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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Man in the Painting

Quaker Meeting
Artist: Unidentified artist
Location: Museum of Fine Arts,Boston
Medium: Oil Painting on Canvas

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.... John 3:8 NIV

What Do Quakers Believe?

It is difficult to write a description of Friends beliefs that would be acceptable to all the Quakers in the world today. Quakers all share common roots in a Christian movement that arose in England in the middle of the 17th Century. Today, it is generally true that Friends still adhere to certain essential principles:
  • a belief in the possibility of direct, unmediated communion with the Divine (historically expressed by George Fox in the statement, "Christ is come to teach his people himself"); and
  • a commitment to living lives that outwardly attest to this inward experience.

With time and experience our perspective on things can alter significantly. The above painting of a Quaker meeting when I beheld it as a young man gave me much amusement. I had the picture framed (as I still do today) and then laughed at what I took to be a combination of piety and awkwardness—especially portrayed by the man who has risen to speak. But now I do not laugh so much, for I identify with the man more and more. In many ways, the way I write blogs is done in a similar vein—I wait upon the Holy Spirit then am often confounded when trying to coherently follow its leading. So I have come to realize that when I laugh at this painting, I am really laughing at myself—which amusement I often have to admit comes well deserved.

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