“Indeed, as the Concern was weighty, so I was not forward, lest I should be found to Run before I was sent; therefore I waited patiently to be fully satisfied in the Matter, not only a Day, or a Week, but many Months; and then as my Concern grew heavier upon me, I gave up, begging the Lord to be with me, and to give me a full Mission for so weighty a Concern. Alice Hayes, A Legacy or The Widow’s Mite.
I’ve begun to find the Quaker language of “laboring under a concern” describes my current state. For years I’ve been struggling to focus and express my intense passion for social transformation. The social ills that compel me forward are familiar; poverty, war, racism, androcracy/patriarchy, tyranny, ecocide, sexual oppression, and religious domination. I call this hydra of global suffering the eight-fold “death-systems.” Against them all beings need an eight-fold global transformation of peace, freedom, justice, and equality. I call this transformative goal “Love’s Communism.”
The energy of this emerging message is powerful, almost too powerful for me to carry it with patience and wisdom. I struggle with being an effective voice, balancing prophetic thunder with healing ministry. They say ministers comfort the afflicted and prophets afflict the comfortable. I’ve struggled with emotional health and balance my entire adult life, though I’ve also had some wonderful healing experiences.
I seem to be approaching the point where I need to broaden out my support network. My Quaker meeting was wonderful in helping me to get over some hang-ups I had about returning to college last year at the age of 48 through a clearness committee. However, after a few months back in school, it became clear that my sense of direction had shifted, from a professional goal of becoming a political philosophy professor, to becoming a philosopher-activist-minister. This means that when I finish my long delayed undergrad degree, I will apply to a seminary in order to pursue this direction.
There are other exciting developments. I was invited by the editor of Quaker Theology to draft a 3-5000 word essay on the topic of Jesus and Communism. Also, I’ve been invited to deliver a public presentation of the topic “Jesus Made Me a Communist.” I am working to re-build the Chicago local of the Socialist Party, one of the oldest in the USA.
What has triggered this posting however is my own personal struggle to live out of the universal love that I profess. I’ve been in Texas for a few days visiting with my mother and somewhat stressed out about my continuing financial straits, exacerbated by the cost of travel to attend a family funeral. Back home in Chicago, I have my carefully developed connections with peace and justice communities like my Quaker meeting and my former Mennonite congregations. Apart from my workplace, I can go for weeks without ever interacting with conservatives. However, in Texas at my mother’s house I am isolated and alone in the crowd of my aunts, uncles, and cousins who are all committed to a conservative Pentecostal religion and politics. The hatred of Barack Obama that is spewed out almost makes me feel sorry for the president, even as I find him to be too conservative.
My mother and I have gotten into more than a few verbal sparring matches over points of theology and politics. I am not patient with what I perceive is her complete immersion in a hateful ideology. She is not patient with my seemingly total abandonment of her beloved Pentecostal truth. This minor skirmish in the culture war reminds me of lines from Luke’s gospel 12:51ff, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother.”
And yet, even with such a ringing endorsement of family feuding, I am not at peace with how I lose my patience and anger with my mother. She did bring me into this world. From her I have inherited a passion for truth, even though that passion has taken me places that horrify her.
I return to love.
I cannot live this love as I desire. My anger defeats me. Indeed, I know that I am entitled to have my anger. All the suffering of this world that could be overcome if only radical love could become the world’s new religion! That suffering wounds me, it shatters my heart. I would end it with miraculous power if I could. All I have is my impatient protest, my angry outcry against the ruling class that continues in its harsh and brutal ways. Though my mother is not in the ruling class, she and so many others take up the view that wealth is impartial, that morality must be legislated, that humanity cannot do any better than the wretched condition we have reached today.
They are trapped in lies, this I know, yet I am powerless to bring them to the truth. And so, I renew my quest to become purified as an agent of love. I almost certainly will never be perfect at this task. Have mercy on me….