Bringing God back into Quaker witness

August 26, 2012 § 8 Comments

At its Summer Sessions this year, New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) approved a minute calling on the Senate to make the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the law of the land and repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery (as in Christopher Columbus), a principle that has been used as the religious, moral, and legal foundation for the colonization of indigenous peoples and their lands up until the present day. It was used in a US Supreme Court decision as recently as 2005. Here’s the text of NYYM’s minute:

We seek to live in a just peace with our fellow human beings, both as individuals, and as peoples.

The United States has formally declared its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007. We now call on the United States Senate to enact the legislation that will make this the law of the land in the United States of America.

We repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, which originated in the 15th century from Papal Bulls and European royal charters issued at that time. The Doctrine of Discovery mandated the seizure of lands belonging to any non-Christian peoples and encouraged the enslavement, exploitation, or eradication of those peoples. We cannot accept that the Doctrine of Discovery was ever a true authority for the forced takings of lands and the enslavement or extermination of peoples. It is reprehensible for the United States to use the Doctrine of Discovery as a legal doctrine to compel a jurisdiction over Indigenous Peoples or their lands.

We honor the inalienable rights of Indigenous Peoples to their homelands, water, spiritual practices, languages, cultural practices, and to self-government, all of which sustain life and the life of a People, and the autonomy of Indigenous Peoples. An Indigenous People has the right to make decisions and establish constructive arrangements with other nations, governments and peoples on their own behalf.

This is a wonderful act of faithfulness to our testimony of equality. It generated quite a bit of spirit-led vocal ministry on the floor, too, much of it very supportive. However, two themes of disquiet in that discussion stood out for me. One was that we Quakers were complicit in the oppression of North American First Nations, and that therefore the minute should include a confession of sorts and an expression of our remorse and repentance.

We Quakers have a relatively good record of treatment of the First Nations. Some moments in our early history have become important parts of our story. I am thinking of the time George Fox, in one of his famous disputations (this one in North Carolina, I think) in which he was claiming that all humans had within them a light of conscience, asked a Native who was there whether there was something in him that told him when he was doing something wrong, and the man said yes. This episode has long been used to demonstrate early Quaker Christian universalism.

Then there is Woolman’s famous line that “love was the first motion,” referring to why he felt led to travel among the Indians. And of course there’s William Penn’s treaty with the Indians, famously immortalized by Edward Hicks in his several paintings, which was apparently a model of fair negotiation. Finally, we could add that Quakers settled in Richmond, Indiana, because that town was as far west as you could go—that is, as far away from slavery in North Carolina as you could get—within the territory ceded by a treaty that both the First Nations and the settlers felt was fair, and still have a river suitable for a mill. That river is the White River in Richmond. I’ve forgotten the name of the treaty. I keep thinking it’s the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, but I can’t confirm it.

But there is a dark side to Quaker relations with the First Nations, even to Penn’s treaty. Penn’s intentions were irreproachable, I believe. But his sons subsequently expanded Pennsylvania through fraud in what is called the Walking Purchase, in which the new territory was to be defined by the area stretching east to the coast from the point to which a man could walk in a day and a half from the confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers. Trained runners were used working in relays on prepared trails and they ended up demarking a territory that was much larger than the Lenni Lenape had originally envisioned—1,200,000 acres. The Lenape appealed to the Iroquois, who had indigenous authority over the Delaware valley, but the Iroquois had been bought off. They also appealed to the British crown, also to no avail. Arguably, the British monarchy propped up its unwillingness to intercede with the Doctrine of Discovery.

Less contemptible but still momentous was the Quaker mission to the Seneca in the 1790s. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting sent three missionaries to Chief Cornplanter’s people at his request (he educated his sons in Quaker schools in Philadelphia) to teach “agriculture and the American arts.” They were not to proselytize. The problem was that in traditional Iroquois culture, women gardened and men hunted, but the plows introduced by the Americans required animal handling and they took more strength to operate than most women had. American agricultural practice ended up completely deconstructing traditional Seneca society. This and other upheavals led to a revolution among the Seneca and helped give birth to a new religious movement among the Iroquois that still has some adherents today, led by a prophet named Handsome Lake, Cornplanter’s half-brother. This story is vividly told in The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca by Anthony F. Wallace. My Mohawk and Seneca friends told me that the book has some inaccuracies, but I don’t remember the details.

