The August Board Meeting will be held at the Topeka/Shawnee Library.
It will begin with Faith Sharing by Jerry Quiring about Progressive Christianity starting at 6:45pm. All members of Interfaith are welcome to attend.
Following Faith Sharing the Board meeting will run until 8:45 when the Library closes. We plan to show websites where ‘Peace Poles" are demonstrated. We will consider having Interfaith present Peace Poles to the City of Topeka for several public locations.
Will meet starting at 6:00 pm prior to Faith Sharing
By David Beale
David came to Friends only a few years ago as a result of a project for a literary society he belonged to. The topic of his paper dealt with the rise of Hitler to power in Germany. One of the readings he found dealt with resistance to Hitler. One prominent figure was a French Huguenot minister who began to be associated with Quakers while engaged in a large project to hide and protect Jews. Their efforts were successful to the extent that between 1941-45, this area in France was the safest place for Jews to live in Europe.
“This was a small religious experience for me, reading about this,” Beale said. “I wasn’t so impressed by Andre’s rigid religion, but he was a man of great good-heartedness. I decided I wanted to be associated with some kind of activism, with a religious viewpoint.”
Quakerism is a “minimalist” kind of religion. All that is needed is four walls and a roof to provide people with a place to sit around for a couple of hours. If so inclined, they can testify to their faith. That’s the closest equivalent to preaching that goes on in a Friend’s meeting.
Quakerism started during a cauldron of activity and creativity in the early 17th century. Religious practice and inspiration flourished, and the Church of England became more its own church. Hundreds of Protestant splinter groups emerged. George Fox began Friends in about 1615. There were no sacraments or ministers and little dogma. It was a church of working-class or rural peasantry.
The faith attracted William Penn, whose father was a chief admiral in the British Navy and was well connected with the Royal family. William Penn converted to Quakerism as a young man; he was disowned by his father and thrown in jail. Penn was well educated, and so was an anomaly within the Quaker group. Because of his persecution, he made significant contributions to American law.
This was a time when people demonstrated the courage of their convictions When Penn was found not guilty, the mayor of London threw the jury in jail; but the jury didn’t change. It went to a higher court, and the second judge ordered the jury released.
Penn wrote a tract about basic rights. Some of the ideas expressed in this tract later became incorporated into the Bill of Rights.
People generally know Quakers as quiet, unassuming and pacifist, but early on, they were very aggressive about stating their beliefs. The beliefs contained a strong social gospel from the beginning. They believed in equality of men and women; they were largely anti-slavery, although there was some ambivalence about it.
Until World War II, Quakers ostracized any of their members who went into military service.
Peace, nonviolence, pacifism were always primary values. Quakers did not take up arms during the Revolutionary War. Many Quakers had to go to Canada during war to prevent conscription. Quakers were seen as unfit citizens by many because of their beliefs.
Quakers believe no single human expression can capture the essence of the sacred.
After World War I, in Germany, Quaker groups developed a massive relief program that aided many German children in the early 1920s.
Quakers have split over primacy of the Bible, where Jesus really is God, and whether you have to be a Christian to be a Quaker. They haven’t kept a “tight ship” in maintaining their dogma and belief.
Anyone can speak during meetings, if they feel moved by “Divine light” to speak. This generally begins with a sense of being drawn by some divine impulse that may have a religious or social content. Such comments are not intended to lead to discussion; they are simply thrown out for other people to consider and to be nourished by.
Usually, there is no response to what anyone says. Now, there are “program” meetings, intended to address some purpose. But most meetings are minimalist.
Decisions are made not by vote or by consensus, but when the clerk decides the discussion has been extensive enough, he will express that. (David, does this mean the clerk makes the decisions?)
In the early 1800, Elias Hicks wanted to bring Quaker movement back to an older style. He was ostracized and formed a different church.
Questions & Comments
How do Quakers view the Bible? David â€“ All Quaker meetings give some attention to the Bible, but they don’t take it literally. The Bible is thought of as the expression of writers who were inspired by God, but it not to be thought of as the “Word of God.”
Shakers may have been a splint-off from the Puritans.
Where did the term “Quakers” come from?
David â€“ The term came from a judgeâ€”
Can Quakers be atheists?
