Marge Abbott's Sept 27 DQ handout
WHAT MADE EARLY FRIENDS DANGEROUS?
Rosemary Moore, in her book The Light in Their Consciences, gives a compelling glimpse into the 17th century. Her book and Hugh Barbour’s book The Quakers in Puritan England , are two I commend to you if you want to understand our spiritual ancestors and don’t happen to have the time to read dozens of their journals and other 17th century publications. Following are some reflections drawn from those books and others on what made early Friends a danger to evil and anything other than truth.
The inward knowledge of Christ/The Light
"In those days the world and the things of it were not near our hearts, but the love of God ... we were glad one of another's company, though sometimes our outward fare was very mean, and our lodging on straw." William Edumunson1
"I landed at Carrickfergus there a trooper readily lent me his horse, and' I rode that evening home to Antrim, where my wife lived; when I came to the door, my brother came forth to salute me with his usual compliments; but the Lord's Power seized upon me at that instant, he was struck amazed, went in, and sat down silent. I was much broken in the power of the Lord before them, and my brother made no opposition but received the Truth and joined with it.
"I returned to Carrickfergus to bring my goods ashore, but the officers required an oath to the truth of my bills of parcels, arid, not suffering them to come ashore without it, would have seized upon my goods. I told them, I could not swear, it was contrary to Christ’s command,. which seemed a strange thing to them, having not met with he like before; but the Lord's Truth and testimony was precious to me, and after some time, with much difficulty, I got an order to bring my goods to the custom house: my deportment to the officers and others herein was a wonder to them, and caused much discourse, and various rumors to 'be spread of the Quakers, and of me in particular." William Edmundson (P. 13-14)
The power of the Cross
"When my cry is often, Lord reveal they Way unto me, that I may walk therein, whatever I undergo. But when I found the way so strait and narrow, I could very willingly have turned aside for ease; for Flesh and Blood could not bear that which I had to undergo; but blessed and renowned be the Spirit of Truth, my Comforter, which leds into all Truth; . . . And also what Happiness might be recieved by taking heed to the Light that shined in my Heart, which makes manifest, that the way to the Crown of Glory is through the daily cross to my own Will, and to take Christ’s Yoke upon that Nature that would not be subject." JoanVokins2.
"Therefore Faithfulness is very needful, for it doth produce a good effect, whatever we may endure; for the momentary Affliction that we meet with here, doth produce a further weight of Glory hereafter." Joan Vokins
Their love for each other and for their enemies
"We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity. It is our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same. [We] do deny and bear our testimony against all strife, wars, and contentions that come from the lusts that war in the members, that was against the soul, which we wait for, and watch for in all people. [We] love and desire the good of all. For no other cause but love to the souls of all people have our sufferings been."3
Truth-telling & willingness to speak up – and conviction that they knew truth and must bring all others to it
"Our yes is yea. . . and our nay is nay. . . . Let us suffer as much for breaking [our word] as for breaking an oath." George Fox, "Our Covenant wtih God and with All Men is Peace" (London, 1660): [Barbour p. 172]
"Your life and your Words are a Terrour to all that speak not Truth; in your dealings . . . your lives do judge them; and through your Constancy, Faithfulness and Life, which is Everlasting, you bring many to Amendment: For both Life, Actions, Words & Conversation preach . . . to the unrighteous world." George Fox, "A Line of Righteousness Stretched Forth" (London, 1674) p. 8 [Barbour p. 160]
"The Lord is very near thee. Oh! That thou wouldst consider it, and see His hand, that thereby thou mayst learn righteousness, and do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord, that so thy throne may be established; and that thou wouldst see the Lord Testifying, that He doth not love pride, vanity and vain glory; that now, in the very time of your joy, hath turned it into mourning. The God of power give you to understand His will and mind, that thou mayst make Him thy joy, who hath the life and breath of all men in His hand." Margaret Fell’s letters, to King Charles the Second, and the Dukes of York and Gloucester, she writes (Life of Margaret Fox, p. 27)
"When Friends were brought before judges, ‘if they give them the hat, it is a civil thing; it pacifies the rage of the transgressor . . . but break down his Idol and bring him . . . to seek the honour which comes from . . . God . . . and not give him the hat honour . . . and he will rage.’" George Fox, An Instruction to Judges and Lawyers That They May Act and Judge as the Judges Did of Old (London, 1659 or 1660), p. 6 (Barbour, p. 166):
Their freedom from shame
"Whilst I was at sea, self reasoned strongly to save the duty of my goods, for I had an opportunity to do it, the troop my brother belonged to quartering at Carrickfergus and Belfast, who would have helped me night or day, but I durst not do it, my conscience being awakened to plead for truth, justice, and equity; yet there was a great contest betwixt conscience and self, and in this conflict many Scriptures were opened in my understanding, that duties and customs ought to be paid; and though self struggled hard for mastery, yet at last was overthrown, and the judgment of Truth prevailed." William Edmundson, Journal (P. 13).
