How Mysticism Informs Quaker Activism



a great bit of my help in understanding the difference between mysticism and activism came from reading at the of Rufus Jones when he explains that the Christian mystic is fundamentally frog-like in nature travelling between land and water and maybe that's all of Christian identity actually that people of faith are required to take that faith and come to places of not faith and live faithfully so I used to have a pretty bad attitude about activists even during my involvement with Quaker meetings I have run away from the people coming at me to get me to write political letters I might have made fun of bumper stickers in the parking lot I now have bumper stickers but that's another story but there's a bit of conversion that has happened in my sense of the mystic and the activist aspects of being a person no matter what else we may imagine the life of Jesus to be it is certainly understood to be a revelation of God's love through a human life and what that means among other things is that humans and God are not so far apart as we may be led to believe that God's love would be revealed to us through a human life that sort of upped the ante in terms of what it means to be incarnation people because if God's love can be revealed through a human life and God's love can be revealed through my life and what a thing to need to live into to live up to if in those mystical Encounters of prayer and contemplation and communion with others on the path I find myself truly compelled to live in response to the glimpse I've been given on the holy then Wow we better get to it you know there there are there are people to feed and people to love and people to to bring back one of the things that kept me out of being an activist for a very long time was I feared getting it wrong or a fear of needing to know more than I could could stand to know actually just more than I was interested in knowing and I think that's one of the reasons I just want to say my involvement with friends Committee on national legislation has been a life changer the feeling companioned and equipped for important work during these lobby events that they have a couple of times a year has helped me understand the way in which my own contemplative practice my own sense that God has intentions and hopes for the world and that God is deeply relational and that we're given glimpses of God's way for the world and that we are in fact compelled we're under compulsion to respond to those if we really believe we've been given them that there can still be a stop a fear and yet friends Committee on national legislation has the the nuts and bolts down and have kind of held my hand through becoming more active in the political arena in a way that feels mature and effective and has made me understand that the letter writers that I ran from have been blowing on the coals trying to relight the fire of clarity that those of us who are given over to the mystical inclinations must act in the world you

2 comments

  1. What a beautiful message! This was my favourite portion, "No matter what else we may imagine the life of Jesus to be, it is certainly understood to be a revelation of God’s love through a human life, and what that means, among other things, is that humans and God are not so far apart as we may be led to believe—that God’s love would be revealed to us through a human life.

    That sort of ups the ante in terms of what it means to be incarnation people, because if God’s love can be revealed through a human life then God’s love can be revealed through my life. And what a thing to need to live into—to live up to—if in those mystical encounters of prayer and contemplation and communion with others on the path, I find myself truly compelled to live in response to the glimpse I’ve been given of the holy, then: wow. We better get to it, you know? There are people to feed and people to love and people to to bring back."

  2. All mystic traditions are nothing more than satanism. Read the Word of God. Not the words of men.

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