David â€“ Yes, some Quakers are atheists.
Karen Sessel â€“ That’s one of the interesting things about religion; some Jews also are atheists.
By Christian Kramer
God is the great mystery that exists within everything. All of creation is God. Consequently, there’s a sacredness in everything that exists.
In dealing with Native American religions, the concept of spirituality is a bit different than how most people think of it. It’s a way of life, a constant in our lives. There is no split between out spiritual lives and our day-to-day activities. Everything we do has a spiritual impact.
Life is given in response to our petition, and we must renew that petition every day, then give thanks for it at the end of the day. If I must take a life to sustain life, an offering must be given for that life. Permission to gather a plant must be given by the plant, and you only took what you needed.
How does plant give permission? I can only say that I’ve always known when it was OK.
There are many sacred herbs. Sage, cedar, sweet grass, tobacco, bear root, willow. The first four of these are most sacred.
(Christian passed around pictures of sacred items that included the eagle, hawk, drum Conk shell, rattle.)
The eagle is sacred because he’s highest flying bird, closest to heaven, a messenger of God. Drums signify the heartbeat of the world. Rattles are used to give rhythm and to help focus; for example, rattles help augment the healing properties in prayer and facilitate concentration.
Father Sky provides the rains to nourish Mother Earth When Native Americans pray to different directions, they’re acknowledging different characteristics and properties â€“ they are not praying to different Gods.
No one person is considered to be more important than others. Similarly, no days are more important than others. All days are for life, for giving life, for prayer and for work.
The Shaman is a healer, or doctor. A 40-year apprenticeship is required to become a healer. Within the Yuchi culture, (didn’t catch the name) their last medicine man. “The things he taught me changed my life,” Christian said. Among other things, Christian said, he learned that a Shaman must always be prepared for ceremony.
The first Green Corn ceremony coincides with the first new moon of the year. The Yuchi don’t eat corn until the next Green Corn ceremony in July. The ceremony is tied to the celebration of life and the creation of the world. The dance tells the story of the creation of the world. The east is always left open because that’s the direction of the creation of the world.
The Green Corn ceremony begins with the making of a fire. Four large logs are arranged. Once fire is started, it can’t go out until the ceremony is completed. It starts at 9 p.m. Preparations continue until sunrise. Then the corn dances start. We dance, then run, dance, then run.
The majority of Native Americans now belong to other faiths. Christian said he finds it more satisfying to focus on Native American religion.
The significance of directions in the Yuchi tradition: The circle of life, a universal symbol. Facing East symbolizes newborn life. South relates to learning and growing. Facing West suggests you have become an adult. North â€“ you have become a teacher, the grandfather teacher of the Way.
Native Americans have a strong sense of community. There’s no greater honor than to be asked to defend the unborn child. That’s why Native Americans have always volunteered to defend America in greater percentages than any other group.
Because of this sense of community, no one steps forward when the group needs a leader. Leaders emerge, but it is seen as improper to volunteer to be a leader.
There are no Yuchi today because smallpox wiped out the Yuchi tribe.
By The Rev. Michael Jamison
The Unity Church is 117 years old, founded 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Filmore. The church does not proselytize.
After Myrtle Filmore healed herself of TB, people came to her and asked for positive affirmations. Unity emerged as a response to this.
Unity beliefs center on an itinerant teacher who talked about “The Way” â€“ Jesus. Christ is a prophet. Jesus showed us that everyone can have that intimacy with Spirit. I like to think that Unity is the modern Gnosticism.
In the 1880s, the New Thought movement rose up, urging Christians to go back to the teachings of Jesus. Unity has doctrine but no dogma. There are five basic teachings.
That’s the only place where we can change things. We can’t change things about the rest of the world. (I’m not sure where this fits.)
Unity is an international organization of about 1,000 churches. The churches support the Headquarters, but not vice versa. We want churches to rise up from the grassroots. Some churches have a service arm that pools its financial resources.
We are a member of Doorstep. We do local community efforts, but no missionary work. We tithe to community groups as well as other Unity churches.
