Sunday, May 03, 2015

Quakers: What Do We Offer?

A Quaker Meeting is less a "church" than a "business" as the original Friends had greater trust in the honesty of bookkeeping and plain speech when the "hireling priests" were not in the picture.  Church was a corrupt institution in the eyes of these early Children of the Light.

The purpose of Quaker business is socially responsible, i.e. if Corporations are People, then a Meeting has to live up to some high standards, unlike a Corporation of the purely money-making variety (these latter tend to have many pathologies and short half-lives in any case).

Through participation in the business of Quakers, members of the public reconnect with a way to get work done as equals and by consensus.

Equality does not mean we're all clones of one another, or are striving to be.  Rather, we respect one another as athletes in a Metaphysical Olympics of sorts, with some high achievers outrunning or outgunning the rest of us.

I say "outgunning" in a tongue-in-cheek fashion as Quakers pride themselves on keeping their weapons "inward" i.e. the invisible / ephemeral world of warring memes is where Quakerism builds its open bastion and takes up its mission.

Our mission is not to convert the world to Quakerism or Christianity.  Diversity is welcomed and treasured.  Religions come and go.  The best religions are likely still to come.

Our mission is to provide those already convinced of Quakerism's effectiveness and its value in their lives with opportunities for structured practice, meaning Meetings for Worship for Business and work on Committees at the very least.

The Peace and Social Concerns Committee is one of the most important, as that committee is about putting Quaker values and teachings into practice, bringing healing justice into the world.  PSCC is where Friends practice their skills with the Sword of Compassion (another meaning of "jihad" in fact).

As a non-profit Corporation, your Meeting has officers in the eyes of the state, but it also has roles, likewise public facing.  Quakerism is a role playing "game" though to say "game" does not imply we're not serious.

The good order of Friends promotes transparency, not just carrying private fantasies around in our heads about who has what role.  The clerks, rewarded not by coins but by a deeper experience of their Faith & Practice, facilitate and record, as the Committees go about their business.  We know who they are and what job descriptions they follow.

Indeed, the slate is one of the Meeting's most important public-facing documents, as it puts in writing what Business Meeting has approved, of Nominating's recommendations.  Any Monthly Meeting wishing to be taken seriously has an up to date slate, easily available as a matter of public record.

Sometimes people ask about Membership as in "do I need to become a member to participate in Quakerism?"

The short answer is "no" and indeed one is encouraged to work on committees in a "try before you buy" mode.  "Convincement" comes through practice, not through "leap before you look" mindless / reflexive behavior.   Skeptics are most welcome.

The long answer is: membership provides a way to be public and out of the closet about one's Quakerism.  Some cannot afford this luxury and need to keep their affiliation hidden, but for those willing to brand themselves Members, that institution is alive and well.

Contact your Oversight Committee for more details on how to apply.