Saturday, 28 April 2007

Citizen as Fool?

Liz Opp (thanks Liz for the suggested change)writes in her blog From spiritual refugee to spiritual citizen

In recent weeks, I have been musing about the phrase "spiritual refugee." While I was travelling in-and-around Boston to get to certain Quaker events, I jotted down this brief phrase:

spiritual refugee -->

spiritual immigrant -->

spiritual citizen

It was a timely post. I have been in and around Quakers for 30 years and have been an Overseer, worked on national committees, been a warden joined, revoked my membership some 25 years ago and yet remain involved. I have had a break for the past two years after a few intense years as a Warden. But two weeks ago reading a non-Quaker blog gave me the nudge to start to reconnect so I leaped into doing a blog and seeking communities to link to. Not found many in the UK yet and the main Quaker web-page seems to need a nudge in this direction. The email I got back seemed to be concerned about moderation rather then pointing me in a direction to hook up with UK friends who blog. But as I write this, a comment appeared that has given me a possible link which I have followed up.

Another sign that my period of exile is coming to an end is that this yesterday a friend rings me out of the blue to ask me to attend our local Quaker Meeting as he is running a group on silence for his local church. Signs aplenty methinks!

Yet as Liz raises, am I still a spiritual immigrant. Strange to say a way of answering that question came in the post this very morning, Roger von Oech is a creative guru who in his book A Whack on the Side of the Head explores the 10 key factors that stop us being creative. With the book comes a set of cards that serve to jolt you out of your thought patterns, and one of these ways is to use the cards as an Oracle. By this is not meant any supernatural appeal but its a tool to use different types of thinking to reflect on a topic. My topic is what would help me re-engage with Friends .

The first card drawn represents the ENVIRONMENT and it explores the external forces surrounding my issues. It is asking how can I be more engaging with Quakers, how can my ideas be of use to them.

Attend Quaker meetings and events to listen and raise my views

Write more so I gain an audience and clarify my thoughts

Champion Friends in other communities

Model my behaviour on Quaker values

This is the MIRROR card and represents resources that I bring and could use for Quakers. It advises me to look for opportunities.

I am engaged with policy making so could help Quakers engage with the political world

I am a Friend by convincement and come to Friends by a non-Christian route so offer links to a wider non spiritual audience

I have come from a poor working class background so offer a window into a world that main stream friends are often unaware of.

This the SHADOW CARD and asks me to look at what I may be avoiding or missing. the drawn card asks me to look at the wider community

Use the insights from the world community in Ministry and link the Meeting to the world

Why am I not using my storytelling links and interests to connect with my interests in Quakers?

Why am I not using my policy interests to link with Quaker campaigns?

This is the CAUTION card asking me what should I watch out for. The card asks to look for the less obvious answer.

Am I concentrating too much on the ideological centre of Quakerism and not enough on its Fellowship

Am I in danger of being arrogant?

Should I seek a buddy to mentor me?

Do I want to belong to a physical meeting?

This is a POWER card. It asks what do I need to do to make it happen. The drawn card asks me what will be the consequences.

I will have to look at the time commitment but it will give me purpose.

I need to awaken old relationships but the years have moved on.

I need to get through the class barrier but this is my barrier?

So some practical ideas emerge to help me move on but what if I think that Citizenship for me is being the "Fool" the one who runs counter to convention, who raises irrelevances, pokes fun at the weighty and serious, mocks the common understanding, questions literalness to jolt us back to when the question and journey was new and the answers and questions not yet fabled

Perhaps the answer is in the Advice and Queries:

Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak.


Liz Opp said...

I used to be a little bit familiar with A Whack on the Side of the Head, so I appreciate your drawing on that book and related materials. I recall that von Oech's book spoke to my condition... Do you know that he has a website...?

I appreciate the question you are living with, and the consideration you are giving, about reconnecting with Quakerism. I don't know what Britain Friends are like, though I understand they have not experienced the theological schisms that have happened in the states.

I also don't know what connection or belief you have may with any Divine Principle, and how you might seek guidance from it, in addition to the other resources you have at your fingertips.

Thanks for keeping us posted as you explore and wrestle.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

P.S. Bloggers often refer to me as "Liz Opp" because there is another blogging Quaker Liz and so using "Liz Opp" is one way to keep the two of us Lizzes apart.

P.P.S. Forgive my American inquisitiveness: I'd love to know how to refer to you when I respond to a post of comment you've made. "Dear Tentative Quaker" seems cumbersome to me, but I also recognize not everyone is ready to disclose who they are, for various reasons (e.g. my last name is longer than just "Opp"!).

Craig Barnett said...

Hello Friend,
Just wanted to let you know that Quakers in Sheffield have a community blog at
I'm really glad to find your blog, so hope to keep in touch.