I went to the first Hearts and Minds gathering last night so engaged with Friends for the first time in well over a year. I suppose this is why I woke up this morning from a dream about a wedding. I was trying to help someone who wanted to escape from the marriage by a priest in front of the altar. Images of the emperor God, the aristocracy of the priesthood and the passive masses and the associated religious language shaped the feeling about this wedding. Then the image shifted to a gathering of equals sharing the responsibility and pleasure of committing to a life long union with the power shared and invested in the people gathered- the tone set by a democratic religious language. The couple in the first image were at first supplicants and then in the second image laughing and sharing in the joy with friends.
A possible cause of the dream was being asked why had I come to Quakers. And the answer for me was our roots in the radical left of the English Civil war and the democratic stream of politics. Another was the question we were left to dwell on at the end. What is a meeting for worship? For me this phrase as a confusion of meanings in that it looks to the democratic and emperor notions of worship at the same time. Meeting is a collective gathering but worship has overtones of a majesty and awe. But that is the conversation for next week.