Monday, July 31, 2006

faith

With two of my close friends out here reaching various stages of applying for (Quaker) Membership today and spending half the morning replying to an email about my own faith it felt like it ought to go here too... apologies to those who have heard it before!

My faith is something I've only really started to feel comfortable talking about since at the Triennial (Jan 04) and I'm not entirely sure what made the difference, but I know a lot of it was finding myself amidst a whole bunch of people for whom it was perfectly natural to talk about god, jesus, faith etc as if they were discussing the weather or latest gossip! It gave me a chance to really discover what christianity meant to some people, it being a baby I'd thrown out with the bathwater in my teens if not before - the final straw being one of my RE teachers ('Dr Snuggles' - remember him Kate?) who took nearly as long to teach the Acts of the Apostles as they took to happen in the first place.

At the Triennial I began to understand that actually we believed a lot of the same things, we just used different words to describe it. I don't think I'll ever see Jesus as anything other than a historical teacher who had some good things to say (as have plenty others) but the original christian message has far more meaning to me now I've started to put the time into understanding it. It is the churches take on it I still don't like with their narrow views of the world and faith.

The peace testimony has caused difficulty for individual Friends since it was first written - hence the need for Fox's advice to William Penn about his sword - 'wear it as long as thou canst'. Originally the peace testimony was specifically against war rather than being the overall pacifistic stance we now associate it with. Being against war is far easier to live than making your whole life a positive act of peace! I try to live it and probably get far easier circumstances to do so than many. I do wonder though how well I'd do in a more challenging situation - could I still live my beliefs?

My faith has become increasingly important to me - years ago I would have said it was Quakerism that was important and glossed over the actual faith bit, it was being part of something with people with similar views and values that mattered. Now it is more a case of my faith being important and Quakerism being the context within which it makes most sense to me.

One of the aspects of Quakerism that appeals to me most is the concept of faith as a journey; that there is no right or wrong path to take, there is no set goal to reach but it is what you learn along the way that is important - being continuously open to new learning and insights throughout life from wherever it might come.

Last year I first came across the term 'continuous revelation' (cheers Rachel S!) it being the concept that god didn't stop talking at the end of Revelations as many churches would have you believe. I struggle with the personification of god but do believe very much in listening to that 'still small voice within'. However I'm as likely (sometimes more likely!) to be able to hear it sitting up on a hillside or down by the waterfront as in Meeting for Worship.

Listening to that voice has become such an integral part of my life now, and yet I still question it at times. Admittedly usually when it gives me the answer I'd like rather than the one I don't want, I find it hard to believe at times that my wishes are in tune with the universe! There's a part of me that still expects the hard option to be the one I ought to take, quite how such a calvinistic thread got into my thinking in the first place I'm not sure but it sure is taking some unpicking...

1 comment:

kate said...

do I ever... bonus point anyone?!