Peace, immigration, and suchlikes

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I’ve a few thoughts on these stirring around in my head, but I haven’t posted anything yet because I’m letting them stew a bit longer. A while back I asked on this here page whether or not I was becoming a Quaker. I like Quakers, you see, and find them to be a most agreeable sort of Christian to know. Only I’m not sharing the politics that seem prevalent among them. These cause me to pop in and pop out of various conversations, as I want to discuss, but find my political disagreements to be disagreeable, mostly to me, and maybe to them.

Peace, you see, should be something more than something proclaimed. It needs to be within. At least that’s my thinking on the subject, and politics makes me, well, a wee bit fractious. But, there are important things at stake in political discussions, and I wish my affinity would match my agreeableness. Instead, what I’m coming to notice is that I share a examinative quality, rather than a result quality. I really do wrestle with these same issues, and really do want to come to terms with a response that is in unity with the whole of the Christian life.

The funny thing is to come down in different ways with people who are trying to do the same things. Hands, feet, body of Christ and whatnot maybe.

But, for now I’m still stewing, and my Quaker friends, my Friends friends, will enjoy the fact I got The Journal of George Fox in the mail today. However, it remains to be seen if this will help me be more agreeable, or give me more cause to be disagreeable. I’m a big fan of primary sources, partially because I find the primary sources to be a rather bit different than the modern day representations. This is true for Scripture and the Church, and all sorts of other derivative leaders and their movements. So, maybe I’ll become even more dissident.

All in love and peace and unity of Spirit of course. I hope.

10 Responses to “Peace, immigration, and suchlikes”

  1. C. Wess Daniels Says:

    Partick, I am glad you’re going to dive into Fox its a good but long journey in reading it. I don’t know if Quaker’s need more agreeable people or less – this is something I am working out for myself as well. What Quakers do need is more people committed to Jesus’ ways that cause us to live out peace in today’s world in radical ways, as well as proclaim the kingdom to a world that groans for the kingdom to come.

  2. Sarah Says:

    I’m now curious: can you be more specific about which bits of politics make you disagreeable? 🙂

  3. Patrick Says:

    Ah, and I shall be, Sarah. But, I think leaving the readers wanting more has worked. 🙂

    I definitely agree with you Wess. It’s what that living and proclaiming looks like that I think bears more discussion. But more on that.

  4. Judith Bush Says:

    (Here via a link at kwakersaur) My journey with the Peace testimony shares a similar starting place to yours. More important than addressing international issues of peaceful relations, more important than addressing the economic violence in my home country, state, and town, is addressing the very center of my relationships: myself. Am i peaceful, nonviolent with myself? Do i open myself to Grace? And then, my relationships with family, friends, colleagues?

    When i first encountered Quakerism and the Peace testimony, i became aware of what i came to call intellectual violence and bullying. I had to learn how not to be an intellectual bully. I needed to learn a sort of emotional aikido for relating to my family of origin, to dissipate the emotional attacks instead of returning the anger. I decided i could be agnostic about international methods, national methods.

    It’s been ten years, and my work on the relationships in which i am directly involved continues. I meet great challenges at work. As i’ve done that work, i’ve grown to understand the passion, effort, conviction, and energy that others bring to larger peace efforts. At this point i can recognize a slow transformation of my belief and politics.

    All this to say that i don’t think the politics are a prerequisite, and that your statement that the peace needs to be within is entirely in accord with my understanding.

    For what it’s worth!

  5. Patrick Says:

    Judith, you said, “I had to learn how not to be an intellectual bully.” That’s it for me entirely as well. I’m going to get through more of Fox today, and likely get my thoughts squared aware here more, but what you said is really what hit me recently. Peace is not just a proclamation. It is something that comes from within, from the Spirit within, and creates a domain of resonance all around. Too much proclaimed peace, as I’ve seen it, is as full of hate, and anger, and chaos as the war these people argue against.

    Jesus said anger is murder, and I think there is a great deal of murder going on from the tongues of those who think peace is a salvation.

    Thank you so much for your words, they are very helpful for me indeed, and encouraging. And thanks for visiting!

  6. Liz Opp Says:

    There is a slow-growing concern among some Friends about the imbalance that exists between political activism and contemplative mysticism within Friends’ meetings. Political activism without having deep roots in a Divine call to be active in such a way can lead towards acting out of anger, hate, self-righteousness, pride, etc. Similarly, long-term navel-gazing without putting our faith into action or outward witness does not bring the message of God’s radical Love into the world where it is needed.

