Thursday, September 11, 2008

intro to my old Quaker blog

I decided a little while ago to lay down my blog on Quaker topics and just blog one place, here. Just to make things smoother, I'm going to bring over the few posts from the old blog. Here's the first one, from June 12, 2008:

I've been meaning to join the Quaker Blogging rounds for a while now. I mostly have lurked, and mostly at blogs by folks from my home meeting like Jeanne and Liz and James. I've been blogging for a couple years at, which is fun but I feel an urge more and more to drift away from the cartographic focus there, and go on about Quakerly stuff. So, with the miracles of modern technology, here I am.

And here goes.

The biggest thing I've felt myself wrestling with over the last few years on a spiritual level is the apparent divide between universalist and what I'll call specificist ways of approaching spiritual matters. To me these feel like approaching the same point from different directions, and I have spent some time trying to wrap myself around the problem, to find a point of view from which the two can be reconciled.

I grew up unchurched, and with a frankly dismissive attitude towards religion. My high school days at George School were a kind of opening for me; I got to talk about ideas and the shapes of things, in a more-or-less Quaker context. But I ended up deciding I was not with the Quakers because of what I called the Quaker paradox: how do you show tolerance and understanding for those whose explicit message is that you are not legitimate. How should an FGC Quaker deal with a foaming-at-the-mouth millenarian Baptist? What I saw a lot of at George was a dodging of the question... foaming at the mouth got you laughed out of town, and if there was a hint of threat, it got you ridden out of town. I had friends who, well, they didn't foam, but they did dribble, and they were not treated with peace love and understanding by my fellow right-thinking classmates. Who were high school students after all.

Anyway, I wandered hither and yon in college and after, ended up settling with the Unitarians in Excelsior, MN for a few years... a really lovely group, but I found myself missing the sense of a spiritual center.

Four years in Vermont and a marriage that wasn't going so well, and I was asked by a friend to "go do something for myself." Well, I liked Quaker meeting, even if I didn't feel especially Quaker myself, so I started going to Hanover Friends Meeting. After a year I decided I had in fact found my home, and I joined. Moved to the Twin Cities as part of my remarriage, and joined Twin Cities Friends Meeting.

And the Quaker paradox keeps coming back in different forms: how do you reconcile a notion of universal love and tolerance—of eight blind men making their way around an elephant—with the undeniable need of individuals to recognize specific experiences, and to form groups based on common identity.

So that's what I plan on writing about here.

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