Walkin' on the Fightin' Side of Me

If you don’t love it, leave it:
Let this song that I’m singing be a warning.
If you’re running down my my country, man,
You’re walking on the fighting side of me.
---Merle Haggard, 1970

Not exactly the most Quakerly song I know by heart.

But it’s basically how I feel about my meeting.

Over the last few years of conversation among Friends on the internet, I have learned a few things about myself as much as anything else. And one of the things I have learned is that I take criticism of my beloved community personally. It’s not rational, but you might as well insult my family. Me. My husband. My children. Most of my friends. They are all part of my meeting, you know. I take it personally.

I know we’re not perfect – I probably know more about our failings as a community than most people. It’s one of the hazards of being an in-between sort of person. I am certainly an expert on my own sins. I’m working on my beam, as much as I can.

I don’t care if you praise or criticize your own meeting/church/family, etc. It’s one of the valuable things about hearing about people in other communities with whom we share a connection. But don’t talk about mine if you’re not part of it. Or if you’ve visited once or twice. As if you know anything about us.

I continue to pray for the grace of patience, humility, forgiveness, perspective.

Lord, help us all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I won't. But couldn't you just....no, ulp, bitin' my tongue!!


6/18/2008 2:22 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Oh, I know this is an indefensible position to take. It's not a good Christian attitude. It's not healthy. I'm not proud of it. It's more an honest admission of why I react so badly.

It is kind of like talking about my children. I'm always happy to hear how much someone likes them. And I can be honest about their faults, but it's a delicate conversation.

And sometimes, for me, this defensive feeling generalizes to the whole Religious Society of Friends. I think the Quaker blogosphere is so heavily populated by people who don't much like their local meetings that it may be hard for most folks to understand how this is for me.

And I may just be wrong. Sigh.

6/18/2008 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you don't love it, leave it."

Interesting. And so simple. Is it really that simple? Maybe it is.


6/20/2008 1:10 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

On the other hand,

when I was a fairly new attender in New York, a co-worker was listening to my bewilderment about the issues that bedeviled the local Quaker meeting. My co-worker asked, if they're so difficult, why do you go? I pointed out that they're the only Quaker meeting here. If I want to be a Quaker, I have to work with them. It's not like the Catholics that have a different congregation on every corner.

It's more like family that way - you don't get to choose who's in it, you have the opportunity to learn to live with who you're given. And like family, sometimes it's better not to talk about their difficulties in public, because you have to live with them in private. The analogy isn't perfect, but there's some truth in it.

6/20/2008 2:45 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Yes, if you know you want to be Quaker, you have to work with them.

The truth is I don't want to be Quaker. I should've trusted my gut all along, that I am not a candidate for organized religion. Then, suddenly, I get this sigh of relief. It's not you, it's me. I guess I'm breaking up with Quakerism.

6/20/2008 4:26 PM  

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