I'm not particularly focused on the hereafter. But when I do think of heaven, I like to think of it as the character Belize decribed it in Angels in America:

Piles of trash, but lapidary like rubies and obsidian, and diamond-colored cowspit streamers in the wind. And voting booths. And everyone in Balenciaga gowns with red corsages, and big dance palaces full of music and lights and racial impurity and gender confusion. And all the deities are creole, mulatto, brown as the mouths of rivers. Race, taste and history finally overcome.

And today, as I reflect on the passing of Maurice Sendak (who collaborated on Brundibar with Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America), I am hopeful that he has been reunited with his partner of 50 years, Eugene Glynn, and that the two of them are gleefully dancing a wild rumpus together.


FWCC World Gathering: Thoughts on my Thread Group options

The thread groups for the FWCC Conference in Kenya have been posted and I am completely conflicted. Good thing I don't have to sign up for them ahead of time. The thread groups will happen over the course of three days and I have the option to take two.

Do I want to do lectio divina lead by Friends from Iowa Conservative and Pacific YM? I've been leading lectio divina somewhat awkwardly in the Meeting for Theism with Attention to Jesus group, and it might be imminitely practical for me to explore how other people do it. It's interesting and might be useful, but at the moment, it doesn't seem all that exciting.

What does have me excited is the thread group on Eschatology and Utopias. Let's do some theology! About Revelation! And Millenialism! From a personal, intellectual and spiritual level, I think this might be the most benefical for me. Nobody ever wants to delve deep into this stuff with me and so much of early Friends theology is based on this sort of New Creation/Second Coming stuff. The old rules don't apply because the Kingdom is now. Clearly, this is my first choice.

But if my first choice is the thing that feeds me, it seems that my second choice should be about what I can bring home to the people who are sending me. And those people are NCYM-C, right? Do they want me to lend my voice as a Young Conservative to difficult conversations about Human Sexuality or how Conservatives fit into the Convergent Friends Movement? Or should I attend a thread group about something that I know nothing about and have no idea how it might translate into my life and work? There's a thread group on translating Quaker and other Christian texts into Indigenous languages in Bolivia. There's another one on Climate Change, Food Security and Deadly Conflict being co-lead by people from SAYMA and East Africa YM.

In part, I think that some of my inner conflict about this is coming from the fact that I don't know why I'm going to Kenya in the first place. I mean, I'm excited to go. And Way has opened for me to go. And other people, who I trust completely, have had the leadings to make this happen for me. But do I know why God wants me in Kenya? Not yet. But there's still time. I don't leave for four weeks.

In the meantime: prayer, vaccinations, and buying a raincoat.




I am going to Kenya in about six weeks as one of the NCYM-C delegates to the FWCC World Conference.

I am going because some of my elders took it upon themselves to make this happen for me. From small and large donations, to offers of contacts in Nairobi, to a songbook from an international Quaker gathering that happened in 1983, to letters and messages on Facebook, I have felt so loved and supported in the buildup to this Conference.

All this has lead me to think deeply on the importance of elders. NCYM-C records elders and defines them as such in our Faith and Practice:

In every Monthly Meeting there is a vital and continuing need for a nucleus of Friends who feel exceptional concern for the deeper spiritual life of the Meeting. They will also feel a concern for the encouragement and guidance of the vocal ministry. These, however, are but the primary qualifications to be looked for in elders. Ideally they need, in addition, a considerable insight into character, an alert spiritual discernment, good judgment, and a fund of ready tact and open friendliness - all of these humbly dedicated to a deeply felt zeal for the spiritual growth of the Society, upheld and purified by the power of constant, watchful prayer.

Not everyone that I consider to be my elder is recorded as of yet and I sometimes forget who is and who is not. But there are people in my life who have a concern for the deeper spiritual life of the Society and my place in it. They are universally humble, open, friendly, discerning and they carry with them the weight of a deeply centered life. When one of these people decided that I should go to Kenya, I did not question her or her motivation. I will go where I am sent, even when the message doesn't come directly to me.

I am deeply grateful for the eldership of NCYM-C and will be carrying so much love with me as I travel even further afield.

Elizabeth Bathurst

Oh, right. We have a blog.

So, This blog has been seriously neglected for quite some time. My apologies. I've got a lot of stuff going on, Quaker and otherwise, and I think it may be time to put some of it out there.

I'm leading two separate discussion groups going on at Big Urban Liberal Meeting. One is a neighborhood worship group that meets about every six weeks or so. The other has only met a few times, but is exploring Jesus through a variety of methods. I'm also doing some committee work.

