We were discussing John Woolman, an influential 18th century Quaker, when I spouted forth the following:
Current Quaker environmental witness feels born in anger and fear. As a logger I feel warred upon, not loved. I do not feel an effort to reach out to consider me in my condition. I do not hear the inquiry to why I do the things I do, or why my peers engage in actions deemed harmful to the environment. I see no effort to learn about forestry & the issues that surround it, rather relying on the pablum dished out by those with an ax to grind (irony, no?). I do not sense any interest in how my industry could be changed to be more environmentally friendly. I do hear the willingness to outsource our resource needs to places where there is considerably less environmental regulation than here, an extension of the NIMBY movement. I offer as much of an indictment of the environmental movement as of my peers: no one is blameless
The other lengthy epistle had to do with the source of faith/source of action. Woolman clearly felt that action should arise from faith. I felt that as well a few years ago. The lack of faith-driven action among Quaker activists was disturbing to me, to the point that I took a 1 1/2 year hiatus from Friends when I went church shopping. The outcome of that was that I recognized that whatever else they were, I was a Friend by nature of the way I worshiped and experienced God. So I came back to Friends, convinced that I’m a different colored dot, necessary for the tableau of Friends to be (more) complete. I also came to realize that action can be a path to faith.
I apologize if that sort of blows your hair back. For my part, I left feeling uneasy, not necessarily depressed, but definitely not warm & fuzzy. I think where I am is a place I knew after I first started offering vocal ministry. I’d go home & be depressed. After a year or more of seeking, I came to understand that I was expected to follow through, to live what I had spoken: I was speaking as much to my own condition as to anyone in meeting for worship. I have this uneasy feeling that I’m being called to a work for which I don’t want to be called. Sort of like Moses & the “Lord, you’ve got the wrong guy” kind of thing. Yet I have a sneaking suspicion this is at least part of what called me to ESR. Yikes!
Last night I didn’t sleep real well. About 3 AM I woke to have a wrestling match with God. The room’s a real mess this morning. The wrestling had to do with this environmental witness thing mentioned above. See, I thought I signed up for the class “Introduction to Spiritual Formation “. The intent was to learn stuff that would allow/enable me to mentor friends back home and help them grow in the Spirit. Somewhere there was something about being faithful. God thought I signed up for the same class, emphasis on being faithful, and something about bringing friends social action into right orientation. I didn’t get that memo til last night. I’m still telling God he’s got the wrong guy, but he hasn’t let me off the hook yet. As I used to tell my son, you can do this ‘cause you want to or you can do it ‘cause you’ve got to. It’s more fun if you want to. Either way you’re going to do it. So, in the words of Hank Williams Jr., there “was an attitude adjustment. I went along peacefully.”