Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Kind of Quakerism and Convergent Friends - Mutations of Hope

The following quote is taken a Pendle Hill Pamphlet entitled Rethinking Quaker Principles. It's written by Rufus Jones. I share it because it offers an interesting look at what it means to be "new" and how this connects with the idea of "emergent".

"It is not often that something wholly new comes to our world. We can probably say that something absolutely new never happens. The newest form always bears some marks of the old out of which it sprung."

Quick thought: that's how I envision a "new kind of Quaker". We're not necessarily seeing something "brand new" that is so against what has come before. A new kind of Quaker more or less bears some marks of the old. We are not creating something completely different but springing out of what has come before. Okay, here is some more of Rufus Jones:

"The new, like the new moon, is born in the arms of the old. We have a new word for the breaking in of the new out of the existent old. We call it a mutation. A mutation is a unique and unpredictable variation in the process of life. It is the unexpected appearance of a new type in an old order. It is a leap and not a mere dull recurrence of the past. Something emerges that was not here before. something that is not just the sum of the preceding events."

This previous quote helps me to further understand a "new kind of Quaker" as well as Convergent Friends. I'm not so sure the word "mutation" works for me but the definition certainly does. In fact, if we were to use the term "Convergent Friends" or even "New kind of Quaker" in place of "mutation", we may have something. For example:

A "new kind of Quaker" is a unique and unpredictable variation in the process of life. It is the unexpected appearance of a new type in an old order. It is a leap and not a mere dull recurrence of the past.

Both the "new kind of Quaker" and "Convergent Friends" are "unique and unpredictable" variations in the process of life. We're not sure where they will end up, but they are "in process" and we trust God is leading that process. They are also unexpected appearances of a new type - in an old order! I am reminded of the words of God in the book if Isaiah, "Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it?" We don't just want to remake the past. That's succumbing to romantic nostalgia and turning it into an idol. We want to take a "leap of faith" into the new that God has called us as Quakers - this new order growing out of the old.

If you want to find more on these wonderful pamphlets, just go to

Friday, April 4, 2008

Connected Rather Then Separate - New Kinds of Quakers

The following quote is from a post by Jim Palmer on his website / blog
Jim is an excellent writer ("Divine Nobodies" and "Wide Open Spaces" are his two books). He is a former pastor and also one who grew up in the evangelical world. Recently, his spiriual journey has taken him down a much wider road spiritually. As I read him, I can't help but think of we could be as "new kinds of Quakers" as we digest his thinking and understanding of the spiritual life. Read what he has to say about how we tend to view each other as separate from us rather then connected. What would it be like if we saw other Quakers as connected to us rather then separate.

"do we have to override the sensory data fed to us through our physical senses to process spiritual truth as we go about life? for example, sensory data is continuously telling me that all people are separate and independent beings. i am separate from you. Jesus used metaphors like a tree and a human body to emphasize our connectedness. the same divine life is the sap of the tree running through all the branches. there are many different body parts, but it’s all one body. you and i both share in the same divine image. you and i are drawing life from the same and one and only life support system. we derive true love and peace from the same source.
whether you think of this oneness as only existing among certain people, or you feel it applies to all people, i have a question.
what would be different if you stopped seeing others as separate from you, and began seeing others as part of you? again, maybe your field of application would be other Christians you go to church with, fine. maybe your field of application is everyone you come in contact with, fine. i’m not interested on this post of debating who we may or may not be one with. i am purely interested in the following:
if you saw yourself and others as one, rather than two totally separate beings what would be different. if this is where you are, describe what is the difference you experience. if you’re not quite there in practice, what do you imagine might be different. how would that awareness of your oneness with others manifest in your life?"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome To A New Kind of Quaker

Welcome to a "New Kind of Quaker". For those of you familar with Brian McLaren, you will notice the obvious "title stealing." With my apologies to Brian McLaren, I did this because I felt this notion of a "new kind" speaks to my condition and what I seek to live into. In reading McLaren's work, I appreciate his invitation to think about Christianity that is less "either / or" and more "both /and". In in his work, he seeks to bring hope and energy to folks that are weary and tired of the "left vs right" arguments or the "liberal vs conservative" attacks. To that end, he seeks to envision a "new kind of Christian" that is essentially an invitation to truly follow the way of Jesus. It's not "new" in the sense of improving on what Jesus has already given us. It's "new" in the sense of trying something we may have not actually have even attempted - to do exactly what Jesus invited us to do and be.

As I envision a "new kind of Quaker", I envision someone who not only seeks to follow authentically in the way of Jesus but one who also seeks to live into that original vision of the Society of Friends. Even more, I envision one who is no longer interested in investing time in "who is right and who is wrong" but is more interested in seeing how God is at work in the variety of folks we have among Friends. A "new kind of Quaker" is less concerned about "theological purity" and is more concerned about making sure we are "doing theology" by seeing our our faith is put into action. A "new kind of Quaker" isnt going to spend alot of time coming up with resolution after resolution in order to pull the drawstrings of exlcusivity tighter and tighter. Rather, a "new kind of Christian" will seek a more inclusive vision of God's presence and reign in this world so that all of God's gifts - and children - are celebrated. A "new kind of Quaker" doesnt separate the "spiritual from the secular" but seeks to bring together in a holistic way their faith with other aspects of creation. In other words, it matters to our faith how we treat the enviroment, how we consume, and how we treat the poor and the disadvantaged. A "new kind of Quaker" is going to look down on certain Quaker acronyms ("They are from EFI, or FUM, or FGC") but a "new kind of Quaker" seeks to enjoy all the Quaker alphabet has to offer. In other words, a "new kind of Quaker" sees the value in both the person from EFI and FCNL, from FUM and AFSC, from FUM and FGC.

What is your vision of a "new kind of Quaker?"