Is it Time to Strip Quakerism Naked?

Our spiritual forefathers and mothers spoke of a “Light” that was an intense spotlight, something distinctly uncomfortable, that would shine on the the dark places inside of ourselves and reveal the things that we are trying to hide. This “Light”, honestly, sounds horrifying. It is no wonder they also called it the “refiner’s fire”.

“The Light”

Growing up in Liberal FGC Quakerism, I would often hear reference to “the light” as something warm and comforting. I felt comforted when someone said that they were going to hold me in the Light, and I felt comforted when I heard Friends profess to honor the Light within everyone.

After reading Early Quaker writings though, I wonder if I didn’t grow up with a Disney-esque version of “the Light”.

Our spiritual forefathers and mothers spoke of a “Light” that was more like a spotlight, intense and uncomfortable, that would shine on the the dark places inside of ourselves and reveal the things that we are trying to hide. This “Light”, honestly, sounds horrifying. It is no wonder they also called it the “refiner’s fire”.

The Early Friends believed that we must all go through the refiner’s fire before we are healed, before we are whole and before we step back from our greed, our oppression, our brokenness. We must let go of the ways that we are hiding, the things that we are using to shield ourselves. We must become naked.
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Stop Robbing Us of Your Gifts.

But here is my point: we spend too much of our lives feeling insignificant, feeling not-powerful, waiting for someone to tell us that its okay to use our voice now.
Stop waiting for cultural credentials to write your book. Write it now. Stop holding back from singing in the streets. Stop waiting for an “appropriate” message to stand up with in Meeting for Worship. Stop robbing us of your gifts.

Back in the 17th century, our ancestors risked a great deal to try to prove the point that God didn’t speak more or more clearly to educated clergy, that every person had equal access to Truth. In an age where church and state were the same, it was a dangerous idea. A radical idea. A revolutionary idea.

Some might say that a lot has changed since then.

I would argue that the 17th century concept of “educated clergy” is still alive and well, but has been internalized and manifests in different manners.

  • Culturally, we give more potence to someone with letters behind their name, if they are wealthy, or speak in an educated manner.
  • We relegate our gifts into one professional specialty that then becomes so strongly linked with our identity that we cease to experiment with other forms of expression.
  • We as Quakers often present ourselves based on “Quaker credentials” (what committees we’ve clerked, where we have membership, etc).

Sing with Me!!!

One aspect of my musical ministry is improvisation. I love to make music in the moment, using whatever is available. I find that it allows for a kind of playfulness and communication amongst Friends that silent worship or verbal dialogue does not.
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“Clothe Yourself in Righteousness” Video Song

When I released my new album, “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness”, last Fall, I promised to myself (and to you!) that I would edit all of the footage I had taken during the recording process and turn each song into a videosong.

I got through 8 of these videosongs, and then needed to take a step back and rethink the way I was approaching them. Video editing is an entirely new skill for me, though there are some aspects that are akin to audio.

When I released my new album, Clothe Yourself in Righteousness, last Fall, I promised to myself (and to you!) that I would edit all of the footage I had taken during the recording process and turn each song into a videosong.

I got through 8 of these videosongs, and then decided to take a step back and rethink the way I was approaching them. Video editing is an entirely new skill for me, though there are some aspects that are akin to audio.

Anyway, here I am returning for the last two videos! This is the new and improved Jon-the-filmmaker! Enjoy!

Websites that Feature “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness”

I have been a bit too busy working on video editing to continually update the “press” section of my website on the fly, as coverage comes in. Most of the attention so far has come from blogs, which (luckily) leave the posts up forever. Here are some of the blogs mentioning my project since its release:

I have been a bit too busy working on video editing to always post when my work gets mentioned on another website. Most of the attention so far has come from blogs, which (luckily) leave the posts up forever. Here are some of the blogs mentioning my project since its release:
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Why Being Told I Wasn’t a Quaker Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

Yesterday my co-minister and partner in crime Maggie posted a blog entry entitled “YOU’RE NOT A QUAKER (so please stop calling yourself one)

The post has provoked some great discussion and obviously real feelings from some of the (many) visitors to the post in the past 24 hours. As you might imagine, some of the reaction is indignance at the suggestion that one Quaker can judge another’s Quaker-y-ness. Didn’t we do away with all those elders and the practice of writing Friends out of Meetings?
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Video Songs: An Emerging Genre of Internet Art

Rather than passively sitting back and being entertained, we now interact with whatever we are watching… we share it on facebook, we comment on it, and we even make response videos. It is definitely a new world of media, sharing and entertainment.

The Changing Face of Art

Listen! Can you hear it?

That’s the sound of people all over the world uploading videos to Youtube. 48 hours of footage every minute.

While that number represents an unwatchable (and perhaps unfathomable!) amount of video, what it says to me is that we are interacting online in a new way. Video has become a standard and casual medium.

Involving Ourselves in the Conversation

Rather than passively sitting back and being entertained, we now interact with whatever we are watching… we share it on facebook, we comment on it, and we even make response videos. It is definitely a new world of media, sharing and entertainment.
Continue reading “Video Songs: An Emerging Genre of Internet Art”

Quakerism 101 with Max Carter

When we were filming the scene in the hut for the music video, Tom Clement and I had some down time with Max Carter and, having asked him to prepare a brief lecture on the history of Quakerism for the video, decided to let him run once through the whole thing.

What’s amazing about what follows is that Max did this without flinching, as Tom and I were moving around the room trying to get everything ready for filming the music video.

As I looked back over the footage, I realized that there is simply no online resource as concise and comprehensive as the (less than) five minute talk Max had just given. I went to work with the visuals, and would say, humbly, that the result is as good as the music video (some might say better!)

Tom Fox Music Video

Friends,

As the tenth anniversary to 9/11 came and went, I found myself reflecting on the past ten years… especially our reaction to being attacked and the results of that reaction.

I found myself reflecting on my elder, Tom Fox, who joined the Christian Peacemaker teams to try to heal some of the damage we were doing in Iraq. And I found myself mulling over the song that I wrote about Tom’s subsequent abduction and death.

What resulted was very unexpected. I am working full tilt on a new album (due for release in 2 weeks… yikes!) and certainly did not have the spare time. But of course I had to listen, and be faithful to the call. Take a look:

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