Note: I deleted an earlier version of this post (see comment on “Apology to Quaker Quaker and its host”).
In recent years I’ve been reading and corresponding with a whole spectrum of individual Quaker bloggers, folks who share, in their own posts and in their comments on each other’s posts, an on-going meta-conversation about Quaker faith and practice across the boundaries of religious language.
These Friends write about their efforts to do something highly peculiar: to self-identify as Evangelical Christians or Universalist Christians or Jews or Pagans or Buddhists or Nontheists, and yet to say, “Clearly we are all Friends sitting in the same Circle.”
Coinciding with this meta-conversation is a growing enthusiasm (I use that word in its original sense, “inspired by god”) among people who have come to identify themselves as “Convergent Friends.”
For a while I mistook the Convergent movement as being identical with the larger meta-conversation. I hope I now have a fairer and more accurate appreciation for Convergent Friends as a movement within Christianity.
I’ve been helped by looking at the Convergent Friends blog hosted by C. Wess Daniels, and, in particular, by reading Daniels’ article, “Convergent Friends: Passing on the Faith in the Postmodern World” (originally published in the July/August 2006 issue of Friends United Meeting’s Quaker Life).
As a child of at least ten generations of German Lutherans on both sides, I have Christianity “in my genes.” It is my “native religion” and my “native religious language.”
I can well remember times of spiritual and emotional excitement with other Christians. I have experienced from the inside that powerful sense of coming home to something new, one’s own religion rediscovered, reinvented and reinvested in as a living faith and practice.
“The empty day” speaks from the heart of that homecoming experience.
Given the centrality of Jesus in my life, I appreciate and lift up the experience of Convergent Friends. I welcome what they are giving witness to.
However, as I’ve written elsewhere, by the time I reached Lutheran seminary myself in the early 1970s, the Christ had shown me a larger circle. It is one with him as the center, yet with an infinite circumference.
This circle includes all people of faith—including secular faiths which do not call themselves faiths. What centers us is that Unnameable which confronts us with the kinship of all people, all beings.
When I became convinced as a Friend, I again experienced from the inside that powerful sense of coming home to something new. I found a communion of practical faith and practice, intent upon nurturing kinship above belief.
In the previous post, I shared some gentle guidance from other Friends about transcending the imaginary boundary between “Christians” and “non-Christians.”
What this age needs more than anything is genuine, kinship-centered conversation and communion across that boundary.
I am neither a Christian nor a non-Christian. I am in between.
In between is a comfortable, blessèd place, because God is there. In between is where Jesus lives, both as a historical man and as a son of God. This I know experimentally.
The traditional Christian metaphor is that the Christ reigns from within the walls of the Holy City.
Jesus, however, lives out here in the present, in between, with the dogs and the sorcerers (Revelation 22:15).
And so it is.
1 comments On Living in between
I missed this post when it was first published. Thanks for these thoughts, I really appreciated reading them.
I very much see Convergent Friends as an in between, for some it leans to much towards the Christianity of early Friends, while for others it leans to far away from it. There are many who do not consider themselves Christians who consider themselves convergent. I think the point of convergence is deconstructing the labels and categories that bind our tradition, while at the same time positing (what I think is) a compelling argument for moving forward. I agree that this is the position of Jesus as well (the in between) and we see him holding a position while moving something forward, or moving towards “transformation.”
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