Philosopher / Activist / Minister

Last year, while discussing my sense of direction with friends, I described my vocation(s) as a blend of philosopher, activist, and minister. As I’m hoping to clarify my vocation in this blogspace, this triad is one point to start.

Philosopher is a part of who I am. I define philosopher as one who pursues truth in the grandest sense. This pursuit has been with me since the age of 18.

Activist has been more elusive. I consider myself a radical, but my involvement in politics has not been very practical, mostly a matter of personal behavior and thought, which perhaps reflects my philosophical bent. I also think it reflects the powerlessness of the radical left during my adult years.

Being a minister involves two peculiarities for me. One; as a Quaker, my tradition has a general practice of non-professional ministry. Two; as a nontheist, my ministry doesn’t entail supernatural authority. My sense of leading to ministry is obviously unusual.

Philosopher –

This year I discerned with a clearness committee (a practice among Quakers to assist someone with a serious decision) that I should return to school with the intent to pursue graduate studies. My goal was to become an academic political philosopher.

That particular goal is a long deferred dream that has been with me since at least 1989. The blog “Radical Progress” is an attempt to outline my methodological approach to political philosophy. I still devote significant energy to keeping myself current and engaged with philosophy.

Unexpectedly, I’ve begun to reconsider an academic vocation. While I still see myself as a teacher and philosophically focused, a different path seems more attractive. This reconsideration is one of the core motivations for writing this new blog.

Activist –

I am not much of a protester. I’ve never done civil disobedience. I don’t sign petitions.

What makes sense to me is to create institutions and organizations that can foster participatory revolutionary dynamics. If I was in an industry that was unionized, I would no doubt focus some of my energy within the union. Since I am not in such an industry, the best vehicle for my activist vocation is a political party.

From 1996 to 2011, I was a supporter of the Green Party. I see ecological politics as essential part of our future. However, the GP has tended to advance a reformist orientation within capitalism

I am currently exploring involvement with the Socialist Party USA. As the 2012 presidential season gears up, an independent campaign can become an important point of dissent. While I don’t expect a socialist movement to explode in 2012, inserting socialist ideas into the political scene is very timely.

The main reason this seems timely is the powerful emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The chosen target is the symbolic center of capitalism in the US. This movement puts front and center a challenge to business as usual.

Minister –

The latest uptick in my interest in ministry occurred while I was participating in the annual sessions of Friends General Conference Central Committee. This event has been the highlight of my year for the past 4 Novembers. A group of over a hundred Quakers get together for four days and seek the way forward for our shared ministries. From racism, to youth, outreach, and ecumenism, FGC undertakes a wide range of work.

Deep within me, a sense is growing that this is what I am best suited to do. In my local meeting, I clerk our adult religious education program. I long to  spend time with people encouraging them in their life journey.

Next Steps?

I really don’t know, but welcome comments on what I’ve shared here.

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