The Quaker Universalist Fellowship (QUF) was founded in 1983 by a group of concerned Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) interested in the experience of the Quaker Universalist Group in Britain Yearly Meeting, and who wished to…
The Quaker Universalist Fellowship promotes dialog, welcoming seekers with all religious and spiritual approaches to engage in honest expression and listening, in order to learn from each other and to clarify the truths and common understandings which guide our lives and…
Eugene Ackerman, PhD, Emeritus Professor Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota died on September 25, 2014. Active in the Religious Society of Friends, Gene was member of the Prospect Hill Friends Meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota, a supporter of Quaker…
Classical Greeks imagined a separation between mind and body, between spirit and matter.
The Jewish missionary Paul borrowed this notion—by his time dominant in the Greco-Roman world—as he tried to translate the more holistic Jewish spirituality for non-Jewish worshipers in the first century synagogues and congregations where he taught….
Sadly, the absolute spirit-versus-matter dichotomy of the Greeks has… persisted throughout the centuries of Christian dominance and into the empirically-minded science of the modern Western world.
I believe Jesus was “sent” by God in the sense that he walked fully with God – acted out of that place of love at all times, fully lived as we are meant to live. He was our model for all we are capable of being and doing…. I think Jesus had the impact he did because he was showing us what kind of attitude and behavior makes us right with the world, how the world and we really work.
Love and truth spring forth in all times and all places – even in the hearts of chaos and corruption. We strive to follow the Good Way, but only in vain can we define it. Dust devils of DNA whirl down the generations, rampaging, making things new, making things fit, breaking eggs to make omelettes. To our surprise, we arrive in this life. Then we do our best to do the right thing, never really knowing all the good and all the damage we are causing.
Today’s “Christianity,” and the Gospels, do not focus on the true beliefs of the message of Jesus, but instead on his “Resurrection,” his supposed divinity, salvation, and other divine aspects. This focus tends to make the true ethical and moral message of Jesus secondary to an attempt to fulfill the Jewish messianic prophecy. It is not that divine aspects are wrong or bad, but that the message and true values of Jesus are lost to the divine message.
“Truth for children” is a phrase from a radio address by Emmanuel Levinas in September 1945, shortly after his release from a German prisoner of war camp set aside for Jews. The Geneva conventions had protected Jewish prisoners of war from the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, yet death was a constant threat. It was a time of Jewish awakening for many. As Hammerschlag writes, quoting Levinas (p.54):
“’The Jew lent his own significance to the sadness that he shared with his non-Jewish comrades, a consciousness of Judaism acute as a spasm.’ Within this context, the biblical accounts of the Jewish people took on a new significance. ‘After so many detours,’ Levinas suggested that the stories of the patriarchs, of God and Pharaoh, became true ‘in their elementary truth, in their truth for children, in their vulgar truth.’”
“The Church, the Draft Board, and Me” recounts my conflicts with the Catholic Church, whose ethics were called into question by the war in Vietnam, and the U.S. Selective Service System, which refused to honor my conscientious objection to participation in war.
In telling that story, it sketches my evolution, despite encounters with predatory priests and a vindictive draft board, from youthful candidate for the Catholic priesthood to adult a-theistic Quaker who still asserts that “God is love.”
Genuine spirituality demands honesty, freedom, tolerance and equality, values running counter to the religious power structures that have been dominant for so long. It is a process of rediscovering and having a renewed appreciation of our place in nature, an emphasis which contrasts with the efforts of traditional religion to set humanity apart from its natural origins and even to set us apart from the needs and pleasures of our own physical bodies.