Category Archives: Bible Study

Quakers Getting on the DOWN Escalator

Recently I read the amazing account of the Great Black Migration from the South, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson.

It’s a fine, fine book, and its relevance here is that, paradoxically, until it was well underway, there was no such thing as “The Great Migration”; that is, no one named or organized it, no one “joined” it.

Rather, there were individuals & families fleeing for their own survival: seeking escape from the personal costs of official southern racism, grinding poverty and unrestrained violence. Only after such private decisions were acted on by hundreds of thousands, over  decades, did scholars & writers come along to christen, study and begin to chronicle it.

Yet while “spontaneous” and unorganized, the Great Migration was indeed real and momentous, with national impact that’s still being felt.

A change equally unorganized & unheralded, potentially as momentous at least for us is, I believe, underway in the U. S. liberal Quakerism I discovered in 1965 (after ditching pre-Vatican II Catholicism). Continue reading Quakers Getting on the DOWN Escalator

Transphobia: The Bible Is Better Than That

Transphobia: The Bible Is Better Than That

North Carolina’s odious “Bathroom Bill,” HB2 has been pushed out of the spotlight for the moment, while the crazy 2016 election plays itself out.

I can understand that. But HB2 will be back, and it’s still on my mind. In particular, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s at the root of the support for it. I have some idea of the politics, and the major personalities; but what’s the nub, the “bottom line”?

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It isn’t the “science” cited on behalf of the law — a curdled combination of cant and charlatanry. Or the panic over predators stalking “little girls” in public restrooms, which is trumped up, and such assaults were already illegal. Anyway, we already know the cultural right has big issues over a gender binary (and male dominance), so that riling up its base about sex works to boost voter turnout. But what is its basic justification? Continue reading Transphobia: The Bible Is Better Than That

Breaking: Shattered! Big Idaho Friends Church Quits Northwest YM

Breaking: Shattered! Big Idaho Friends Church Quits Northwest YM

Anthem Friends Church, in Hayden Lake, Idaho, has just notified pastors  in Northwest Yearly Meeting that it’s leaving the yearly meeting. The church has 13 staff and 800-plus members.

Here’s the email that was just passed on to us. Anthem staff confirmed the email’s authenticity.

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Continue reading Breaking: Shattered! Big Idaho Friends Church Quits Northwest YM

Ban The Bible Among Quakers? Maybe Not.

Ban The Bible Among Quakers? Maybe Not.

A lengthy thread on the ‘Quakers” Facebook group went one more round on the Bible, kicked off by a liberal California Friend’s insistence that reading/teaching Bible stories to kids in First Day School was awful and shouldn’t happen. The reasons were the usual, about fundamentalist literalism, oppressive notions, and so forth. Nothing new really.

But I couldn’t let the subject alone. After all, the bible, for better & worse, is woven into western history, culture & law, through & through. One can hate it, with reason; parts of it are dangerous. But one can’t escape it, only pretend to. And Quakerism emerged from a particular piece of this context, which was largely dominated by struggles over the bible, its meaning & role. 

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Continue reading Ban The Bible Among Quakers? Maybe Not.

Radical Wisdom vs Conventional Wisdom

Radical Wisdom vs Conventional Wisdom

A Weekend Bible Study: Proverbs & Ecclesiastes

The origins of the Hebrew Wisdom books, like most  of the Jewish scriptures, are obscure, and there are various theories. 

Some scholars think materials such as the sayings in Proverbs are all conscious, intentional acts of creativity–that is, somebody sat down and wrote them, as a form of aphoristic poetry, a kind of Hebrew haiku. Many such scholars believe they were produced in large part for use in teaching apprentice scribes. They’re primers of a sort, both for learning to write, and as part of a scribe’s preparation for his role as adviser to the powerful. 

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Continue reading Radical Wisdom vs Conventional Wisdom