"In the spring following  1 removed with my family from Antrim, to live in the county of Armagh, there took a house, and grazing for my cattle, and kept a shop of some merchant goods, where I became the talk and gazing stock of, and to the people; professors [those who Professed religion] watched me narrowly to get occasion against me and the principles of Truth I professed, but the Lord strengthened me in my watch over my words and deeds, so cut off occasion from them that sought occasion against the Truth and me." William Edmundson, Journal (p. 14)
"In those days, to use the true, plain and proper speech, as thee and thou to a single person, and keeping on the hat, were strange things to People, and few could suffer them to be used on occasion; but would reflect in abusive words, and sometimes use blows, or throw stones. The keeping to one price in selling goods, and to the first asking without abatement, was a great stumbling block to most sorts of people, and made them stand at a distance from buying for some time, until they saw further into the justice of the manner thereof. All things were rough and rugged in the world, and the cross of Christ was foolishness and stumbling block to them...." William Edmundson, Journal (p.15)
"A knot of my old Acquaintances, espying me, came to me . . . and . . . saluted me after the usual manner, putting off their Hats and Bowing, and saying, ‘Your Humble Servant, Sir,’ expecting, no doubt, the like from me. But when they saw me standing still . . . They were amazed: ‘What? Tom, a Quaker?’ To which I readily and cheerfully answered, ‘Yes, a Quaker.’ And as the words passed out of my mouth I felt joy spring in my Heart . . that I had Strength and Boldness given me, to Confess my self to be one of that despised People." Others found a stronger reaction. The families of Richard Atkinson and Ellis Hookes would not let them come home and several were disowned by their families or as apprentices, put under pressure by their masters or kicked out of apprenticeships for refusing to take oaths. Thomas Ellwood, (Barbour p. 161)
Their energy and willingness to give up the comforts of home (and even "duty" to care for their children) AND Their Willingness to suffer rather than deny truth
"The Lord has provided for our souls and our bodies are freely given up to serve him."
"She was ravished with the love of God to her soul and her Beloved was the chiefest of ten thousand: she did not fear the face of anyone, though she felt their arrows."
"But whensoever we were brought upon any trial, the Lord did take away all fear from us and multiplied our strength and gave us power and boldness to plead for the truth of the Lord Jesus and wisdom of words to stop the mouths of gainsayers." Katherine Evans, 16574
WAYS IN WHICH EARLY FRIENDS SUPPORTED ONE ANOTHER
1. Reducing the effects of persecution by seeking public sympathy
2. Local Meetings tracking who was suffering and providing support
3. Use of the Law both through lobbying and use of the court system
4. Threatening Disaster to Persecutors
5. Development of a Theology of Suffering: Taking Up the Cross Daily
Handout from Last night's lesson at Reedwood
A Concise Sermon on the Mount
The down will be up – 5:3-12
You are supposed to be effective –5:13
You are supposed to be noticed – 5:14-16
Don’t do it to be noticed – 6:1-8,6:16-18
Perfection= inside and out the same – 5:17-28
Make peace – 5:23-26
Get rid of whatever traps you – 5:29-30
Give without limits – 5:38-42
Tell the truth – all the time – 5:33-37
Love without Limits – 5:43-47
Pray – simply and often – 6:9-13
Forgive – 6:14-15
Trust – it is the anxiety killer - 6:19-34
It makes you look stupid and hypocritical – 7:1-6
Ask persistently – 7:7-11
Treat People right – 5:31-32, 7:12
This is simple but not easy – 7:13
You may have to do it alone – 7:14
Don’t be fooled by imposters – 7:15-20
Act on what you know – 7:21-23
It is a foundation that will not fail – 7:24-29
New Pack Member
The Spiritual Discipline of Failure
Today's UPI column
So There I was…
At the department of Motor Vehicles taking the motorcycle endorsement test for the fist time. As a permitted learner, but not a licensed rider, I had arrived accompanied by an experienced rider.
Just like with cars, you can practice riding on the streets with an experienced friend. Unlike practice driving in a car, if you make a big mistake, all your friend on the other bike can do is scream and then call 911.
