Tuesday, July 31, 2007

standing by for the spirit

Hopefully I will post something soon. I have been gone to NY Yearly Meeting for the last week. Also between my experience at Yearly Meeting and going through Clearness I am grappling with some things about my writing and the nature of my writing. Therefore I probably won’t post until I have reached some clearness about some things. I also will not be posting as often on this blog in the future. However I hope for my posts to be more Spirit led if not as frequent.

Peace and Joy,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Liberal Christian Young Adult Friend

For the last two years I have divided my time between Indiana and New York State. I attend four different Meetings all with very different and unique qualities. Yet I cannot help noticing the overall difference between being a young adult Friend in Richmond, Indiana and being a young adult Friend in New York. In some ways I am very much like most young Friends in New York Yearly Meeting. I attend college. I am politically very liberal and socially live an alternative life style. I identify as a queer woman, am against the war in Iraq, and care about the environment. However, unlike most young adult Friends in New York Yearly Meeting I also consider myself a Christian.
When I am in Indiana, Christian Quakerism is the norm. While worshiping with students from Earlham School of Religion, I have grown comfortable in assuming that every Friend there is, like me, Christian and deeply religious. Therefore our conversations can move on to tackle the hard questions of specific pieces of theology and Quaker practice. When I am in NY however the truth is, conversations with young Friends will probably never get past the fact that I am Christian. Even more unfortunately I have found young and young adult Friends to be openly hostile towards me because I am Christian. I have been told over and over again by young adult Friends that Quakers are not Christian, that we have moved beyond such backwards ways, that all Christians are closed-minded, that it makes them uncomfortable to be around Christians. Over and over again I have been asked to explain why I could possibly want to be Christian? How I
could possibly be both Christian and Quaker, Christian and queer, or liberal and Christian?
More uncomfortably for me, many young Friends just assume that there is no
such thing as a liberal Christian Friend, and therefore feel free to make fun of other Christian denominations while in a group of Friends, to tell insulting jokes about Jesus and other Christian figures, or to complain about how horrible Evangelical Friends are, largely because they are Christian. The assumption has been made over and over again that the only reason I could possibly be Christian is because I was raised that way. This is in fact untrue because although I was raised a Friend, I was neither particularly religious, nor Christian for many years, considering myself first atheist then agnostic. In fact it
has only been within the last three years that I have considered myself Christian. Yet in the last three years I have been nothing but happy with my decision and the faith that I have found.
There are many days when I feel out of place in the liberal branch of Quakerism. I realize that, what are vital and exciting questions of Quaker practice and theology for me, would be found confusing, uninteresting and in some case even insulting to many liberal Friends. Over and over again I have thought that my philosophy and outlook on Quakerism much more reflected the Conservative rather then the Liberal branch. Yet no matter how hard I want to run to a Conservative Yearly Meeting and have done with Liberal Quakerism, I stay. Partly because I was raised a Liberal Friend, more importantly however is the fact that I am a Liberal Friend. Liberal Quakerism prides its self upon being open and accepting. It stresses learning about and from others. Therefore, I
challenge it to do just that. As many times as people tell me I'm not really a Liberal Friend or Liberal Quakerism is not really Christian I challenge then to think that maybe I can be right, or maybe the liberal branch is not as open and welcoming as it seem.
Furthermore although I truly believe that Liberal Quakerism has much to offer, the time has come for change. Liberal Quakerism is losing its vitality and strength. It needs to be revitalized, to re-embrace practices and traditions it has left behind. We need to change and rediscover ways of being Quaker that might frighten and challenge many Liberal Friends.