We consider the Bible our primary textbook. The metaphysics of the Bible is what’s most important for us. It teaches us lessons about ourselves. Every story in the Bible is a story about you. It’s also great literature, with a bit of historical accuracy. We do not neglect other sacred writing.
In a fable, we can see things about us. And learn from that. In the New Testament, it’s more difficult to do the same thing. Old Testament is more adaptable.
Questions: Don â€“ Does Unity consider itself to be a part of Christianity?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We think of ourselves as practical Christians. Of and about the primary difference between us and traditional Christianity.
Bill â€“ How do individuals relate to a world in conflict?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We think of it coming from us and reaching out to affect the world. But, we are not pacifists.
Don â€“ Do you have a belief about eternal life?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We believe Soul is an extension of spirit. It seems very probable that there may be reincarnation. It seems logical, but belief in reincarnation is not one of the main five basic teachings.
Ashraf â€“ How do you reconcile traditional Christianity with the Bible?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We teach the Bible as scholarship. We know there was a lot of scriber glossis; that is, a lot has been changed. There also are the Apocrypha and a lot of writing that was totally destroyed. We like to think we are trans-denominational, not nondenominational.
If Unity doesn’t evangelize, how would anyone learn about Unity to know whether they would be interested.
Rev. Jamison â€“ We have a Daily Word magazine. We’re not trying to steal people away from other religions. We’re just doing what works for us.
By Jim Mosher
Jim Mosher distributed hand-outs and described some of the main elements of the Wiccan faith.
Wiccans work with lunar & solar cycles â€”8 major holidays that follow the solar cycle.
The people who were originally pagan were farmers. (Implies common, close to the earth)
A fairly recent addition to the faith structure. Weâ€™ve let them grow into what works best for the individual.
Gerald Gardner was a central figure in the mid-nineteenth century. In some ways, he re-organized Wicca. Since the 1950s, the laws against Wiccan have been repealed in most places. Itâ€™s difficult to know how many are practicing, because we have no hierarchical structure. Each individual and each group is autonomous. By-laws adopted by the Council of American Witches in 1974. Some of these are not as important as they were at the time.
Important â€“ first one. Also â€œWe see religion â€¦ The Wiccan Rede â€” the ethical code of the Craft Three-fold laws, everything we send out will be returned three-fold â€“ similar to the law of Karma material, spiritual and the astral plane
Some of the things used in ceremonies: Incense, smudge sticks, two candles representing both God and Goddess. A simple feast We try to look forward. Do some divination â€“ What will the impact be â€¦ Title of the play, â€œBell, Book and Candle,â€ is taken from some of the things that are used in ceremonies.
Why did Wicca get such a bad press? A lot of the people practicing were the healers â€“ herbologists. Jim: â€œWhen you have a new religion come in, the new religion has to make their way look the most appealing and so they may bad-mouth the old religion. This is what early Christians did with regards to Wiccans.
The Christians of the era were trying to make converts. In the 1400s, a pope wrote a bull that called for wiping out all other religions â€“ The Burning times was part of the result The Witches hammer. (Get clarification)
Still a lot of people who fear that kind of thing today. Jim: â€œWeâ€™ve had people try to run us out of town.â€ A friend of Jimâ€™s will not let co-workers know she is a Wiccan.
Don (Comment) I was surprised to learn about the origin of the word â€œpagan.â€ Whenever you hear the word pagan you tend to think they are people who donâ€™t have any belief. But originally, the Roman army used the word in a derogatory manner. And the basis of the word heathen â€“ commoners, someone who is uneducated.
Jim isnâ€™t sure how far back Wicca goes, but back to early days when women were the nurturers and men were hunter-gatherers. Those roles change. Archeological digs have come up with artifacts. Traces of it have been found to have existed in German, Norse, Egyptian and (Asian) Indian cultures, and elsewhere throughout the world. Most of what we see in this country today goes back to Celtic.
Back to the Wiccan Rede â€“ â€œharm noneâ€ is a fundamental instruction.
Many people who believe they know about Wicca go on hearsay or what they get from movies and TV â€“ Hollywood hearsay. The TV program, â€œCharmedâ€ â€“ Thatâ€™s not Wiccan.