The other theme that came up during deliberations at New York Yearly Meeting is the one that prompts me to write this entry. That is that the minute is totally bereft of religious language. Nor is this an isolated case, in my experience. All too often, our minutes of testimony and our other witness writings and ministry rely exclusively on secular language to make our arguments. One could read these minutes and never know that they were written by a religious community, let alone by Quakers. When speaking out on social issues, we tend to rely on the social sciences. When speaking out on environmental issues, we tend to use the earth sciences. When explaining our witness on economic issues, we tend to use economic arguments. When speaking on social justice issues, we tend to use the language of legal and human rights. The American Friends Service Committee has led the way in this trend, increasingly resembling over the decades a secular advocacy organization.

In our witness, we often do not use a moral argument to explain why something is wrong or why the course we recommend is right. Even more seldom do we use spiritual language to explain our motives. We may refer to our testimonies, but not to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that are the foundation of our testimonies and of the testimonial life. We almost never quote Scripture, even though the Bible is the foundation for virtually every one of our testimonies. We do not stand on the language of Fox or Fell or Woolman or Barclay to present a theological argument, relying instead on one idea that is not actually quite true: that we believe in peace, equality, or whatever—because we believe that there is that of God in everyone.

Maybe we do believe that there is that of God in everyone, whatever that means, but it is not why we believe in our testimonies, at least not originally. The testimonies all come originally, in the outward sense, from original readings of Scripture by early Friends. In the inward sense, they come from the promptings of the Holy Spirit. To make “that of God” the foundation for our testimonies and the heart of our arguments in our witness life in this way misrepresents our history and tradition and it misses an opportunity to speak our truth in language that has real power and meaning and resonance with the wider Christian culture.

I know that, unfortunately, my words here have the effect of condemning or belittling the work of NYYM’s Indian Affairs committee, which prepared this minute, and of the Yearly Meeting itself for approving it this way. For that I am sorry. I served on that committee myself for six years and I know how dedicated New York Friends are to Indian concerns. (Indian Affairs committee was originally formed in the 1790s and is the oldest standing witness committee in the Yearly Meeting.) The stand the minute takes is an important one and it has already evoked heartfelt thanks from some in the Native American community. I am very grateful that we’ve taken it, and I hope that other yearly meetings around the country do the same.

The committee and the Yearly Meeting apparently labored over the minute for something like two years and the issues I am raising either didn’t come up or never found traction. But it’s not really the Indian Affairs committee’s fault, as far as fault goes, or the Yearly Meeting’s.

Because this is where we are today in liberal Quakerism. You can see “that of God” used as the foundation for our testimonies in many of our books of Faith and Practice. And, as I’ve said, our witness testimony routinely omits explicitly religious language. We are, I think, often embarrassed to be explicitly religious in our witness life, let alone explicitly biblical or Christian.

I suspect this is partly because if you put such language in your minute when you present it to the body for approval, someone is likely to object and you stand a good chance of having a potentially long and divisive discussion on the floor about it. The objectors sometimes hold the meeting hostage and then the meeting often capitulates in a spirit of peace-making, or out of sheer exhaustion, and takes the language out, seeking a consensus as a lowest common denominator, rather than seeking a sense of a meeting gathered in the Spirit. Doing that would require a body willing to be patient and faithful.

Moreover, although it hurts me to say this, I suspect that very often, we just aren’t ‘spiritual’ in our motives in the first place: our minds, our worldviews, have been so suborned by the secular worldview and we have become so attuned to secular struggles for peace, justice, and care for the earth, that we do not experience the promptings of our consciences as religious a lot of the time, anymore, let alone as from God.

What to do? New York Yearly Meeting did not have the patience to develop this minute further, not after two years had already passed. And I’ve seen this kind of wrangling strangle a minute that you would have thought would be a no-brainer for Friends to support—Friends getting really fussy over the details of an obviously valuable piece of witness. We were able to give the minute some religious context in the letter/press release with which we distributed it. So things went pretty well in this particular case.

