “same” – showing the beauty of each characteristic or expression, like a family portrait.  Perhaps as I chat with others we can take some time to gaze deeper at our latest family pictures – the good and the bad, the modern and the postmodern, the institutional and the emerging, and see the beauty of each grandparent and parent and child and wait in anticipation of the generations to come.

Communing and Consuming

Tomorrow my friend Gregg is speaking about communion.  To our faith community.  That happen to be Quaker.

. . . . .

For those of you who aren’t squirming uncomfortably in your seats, you probably don’t know that Quakers don’t “do” communion.  Why don’t they?  Well, to tell you the truth, a lot of folks probably don’t know.  “It’s just something that isn’t done.”  I recently heard a story about a woman who always cut off the end of a roast before putting it in the oven.  Her daughter asked her why she did that, and the mother said because her mother before her had always done it, but the mother never asked why.  So she did, to which she got the response, “Because my mother did!”  They asked the great-grandmother who said, “Because our pan was too small to fit a whole roast.”  The ladies had been engaging in a tradition that a) meant nothing to them because they didn’t know the reasoning behind it and 2) wasn’t necessary anymore – they had big enough pans now.

So, Quakes don’t “do” communion.  Some would say it is a reaction against resting too heavily on the belief that taking communion ensures salvation:  people abused the practice, so Friends’ reaction was to swing to the other side – abstinence (the best method of birth control, perhaps, but not necessarily the best spiritual-practice reaction).  Others would say it’s because it pales in comparison to the true reality of living in daily, moment-to-moment communion  with the Spirit (Elton Trueblood had some quote about that in one of his pamphlet-thingies I think).  And others?  “Well, we just don’t do communion” can be a very valid explanation to their way of thinking.  Anybody got a knife to cut off the end of this here roast?

I’m auditing a class at the Seminary and this week we were looking at consumerism and the church.  Oy, it makes my head hurt how much the commodification has happened in church culture.  It’s like thinking about the best environmental action/reaction:  either seems to do damage and there is no right answer!

One interesting observation brought up:  since the “Fordism” of America (when people starting working in a factory to create goods for others rather than engaging in the art of craftsmanship to meet their personal needs), people have become more and more dissected – segmented – taken apart.  Just as the work place was analyzed and changed into a manufacturing line, human beings have been analyzed and taken apart into having certain “needs” that must be met by products they can purchase.  Which we all know doesn’t work:  the fires of consumption only grow with each offering, and yet I know I keep piling it on.

As work and individuals have been taken apart, so have religious practices.  Instead of knowing why we do something, engaging in the practices and symbols and liturgy because of a wholistic lifestyle of worship, we take things apart:  a little Celtic labyrinth here, a little Taize chant there, throw in some Quaker silence and postmodern couches/coffee/candles, and call it good!  The practices we choose are to try and meet our needs – but that fire keeps burning brightly.

God speaks symbolically:  I learn so much through the Bible, through the way the world works, through interactions as a parent/friend/wife/person – it’s all through symbol.  To abstain from symbol is to cut off a powerful means of communicating with and worshiping God.

But I understand how the lack of physical symbols is a symbol in itself.  While it was seemingly so meaningful to first gen Quakes, I wonder if the power dissipates with each generation:  as we follow them, we see more of their shoes than where they were headed.

Could a regular practice of discernment bring about that renewal?  A posture of receiving from God the ways He desires to be worshiped, rather than picking and choosing until it “feels right” or “meaningful” to us?  That would take a lot of work and time:  is anyone willing to do that?

My dad’s worship gathering (a Quaker one at that) has bread and juice available for folks to take communion each Sunday.  It’s not the high liturgy of the mainline churches (and I’m sure they’d shutter to know how their symbol has been “dumbed down”), but people have encountered God as they took part of the act.

Instead of asking the question “Why do/don’t we engage in the bread/wine practice of communion at our worship gatherings?” would it not be more productive to ask “What does this act mean, Lord?  What does it mean that we’re so conflicted about it?” and ultimately “What are you calling us to do?”  This wrestling hopefully brings us deeper into communion with God.

I pray that tomorrow my community will wrestle well.

The First Quaker Carnival

*Blog* Carnival, that is: somehow I don’t think they make grey beads to throw out at the parade.

Being a facilitator is good but tough work. It’s one of my favorite roles: hearing rumblings, making connections, providing space for a need, gathering resources, keeping an eye on the future while walking in the present.

A friend of mine is an excellent facilitator: his name is Martin. He is one of the first Quaker bloggers I found online; not only that, but his passions and concerns mirrored mine: the lack of young adults in meetings, the sadness of the divided state of Quakerdom, being a parent and a minister.

As blogging became a more familiar and used medium, Quaker bloggers popped up here and there. But the dialogue was cumbersome: good stuff was happening, but not everyone knew about it. And obviously these conversations were important and necessary: folks were saying the same thing over and over, but with their own flavor. How to connect?

