Thursday, January 18, 2007

Intro to the Divine Economy

In 1973 we moved to D.C. to be a part of the Church of the Savior. I was amazed and delighted to find a lot of radical Christians who seemed to be largely free from the language of Zion. We spent 10 years there and were then "promoted!" to Langley Hill Society of Friends. There we found much of the same, and more; in the many other meetings we've visited since then we have found a notable absence of the sort of language used by conventional Christians.

I became aware of the fact that an unspoken division exists between christocentric and other Quakers. Under these circumstances oddly enough I felt a strong inclination to use the language of Zion-- perhaps to be provocative. In the past 20 years I've used it freely in many meetings, and not yet been called on it.

With this little paper Ellie has given us the gospel without the holy language. For a student of the Bible it would be easy to provide close analogues of most of her statements in biblical language. So we have here two languages setting forth the same realities.

They concern the material and the spiritual world. Years ago Ellie worked as a mainframe manager for a government agency. Among her associates one attractive young man had just married an equally attractive young women when she almost immediately suffered a terrible and crippling auto accident.

Ellie often had occasion to relate to him, professionally and personally. Once she told him that we are both bodies and spirits, and that she was primarily a spirit. He replied that he was primarily a body.

Ellie's paper can be found at Ellie's Divine Economy. In it she frames a portal between material and spiritual discourse.


Jon said...

Thanks for sharing again Ellie's Divine Economy. I reread it,and it speaks just as strongly (of course!) as it did the first time.

Interesting about "The language of Zion." Religious language, with it's eternal symbols and expressions is a powerful vehicle for sharing spiritual insights, but I think there are two conditions that come with it... First, both the speaker and the listener need to be comfortable with the language and "on the same page" as to what specific things mean. Secondly, if the speaker is teaching a spiritual point that requires some growth or change of reference in the listener, the listener must not only be willing to grow, but willing to let his definitions of the religious language be expanded.

So sometimes non-religious language works best for teaching spiritual truths... it all depends

Larry said...

Thanks, Jon. You're right on with your comments.

What makes the 'language of zion' offensive to some Quakers is that they became Quakers to escape the rigid, hardnosed type of religion characterized by the religious right.

In fact large segments of the population mistakenly identify Christianity with fundamentalism.

For such people our role must be to present it in a more attractive light, sweetly reasonable, and without making any theological demands on anyone.

That's where the majority of the (unprogrammed) Quakers for the most part reside, so that they can accept my language knowing that I'm not a rigid idelogue.

Anonymous said...

Just love Ellie's Divine Economy - an excellent interest rate from these quarters!

Larry said...

can I got out on this rig?