As for the long-term problem, beyond complaining about it in my blog, so far I have only general ideas about what to do. The Religious Society of Friends has for a long time been evolving into the Society of f(F)riends. The problem calls for religious education, for sure, so that at least we know our tradition and represent our history and tradition faithfully to the world, to our children, and to ourselves. And it calls for ministry: for Friends who feel so called to work among us to revitalize a culture of eldership that can help our members recognize their spiritual gifts and the promptings of the Holy Spirit for what they are; and for Friends who feel called to recover and further develop the traditions, faith, and practice of Quaker ministry. I am happy to say that this process is well under way now in New York Yearly Meeting.

The goal would be a corporate witness life that instinctively presents our testimony as religiously motivated in language that carries power. That Power liberated the Israelites from Egypt, it delivered the poor, the sick, and the oppressed through Jesus’ prophetic ministry, and it gathered a peculiar people in the 1600s who had rediscovered some essential Truths. It sent ambulance crews to Europe in wartime, it sends peacemakers into prisons in our own time, it provides water filters for families in Kenya. That Power is alive and well. We believe that we can open a direct channel to that Power, both as individuals and as communities. So the project is to not just believe that, but to actually experience it.


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§ 8 Responses to Bringing God back into Quaker witness

  • I believe Friend Barbara poses a deep query: “Was it the Sense of NYYM in Session that the Document expressed what G-d would have us to say at this time to these people?” What do the Friends of NYYM say?

  • Emily says:

    Perhaps God doesn’t belong in the New York Yearly Meeting Minute because the Minute is not a witness to God.

    The NYYM minute does not reflect the spirit of the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is much more reflective of the spirit of God.

    The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples never mentions the Doctrine of Discovery of the Papal Bull, whereas the NYYM speaks only to the Papal Bull. The Papal bull was certainly discussed during the preparation of UN Declaration, but it appears as if those who put the UN Declaration together ultimately realized that leaving it out was the best choice, that the Papal Bull is only one manifestation of a much larger problem of human civilization, the desire of all peoples to expand their territories. This is seen in today’s Palestine (between Jews and Muslims) or today’s Mali (with different sects of Muslims fighting over Islamic heritage sites).

    The NYYM minute directly contradicts certain principles of the UN Declaration. The NYYM minute supports “the inalienable rights of Indigenous Peoples to their homelands… and to self-government…and autonomy….[because] an Indigenous People has the right to make decisions and establish constructive arrangements with other nations, governments and peoples on their own behalf.” The United Nations Declaration, in contrast, supports cooperative and harmonious relations between each State and its indigenous peoples, and the rights of indigenous peoples to belong to their communities and work fully with the State in which they are incorporated.

    The UN Declaration states indigenous peoples should not have their property wrested from them, and that when indigenous people have been forcibly removed from their property they shall be provided with redress. The Declaration does not support return of property as the NYYM Minute states. The Declaration emphasizes the integrity of nations, stating that no individual or state may “dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States.” Nowhere does the Declaration support the autonomy of indigenous peoples, or a return to them of property whatever the circumstances of the present owner, without any compensation for subsequent development, and without any payment of taxes.

    The NYYM Minute as written, in contrast to the UN Declaration, might lead to the support of dozens of indigenous kingdoms with “self-government” to indigenous peoples. Around 2008, the Lakota Nation demanded independence from the United States, something the NYYM Minute would appear to support. This would lead to most of Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Wyoming leaving the United States, not something which would lead to “a just peace” as the NYYM minute states is its ultimate goal. Perhaps New York Friends should have asked Friends in those states it they wanted to lose their United States citizenship?

    Second, the New York Yearly Meeting minute, in focusing on the Papal Bull, never discusses those documents related to the “Discovery Doctrine” as embodied in the US law (which I have never found to refer to the Papal document). The NYYM therefore never really faces the complexities of the problems of US law which it states it wants to change. A recent manifestation of the doctrine of discovery in US Law is a case where the Supreme Court decided that Native Americans were not exempt from paying taxes on their land. Does the NYYM minute support the refusal of anyone with anyone of Native American heritage to refuse to pay taxes on their land? I believe that all land should be taxed, as should all natural resources, as in the end they all belong to God.