    Blessings,
    Liz, The Good Raised Up

  7. Patrick Says:

    Liz, you frame the challenge exactly right. Wesley somewhere said, “We can only work when God works, we must work when God works.” Or something like that. As I’m reading through George Fox now he illustrated exactly what you are saying. It is the Spirit who we proclaim, and it is then the Spirit who does the work of peace and justice.

    If we truly do find the Spirit, as Fox urges, we simply cannot be about navel-gazing. The Spirit will propel us just as in Acts. In the same way we can preach peace or justice, or do good works for all we want but if it’s without the Spirit’s power we will find no power in our proclamation. Everything will fall flat, even if we are right about particular issues. And that really was Fox’s gift, he had a power behind his words, which caused people to really listen.

    Thanks for your comment and thanks for visiting!

  8. David Says:

    If you are interested in spiritual takes on the peace testimony in the Quaker tradition, I highly recommend John Punshon’s Testimony and Tradition. He stresses the root meaning of “testimony,” e.g. testimony in a law court. The testimonies were supposed to be Quaker ways of speaking about their encounter with the Divine. In that sense the peace testimony was *not* a political program. It was not a set of principles. It was both a way of testifying to what Quakers had experienced, and also a claim about what true Christian discipleship meant.

    That’s the nutshell summary. Anyway, it’s a very good account of the testimonies, I think–I mean, not the specific testimonies, but the attitude and experience behind them.

  9. David Says:

    (I don’t think this got through, so I’ll try again.) If you are interested in spiritual takes on the peace testimony in the Quaker tradition, I highly recommend John Punshon’s Testimony and Tradition. He stresses the root meaning of “testimony,” e.g. testimony in a law court. The testimonies were supposed to be Quaker ways of speaking about their encounter with the Divine. In that sense the peace testimony was *not* a political program. It was not a set of principles. It was both a way of testifying to what Quakers had experienced, and also a claim about what true Christian discipleship meant.

    That’s the nutshell summary. Anyway, it’s a very good account of the testimonies, I think–I mean, not the specific testimonies, but the attitude and experience behind them.

  10. Patrick Says:

    David, it got through. I just have it set up that any new commenter has to get approved before their comment gets posted. Unfortunately, I was getting a lot of spam for a while and had to stem the tide a bit.

    I will definitely check out that book. As with all the comments thus far, it seems, you are putting into clearer words that which is still a vague sense in my head. It definitely helps to have people visit who have spent a long while thinking on these things! Thanks!

    You make note of it being a ‘testimony’ and that is what I am finding in Fox. I think maybe what I’m trying to discern is if there’s a problem with the testimony becomes the primary message, that is when the results of Christ and the Spirit in one’s life, which enable Peace, are relegated to a primary status, and that is all is heard and said. Fox was quite the evangelist, maybe more so than anyone in a very long time. I dare say he competes with Wesley and Whitefield in the focus of his message. The result of his message is peace, the evidence of the Spirit is wholeness and good will. In his era of the English Civil War to argue that Christians should be bonded by peace, not engage in violence, was a radical message. But when he went to towns he didn’t focus on the politics, like you note, he didn’t focus on the effects or the goals or the subsidiary results. Meet the Spirit, he said. Find Christ.

    I worry that so much of the Christian political dialogue is rather embarrassed of that message and cozies up too much with the much more ecumenical concept of Peace, making peace into a sort of gnostic gospel of itself, sending missionaries and isolating this concept as the hope of humanity. Fox never did that, and in Fox’s focus on the Spirit he found a power and influence.

    Even good things, good goals and concepts and hopes, can become a distraction, and curiously in focusing on the distraction we lose the hope in which is our only source of power and influence. An isolated message of Peace becomes divisive, chaotic, and destructive, inciting anger and passions in those who think other people should flee from those things.

    Peace, from the Spirit, always starts within, in one’s own soul, in one’s own immediate context, viewing all people with this attitude of peace, even when we disagree politically with them. It is, however, only by finding this fullness of peace from the Spirit within that such a peace can radiate outwards, influencing those situations which cause us so much frustration. But it starts with ourselves, and if there is no peace within us, towards all things, the message of Peace is anemic, powerless, empty, and missing the mark George Fox presented, which is always from beginning to end an evangelistic message.