My friend Owen had not only taught me how the ride, he had financed my first bike. He is that sort of a friend. That day he stood on the sidelines and watched as I went through my paces on my shiny new Honda Rebel. At 250cc’s and a mere 300lbs she was just the light, nimble, bike that you wanted for the test.
They do this test off road, in a parking lot, that is painted with a test course. The tester that day was a serious looking young man with a clipboard. He inspected my bike and my gear and gave me instructions and then the go-ahead. I did great at the slalom cones. I braked from speed without skidding. I demonstrated the ability to use turn signals and horns without problem, downshifted on a corner. I passed all his tasks with ease until the last one. This was the “tight turn trick.” Painted on the pavement was a three-sided bay - precisely the size of two parking spaces. You were required to enter on the left side going at least 15 mph, you must then execute a turn inside this bay and exit on the right side without touching the white lines. There was a dot painted at the apex for reference. I had practiced a U-turn on a two-lane road, but this was considerably tighter. I gave it my best shot. Gas to 15. Entered bay. Braked. Turned at apex. Made a critical mistake. I looked down at the dot on the pavement, and then the bike was down, and I was standing over her. I looked up. Owen had his eyes covered, cringing. The clipboard boy was shaking his head and walking towards me.
I was furious and humiliated.
I don’t remember picking up my bike. The next thing I do remember was putting the bike back down on the ground. Apparently I was pumping a bit of adrenaline. Owen said that I had the front tire three feet off the ground and the back tire was lifting. I remember the front tire bouncing. I looked up again at the clipboard guy. He stopped, took one step backward and made a “settle down” gesture with his free hand – eyes wide open.
“ma’am, you ok?”
“grrr – I flunked – right?”
“You are going to have to wait three days to take the test again – but you can take it again – I am sure you will pass next time – ma’am.”
Guy to Owen: “Make sure she takes a few minutes to calm down before you guys ride home, ok?”
I did calm down, a bit. The fury wore off with the stress hormones. But I was in complete freak-out about flunking. I just could not believe it. I called a sympathetic friend.
“I flunked! I can’t believe it. I flunked!”
“Peggy, chill, it’s just like flunking a quiz at school, only with infinite do-overs.”
“Excuse ME! I have NEVER flunked a quiz.”
“Never? Never in 20 years of school?”
“Of course not!”
“ Um, Ok – it’s like getting fired from a job – you get another job.”
“Oh, give me a break – NO ONE has ever fired ME.”
“Man, …then it is like getting dumped.”
“What!? Dumped? I don’t think so!”
“You know what, Peggy? You needed this –
God decided it was your turn.”
My friend was right. I was in a failure deficit situation, and that is not good. I was 35 years old and I had never learned the Spiritual Discipline of Failure. This is not an optional discipline. And as it turned out in the next decade of my life I was going to be in a couple of big situations where success by any normal standard of success was not going to be possible, and God needed me to be fit for the task. So I started a series of practicums in the art of not getting it anything close to right.
It’s a tough class.
The core truth of this discipline is that you must learn to take your focus off of ‘outcome’ and put it onto ‘process.’ I had been hung up on flunking and not looking at how I flunked. This is a killer of a mistake. It not only can get you killed in certain situations, it kills learning and joy the rest of the time. It drastically increases fear, because there is always a dreaded outcome, and never a preventative within your control. I needed to forget about the test, and learn the crucial lesson that motorcycles will go wherever you put your eyes. In a tight turn you look out to your exit, not down at the pavement. When you learn this lesson, tight turns cease to be scary. And Friends, Life offers many opportunities for the quick U-turn.
I don’t really see God as some sort of cosmic tester with a clipboard, but I have learned to leave the outcomes up to God. When faced with an experience that looks like failure, I take a deep breath, calm down, look at what I was doing; and inevitably there was a part of the situation that I was trying to control that was really not in my power, and part of the situation that actually was in my control that I was ignoring, or didn’t recognize. Then I let go of the former and focus on the latter and sign up for do-overs.
Fortunately for me, I worship a God of infinite do-overs.
sometimes I get funny e-mails
This one from Elie Wayo, 16
His english and french are vastly better than my kirundi
moi am fine and
at home it is fine
you are missing as at home
I have A ciken
evry morning je mange a eeg
then the wach men sey I have to giv him one eeg
bucaus evry day he clen the pupu
then I sey me tumorow morning I will du it
but I forget
then I have to give him one egg
HERO of the Faith
Iternational attention has brought her enough money to build schools and clinics and more.