    The NYYM minute, because it is directed solely at the Papal Doctrine of Discovery, doesn’t speak genuinely to what actually happened to Native Americans of North America. North American colonization was not carried out in order to subjugate or eradicate the Native American peoples. William Penn bought his property and in effect ruled it, as happened in many of the colonies, to provide better economic chances for non-Native Americans. People immigrated to this country for a better life, and they may not have even known before they came that there were Native Peoples here. Were any of them were poring over the Papal Doctrine of Discovery to see whom they could eradicate while they were pondering whether to leave their own land in the hope that they could survive better economically in their new country? Maybe they didn’t care about Native Americans when they got here, and many certainly squatted on Native American land, but their purpose was not to eradicate them, just to better their own economic chances. Selfish perhaps, but nothing to do with any Papal doctrine. Here there was also a great misunderstanding between two cultures as to how land ownership worked. The commanders during the American Indian Wars probably knew nothing about the Papal Bull–nor have I ever read of any of them calling for complete eradication of Native Americans in the name of Christianity.
    I suspect NYYM highlighted the papal Doctrine of Discovery simply to take the moral high ground against that lowly criminal, Western Christian Imperialism. it’s always refreshing to blame all the problems of the world on one source, particularly on a concept, and it’s easier than investigating the complex nitty-gritty involved in effecting change.

    Why should Quakers bear corporate guilt for mistreatment of Native Americans? Of course, acknowledgment that Quaker history includes both good and bad treatment of Native Americans is important, but the bad doesn’t necessarily indicate deliberate malfeasance or conspiracy. The Penn problem was one of individuals, many of them not Quakers, so it certainly was not a problem with the Quakers as a corporation. Doesn’t the fact that Chief Cornplanter requested input from Quakers indicate that this was a problem of joint responsibility–not just one of Quakers? Many Native Americans were involved in their own destruction, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes through their own greed. Living at the same time as Chief Cornplanter, Quaker James Logan was lobbying for removal by force of those immigrants who squatted on Native American Land, and for the securing of reservations of land for the Native Americans.

    In the 19th century many Quakers genuinely wanted to help Native Americans, although their motives would today not be seen at all as pure, and perhaps many would see them as “evil,” as they wanted to “civilize” Native Americans, and the Evangelicals wanted to “Christianize” them (although the Hicksites not). The work in “civilizing” Native Americans never involved eradication, however, and it also involved Quakers’ lobbying in Washington for the rights of Native Americans. Since this 19th century work involved the Quakers working as a corporate body under the US government, it was certainly a Quaker corporate problem. But then again, one of those who worked with the government and who saw his work with the government as inadequate was Albert Smiley, who created the Lake Mohonk Conference of the American Indian, which lasted from 1883 until 1916. This series of conferences helped to bring about significant changes in the image and treatment of Native Americans. Daniel Smiley, his brother and partner in this endeavor, stated that in 1883, most Americans had a “picturesque” image of Native Americans, and most favored killing them off or segregating them, unless they were ready to enter the melting pot as all other immigrants. By 1904, two decades later, the majority of white Americans favored citizenship for Native Americans, many favored granting Native Americans their own living spaces, and many recognized that Native Americans were producers of rare and valuable art.

    As I have thought over this minute, I have concluded that all our land and natural resources belong to God, and that all individuals, whatever their ethnic group, should treat their land as a trust, knowing it really belongs to God. The United Nations document understands this, and understands that we must compromise on land, as it’s a resource on which all of us tread. If the US government chooses to effect changes in US law, I hope they will look to the United Nations document, not to the NYYM Minute.

    • Emily, I find that I don’t agree with some of what you’ve said here.

      First, the minute does not just refer to Papal Bulls but also to royal charters. One of the situations in which Friends are implicated is this business of royal charters. King Charles granted a charter to William Penn as though he had a natural right to give fellow Europeans land that did not belong to him, or that only “belonged” to him because he took the Doctrine of Discovery for granted.

      Second, nowhere does the minute even imply that land should be returned wholesale to the First Nation from which they were stolen. During the seven years or so that I was very involved in Indian affairs, reading Native newspapers and contemporary Red Power books, and actively working with some native communities, mostly Mohawk, I heard a lot of talk about reparations in various forms, but no one every proposed the kind of wholesale return that you mention. In fact, they very often referred to this kind of talk as the kind of fearmongering that their opponents used to undermine popular support for their efforts. On the other hand, I was aware of and I supported several efforts to reoccupy specific pieces of land under specific circumstances.