Comments & Questions
Don â€“ Given the status that Wiccans have, what draws people into Wicca
Jim â€“ Speaking of my personal experience, Iâ€™ve been thru a number of faith communities. They didnâ€™t satisfy my soul. The more I learned about Wicca, the more I felt at home.
Duane â€“ Do you teach young people how to hide their interest in Wicca from their parents? (Referring to something found on another Web site.)
Jim â€“ (Disagreed with this practice.) When youâ€™re dealing with minors, we have to be extremely careful. I make sure they are being open with their parents. I donâ€™t think anything should be kept secret. Teenagers can be frightened, when they are told that something they have begun to look into is bad. Part of it has to do with an individualâ€™s fear of rejection â€“ idea of hiding something. Something like, â€œI know what Iâ€™m doing is Okay, but they wonâ€™t understand.â€ There have been occasions of young people being kicked out of their parentsâ€™ house because they became involved with Wicca.
(Jim indicated that he was at a disadvantage in addressing questions pertaining to a Web site he may not know about.) There are a lot of sites. â€œHow many groups out there claim to speak for Christianity? How can pick out one Web site and say that speaks for all of Wicca? Thereâ€™s a lot of good stuff out there but also a lot of junk.â€ Most likely, the Web site was saying: â€œThis is how you can look into it without them knowing.â€ We all do that; that doesnâ€™t make it right.â€
Duane â€“ Do Wiccans worship Satan
Jim â€“ No. This is a misconception. We are not Satanists. Satan is a Christian concept, Evil and good battling each other. Many pagans will say, â€œHow can we worship something that isnâ€™t part of our faith system? There are Satanists, but they are offshoots from Christianity; they are not Wiccans.
? â€“ How do you regard the solar eclipse â€“
Jim â€“ Today we understand it as a natural occurrence. In ancient times, eclipses were sometimes thought of as a dragon eating the sun away. Then, people would do things to scare the dragon away. Winter time â€“ Yuling or singing to the sun, you bring it back by singing My group will have an all-night vigil on the longest night. We go out before sunrise and sing until the sun is up in the sky.
? – Are celestial objects are glorified?
Jim – No, but we see them as representative of deity. Some Wiccans embrace astrology. I donâ€™t
David Beale â€“ What about witchcraft, or magic, or supernatural powers that alter reality?
Jim â€“ Wicca is the basic word that witchcraft comes from. Yes, many Wiccans are in reality talking about witchcraft. This is a way of working with the energy around us, trying to manipulate that energy to get a favorable outcome. Donâ€™t you do the same thing when you pray?
David (comment) â€“ But mention of witchcraft causes anxiety â€“ hopes of connecting with supernatural powers that are not associated with God.
Christian (response to David)â€“ What about those who practice out of the Kabala? Isnâ€™t this much the same thing?
Jim â€“ In part, this has to do with the power of positive thinking â€“ As above, so below. True magical thinking is like wishful thinking â€“ Thereâ€™s no difference in my mind.
David â€“ the idea of superstition taints almost any discussion of religion
Don â€“ How we image other faiths and people from other faithsâ€¦ can be very destructive
Annual Interfaith Meeting
Islamic Center of Topeka
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 6:00 pm
1. Location: At Crossing of 27th St and Kentucky St.
2. Address: 1115 SE 27th St, 66603.
3. Parking on Kentucky Street Side. Extra parking on 27th St along the fence and on Kentucky St.
4. Entrance of Center is from parking lot on Kentucky St. and not from 27th St, which is front of the building.
5. Meeting Starts at 6.00PM.
6. Please enter to Community Hall from any door. Ignore sister and brothers written on the top of the door.
7. Taking of Shoes is preferred in case if you have to go to the prayer hall which opens from community hall. Taking of shoes is not needed if you want to be only in the Community Hall.
8. Casual and clean dress needed. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are discouraged.
9. Head scarves by the ladies are only needed if going to Prayer Hall.
10. Restriction on pot-luck Food. No Pork products and no wine or lard cooked food. Anything else is ok.
11. Program as per Interfaith.
12. Table and chairs will be in round table conference style with podium and mike at one corner.
13. Please call me or Imam Omar Hazim if there are any other questions or concerns. My cell number is 785 6085879.Omar Hazim Cell number is 221 3568.