Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Evangelicals Anonymous

[ring]
Hello? Is this Evangelicals Anonymous? …

Good, okay. Here goes. [deep breath] My name is Susie FGC Quaker, and I am an evangelical…

What kind of evangelical? You mean there are different kinds?…

Well, then, I guess a peace evangelical, a compassion evangelical, a Jesus-is-not-copyright evangelical, a truth-is-a-seed-not-a-pearl evangelical, and a church-is-not-the-only-way-to-do-christianity evangelical. Oh, and an integrity-of-creation evangelical and a political evangelical. Pretty badly infected, as you can tell…

Well, I feel a kind of zeal, a spark of something, a vision of the future, of what could be. I want to reach out, draw people into it. Not to meeting, but to wherever they need to be, wherever they are. I've even starting to believe that Quakerism can take many shapes…

That's right, I'm a Quaker. So I'm sure you understand how difficult this can be. I really have to keep a very, very low profile…

Yes, yes, But even if their ideas and values are the same as mine, they know the evils of evangelism – that illicit spark, that bloodsucking energy. They know it turns perfectly comfortable philosophies and values into missions. They also have a healthy fear of doing anything loud or anything that might offend someone. So the similarities are just superficial…

Yes, the support is excellent. I have Quaker process to slow everything down and my fellow Quakers to question every suggestion to death. Quakers are very skilled at removing the "Demon E" from anything they do. They edit every message down till it says nothing. They take no risks, do nothing new. I'm so lucky, you know. I don't think I could get this kind of support anywhere else…

Well, I always thought it would give me immunity. Quaker practice means listening to the Spirit and sometimes listening to each other. We don't do much outreach because we don't really focus on people outside of our circle. It's like a little intellectual cocoon. Or so I thought. Then suddenly, here I am, thinking more about other people than about the meeting itself -- all those people whose lives are untouched by the Spirit and who hunger for something more. Suddenly, I don't care about Quaker process and traditions. I want what we do to have real life and purpose. You see? It's creepy. So now I know that Quakers aren't immune. We can get infected too, if we're not careful…

Yes, they do some outreach, but I wouldn't call it evangelism. They're always pleased when a new person shows up and wants to stay. It's a major event in some meetings, it happens so infrequently! But if numbers rise too much, there's always some helpful person to point out that if you wait long enough, those numbers will fall back down again, so there's no need to do anything about it or make any changes. That keeps it a tightly knit club, with just enough new people trickling in that it doesn't die completely...

Exactly! I mean, if we all became evangelicals, there would be so much to do in our meetings, there would be more and more people, there would be kids all over the place, and there'd be way too much vision. I can see their point. I have to change my misguided ways before I infect too many others. I've already noticed some other Quakers getting interested in outreach and getting excited about touching other people's lives…

Well, gosh, no, I don't know how seriously they are infected. I mean, they're just out there, talking about it, making suggestions for changes…

How many? Well, a few. Maybe lots, I don't know. But there are these others that kind of dumb them down with words and language. You know, they take the idea and turn it into a minute and then quibble over the wording for a half hour, which makes the ordinary people present afraid to open their mouths, incase they use one of the Wrong Words. Then we start running out of time to do anything about the minute. And pretty soon, the energy gets laid over to the next meeting…

Well, no, you see, it's not entirely safe—because these kinds of ideas are still very contagious…

No, I'm not arguing with you. I'm just saying they can end up spreading--…

Of course, I'm not defending them!…

Wait a minute, I'm very sincere about changing my ways!…

Take business meetings more seriously? How can that be possible? They're nearly moribund as it is!…

Can't I just take an aspirin and call a doctor? Or go to a 12-step meeting?…

Wait! There's got to be hope for me! Hello? Hello?…

[click]
[long pause]

[ring]
Hello. Indecisiveness Anonymous? My name is Susie FGC Quaker, and I am indecisive. Or at least, I used to be. Now I'm not so sure...

9 Comments:

At 11:33 PM, Anonymous Chris M. said...

Nancy, you wrote: "Then suddenly, here I am, thinking more about other people than about the meeting itself -- all those people whose lives are untouched by the Spirit and who hunger for something more."

Yes, exactly! Thanks for the apologetics.

-- Chris M.

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger Rob said...

:)

"We don't do much outreach because we don't really focus on people outside of our circle. It's like a little intellectual cocoon."

Tellin' it like it is... Thanks Nancy!

Rob

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Johan Maurer said...

This is a classic.

 
At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Bill Samuel said...

I agree with Johan. It is a classic.

Have you read Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything? I was reminded of it by some of what you wrote early in the post.

 
At 12:34 AM, Blogger Paul L said...

Nancy -- This is indeed brilliant. It needs to be shared with Friends beyond the blogging community, though. You know, evangelize it. Send it to Friends Journal, for example.

 
At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Aj said...

Oh, I'm so glad I can call you a blogging friend. Should we be branded with a scarlett "E"? That would be the opposite of Quaker grey, eh? Heh heh. :)

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Nancy A said...

Hm, now why is everyone assuming that Susie FGC Quaker is lil ol' me? It seems like just a little too much irony to throw at myself.

Like the Marx brothers once said, "I resemble that remark!"

 
At 2:54 AM, Blogger Rev. Herbert W. Johnstok said...

Nancy, You get to go to heaven just for writing that! It's at least as good as 'giving a drink of water in Jesus name'.

 
At 2:59 AM, Blogger Rev. Herbert W. Johnstok said...

I am familiar with AA, DA, OA, SAA, etc. but not familiar with 'Evangelicals Anonymous'. Is it okay to 'eat, drink, and be Mary (literally)' or to take drugs at your meetings? I am looking for a Recovery program that has more of a joie de vivre attitude.

 

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