Thursday, March 28, 2013

Some reflections on meeting a Quaker on-line

I have recently come to know a person of Quaker creed or practice on-line and held a long-standing discussion with him, unbeknownst to me that he was a Quaker.  For some time, I thought he was a Swedenborgian.   All this is because he did not tell me that he was a Quaker because labels should not matter, according to him, and any who don't like creeds.  He contented himself with berating me for everything I hold dear, the Bible as historically true, Luther's sermons, the catechism, etc.  This was supposed to be intellectual jousting and good exercise for the brain or judging our biases or whatever aim.  I admit that there was some limited benefit to it all, though I have no sports-man-type bone in my body. I don't play sports.  I don't watch sports.  I don't argue for a sport.

Now, in terms of Quakers, I had not known that they actually really exist.  They were something aking to a Unicorn to me, available only in myths and American fables, as well as pictured on cereal boxes.  But it turned out that there are actually living Quakers, in these very days.

It also turned out that I was a "Fundamentalist".  The "Fundamentalist" is to me also something of a Unicorn, as I had not known any "Fundamentalists" before this time, and certainly had not know that I was one of them.  The things you discover.  "Fundamentalist" had always been a derogatory term to me, something more of a Monster than a Unicorn, actually, an ogre of nasty disposition and narrowness of mind, if not simply a pitiful creature of mental incapacity.  This was when I was not termed an "x-tian" instead, which reminds me more of a Martian--just a very strange, impossible thing, not worthy of the word "Christ" anyhow, (who does not seem to get mentioned, at all, under any circumstance).  So, no; one could not just simply be a Christian.

It has turned out, on superficial googling, that Quakers do not believe in celebrating Easter or Christmas, nor Baptisms and the Lord's Supper.  The Bible is optional these days.  Otherwise, they believe what happens to come to them at the moment, so they cannot really be pinned down on anything.  Except for their anti-x-tian sentiments. Which I have experienced but wasn't told about.  I feel like I was trapped to let my guard down, just so I could undergo some sort of cure by beating over the head.  Somehow, the force of the non-doctrinal argumentation was supposed to sway me to... what?

Complicating for me, and likely for others in the world is that really Quakerism is unknown, though I heard on the radio the other day in a CBC lecture that the famous (not so famous to me until the lecture) philosopher Spinoza also had contacts with Quakers in Amsterdam, in his day.  In any case, the famous American stories are not that widely disseminated outside the United States and I have only the foggiest ideas of their heroes.  Lately, perhaps, the movies have been a little more historical and one can get a picture of what went on before.  Mostly, we get the shoot-them-dead variety of entertainment from south of the border. But the Quaker does not believe in historical things but in what is being revealed right now, so he may be excused for not propagating his stories along with the non-existing dogmas.

Of course, it is not true that there is no dogma.  There always is dogma.  I won't get into that today.  For example the broad rimmed hat means something.  Clothing issues by the way are part of the dogma, a considerable body of doctrine, in fact.

I will leave this here, today.  It is Maunday Thursday.  I am cognizant of the fact that my Quaker friend (though I may be his "enemy" in his books) will not be celebrating anything about holy week and he will resent my doing so.  Not that the keeping of days it was matters, but my friend also does not believe that Christ died for the sins of the world, nor for his, nor for mine.  And this does not make us brothers and sisters in any faith, even the faith that we are indeed sinners, which he does believe.  Being sinners, however, is public knowledge about all of us, as that any perceived saintliness about ourselves and each other rubs off pretty quickly, so that is really not a faith;  it is just public knowledge.   This saintly dude below, included.


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