“What canst thou say?” is sometimes taken to be a call to “speak your truth.” But that’s an idea that George Fox could not have endorsed; more likely, he would have taken issue with it in forceful terms. His challenge was, and is, much more radical.
The memoir concludes with an adaptation of a piece published twenty years ago in the inaugural issue of the journal Quaker Theology.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t mean that I must learn to love myself before I can love others: it recognizes that, even if I despise or hate myself, I already do love myself.
It took a very long time for me to recognize and begin to accept that the primary law of the spiritual life is simply this: “it’s not about me.”
In 1 John, the apostle makes the explicit identification of God and agapē — universal love — that can serve as the primary interpretive principle for post-theistic Friends in our reading of both scripture and the Quaker tradition.
Life in agapē is life in the “freedom of the children of God,” the liberty of those whose Spirit is divine. It differs radically from the ersatz liberty of the human spirit that, breathing where it believes it should, remains nonetheless enclosed.
In John’s story of the discovery of the Resurrection by Mary the Magdalene, Mary speaks my heart. As have I, she moves from sorrow over loss of a God-object to trust in a Christ-spirit to which we cannot cling.