the friend online
26 January 2007


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Don't fear evolution
Though a newcomer compared to most of you readers (average length of subscribing: twenty-five years, nearly as old as me), I've been at The Friend long enough to know when one of the old battles is about to kick off
  • The old favourite seems to be starting its annual run now: The Christian Question, or, Who Are We? It's a debate that The Friend has to reflect and we struggle to do so in a way that doesn't get you shutting your pages in despair or picking up your pens in fury

  • Clare-Marie White & Laurie Michaelis

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    Peter Lawless, 31 January
    Whilst I can appreciate Clare-Marie White’s comments about ‘Don’t Fear Evolution’ I believe regular re-evaluation is good in that it shows an important and essential aspect of growth, learning and development ie active reflection upon our situation, particularly in respect of the individual – a process which is beneficial as not to do so engenders complacency and can be dangerous if one fails to recognize how the things both in and around are changing and not necessarily for the better. As a person trained in Organisation Development one of the most important things I learned is that effective change and growth often involves giving up accepted values and norms in order to evolve and this nearly always provokes uncertainty and crisis even if the change is perceived to be good. I believe this is also the case with spiritual growth.
    By co-incidence the following from ‘Advices and Queries’ appeared as ‘Ministry for the On-line Meeting For Worship’ on Tuesday 23 January 2007:
    38. If pressure is brought upon you to lower your standard of integrity, are you prepared to resist it? Our responsibilities to God and our neighbour may involve us in taking unpopular stands. Do not let the desire to be sociable, or the fear of seeming peculiar, determine your decisions.
    However initially I misread the first word “If” as “Is”, a reading which led me overlook the ‘is’ and to review a number of issues which have interested me concerning Friends over the last few years especially those relating to universalism, theism, membership etc. and this now seems even more relevant in terms of what Clare-Marie says in ‘The Friend’. I do think that some Friends feel under pressure to conform with issues with which they are unhappy and either stay in uneasy silence to avoid creating disunity, resign or withdraw in some other way and thus lose the essential sharing of the spiritual experience.
    I also feel that there may be an analogy which can be drawn here with responsibility of one’s health. Is it the responsibility of the doctor who you see when you are obviously ill or do you self-monitor your state of being and work with the doctor and others to maintain, create and/or improve your health before radical intervention is needed but comes too late?
    As a final point I must say that I fully endorse the Clive Sansom comment which began this current exchange. We need to celebrate and demonstrate our difference as if we have nothing different to offer is there any purpose in our continued existence?


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