MEETING FOR WORSHIP
Saturday, June 27, 2020, 3:30 p.m. & Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 11:30 a.m. (via Zoom).
This set of ‘Reading & Discussion’ examines the words of Nat Case on spiritual identities among Quakers from a 2017 radio interview and a blog post Dual Belonging from the blog mapHead.
In an interview, Nat Case was asked, “If you don’t believe in God, why do you care [about Quaker worship]?” and he answered, “… because it works … Expectant waiting … It’s not just meditation … I don’t necessarily believe in the orthodox explanation of why it works, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work”.
In a blog post on the mapHead blog, Nat Case elaborated:
“The phrase I am using this year is that I believe in the experience—religious experience—but not the conventional explanation of why and how it happens. And I believe in the power of some of the “trappings” of that experience, of things like “scripture” and “prayer” and “congregation” and “sacrament.” I think they are very strong juju. I also think that they fill places in us individually and corporately that are not disposable. Even when I do not believe that prayer is “talking with God,” I understand that asking a question or expressing gratitude to persons and powers unknown is a really instinctive and powerful and important thing to do. Anne Lamott’s book Thanks, Help, Wow is an excellent tool for getting at that. She’s unapologetically theist, but also very much understands that prayer is not just about the being being talked to; it’s about the shape of that conversation, and it what it does to have that kind of discourse.
So, I believe in the power and reality of what we experience as a group of worshipers, and I believe in the fact that something happens that gets described as a relationship with God. I do not think that explanation is accurate, but I do think it’s true. And this is not such a paradox as it sounds. We all think things from fiction are true, just not in the same way that “I have eight eggs in the fridge” is true. No, wait. I went to confirm that hypothesis. There are five. The point is, that dependence on common, confirmable fact is not all we have to pay attention to in the world. And so I can belong among a group that explicitly believes something to be factually real, and not have that be the determining factor in whether I belong with them. I can find a way (and I have) to respect, and hear, and get great value, from their understanding, without making it literal. If I said otherwise, I would be telling my friends their experience was somehow a lie. And it’s not.”
- Interview: Kaplan, Betsy (2017, October 11). An Atheist Quaker, A Jewish Christian, And A Christian Buddhist All Walked Into A Bar …, Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR), Colin McEnroe Show, Connecticut Public: Hartford, CT. Retrieved from: https://www.wnpr.org/post/atheist-quaker-jewish-christian-and-christian-buddhist-all-walked-bar (from minute 13:00 onward)
- Blog post: Case, Nat (2017, September 30). Dual Belonging, mapHead blog. Retrieved from: https://maphead.blogspot.com/2017/09/dual-belonging.html
Zoom connection information for this event is as follows: Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/92398341668 (Meeting ID: 994 4553 2926).
Please see the Meeting’s Reading and Discussion page for more information about the context, practice, and goals of ‘Reading and Discussion’.
Please see the Meeting’s Changes page for a comprehensive list of changes to worship, events, and Zoom connection information.