Enter Martin, a faithful friend who is an excellent facilitator. He created QuakerQuaker – an aggregator of the best stuff out of Quaker blogs. When Quaker blogdom started to take on a life of its own, he recruited help (which I’m supposed to do but never have because [enter any number of excuses here]). Over time he’s tweaked with the technology, all to make it easier for Quakes of different walks and background to connect.

Does he get paid? No. Does he have too much to do? Yes. Is he a wonderful example of following a calling both to be an online presence as well as to be present with his young family? Yes.

I’ve greatly appreciated reading the different posts that pop up on my feed reader from QuakerQuaker. I love getting a taste of other flavors of Quakerism. I treasure the relationships and connections I’ve built with other Quaker bloggers. And I really really appreciate Martin: thanks for all that you do and all that you are, friend.

Check out the Blog Carnival: you never know – there may actually be dancing. 🙂

A Time to Gather & A Place to Share

This past weekend Northwest Yearly Meeting had their first ever all-board retreat. At our annual sessions it was approved to create new boards and start from scratch with board members: a massive undertaking. This weekend was the first time for us to gather together, to look at the purpose and vision of our board, and to dream of how we’ll work together (both individually within our board and collectively with other boards and the Yearly Meeting as a whole). Sounds like oodles of fun, eh? Well, when you spend your time scouting out the best deal on mandarin oranges and wondering what in the world your child ate that could make his poo smell oh so foul, the idea of meetings with adults doesn’t seem all that bad.

The best part? Connecting with the individuals who were present. So many seeking spirits, so many dedicated individuals, so many folks saying, “I’m not quite sure how I’m called, but I’m here none the less!” The themes I heard through the weekend:

  • questioning: but a questioning that involves trust and faith rather than doubt
  • excitement: “leaning into the harness, raring to go”
  • doubt: does moving “bits and pieces” really make a difference if the people of the Yearly Meeting aren’t living out Christ’s call to “Go! Feed my sheep!” in their everyday lives?
  • isolation/loneliness: an ache to connect with others who are questing and questioning as well
  • hope: when the people of God are gathered together, something is bound to happen

I chatted with a number of folks about a variety of resources I’ve found helpful in my own personal journey: very random in nature, but I figured I’d throw it up in one solitary post a) because I’m lazy, and 2) because it’s almost dinnertime and I’m hungry. 🙂

Labyrinths: an interview with Jonny Baker of Alternativeworship.org

Women leader resources: Convergence, a gathering of Northwest emerging women leaders in January

Random helpful books: Emerging Churches, Emerging Worship, The Shaping of Things to Come, Exiles, The Present Future, The Secret Message of Jesus (especially the last chapter “Plotting Goodness”), Cultivating a Life for God

Some worship gatherings that seem to “get it”: Evergreen (check out the pastor’s blog: good stuff, especially on community), Church of the Apostles (Seattle), Jacob’s Well, Solomon’s Porch, Vineyard Boise

This is SO not definitive. And yes, it’s relying heavily on “emerging” sources: but that’s where I’ve found folks who are actively asking, seeking, and knocking. Hope it’s enough to get you started. What are some books/websites/gatherings/resources that have really shaped your current lifeview and challenged you to keep questing for those “Oh, there you are, God!” moments? Keep the ideas flowing!

You Mean You’re a Real Person?

It’s afternoon-time: my little Mover & Shaker is down for a nap, and while I’d like to avoid working on my Yearly Meeting workshops by reading a Fluff Book or watching the E! True Hollywood Story on Desperate Housewives, I couldn’t handle the restless tension anymore – must. sit. think. write. prepare. (underlying motivation: must. not. look. like. boob. when. facilitating. workshop.).

And while I feel somewhat saturated with thoughts and experiences, of both mine and others, the white canvas of NeoOffice seemed very threatening and overwhelming. Sometimes I just need a little distraction, so while compiling notecards (just like my 11A teacher taught me to do when working on a project: she’d be so proud: I’m such an English geek), I listened to an Emergent podcast of Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt (who has a few blogs: what is it my dad says? Gross excess is only half enough? 🙂 ) sitting at Chipotle talking about Emergent ‘stuff’. I’m not so surprised about the location: I mean, how can one talk about our response to God’s callings in present day culture without a quality amount of guac present? 🙂

At two points Tony and Doug talk about their experience as authors: as folks receive the writings, many have looked beyond the words to the authors, somewhat ‘dehumanizing’ them to be a concept or an idea rather than a person. It reminded me of my weekend.

This weekend I had the chance to meet some a) fellow Quakers and 2) fellow bloggers. A little over a year ago I began a ‘real blog’ – a place to share non-Mama thoughts (or at least not go into the graphic details of how much my infant son yarfed that day) and to connect with other Quakers. And honestly, at that time, I was thinking solely of Christ-centered, evangelical Quakers: you know, people just like me!