An Unfragile Freedom
Today's UPI column
So There I was...
Up before dawn, though I am severely allergic to it. I had slipped silently out of bed and closed the doors to the children’s rooms. It was chilly, so I wrapped up in a blanket and made myself a cup of coffee. I turned on the TV, twisting the volume knob down low. (Yes – there was no remote, no buttons, but knobs on that hand-me down television) It was February 11, 1990, and it was ten hours further into the day in South Africa. I had gotten up, waking without an alarm, to watch the live coverage of a man at the pinnacle of human dignity. There was Nelson Mandela, walking out of prison after 27 years of unjust captivity. The African sun warmed me from ten thousand miles away. As he pumped his fist in the air, my heart pumped pure joy, and tears washed my face.
They had offered him his ‘freedom’ five years earlier on the condition that he renounce the revolution that had gotten him there. To their shock he turned them down. For the next five years they negotiated with him the conditions of his release until there were no conditions. They needed him to give them liberty from the shame of having a captive righteous man. Their big mistake? They were under the impression that they had freedom to offer him, when the fact was that their apartheid, and their prison bars, had never taken this free human’s birthright. They had nothing to bargain with, leaving them to beg.
His revolution had been built on the truth of equality, and so, in time would be won, whether he fought or not, whether he walked the earth at liberty or sat with the truth in a jail cell. It was the oppressors who were bound, and held captive by their tiny ideologies, and so it was they who eventually pleaded with the free man to give them their liberty.
I just had to see it, with my own eyes, in real time – that kind of shining, stellar, stunning truth and beauty demand attention.
I was reminded of that moment recently when I heard someone make the following remark. The context was a situation where the speaker was looking at the possibility of an uncomfortably mixed group. The comment was: “If (they) were here, I might lose the freedom to be myself.”
Wow, what kind of tragically fragile freedom is that?
One where external circumstances can cause an inability to access and express your core identity. I wish this was a rare condition – but I think that it is rather common.
Jesus said that we would know the truth and that it was the truth that would make us free. Freedom is just this – a practical, working acquaintance with truth. If you know the truth about yourself, that you are an immortal being, created to exhibit glory, truth, honor, joy and love, then no one can take your freedom from you. No one can intimidate it out of you. No prison can confine your soul or its expression. No gun or bomb or threat thereof can kill your freedom.
We have fear mongers at the highest levels of culture, politics and religion telling us that our freedom is fragile and under attack. They attempt to bring us to that Orwellian place where we surrender all expressions of our liberty in the name of protecting liberty. They want us to isolate ourselves within walls of fear, and pre-emptively attack outside those walls.
Your freedom, our freedom is inviolable. It is built on the truth of equality and justice, and so will triumph, no matter who attacks. You can take it anywhere, in anyone’s presence without risk.
We say that there are those who have died for the cause of freedom. Actually they have died nobly in the cause of physical and political liberty, which are expressions of freedom. They were willing to die because they knew that they WERE free, and could spend their lives as they saw fit. Unfortunately the vast majority of battles have not been fought on such noble grounds.
I know individuals, who because they know they are free have refused to fight and have chosen to sit in prison as an expression of their freedom. They are freedom fighters just the same.
The Apostle Paul told the folks at Galatia that having attained freedom through the recognition of Christ’s truth that they were to stand fast, and to never again submit to the yoke of mental slavery. Interesting he did not tell them to fight for, or even to defend their freedom, just to stand in it – be free, and let the chips fall where they may. He did not warn them of people stealing or attacking their freedom, he told them not to pick up and put on themselves the yoke of slavery. He did not tell them to be afraid. And he most likely wrote from a hell-hole of a Roman prison.
If you don’t feel free – the answer in inside of you. Your freedom is a given. The truth of who you are,is a given. It is up to you to stand in it, express it, and get a working knowledge of it. If you express your freedom – and you should – there will certainly be consequences, and they won’t always be pleasant. But the consequences, whatever they are, do not make you unfree.
On of my favorite footnotes to the story of Nelson Mandela is his birth name. Born the son of Thembu royalty, the name given to him by his prophetic father was Rolihlahla, which means “troublemaker”.
The free always are.
How I became Invincible
Today's UPI column
So There I was...
On the counter top considering taking refuge on top of the refrigerator. The initial screams of terror had given way to rapid shallow breathing. My eyes were dilated, my heart was pounding. My brain was sending our signals about imminent death. My adrenaline level was high enough that ripping through a wall to escape seemed sensible - anything - to get away from the nauseating, skin-crawling horror before me.
