Monday, February 11, 2008

The New Stimulus Package - Your Money

Dear Friends,

Over the last year, I’ve published observations about a dying Quaker Yearly Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting. I’ve made these almost in a clinical way, observing scientifically, measuring the evidence – from the outside. This viewpoint is sometimes called ‘objective’.

I’ve was on the ‘inside’ yet felt like an ‘outsider’ when a participant. I was the wrong age (my 30’s and 40’s when Quakers are mostly in their 50’s – 70’s ), asked the wrong (maybe the right) questions and I asked Friends to actually do something, and to change and to grow.

In essence, I’ve asked Friends to let their lives speak, in selfless individual acts, measured by money. This as opposed to speaking in a self-centered manner, throwing oneself into large, faraway faceless causes - by giving messages - politically-correct mealy-mouthed mumbo jumbo ad nauseum - in Meeting for Worship, holding up signs in loud protest marches, and sending other people’s money to dead, disconnected ‘higher’ and ‘wider’ bodies.

Instead of giving messages, how much of your money do YOU give to your Monthly Meeting?

Your money is important. It represents life right here and right now, and it represents the connection to a Quaker Faith, which is both physical and spiritual, no matter how much many Friends want to excise anything physical from the Religious Society of Friends. You see, money represents and can measure what Friends actually do.

We Friends are not hostile to the scientific process, and to observable facts, are we? We constantly test the Truth, in Meeting for Worship, and we can similarly test our integrity of spirit and physical existence with how we use money. It is the real, sometimes brutal mirror on the wall. It can tell us to comb our hair when we forget before we go out, or tells us we aren’t the fairest of them all.

So, what Friends, and as have many others in today’s world have done, have relied on other people’s money to finance our Church. And we turn our attention away from this brutal fact by focusing on politically correct things that our paid ‘ministers’ suggest. It is much easier then.

We can go gentle, right into that cold dark night, co-opted by the Democratic party and, even the American Friends Service Committee, large wealthy Friends Schools, as elite proxies for our dead and gone Society - all the while we think we are alive. Our meetinghouses and our Faith will become curious historical niceties and quirky things kids will hear in school - and then forget.

Great. Let’s send our 'ministers' to more conferences, travel the world to FWCC which has, we’ve heard of late, found wealthy donors to finance itself. Now our widest of wide bodies no longer has any reason to be connected to our Yearly Meetings (whew, NYYM only gives a little, therefore it can now keep more money for itself) all the way back down the line to the Monthly Meetings and the local churches – the grass roots of the Quaker Faith.

So Friends, think about money. I know you don’t want to, and most of you won’t. My words are like that creaky uncomfortable bench you’re sitting on in Meeting for Worship. My words are your Stimulus Package. My words represent the one standing up and saying the emperor has no clothes and these Quaker ‘institutions’ have outrun their Guide. My words are your best chance to want to get off your rear, stop listening to false ministers living with the largesse of wider, disconnected Friends ‘institutions’.

In essence, what I’m saying is go to your Monthly Meeting, the grass roots, re-create each year what the Spirit calls Friends to create. Compare that to the Rule of Thirds. Stop your Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Meetings living on other people’s money, get to work, and let your money and your lives speak.