From Christian atheism? to Insulation nation
I was struck by Abigail Maxwell’s thoughtful article ‘Honest to God’ in the 3 September Friend. I wanted to say at the end: ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God.’ Yes, we are people of the Way; yes, the Bible is a collection of all sorts of stories, some profound, some apparently contradictory, some hardly edifying at all; and yes, the focus of all is Within; and that in which we trust (believe) is Love.
Think for a moment of Love as a sort of living plasma containing the whole universe. Such an inter-connected nexus must at least be personal, and contain a sort of super-consciousness that can enable telepathy or miracles for instance. It can be the lattice work of forces that cause a butterfly’s wing to crystallise, or in certain times of heightened awareness can allow me to sense where a parking space might be (not that I may command it!)
There are of course many forms of love. A moment of truth occurs when one realises that the divine Within (immanent) is somehow one with the divine Without (transcendent) – when one responds to Rudolf Otto’s concept of the ‘Numinous’. Because of numerous sense-data received every second, our brains are organs of discernment rather than perception. Just occasionally a corner of the veil is lifted, as in a good Meeting, or in contemplative prayer.
Climate change, Quakers
The time has come for Friends to take radical action. During the last fifty years Quakers have become almost invisible, cloaked in middle-class worthiness. In Britain Buddhists number about 238,000 people, Quakers about 17,000. A small number, an impressive social record, but like George Fox we live in extraordinary times.
Some 2,000 years ago Jesus lived his life as an example, and suffered a horrific death. Since then so-called Christians and Christian countries have been dominated by political, economic and social institutions based not on his teachings and example but on power, competition and greed for possessions. The continuing result: misery for the majority, rape of the planet, and mass destruction.
If Quakers don’t take a lead, who will? We are fortunate in this country, that by doing so we risk very little. Time has already run out; demonstrations or green energy resolutions to be fulfilled in ten years are not enough. Together we can start the necessary revolution from competition to co-operation, kindness and respect, community and individual enrichment in the qualities that make us truly human, homo sapiens.
To do this we should follow the example of early Christians, pool our resources, buy land to create communities that live according to the values we believe in, with as little compromise as possible. This will mean ignoring planning rules designed before the present emergency. Together we can create a platform from which to address the country and the world, and put forward solutions to the many problems facing us all. Quakers can be visible, heard, an example, and relevant. We have a moral responsibility to act now.
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