Jesus’ Sexual Ethics

An Extroverted Quaker

*Trigger Warning* This sermon makes reference to situations of domestic abuse. 

One of the things I most appreciate about Jesus’ teaching is that he faces into difficult subjects and doesn’t avoid them.  Last week we looked at the connections between murder, judgment and grudges and this week we look at Jesus speaking very frankly about lust and power. Now let’s address some background issues that will give us some understanding into the culture Jesus is addressing. In Jesus’ time women were considered to be property. They existed to serve men, their life was governed by men and self-determination was a privilege that only men had access to. Women had no say in who they married. Women had little to no actual power and were extremely vulnerable members of society. In the first century it is estimated that 60% of the population were men and 40% were women, and this teaching of…

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The Tears Of An Elephant

The Dish

Thailand's Elephant Hospital and Mahout School

Yesterday, there was a strikingly good reported piece in the NYT magazine on the growing evidence that consciousness does not have some kind of radical break between humans and every other species on the planet. And by consciousness, at varying levels, I mean, for example, the ability to feel fear, or joy, or anxiety, or even grief. This is emphatically not about anthropomorphism. It’s about the reality of creation:

A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed — it turns out that common shore crabs feel and remember pain, zebra finches experience REM sleep, fruit-fly brothers cooperate, dolphins and elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, chimpanzees assist one another without expecting favors in return and dogs really do feel elation in their owners’ presence. In the summer of 2012, an unprecedented document, masterminded by Low — “The Cambridge Declaration on…

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Dealing with silence

arewefriends

Quakers are world-famous for our love of quiet worship. Nearly every article or online source you’ll find refers to our long history of worshiping in silence.

I never read the articles and books before I became a Friend. I stumbled into Quaker worship when my college room mate invited me to visit Mt. Toby Friends Meeting. My first-year room mate was an inveterate explorer of different religious traditions – he was into every kind of spirituality and mystical experience he could find. He’d been to an unprogrammed meeting the week before and asked me to come and keep him company.

For me, Quaker meeting was like coming home to a place I’d never known was home before. I fit effortlessly into the silence, as though I was putting on a well-worn, comfortable shoe. I was surprised when the hour was over and everyone started shaking hands.

When I…

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Lessons for the New Lamb’s War from the First Lamb’s War

Through the Flaming Sword

Early Friends heard the Word and then invaded public spaces with it, bringing to steeplehouses and marketplaces the prophetic announcement of a new age. My sense is that early Friends were less concerned with exactly where they were going with the Lamb’s War and whether they were “winning” than with being faithful to their call. In the short term, they certainly shook things up and made impressive gains in bringing about the transformation they believed in. But in the long term, of course, the Lamb’s War seemed to fail. The Restoration of the monarchy, the collapse of the Puritan experiment, the decades of persecution that followed, all meant that the Lamb’s War had been lost. 

Or had it? On its own terms, yes. But . . .

Like all apocalypses, the Quaker apocalypse of the Word understood the problems of the time and their causes brilliantly, it flared brightly in…

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Flags, Dreams, and Moltmann

black flag theology

Zinn quote

“The dream of freedom, equality, and happiness for all human beings –”we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — is a human dream. It can only be fulfilled by humanity as a whole. As long as human beings are alienated from each other by class, caste, race, and nation; as long as they live against each other and not for each other, this dream cannot be fulfilled.

Nor can it be fulfilled as an American dream; for as a nation, a world power, and a culture, America must take part in the alienation, separation, and oppression of human beings. The human dream cannot be Americanized without being falsified through the ideological self-justification of the American empire and the free enterprise of the…

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Seventh Month 4

As Light Is Sown

I will make them and the region around them a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; and they shall be showers of blessing. The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase. … they shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid. I will provide for them a splendid vegetation so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the insults of the nations. Ezekiel 34:26-29 (NRSV)

*   *   *

Make no mistake: digging into the Bible can lead to social revolution.

Around 1170, Peter Waldo, a wealthy resident of Lyons, France, began studying the scriptures themselves and presenting them in the vernacular, in effect igniting a radical Christian movement known variously as the Waldensians, Albigenses, Lollards, and many other names. This encounter with Scripture led…

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Missional Life

The Postmodern Quaker

For in that Christ died, he died unto sin once, but in that he lives, he lives unto God. Likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 6:10-11

Dingbat-sm
Particularly in this age of what Jean-François Lyotard called “incredulity toward metanarratives,” when master-narratives such as Christianity are perceived as inherently oppressive, to be missional must be to live “in Christ.” But long before the possibility of a postmodern consciousness, the first Quakers, acutely aware of the oppressive nature of normative Christianity, were already proclaiming that message.

To be in Christ is to be free of sin, liberated from the self-centeredness that produces human injustice: to have the mind, or mindset, of Christ, who is the righteousness/justice of God. We come into that condition, the Friends found, not by attempting to think and act in a certain way but by allowing ourselves…

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Reconciliation is Our Victory

An Extroverted Quaker

(You will most likely want to listen to the sermon as I deviated from my manuscript in quite a few places.)

I sometimes jokingly say that the person who most needs to hear my sermons is me. As I prepared for today’s sermon I also was dealing with a colossal error in which I hurt someone. In short my mouth engaged well before my brain did and I said things that were hurtful. I was confronted with just how far I missed the mark by on that one and we could say that if I was aiming inside of the barn I still would have missed the broad side. The good news is that the person who confronted me provided an example of today’s teaching by Jesus and came to me with the help of some elders to make things right. You know what? I did completely fail on that…

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