# 7

We don’t use the tools we’ve got, i.e. the little book folks spent ten years writing and revising.

I think that it is a shame how infrequently PYM Friends use their books of Faith and Practice.

At the first and last meetings of my clearness committee, we benefited a great deal from the judicious reading of the sections on what is a clearness committee and what is its purpose. Had any of us read them before? Some.

But what really bothers me is how little we use the advices and queries. A committee spent over ten years of time and talent and spiritual lifeforce preparing them. We read them out in meeting for worship once a month. We don’t actually answer them in any coherent way. I have suggested that they ought to be used more explicitly in writing our State of the Meeting reports, but other Friends said it would be too much work to answer so many questions.

And when I suggest using them for worship sharing, I am always shushed by people who would rather write their own for the occasion. Why do we bother reinventing the wheel? Is it an innate distrust of the authority that anything more than 15 minutes old might have?


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Blogger Liz Opp said...

Good questions about why don't Friends use the queries that are included in F&P.

I'm intrigued by the comment "it would be too much work to answer so many questions." I don't know that the queries are written so that each one (or each section of one) is answered, as much as the queries point toward something about our faith that we are to be disciplined enough to "hold it up to the Light and let the Light search us"...

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

But my guess is

2/04/2007 10:51 PM  
Blogger anj said...

Hmm..... When I first started coming to meeting, a longtime member of our meeting handed me NYYM F&P and London F&P. The queries were a huge part of what I so enjoy about Friends. But I have never seen them used in community. Hmmm.....

2/05/2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Well, one of these days a Conservative Friend is going to leave a comment here saying that they answer all the queries, individually and corporately. I keep hoping that my monthly meeting will move towards that as well.

For a year or so, we had a monthly worship sharing using the queries as an opportunity for personal reflection. Attendance dwindled quickly and we laid it down after about six months.

2/05/2007 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the expected Conservative Quaker saying answering the queries corporatly is a vital part of our Yearly Meeting NCYM(C). It is for the most part a loving practice that requires us to examine ourselves as a meeting. Newcomers to our monthly meeting rarely understand this practice. By answering the queries a meeting has to gently consider "are we being faithful" to many things, from our children, to the earth, to showing up on time for meeting and taking oaths. I know of no other faith community that has a tool like this. At Yearly Meeting time is set aside to hear the answers read orally. This ideally tells us what the meetings struggled with over the past year, and where there is unity.

No meeting that I am aware of answers all the queries at one time. Usually one or two at a time are answered.

My peeve, personally, is when Friends will reject looking at the queries and want everyone to take the Briggs-Myers test, or some other vehicle to "learn about ourselves".

I suspect it is very hard for people to look at themselves and admit to not measuring up especially in a public setting.

2/05/2007 10:45 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

As "Anonymous" mentions, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) also addresses queries, first in monthly meetings, and then with the sharing of a sort of composite answer to each query at annual sessions that a Friend or Friends have crafted. At least, such is what I've observed in the two IYM(C) annual sessions I've attended.

I wonder if answering queries is truly about "letting the Light search us" and "submitting to the Light" for that search. It has to be a pretty humbling process, because If the Light reveals we are "straying," then we become responsible for taking steps to "return to the root."

Sometimes it is easier to stay in denial and not admonish ourselves, let alone one another. Sometimes we tell ourselves it is just too hard to make the necessary corrections, now that we are this far along in our journey.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

2/05/2007 11:44 PM  
Blogger cubbie said...

what exactly is worship-sharing? and how do the queries work into that.

2/09/2007 2:14 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thank you Liz and Anonymous Conservative Friend. (If you write again, I'd love it if you'd sign your comment, even with your initials or a pseudonym if necessary.)

It was in reading Jack Marietta's The Reformation of American Quakerism, 1748-1783 that it first dawned on me that one of the original purposes of the Queries was for Monthly Meetings to report to their Quarterly and Yearly Meetings. In PYM, we still write an annual State of the Meeting report and send it to the Quarter and the Yearly Meeting, but no meeting that I know of uses the Queries as a framework for that report. Look out if my monthly meeting ever asks me to be clerk...

cubbie, worship sharing is a small group practice of responding to a defined question, speaking out of personal experience into the shared silence, without response or debate. More is available here from FGC.

The queries in PYM's Faith and Practice were not written with worship sharing in mind, but I think that the practice of responding to them out loud in a small group is good for helping us to articulate our faith and our practice.

2/09/2007 5:17 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Wait, you mean I didn't have to read that darn thing!?

12/07/2007 2:30 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Oh no, Allison, anybody with as many questions as you needs to read the actual book. :-)

As a further update, SF meeting has restarted the series of worship sharing sessions focused on the advices and queries. The next one will be in January and the topic is meeting for worship.

12/07/2007 10:47 AM  

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