Quaker Universalist Conversations

Jewish universalism & nationalism in Vichy & post-war France

Reading Sarah Hammerschlag’s “Truth for Children”

“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.’”

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“The Church, the Draft Board, and Me”

Sharing the memoir of George Amoss, Jr.

“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.”

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A Quakerly Dance Form

Reprinted from Western Friend

During the Contact Improvisation class at Intermountain Yearly Meeting 2018, we explored ways to connect and move through the language of touch, how to vary pressure to create stability or momentum, how to touch reassuringly to communicate trustworthiness.

We explored ways of giving and taking weight, and generating three-dimensional aspects to dancing. People rolled onto the floor and onto each other’s bodies. All this was done through deep listening, responsiveness to others’ physical invitations, and checking in with one’s own essential self for boundary making.

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Understanding Belief

The fact that religious systems include a substantial element of magic thinking and mythology does not disprove their usefulness in a difficult world. Religious belief has been common in all cultures since the beginning of human time because, from an evolutionary point of view, it has demonstrable survival value. At all times of history, human life has been a dangerous and fearful proposition. Religion has often functioned well to abate fear, instill intention, promote courage, and protect from despair.

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Words, Words for World Communication

In the last few months in the U.S., we are testing our language, searching for the right words. For examples, do we use “not guilty,” exoneration, vindication, exculpation, absolution, assoil, absolve, or acquittal? These are all related, but each is different in nuance and significance for our future.

Selecting the right words is a universal human challenge. How do we to find and use language to express and communicate to others in public discernment processes?

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Rational Spirituality and How I Got Here

Excerpts from a post on Secular Liturgies Network and Forum

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.

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Existence After Death

A Review of J. Garrison’s Shakespeare and the Afterlife

John S. Garrison’s Shakespeare and the Afterlife is, on the surface, a study of the views and devices used by William Shakespeare in his plays and poetry in treating the nature and activities of existence after death. More deeply, though, this book is a meditation on the variety of contemporary views about existence after death….

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Quaker Universalist Friendly Studies
& Bible Translations

6 sets of Friendly study resources (free PDF downloads)

The Quaker Universalist Friendlies are practical procedures for productive Bible study, Faith and Practice Study, and universal scripture study in a manner consistent with Friends’ testimonies. Their purpose and that of the spiritual life inventory is to provide practical assistance to Quakers in their spiritual journeys.

The Bible translations are coupled with downloadable commentaries to assist readers and the participants in discussion. The commentaries emphasize the significant, distinguishing elements of these accurate translations, and should be particularly helpful to children.

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Reflections on QUF’s 2019 Themes

A response from the Philippines

Quaker’s faith is all about practical Christianity, both in personal and communal prayers, and personal and communal good works.

Faith can’t be complete without good works. Mere good work without faith to God, the creator, author, and the beginning and end of all things, isn’t also enough. These are inseparable as intertwining. Real faith is walking with good actions in genuinely free-will practice.

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