“Listening in tongues”

In a recent post on Quaker Pagan Reflections, the blog he shares with his helpmate Cat, Peter Bishop of Mt. Toby (MA) Friends Meeting has given me a phrase which I believe speaks to the heart of Quaker faith and practice.

Peter writes about “how difficult it is to express in words what worshiping in silence means to us,” even across the perceived barriers within Quakerism itself:

I see [some] Friends…using Christian language and Biblical reference

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“God Didn’t Say That”

I want to introduce my readers to an interesting and useful blog called God Didn’t Say That: Bible Translations and Mistranslations, by Joel M. Hoffman.

This is a resource which I’m just beginning to explore, yet it clearly addresses a core concern of mine: the complications for faith and practice created by incorrect or careless or ideological or overly simplistic translations of sacred texts.

Here’s the opening of the latest post:

I think John

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A sweet metaphor…and one not so sweet

Two simple metaphors to enrich the meta-conversation about faith and practice across the boundaries of religious language.

In the first, Hystery on Plainly Pagan writes about why she “resists theism”:

For me, what some might call “God” is that which is both intimately real and even commonplace and wholly Other and Ineffable. If I use the word “God”, people think I mean what I do not mean.

The butterfly is pinned and people think I mean wings and legs

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Living in between

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

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Listening

Within the past few weeks, I have witnessed too many cases of misunderstanding and hurt feelings over language and the unreadiness to listen beyond language.

Overtly, the struggles are framed as being between “non-Christians” and “Christians,” between “secular” and “religious,” between “liberal” and “orthodox.”

They are framed as being over who has been hurtful, disrespectful, hostile or even exclusionary toward whom.

The sad irony is that all of these people are passionate about lifting up loving kinship as the highest

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Anansi stories

I am currently reading Neil Gaiman ‘s 2005 fantasy novel, Anansi Boys. Early on, Gaiman’s protagonist, Fat Charlie Nancy, discovers to his alarm and dismay that he is a son of the ancient West African god Anansi. His neighbor, Mrs. Higgler, tries to explain:

Anansi was a spider, when the world was young, and all the stories were being told for the first time. he used to get himself into trouble, and he used

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Am I a nontheist…? (Part I)

Part I: Languages of belief
Part II: Survival faith and practice
Part III: “Someone should start laughing”

Languages of belief 

As my spiritual life has matured and deepened over the decades, I have come to understand that no religious language, whether in scripture, in doctrine, in written or spoken ministry, or in personal testimony, describes the ultimate Reality in any objective way. Rather, at its best such language can only describe the human experience of

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But not alone

In my previous post, I mentioned my wariness of both orthodoxies and gnosticisms, and I affirmed the primacy of an individual’s immediate experience of Divine Presence in daily faith and practice. A number of challenges complicate the effort to live by such an affirmation.

Over the past three decades, I have taken refuge in the paradoxical religious life of a solitaire.

My faith and practice are rooted in the Christ-centeredness of my Lutheran upbringing and

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