I'm preparing to go to Kenya as a NCYM-C delegate for the FWCC World Conference in April. I'm intending to post updates from my trip here, under the tag SaltandLight.

My non-Quaker paid work is very stressful at the moment, with a massive reorganization and layoffs looming.

I don't know if my renewed intentions to update the blog will rub off on my co-blogger or not, but I'm hopeful.

Elizabeth Bathurst


The world is not my home

I gave ministry this week towards the end of worship. It had been a popcorn meeting, with insufficient space between political rants about the debt ceiling. But I was called to stand, to add one more voice to the mix before we rose.

I was thinking about home as meeting for worship began. Specifically, I was thinking about how I feel like an outsider in most places in my life. There are a couple of songs that reference the idea that home is something that comes after that rose up for me, one being a Sarah Jarosz cover of a Tom Waits tune, "Come on up to the house", which has the line: "The world is not my home, I'm just passing though". Another was Amazing Grace, with the stanza:
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
have I already come.
'Twas Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace shall lead me home.
It's not that uncommon to think about home as being elsewhere, and for me, that sense of home is located pretty firmly in the New Creation. When I was recounting my ministry last night to a friend who had missed Meeting on Sunday, but had heard that I had spoken and asked me about it, I needed to clarify what I meant by the New Creation. What I'm referencing here is a passage from Fox's journal:
Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword, into the paradise of God. All things were new; and all the creation gave unto me another smell than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness; being renewed into the image of God by Christ Jesus, to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me; and it was showed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue.

Fox had this experience of the paradise of God, of being taken up into the Garden of Eden as it was before the fall. My sense of this is that this is the Kingdom of Heaven and that we can access the Kingdom, through Grace, here on Earth.

My message continued, that as I was sitting in the silence, I was thinking about how I find that those times when I have been permitted to glimpse this paradise, this sense of rightness and pureness are when I have been submissive and obedient to the will of God.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I asked God to give me something to do and almost immediately, it was made clear to me that a small task that was already on my to-do list was a Thing I Needed To Do. Knowing that I had a small, manageable, actionable Thing, as well as knowing that God was listening to me in my time of need made me feel incredible grateful for His Love, for His Presence in my life.

Elizabeth Bathurst


What can be forgiven.

I just re-read several old blog posts and was impressed. So, I am publishing something I wrote last July but never posted.

A good F/friend of mine asked me to join the Peace and Social Order committee in the area. The two big meetings in the area are combining forces and it seemed that it would be right to have me sit in as an attender of Old Town. It was interesting to be sitting in a room with people form both area meetings. We had a good discussion of what our purpose is and what we can try to accomplish. The query was, "with limited resources both financial and human, how much can we contribute to issues of social justice and peace."

I, of course, got chastised for bringing in my coffee. Apparently, there is a strict no liquids above ground rule. I had thought of this as I walked into the Meetinghouse, but decided a 9am meeting called for coffee. I know I should respect the cultural differences and mores within different Meetings. However, it is rules like this that visitors won't know. It is also one of those rules I am willing to break. We have liquids all over the Meetinghouse we meeting in, which, is considerable older. Other meetings I have attended do not have such a strict policy. How was I supposed to know? Perhaps, I should have erred on the side of polite discretion and not brought the coffee, but really, is that the worst offense that happens in most meetings--contra-band liquids in off-limits places? Not human ego? Not denying the use of Christ language for those that relate to the Spirit that way? Lack of understanding of Quaker process? Not petty disagreements? Not the passive aggressive way too many Quakers deal with just about everything? General unfriendliness? Resting on our laurels? The loss of younger Quakers and the indifference to it? Okay, BAD Quaker you dared to bring coffee to the Meetinghouse. Shame.

I know what I am about to write will sound very egotistical. However, God keeps whispering it to me. I need to prepare myself. One day, I will be a weighty Friend, an Elder. I will be that person with whom the Spirit of God fills; one who is clothed in Christ. I am far from that now. I am in the temptation and wresting with my day of visitation stage. Yet, things are revealed to me. I believe that I have had my baptism by fire and am completing my inward birth--to be born-again in Christ. It is through his grace that yields my faith, brings humility before the Lord and creation and brings about a reconciliation between me and God, that I may live by faith in his grace.