I was Jackie Kennedy crawling over the back of that Cadillac.
Oh, God, save me!
The mouse on the kitchen floor was perhaps two inches long, if you included the tail.
My seven-year-old daughter was standing nearby laughing hysterically.
There were some parts of my brain that were fully aware of how stupid this whole thing was. But those parts were totally trumped by my old brain. And my old brain was attempting to save me from a saber-toothed tiger.
Welcome to the world of phobias – fears that don’t make sense. The problem here is that wires get crossed and the feeling of danger and the actual level of danger are severely mismatched. It can get you laughed at by children, but it isn’t funny if your alarm bells are going off.
The old brain is arguably useful if there is a real, imminent, life threatening danger and the best answer is running or hitting. But for most of us, this situation is rare to the point of non-existent. Yet so many of us spend so much of our time afraid. And there are plenty of hucksters and worse who want you to feel afraid even when you don’t need to because the old brain makes you very obedient. They want to make you phobic of life.
Actually, most of the time, we need our fancy new brain with all its reasoning capacities and creative problem solving abilities. When the old brain plays it’s trump card you lose everything that makes you human; reason, speech, altruism, relationships and the ability to pray – they all get thrown off the back of the wagon like granny’s pump organ on the Oregon trail – so much baggage.
But there’s nothing you can do about it? It’s automatic, Right?
I found out that my brain, even my old brain, is within my control.
A brilliant guy who trained me to listen to trauma survivors taught me this.
Listening to detailed stories of rape, genocide and torture is not fun. But I learned that I could be present to people in their horror without becoming horrified. I could be that resilient by choice and by a very simple procedure.
All I need to do is take a deep breath, and soften and expand my abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles. It’s harder work than it sounds, but if you can do this you can take the pressure off the vegus nerve at the base of the spine. That nerve it what sends the signals that tell the brain to panic. This procedure is the exact opposite of the gasp and clinching that we do when frightened.
Anything that I receive thus – softly – cannot, will not, and does not hurt me. I practiced this for a few years and got really good at it in counseling sessions. I became very resilient, my burn-out risk plummeted.
Then early this year I saw that smart guy again. He listened to my report and he said
“Um, Peggy, you do know that you can do that all the time if you like, right?”
“What, just live soft? Like, all the time?”
First I tried it on some times when my feeling of safety didn’t match my real safety. It worked. It was work, but I could turn off my fear response if I wanted to. I did not have to face the ridicule of children, HA!
Then I waited for a chance to try it out in a setting of actual threat. I found I could quiet my old brain and keep all my capacities on line. Present. Mindful. Dangerous instead of endangered.
“Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall not fear evil – You prepare a meal for me in the midst of my enemies, and I sit down and eat.” Pslam 23
If I forget, and I do foregt, I still get freaked, but I don’t have to, and I can turn it off, if I want. If I don’t take care of myself, and sleep and eat and play, I loose some of my strength to do what I know I can do. But it is my choice.
I am resilient with the option of invincibility. It is what I was created to be.
“For we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us” Romans 8:37
I have always known this theologically. I am a child of God. I am safe when things are quiet. I am in the palm of God’s hand when things are nutty. I am safe if you don’t agree with me, if you don’t like me, or even if you are actually out to get me. I am safe if I am dead because I am not my body and I live in God. I can choose to feel that foundational safety any time I want to.
“For right now we are children of God, what we will yet become remains to be seen”
I John 3:2
So there I was…
just a couple of months ago – in a pet shop – holding a rat in my hand – and I was laughing.
(With deep and abiding gratitude to God and Dr. J. Eric Gentry of Sarasota, Florida)
OUR NEW HOME
Freedom Friends Church
moved into our new meetinghouse !
We are quite fond of the Neon OPEN sign!
1250 sq feet
seating for 60
two ADA bathrooms
We are Very Grateful!!!!!!!
Here is a post at Alivia's blog that includes a picture of the pews.
Worshipping at the Idol of Safety
This weeks UPI column - riffing off my WTC message
So There I was...
