Saturday, January 19, 2008

Society of Friends



Written 19 January, 2008

Society of Friends

When I was a child, my parents would bundle me and my younger brother off every Sunday for worship. This consisted of Baptist Sunday School, where I heard stories of an unjust, mean, and spiteful God (putting Adam and Eve in a situation he had contrived so they would be bound to fail; flooding the earth and drowning everyone and everything; afflicting plagues on Job to test the strength of his faith; telling a poor shepherd to sacrifice his son; and, worst of all, sending His son in to do the dirty work instead of doing it himself. Then came the sermon, which consisted of threats of damnation and general name-calling. I was told what a dirty sinner I was, how there was no hope for me, and how God was good despite the despicable things they told me he did, how He was the path to salvation through some mysterious hard-to-understand trinity of Himself, His son, and the Holy Spirit.

Sunday School and the sermons were contrived to tell me about a god who was, in my estimation, a mean old bastard. I didn't like Him one bit. Still don't.

It's a wonder it didn't put me off spirituality altogether.

I don't hate God, nor do I disbelieve. But I realized, as a result of my indocrination, that any God in which the Baptists believed was a God not worth having. Looking around at the miraculous world, at living creatures, I postulated a different God, a kinder, more benevolent Creator, an emphatic and caring spirit. That God just felt right to me.

That's a private belief I hold inside, and I've carried it with me as I go through life. I'm content in my mortality, content with the state of my soul, and content with my relationship with the Creator.

Since those Baptist days, I've avoided church. I hadn't been to a service in more than 20 years-- until I went to a meeting of the Society of Friends with my Sweetie, who is a Quaker.

I knew little (still know little) about the Quakers, but what I had read and heard made them seem impressive, heads and shoulders above the Baptists, who are mean sons of bitches just like their god. And so I went to a meeting for worship Sea Turtle Island (meetings are at 1 pm LST every Saturday).

There was no Sunday School. And there was no preaching. Instead, we sat quietly, not speaking, for 45 minutes. (It's called a Meeting for Worship, I believe). And I felt a closeness to God, something I had NEVER felt before in a house or worship.

I've attended seven or eight meetings, and enjoy them. I go even when Sweetie doesn't. Every time, I've felt at peace and close to God.

After one of the metings I had a theological discussion with a young Quaker theological studient, and I heard a lot about the God I detest and despise, the mean, jealous, rotten God of the Baptists, dressed up a bit. So I doubt if I would enjoy or grow by attending the theological meetings of the Quakers, but the Meetings for Worship rock.

Because God, who I never sensed in a Baptist church, attends Meetings for Worship.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sweetie says.... :)

boof said...

:)

Ive always thought the S of F was never much into dogma. I think your theology bloke was carrying his own weight. I luv these folk and would join meself if it didnt clash wid de footy. HIYA CHEY !!