As I met with my study group yesterday, a group of women that meets monthly to help each other discern how each one of us is called to live in this age of inequality, I was struck by the fact that not one of us felt encouraged by our own church/Meeting in that process. When I had my own epiphany of experiencing abundance on Sunday (see 12/9 blog entry), I couldn’t bring myself to go to Quaker Meeting that day, and I know I didn’t think of liberal Quakerism as a forum for my exploration of God’s abundance. (I will probably write more on why that is in days to come.)
OK, I know I’m being unfair. Yes, my comments are a bit sweeping. There are individual Friends I can relate to and who do walk beside me. Such as my husband – God does indeed provide for us, abundantly! Still, the Quakers who keep me going and whose inspiring words sustain my faith are “malcontents” among Quakers. They, like me, have seriously considered leaving Quakerism, have perhaps tried going to other Meetings, the “other” kind of Quaker gathering, churches of other denominations, or worshiping in another faith altogether. Perhaps they have taken “sabbaticals” from Meeting and responsibilities for a while. Some never come back. Some Friends, like me, discover our identity is tied so strongly to the spiritual insights of early Quakerism that we cannot comprehend a way of being that is not Quaker. I could no more leave Quakerism than cut out my own liver. So we straggle along as malcontents, delighting in the words of likeminded Quakers that we do come across. (Praise the Lord for www.quakerquaker.org!)
Picture this happening among Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, United Church of Christers (?), Baptists, and other denominations.
Many malcontents go to seminary, their thirst for “true religion” is that strong. I hear people dream about starting up a “Church of the Savior” type outfit here in Seattle. I know two people who are dreaming about starting up something like the beguinages of old, communities of lay women dedicated to economic justice and service.
Rufus Jones said back in the 50s (forgive me for quoting from memory with an incomplete reference, the book I am referring to is still in storage after our move this summer): Women and men are not going to church today to be entertained or to hear weak lectures on the ills of the world. The church, if it is to hold its place in the walk of life, must be nothing less than a revealing place for God. A place where life in its noblest and deepest potential is revealed.
Query for prayerful consideration:
Where do I find sustenance if/when my faith community fails as a “revealing place for God”?