And I did connect with people like me, but they didn’t look how I expected. In fact, the folks I’ve engaged in the best discussions with on how to respond to the calling of the Spirit have been folks coming from non-evangelical Quaker backgrounds. It’s so easy to group people: folks from FGC are like this, folks from EFI are like this. And yet, that’s so truly dehumanizing. Only when we come into true relationship and conversation with each other can we see each other as God intended: God’s blessed creations.


So thanks, convergent f/Friends for sharing of yourselves. I’m so glad to have met *you*: not an idea or a thought or a generalization of you, but the real you. Blessings to you all in the continued journey.

Ps. Gregg, while you blogged your picture sooner than I did, Jason had this one up on Flickr that evening. I think I win: you decide the prize (one year without being called out during service? A Judah-free night? Sugar-free Moose Tracks ice cream? All-expenses paid trip to the next ETC? I’m easy). 😀

The Simple Act of Trying to Follow Christ

“No one who has not tried it would believe how many difficulties are cleared out of a man’s road by the simple act of trying to follow Christ.” ~Alexander Maclaren

I have a calendar in My Room (i.e. the room I pretend I do work in, but in reality I sit at the kitchen table because certain individuals/creatures all like to come into My Room and take it apart while I’m working): I inherited it from my mom when I took her job at Fox. She inherited it from Gregg’s mom when she took her position at Fox. Oh, the little community we live in.

At any rate, the calendar is one of those inspirational calendars where you flip a page a day and it has a verse and a quote: reusable because it doesn’t have the day of the week or the year. Most mornings I casually flip it, more because the anal side of me wants to be on the correct day rather than to glean its wisdom. This morning, though, the above quote caught my eye, particularly the phrase “simple act of trying to follow Christ.”
Is following Christ a simple act? Then why is it so hard sometimes? I guess ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ don’t always go hand in hand, eh?

And am I truly trying to follow Christ? Or am I trying to follow people who I think are trying to follow Christ? George Fox, Brian McLaren, Andrew Jones, Graham Cooke, my parents? Myself? . . .

The writings of early Quakers seem to communicate that they didn’t desire folks to follow them exactly, but rather to follow the truth behind their actions: a response to ‘primitive Christianity’ – to Christ. And primitive Christianity, well, it seems like when they weren’t following Christ, they got bogged down in labels (Hebrew versus Greek) and rituals (circumcised versus uncircumcised): when they were truly following Christ, they were able to shake the government to its very core.
So, where does spending time analyzing and critiquing movements such as Quakerism and the Emerging church fall into that? Does that help or detract from the simple act of trying to follow Christ?

If Old School Quakers Lived Today

“Um. . . is this thing on? Is anyone watching over this blog? Hello?” I wonder sometimes if that’s what folks think when they come to my site and see that it hasn’t been updated in foreverandeveramen. And sometimes I wonder with my blabberings that are shot out into the great blogosphere if folks think, “Um . . . who let that kid have a blog?” Similar to what happened this week as we took our 21 month old son to a wedding and amazingly enough he started to act up (shocking, I know: a toddler not want to get dressed up and sit still and meet strangers after flying on an airplane and sleeping (well, dozing) in a hotel?!!?). He was across the room being chased, and I started to joke, “Man, who was dumb enough to bring a toddler to a wedding? What a non-non.” Heh heh. Okay, so I’m not that funny. I’ll leave the stand-up comedy routine to Gregg (who this morning compared himself to a dog on a leash. I’ll let him explain that one).

Thank you SO much for your comments. Hearing other experiences and thoughts and ponderings is a true blessing, a gift. I hope to lead this workshop more as a facilitator than a “teacher” because the collective experiences are so much deeper than my singular experience.

Starla’s comment hit close to home:

I am facinated that the Friends are experiencing the decline of membership from the same demographic that is flocking to the emergent movement. I find it facinating, because Friends are more theologically similar to the emergent movement than almost any other denomination. . . . So, I cant help but be personal about what I experienced. I know that I tired of the love affair Quakers have about beieng Quaker. I tired of reading Fox, Trueblood, etc. I tired of feeling like I need a personality make-over to be a good Quakerhave you noticed the similarity in personality within the group? Similar mannerisms? I tired of silence-all the time. I wanted to mix it up and be loud from time to time. I tired of the tradition of not following tradition, as I see value in the liturgical movement.

I’ve been reading some Quaker history stuff: pamphlets, books, etc. I realized that I’m pretty saturated in emerging church and young adults, but not so much in Quakerism and young adults. Since I’m facilitating two workshops, I figured I should probably know about both. 🙂

In my readings what truly struck me was how responsive the early Quakers were to the Spirit, no matter how abnormal it looked to their culture. Yet, they didn’t behave simply to be counter-cultural: they were following the call of the Spirit. They sought “Primitive Christianity Revived” – hey, isn’t that what the emerging church movement desires as well? Starla seems to resonate with that as well, and this has led her to attend an emerging church.