Flying into a war zone. Bujumbura, Burundi, Central Africa during the summer of 2003 was in trouble. Various rebel groups were camped in the hills around the capitol city. They had mortar rounds and rocket propelled grenade launchers – and they were using them. The South Africa peacekeepers had helicopter gun ships – and they were using them. The United Nations had pulled all their people out. The embassies were working with skeleton staffs of people without dependents. The US embassy folk had a “safe zone” and a corridor to the airport. They were not allowed to travel anywhere else. I was flying in the help a local NGO set up training centers for trauma healing. My local connections thought they could keep me safe and promised to ship me out if they could not. I thought I was being very brave. But right away things were not what I expected. I had expected that once I was off of the international carriers in Nairobi and onto African air transport that it would be pretty much “Clutch Cargo Airways.” I guess I was expecting propellers and maybe chickens – the sleek 737 for the Nairobi – Kigali – Bujumbura leg was unexpected. I also didn’t expect the plane to be full – I mean, how many people would be flying into a war zone? I really didn’t expect to see children on board. In the seats next to me were two Arab children, with their mother and baby sister behind us. I asked the older boy if he had any English – he did. We had a nice conversation. They were on their way back to Buja from a visit to their grandparents in Dar Es Salaam. Dad was a businessman in Burundi, with a fine store, according to his son. Mother did not have as much English as her son, but he translated a question for me.
”How do you feel about taking your children into Burundi? – Does it feel safe to you?”
“ It is a wonderful city, a good place to do business, a good place to raise a family.” She said. She didn’t seem in the least bit worried. I wondered if I had gotten the news all wrong.
I hadn’t. But I spent three fairly safe months in Burundi. And I met a lot of children there, and most of them seemed happy. Business was thriving in the midst of chaos. Kind of like the old west. Dodge might not be Mayberry, but the Saloon business was treating Miss Kitty all right.
Apparently that mother had not listened to the fear-mongerers.
I have been thinking a lot in the last few years about fear and fear-mongering. It seems that our culture is taking a real turn towards being a culture of fear. If you listen to any media outlet you can quickly make a list of things that you are supposed to be afraid of, from dangerous bacteria that infest every corner of your house, to the threat a various forms of global annihilation. Places that are supposed to be bastions of safety are now terribly dangerous. The hospital is the last place that a sick person should be. That clergyperson talking to your son is highly suspect. The evening news that was once delivered to us devoid of emotion is now served with heaping portions of concern, caution, fear and outrage.
I do not think that this is a good trend.
Not that I am against practical safety. Airbags, Yeah! By all means change those batteries in your smoke detector, and please, do wash your hands when you leave the restroom. But the constant diet of fear and the persistent selling of products and behaviors to assuage the fears seems to have gotten all out of proportion.
This is an old business. As old as virgins being tossed into volcanoes to appease the Gods. And I think the comparison to idolatry is apt. To run the fear business you need a stick and a carrot - a supposedly noble or at least awesome deity, and fear of retribution.
We have begun to worship at the Idol of Safety in earnest. The fear of retribution if we do not, is very real.
You know that something has become an idol when its very name becomes a magic incantation that stops questions and debates and induces unnatural obedience. Remember Obiwan Kenobe, and his Jedi mind tricks? “These are not the droids you are looking for.” With the wave of his hand and hypnotic words he lulled weak minds into a stupor. Now, in the United States, all you have to do is say, “This is for you safety, sir.” and people nod their heads, take off their shoes and stand in line. They throw their personal possessions into sacrificial barrels, and avert their eyes as the Middle Eastern fellow behind them gets pulled out for “extra screening.”
The temples of Safety are everywhere. She has legions of acolytes. She drinks greater and greater portions of our national budget. And devotion to her is very exacting. You must be willing to give her your personal liberties. You will isolate into smaller and smaller groups, and in those groups you will think alike. You will not trust the other groups, whether they are across the street or across the world. Words will change. Isolation will become “Nesting.” Courage will become “foolhardiness.” Mr. Orwell will be very busy.
Because faith in Safety focuses more on feeling safe than actually being safe, there will be the never-ending task of risk management. As long as one person in the room still feels unsafe, we will all change our behavior until that person feels better. But having lowered the threshold, it will be only a matter of time before the unease grows in someone – who will raise again the cry “Unsafe!”
You got the smoke detector. Then you got the carbon monoxide detector. Then you got the radon detector…
You screened the little league coach for criminal behavior. Then you trained all the children to detect pedophiles. Then you made the rule that no child is ever to be alone with a single adult, ever…
It never ends.
For years after coming out of seminary with a degree in religion and counseling psychology I tried to envision and make church a safe place to be, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Eventually I found out that this was the trials of Sisyphus – futility itself - unless you kept out all the human beings. Then I decided that we were not created to be safe. We were created to be invincible.
Next Week: How I became invincible.