Sunday March 29: Gadfly goes to meeting

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Followers know that the essence of the Gadfly project is community.

“Good conversation builds community,” he says.

In truth, we are members of many communities from global to national to state to city to work to neighborhood to family — and all the cluster points in-between.

For many of us our religion, our “church,” is an important one of our communities — maybe even the most important.

Gadfly was raised Catholic but over the years drifted away.

A letter to the editor in this morning’s Call reads “Bishop’s streamed Mass is uplifting” and encourages “all who want to feel God’s love during this unprecedented time” to visit daily at 8am and Sundays at 10am.

Gadfly was raised Catholic, even studied to be a priest, over the years drifted away, but never lost his need for a religious community.

A year or so ago he started attending the Quaker Sunday meeting (Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting). Why the Quakers, the Society of Friends? He studied them in detail as part of his professional training in 17th century American history and knew from his teaching in 18th and 19th century American history as well as his own lived experience in 20th and 21st century American life that Quakers were/are in the forefront of every social justice movement we’ve ever had. My kind of people.

Well, after a few months Gadfly drifted away from the Quaker community as well — but mostly because of in-house morning commitments.

But this crisis reawakened his need for that religious community, ironically at the very time “meetings” were discouraged.

Circle back to the opportunity for Catholics to “go” to mass in these times through streaming video. Gadfly could understand the value in that. Forgive what will seem a crude analogy purely for the purpose of demonstration that no doubt some followers will vigorously object to — but the Mass happens “on stage,” has “actors,” is a “performance,” and therefore can be “attended,” can be “witnessed.”

But the Quakers do it quite differently.

Quakers believe in the “Light Within.” Quakers “gather in expectant silence with other seekers, open to the movement of the Spirit in ourselves individually and in our worshiping community.” One might think this “living stillness,” this “silent waiting,” this “expectant stillness” would not be affected by restrictions on gathering. One might think that a worship “centered in stillness” would not be affected by but even enhanced by admonitions to stay at home. But no. “Friends find it necessary to be present with others in worship.” (All quotes from the Quaker Faith and Practice.)

So such a liturgy, if you will, can not be replicated by television.

What would the Quakers do, Gadfly wondered?

How have that communal presence, that “congregating,” in which nothing visibly externally happens perhaps for long periods of time — in which there are no “actors,” in which there is no “show,” no “stage,” no “performance” as there is in a Catholic Mass?

Enter Zoom.

Zoom, the conferencing platform.

The same Zoom Gadfly kidded not knowing about a couple posts back.

40+ members of the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting gathered successfully and effectively this morning through Zoom.

And were for the most part silent.

With Zoom, Gadfly was able to feel part of a religious community again.

Thank you . . . Friends


Do followers have any Sunday stories to tell?

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