Saturday, March 03, 2007

Salty Goodness

Two posts in one day? Holy Herne and Hecate, Batman, what is this blog coming to?

It was SO GOOD to have a snow day close my school yesterday. Amazing what a little bit of time off can do for your soul...

It may also be, if not amazing, a little odd for such a self-consciously Pagan Quaker to want to encourage you to read a post that ends by reflecting on what "we - - as His disciples - - ought to be," but despite the clearly Christian language, I think one of the things my Quaker and my Pagan friends have in common is a deep desire to live lives consistent with their spiritual leadings. Which is what Brooklyn Quaker's post this week, It Needs a Little Salt, is talking about.

Something that has been coming up for me again and again in meeting for worship is the way I need to let go of working so hard to be virtuous and good. When I work at making a difference, I get tired and frustrated, or, if things are going well, I slip into self-congratulatory mode, and while I'm not a fan of self-abnegation, when you're working with people and you start patting yourself on the back for how well your'e doing it, you tend to piss them off, to say the least. (Very few people enjoy thinking of their problems and tragedies as your spiritual self-improvement opportunity, or like to consider their lives as a "Good Cause.")

And, you know, working against global warming and the destruction of ecosystems is certainly one way of living out my relationship with the Earth. But I think the Gods want more from us (speaking as a Pagan here) than to care for the planet. I think they want us to be in relationship with Them, too. The first priority isn't fixing things--or people. That makes everything into an object, and it distracts me from what really comes first--being in love with God. Because, when you're in love, and you're with the beloved and attending to him or her, you don't have to work at trying to do right by them. You're going to do your absolute little human best for them, just because you can.

Crap. I sound like a lousy greeting card. I sound watered-down and saccharine, which is not how it feels. Brooklyn Quaker says it right:

"...The question can be asked - is all this stand-taking a form of faithful witness, or just self-indulgence? Do we really promote peace by being "for" it?... ...if I knew how to really have an effect on the war in Iraq and to shorten the suffering by one day or save a single life, then the argument could be made that it would not be faithful to neglect... one effective action and turn my back on that one life or that one day of suffering.

"[E]ffectiveness" and "faithfulness" may not be antonyms. But neither are they synonyms. We can't be faithful just by trying to be "effective". Perhaps one can't even be effective just by trying to be effective."

There's more. Just... what he said. (Oh, OK. In Quakerese: "This Friend speaks to my condition.")


Erik said...

I'm afraid this is OT, but something weird appears to be going on with your blog - I went looking for your "Blogging in a Spirit of Worship" post today so I could link to it, and noticed that both on the main page and in the February archive, after "On Not Writing", it jumps all the way back to November with "Feeling the River". I actually had to use Google to find what I was looking for; thankfully I remembered that it was yours!

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Hey, Erik,
Actually, what's up is that my husband, Peter, posted a series of blog entries he had written over the past several months, but only recently edited for publication. So "Feeling the River," one of Peter's, was written in November, but actually published more recently than the post you were looking for.

I'm glad you found it, though! And perhaps we should look into a clearer way to label posts that are on a "time delay," so as not to confuse readers?

Anyway, thanks for the heads up--and for reading the blog. :)

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