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Readings for Reflection: August 2017
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

A Journey Whose End Is Always in Front of Us

I feel exhausted by the rancor and self-righteousness of public discourse today.
I myself am quick to judge, reject, and condemn, and that contributes to my exhaustion. This passage from Philip Gulley’s
Living the Quaker Way invited me to let go of my defensive, anxious tension: “Can my truth prevail over this person’s error?” It reminds me I am closest to Truth when I am open to receiving it from experience around me, not when I am struggling to articulate it. Ours is a listening spirituality, ever-expanding rather than narrowing possibilities.
                                                                                                     ~ Lynn Drickamer

It was a novel idea that the goal of a religion should be the fully engaged pursuit of truth and not the assent to specific doctrines or submission to an ecclesial authority. Religions, even today, usually ask us to believe something, then discern our spiritual well-being based on our unquestioned affirmation of creeds and doctrines. But Quakers believe God and truth are synonymous, that to find one is to discover the other. Consequently, their search for truth is not confined to theology. They embrace science with a passion, believing the secrets of the natural world, once revealed, will lead them to the Creator. They reject sacramental or ritualized religion, not because they believe that outward celebrations of an inward truth are inappropriate, but because they believe no fixed number of sacraments or rituals, be it two or five or seven, can adequately reveal God. In that sense, they are not anti-sacramental, but omni-sacramental; they believe all of life can and does point to God.

Because Quakers, like people of every religion, are sometimes uninformed about their founding principles, they sometimes grow upset when their theological conclusions aren’t affirmed by other Friends. They have to be reminded that the search for spiritual truth is a journey whose end is always in front of us. The Buddhists have a belief akin to this when they say, “If you find the Buddha on the road, kill him.” That is, if we have reached a settled understanding of divine truth, we can be assured we do not yet comprehend the God who is infinite in nature. Any god we claim to fully understand is not God, so we should put that god to rest and continue to seek. To seek truth is to commit oneself to the deepest reality, no matter where it leads, whether it affirms our religious beliefs or proves them wrong.

~ Excerpt from Living the Quaker Way, by Philip Gulley

All Readings for Reflection
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