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From Quaker musician Jon Watts:

James Nayler: The Most Controversial Quaker

James Nayler is an Early Quaker that will live in infamy. While very influential as a minister and founder of the Quaker movement, Nayler is most known for riding into Bristol in a re-enactment of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, with his followers singing “haligh haligh”. James was arrested and tried by Parliament for high blasphemy, then whipped through the streets of London and had a hole bored in his tongue and a “B” branded on his forehead.

Jon Watts learned about James Nayler as he was working on his senior project for the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program at Guilford College (“A Few Songs Occasioned“) and was moved to song.

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We’re gearing up for this year’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending! Learn more and find an event near you athttp://afsc.org/GDAMS

afsc-org:

We’re gearing up for this year’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending! Learn more and find an event near you athttp://afsc.org/GDAMS

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Quakerism, Darwin, and Process-Relational Theology

From an essay by Peter Bien:

In 1984 Pope John Paul II appointed a commission which acknowledged that church officials had erred in condemning Galileo.   In reviewing the commission’s findings in 1992, however, he argued “that there are ‘two realms of knowledge’ and that by failing to distinguish them, theologians had been led ‘to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith a question that in fact pertained to scientific investigation.’” In worrying about Quakerism and the alleged heresy of Darwin, I believe that recourse to “two realms of knowledge” is precisely not the correct procedure. The problem must be faced, not avoided. Indeed, I feel that no religion is worthy of my respect and allegiance if it fails to be in concord with scientific knowledge. I realize that religion and science are often considered separate areas. Even such an authority as Freeman Dyson declares, “Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but they look out at the same universe. Both … are worthy of respect.”

Dyson still sees science and religion as separate. I do not…

A short essay by Winifred M. White called Concern for Vision (1993) is an attempt to discover a progressive Quaker faith consistent with the theory of evolution. She cites the view of Charles Raven (1885–1964) that God suffers when humans misuse their freedom; she calls Christ an evolver rather than a redeemer; she agrees with Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) that humans are always on the road to becoming and that “God is involved in that process,” concluding that“ process-relational theology may be important for many who may never hear its name mentioned.”

The traditionally conceived Christian God is the unmoved mover of Aristotelian philosophy and Ptolemaic astronomy, hence  unchangeable, eternal, absolute, perfect. Very nice—except that the  science governing this theology is entirely wrong! Earth is not at the center. The stars are not fixed. They began probably 13.7 billion years ago after a Big Bang and are part of a cosmos that has been expanding at an accelerated rate for the past five billion years (so we have learned from the Hubble telescope), and that assuredly will end some billions of years hence when our sun and the zillions of other suns either explode or simply run out of heat. According to Robert Frost’s celebrated poem, the world will terminate in either fire or ice. As Darwin teaches us regarding living creatures, geologists regarding inanimate nature, physicists regarding space-time, astronomers regarding galaxies, black holes, and retreating stars, nothing in our circumambient universe is unchangeable, eternal,  absolute, perfect. So why should we accord respect and allegiance to a deity who differs so remarkably from scientific truth…

…Another modern religious scholar helps us by claiming that there is “hardly a conception of God from Hegel onward that is not dynamic, changing, and in some manner intrinsically related to the world of change…God thus shares in the metaphysical categories of process: temporality, potentiality, relatedness, development, and dependence or passivity.” Some of this may be found all the way back in the second century thanks to the Bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus, whose doctrine that the world was made unfinished was mentioned earlier. Irenaean Christianity emphasizes growth; it justifies the existence of evil owing to “an infinite good which God is bringing out of the temporal process.” “The dominant Augustinian tradition speaks of a completed creation which is then distorted in the fall; a minor Christian tradition, exemplified by Irenaeus …, speaks of the world being made unfinished. Our responsibility is to complete it. The redeemed life, therefore, shares in divine creativity. Early Friends (Quakers) participated, although unwittingly, in the Irenaean tradition in emphasizing growth from a seed and growing up into the image of God.”

Building on Irenaeus’s developmental emphasis, a branch of modern Christian theology known as process-relational theism tends to emphasize God’s changeability. The chief exponent of this branch, Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000), attended Haverford College from1915 to 1917, where his favorite teacher was Rufus Jones, who impressed Hartshorne because he advocated a non-dogmatic approachto religion. Hartshorne regretted the teachings of Plato and Aristotle regarding spiritual permanence and immutability, teachings that had led classical Christian theology, as we have seen, to view divine realityas eternal, not temporal, spiritual, not material, causative, not affected by causes. In his early book, The Divine Relativity  (1948), he argues that God is open to influence, therefore changeable, not immutable. Man’s Vision of God and the Logic of Theism (1964) attempts a compromise, stating that God may be conceived as perfect and immutable in some respects but not in others. Hartshorne’s term for this is “dipolar,” which means that Deity combines into harmony disharmonious pairs such as one/many, being/becoming,permanence/change. This may strike one as irrational; modern thought replies that it is scientific…

Don Cupitt stresses that we must make our religion respond to the scientific truth of process: “True religion is the practice of making eternal happiness out of the flux of ordinariness…“The more I understand that I am but part of the universal flux of everything, the more I am united with it…” “We need to learn to love transience, because it’s all there is, and we are part of it. Heraclitus has turned out to have been right: everything flows.”

Read the entire Essay HERE

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Liminal Ground

Craig Goodworth, an artist-practitioner in residence for the center for peace and justice, recently completed a place-based installation in a granary warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona, integrating immigrant narratives with agricultural and liturgical elements. In this artist presentation, he told the story of the project through documentation, as well as reflecting on process - addressing themes of collaboration, community, and peacemaking.

(Source: vimeo.com)