I don’t feel the call to leave my meeting (yet: you never know), but I do understand her frustration with the “love affair with Quakerism” (I might call it “idolizing”). Living in Northwest Quaker Mecca (i.e. our Yearly Meeting/Area Headquarters and George Fox University are here) I am saturated with Quaker culture, but it’s mixed: some is contemporary, some is old school. Yearly Meeting is interesting – a sort of “which Quaker are you?” experiment. Do you talk about Jesus or Christ? The Spirit or the Light? Are you Board of Evangelism or Social Concerns? Do you think that the Peace committee is making a difference or is a home for misplaced flower children? I’ve heard so much reverence for Fox and Trueblood from folks that I haven’t necessarily seen living out anything radical or worthwhile that I stayed away from those writers until now. And man: I love this stuff! So much truth – straight to the point. But I think I’m in a place where I’m ready to receive their writings due to my experience with Emerging Church – it’s put the overall truths into a cultural context for me.

“It is important, as our contemporary rediscovery proceeds, that we do not succumb to the temptation to idolize the earliest Quaker period. The past cannot be repeated and ought not to be repeated even if it were possible. What is important is that the vision of greatness demonstrated in an earlier time may help men and women of this generation to know how to discover the secret of an equal vitality, with relevance to the contemporary situation.” Trueblood

Starla said she thought Woolman would be jumping and yelling if he were around today, but would it be allowed? What about Fox? Would he be blogging and podcasting as a current means of spreading a message? Would he be saying, “Does thee fare well today?” or “S’up?” Would Elizabeth Fry be wearing gray, or would she be wearing environmentally-friendly, sweatshop-free made clothes, and then campaigning to eliminate the sweatshop environments? Would William Penn have created a place like MySpace, venturing out into the new territory of the internet to create a community?
A lot of time is spent nailing down, “What kind of Quaker are you?” I don’t know how much of the early Quakers did that; it seems that they listened to their leaders, their community, the Scriptures, and the Light. They wanted folks to be pointed, not towards them and their actions, but towards the Spirit: to encounter Christ personally. That’s the type of folks young adults are drawn to. That’s a place where growth and expansion and radical transformation can happen. That’s where I ache to be.
(And instead of riding naked into town on a donkey, do you think Naylor would’ve done a naked stunt on a reality show? You gotta wonder. . . ) 🙂

I’d Like to Hear From You

I’ve maintained this blog for almost a year now. I discovered blogging as a new mama trapped mostly at home: when I couldn’t leave the townhouse due to napping or feeding schedules, I could still connect with the “outside world” via these personal weblogs – total blessing.

At the same time I was struggling with the question of “where have all the young adults gone?” in regards to participation in my worship gathering. My friends and I seemed to have a real experience of Christ in high school, and yet we all faded away come college and entrance into young adulthood. I was recruited to facilitate a workshop at our Yearly Meeting (Annual Conference) regarding The Missing Generation. In preparing, folks pointed me in the direction of postmodernism and the emerging church. But as I threw my questions and experiences out into the grand blogosphere, God opened an unexpected door into connecting with those in my tradition (Quakers) from different branches.

As I said, it’s almost been a year which means that Yearly Meeting is coming up. The workshop last year was a great time of questioning and conversing, and I’ve been asked to facilitate two workshops this year to continue the conversation: one on Emerging and Young Adults, and the other on Quakerism and Young Adults (the titles are more snazzy than that, but I can’t remember them exactly – they’re that snazzy). My mind is saturated with experiences, questions, ways folks are living out good stuff, ways folks aren’t doing so hot, places young adults are, and opportunities to connect. But sometimes when one is *so* in something, it’s hard to know what would be the best stuff to tackle when we gather together.

SO: I’d like to hear from you. Really. I’m not kidding. I’m not asking out of politeness (which I could, having been raised in a proper Southern tradition). You: I wanna know.

  • Do these topics (young adults and emerging and/or Quakerism) sound relevant to your situation?
  • What assumptions do you have when you hear “young adults”? “Emerging”? “Quaker”?
  • Why would you attend such a gathering?
  • What would you hope to bring to this conversation?
  • What would you hope to take away?

A number of folks have told me, “I read your blog and wanted to leave a comment, but I don’t have anything to say.” I think you do. Others have told me, “I don’t have the time.” Call me – on your way to work or the store or while you’re walking the puppy. Some say, “I don’t feel comfortable sharing publically.” Email me: my contact info’s on the sidebar. I have been so blessed by connecting with you all: thank you for sharing with me.