Sunday, October 7, 2012

Space-Time continuum as irrelevant in Quaker Theology

The fancy title started out as "Up, Down, Forward and Backward" in a Message that came to me one First Day in Meeting. Part of the prompting for this was a posting on the Huffington Post Religion web site. The topic was on Ascension Sunday and the meaningless  nature of the ascending "up" into the clouds. The further meaningless of down was discussed in light of the physical world view 2000 year's ago. It had reminded me of the story of an elder telling the story of the "world" as resting on the back of a turtle. When asked what the turtle was standing on, the response was another turtle; then another turtle when asked again. Finally the response was "It's turtles ALL the way down."

The past is helpful for "instruction" but the "true teacher" is present in both tense and reality. The future "is not ours to know; whatever will be, will be." The words of that old song are not completely true, but I believe that a "second coming" or a future "after-life" are not ours to know nor to base our current behavior on. "The Lord is come, let heaven and nature sing" is not just a Christmas song but is to be kept throughout the year. Going "up to heaven" or "down to hell" is not a world view that makes much sense to me. "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done" is not a call for some future kingdom but is a call for listening to the Teacher and acting accordingly.   


  1. Hi Tom,

    Yes, much of modern Christian emphasis upon "Heaven" only as a future happening is misleading. Jesus, himself said, "20Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20-"

    Of course, Jesus also spoke of "Heaven" as future fulfillment as should we.

    But I agree we need to focus more on "God's actions through us now" before we focus on the conclusion of God's actions in the future.

    In the Light,

  2. I find a lot of comfort, oddly, in the Greek image of life as a thread. It's tempting to say "it's all you get" as if that isn't very much, and there's certainly something viscerally scary about thinking of the future... like ratcheting up the first rise of a rollecoaster. But I like to think of that thread as always there, hangin in time, or to use the image from Osron Scott Card's Red Prophet, a cloth made up of enormous numbers of threads.


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