      For instance, the Oneida were squatting on land that had gone unoccupied longer than the period specifically stipulated in its cession treaty for return, and the state of New York and local landowners were fighting them in the courts, using just this kind of language—what if these Indians wanted to take back everything.

      As for true autonomy, I’m sure that the Indian Affairs committee, and probably the Yearly Meeting, as well, does in fact support true sovereignty for First Nations. This was the original sense of all the early treaties, that the US was treating with sovereign nations. And that is how the traditional communities in Indian Country see it, too. At least for those nations that still have landbases, that is the law of the land—both lands. The US government fudges on this point and the states are constantly trying to assert their jurisdiction. This was the issue when I first got involved in Native American struggles: NY State was trying to assert the right to seize property and indict activists in violation of the constitution, which grants Indians on their reservations certain sovereign rights. This applies specifically to the right of taxation—Native people, land and businesses can’t be taxed by federal or local governments. At Akwesasne, after 18 months of armed siege, the traditional Mohawks finally won.

      As for eradication, perhaps some of the colonial settlers did not want to eradicate the indigenous people they were displacing, but eradication took place all the same. Some scholars of contact dynamics believe that as much as 90% of the original indigenous population of the western hemisphere died as a result of contact with Europeans. Indigenous California had 400 tribes and 250 language stocks. Today, California has only a handful of tribes. This is genocide. The trail of tears was ethnic cleansing.

      Finally, I would be really surprised if the United Nations knows that land belongs to God or encourages nation states—because the UN is an organization made up of nation states—to be stewards of their land on behalf of a divine Sovereign. I guess I don’t know the UN well enough to be sure and it’s been a long time since I read the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so I can’t back that statement up, but it just seems extremely unlikely that it formally takes a religious earth stewardship stand. I’m pretty sure the United States would never sign off on such a stand.

      I wasn’t active again in New York Yearly Meeting until very recently, so I don’t know the full history of this minute, but I suspect that the Indian Affairs committee and the Yearly Meeting would like the US government to ‘ratify’ the Declaration and then to simply obey its laws, to start with, and to stop using the Doctrine of Discovery to justify its oppression. The minute doesn’t call for the US to start changing its laws, it seems to me, but to honor the ones it already has or has committed itself to, like the Declaration.

      • Emily says:

        First, as you stated, the New York Yearly Meeting Minute does refer to the Doctrines of Discovery in both the papal bull the and royal charters. However, these are very different Doctrines of Discovery. The NYYM Minute defines the Doctrine of Discovery only as it is defined in the Papal Bull, which declares that christians have the right to eradicate nonchristian peoples. The Doctrine of Discovery as defined in the European royal charters was based on the initial premise that noone was occupying the land the Europeans intended to occupy, and then, after discovering that there were people on those lands, that the Europeans had a right to occupy that land which was not cultivated. This means they were making a value judgment on the lifestyles of those who were living on those lands, but does not imply any intention for “eradication.” Neither was the denial of land rights universal: the British Royal Charter of 1763 in fact specifically states that indigenous people have rights to their land.

        Second, where does the NYYM Minute indicate any limit to the amount of lands returned? If the New York Yearly Meeting did not intend to have large amounts of lands returned to Native American peoples, why does it state that it supports “the inalienable rights of Native Peoples…to self-government.” If they were aware, as you state, of possible fearmongering in case of the demand of some for self-government of large amounts of land, the Minute should have stated what “inalienable rights to self-government” did or did not include. Given that the Lakota declaration of independence happened within the past decade, I would assume that New York Yearly meeting might have considered the implications of how their Minute might be read should something like the demand for Lakota independence reoccur, especially given, as you state, that raising this issue produces unfortunate “fearmongering.”

        Third, perhaps never taxing Native Americans is the just path. I believe, however, that all natural resources should be taxed, as natural resources should be considered as belonging to all, not just to those who got the natural resources first.

        Fourth, I did not deny that eradication of Native American peoples took place. I stated that eradication was not the original intent of those who came here, and that killings did not occur as a result of some conspiracy emanating from Doctrines of Discovery. The annihilation of Native Americans was a complex process–due to deliberate killing, some of which, yes, might be termed genocide or ethnic cleansing, but also to disease and famine, intermarriage, and assimilation.