I am more and more convinced that in our age of individuality we are forgetting the importance of corporal worship. Worship as a corporate living faith, a communion with the Spirit and will those present in the living body of Christ. I know that this may sound incongruent with what I started writing about, however, it is how we live our lives. Until, we can forgive the small and look beyond certain things we cannot heal ourselves or our Quaker communities. If I was where I had been two years ago, the chastising by a Friend about coffee at the Meetinghouse would have made me leave and not seek out Friends for another several months/years. As things stand now, I do go to Meeting on a regular basis. I feel that despite this small transgression it doesn't make me less of a Friend or less welcome in the larger community of Quakers. I know I should respect the culture of a Meeting, but at the same time, it is important to remember the small transgressions can be forgiven…


Well, the world hasn't ended, but it's gonna

Today is the day that some folks were predicting that the Rapture would happen. I think it was supposed to have happened a couple of hours ago, and, well, I'm still here.

Jesus, when talking about the second coming in the book of Matthew said that we will not be able to predict the timing, but that we would know from the wars (check), earthquakes (check), famines (check). The end times will be filled with distress "unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-- and never to be equaled again." From that point of view, I don't think we're there.

But Fox did. When he was talking about how Christ has come to teach His people Himself? He's talking about the Second Coming. That's right, party people, George Fox was a millenialist. Just like Franklin Graham and Jack Van Impe.

There's a lot of Bible stuff to unpack when it comes to the Day of the Lord, or Judgement Day. There's Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and the book of Revelation and all sorts of stuff scattered about the rest of the new testament. When it comes right down to it, I really don't know a whole lot about it. I don't know if the Kingdom of Heaven is on Earth, or in our hearts, or what. And to me, it doesn't really matter. I don't need to be a theologian or have a really strong command of the Bible to know that God is Loving and Just. I don't need to be able to tell if the Battle of Armageddon and the Apocolypse are the same thing or not. I know what that still small voice sounds like and I know that I need to be faithful to it and there's really very little else I need.

All that being said, however, if you're reading this and the Rapture HAS happened, would you check on my cats please? I'm too cheap to sign up with eternal-earthbound-pets.com or aftertherapturepetcare.com. Malcolm might be able to fend for himself, but Nigel gets lost in the stairwell sometimes, so I don't have high hopes for him.

Elizabeth Bathurst


Rapture: The Kingdom of God

Instead of posting this on the 21st as Elizabeth Bathhurst and I had planned it is a day late. I was busy getting ready for my party (dressing as the Whore of Babylon and being drunk). But I hope you will enjoy it anyway despite the fact I am a Class A Sinner.

I first heard about Family Radio’s May 21st predictions for Judgment day at a bar. I had not yet seen the billboards, bus signs, or internet buzz. A week later at the same bar I was talking with some friends when it was decided that I should have a “Rapture Party” and Housewarming. When I sent out the invite I invited people to dress as something out of the book of Revelations. My friends complained, “You aren’t going to make me read the Bible are you?” “What are you going as?”

I have been collecting information on the May 21st doomsday. I find it all very amusing. From pet care sites, (animals not having souls and all, which if you have met my cats I am pretty sure that is a lie), to wondering what it is to believe something so fervently. After reading more about what those who believe today is doomsday believe will happen, I have decided that there are some things I need to consider:

1. If the Pacific Rim is where it is starting, I need to check the news about 2 am EST—just to be sure.

2. What would the next few months until Sept 21st be like—do I have to go to work?

3. Should I start my party early so we can watch the good people getting raptured and thus know which houses to visit—one of the advantages of living on the edge of a prosperous neighborhood.

The realization that these are my main concerns about the rapture led me to believe that maybe I should not go to my party as “the Beast” but rather the “Whore of Babylon” which is probably a better fit anyway. This is not to say that I truly consider myself a horrible person, just that I am too skeptical to be one of the believers that gets to go to heaven. While I have come to terms with being convinced in Quaker terms, I have a real problem with believing that Jesus Christ is my personal savior. It is between God and I, no one can save me but me through my belief in God.

Like early Friends I believe the Second Coming is now. All we need to do is work towards building the Kingdom of God here on Earth, why wait for just desserts when we can build something amazing here and now? Why worry about heaven or hell, intellectual worries, when we can be building something beautiful and amazing right now with the life we have been given?

Thus, in the context of believers of the May 21st doomsday, righteous Believers, and most Christians, I guess I am just the Whore of Babylon with my cynical views, personal interpretations of Christianity, and cup of abominations and fornication. But really, I am a reluctant and radical Christian.