        Fifth, I didn’t mean to imply that the UN Declaration was taking a God stewardship stance, but rather that I found in it my own personal belief that land and all natural resources belong to God, or to all of mankind, a belief shared by many early Friends.

        Finally, if the NYYM Minute is not calling on the US to change its laws, why does the Minute state “we now call on the United States Senate to enact legislation”?

  • Bill Samuel says:

    Barbara Harrison makes a very good point. And sometimes Friends with doubts about the Bible and Jesus Christ will sprinkle religious, even explicitly Christian, language in a statement on an issue for effect, although in fact it doesn’t express the real reasons why they are taking a stand. This has been true with some of the statements on same sex marriage where a prime intended audience is Friends with an explicitly Christian faith. This, I think, inflames the division among Friends as these Friends may see the basis of their faith reduced to an argument for a particular agenda on a single issue.

    And it’s not a matter primarily of educating Friends on their heritage. That’s really besides the point. Some Friends with a very different perspective on faith from early Friends do know the heritage. They just don’t have the same experience and understanding as early Friends.

    There is no substitute for the direct convicting power of the Inward Christ. This can not be reliably produced by some program or educational effort, although perhaps openness can be increased somewhat by things like spiritual formation programs.

  • treegestalt says:

    I think we imagine implicit choice: Do we want to affect ‘policy’ or do we want to convey the spiritual Message we’ve inherited?

    That supposed implication doesn’t really follow; it depends on the possibility that we can produce one result or the other, which I believe is untrue.

    One, we do not have the influence in secular matters we would like to think we have. Neither do truth, rationality, etc. — which is no reason we shouldn’t witness to them; but we ought to know by now that political decision-making seldom takes them much into account.

    Two, where thoughtful, enlightened policies have in fact been voted into legislation, these victories are subject to erosion without warning, often even before they supposedly go into effect.

    [I think of Norma Rossi’s San Diego Coalition For the Homeless, how every few years they would connect a group of pro-bono lawyers with a group of homeless people who had just had their few personal possessions (often including personal id, irreplacable family keepsakes, etc.) thrown into the trash by a “clean up” campaign. They would sue the police, collect a sizeable settlement — Once they even got the police department to make, and show, a training film explaining the legal rights of homeless people to have their personal property respected — and a few years later, some neighborhood ‘improvement’ group would again call on the police and the trash collectors to come steal the belongings of their local homeless population. Without a change in the beliefs & expectations of the public, nothing of this was stable — only the continuing cycle of seizures & lawsuits.]

    Really, stable enlightened policies — depend on the enlightenment, specifically the spiritual enlightenment, of the people who will carry out and live with those policies. The original Quaker testimonies grew out of the spiritual inspirations of early Friends. Yes, they also make sense in terms of rationality and human decency; but faithless people are too easily frightened out of rationality or decency.

    Can we hope to convey spiritual awareness? As long as we imagine ourselves doing this “alone”, thinking of ourselves as separate beings, somehow ‘disjoint’ from God, it is obviously beyond us. But “with God, all things are possible.”

  • Tom Smith says:

    My concern is with some of the reasons for the rise of “non-theism” among Friends. In the May 2012 issue of “Quaker Religious Thought” some issues are raised with the “non-theological” foundations of some non-theist writers. I believe that much of the issue comes with the definition of “God” and with a literalist view of scripture. The definition of “Christ” among early Friends was very radical and “universal” for the day and remains very “heretical” among many “Evangelical” Friends today. It is a shame that “we” cannot use some words without a literalist interpretation put on them. Thus “we” tend not to use these terms. However, there does not seem to be a truly “convergent view acceptable to many Friends.

    (I am sure my words will be misinterpreted and on several occasions I have resolved to keep silent since I have been “reproached” for saying things that I had written that obviously had been misinterpreted. However, my leadings continue to “pop’up.”)

  • Barbara Harrison says:

    On the other hand, there is very little point in using religious sounding language just to use religious sounding language. The question that echoes from our Quaker forebears is “what canst thou say” but using such language is likely only to obscure what we are trying to say. Was it the Sense of NYYM in Session that the Document expressed what G-d would have us to say at this time to these people??

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