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10.21.2006

Marge's second handout from francis Taber

Paradoxical Understandings to Hold in Creative Tension

by Frances Irene Taber, Ohio Yearly Meeting Conservative.

Adapted from an article in FGC Focus, Feb. 1992, Friends General Conference

The chart on the other side of this page elaborates on the elements from Bill Taber's circle chart. It can be considered as another way of looking at the elements found on the wheel; it goes into more detail and in addition names what often happens when we allow our faith to fracture out of that center in which paradoxes can be held in creative tension. It illustrates the implications of allowing ourselves to fly out of the living center of Quakerism.
Our view is that a whole Quaker-Christian faith includes some element of both central columns. A complete absence of either is likely to lead to a distortion in the element which is retained. Thus, a person whose faith is best described by the left center column, and who does not resonate at all with the elements in the right-center column, may find without that balance that the reality of experience moves towards its spin-off extreme in the far left column. If this distortion does not occur in the life of a given Friend, it is likely to happen in the faith experience and expressions of his or her spiritual descendants. The equivalent pattern is likely to hold for a faith experience described primarily by the right-center column, without counter-balancing from the left-center.
The chart also illustrates how people have trouble understanding one another?s religious language. One's viewpoint- far left or far right - has a tendency to create a distortion in perspective, making it difficult to distinguish between the two degrees on the opposite side. As either central viewpoint fails to be balanced by an element of the other, the person with that perspective tends to assume that the viewpoint represented by the opposite central column includes its aberration.

It would be an unusual Friend whose faith and life experience is a perfect balance of the two central columns. Most of us experience one side more fully than the other, at least at a given period of our lives. It is our understanding that a living growing faith experience which starts out heavily on either left or right, will often, when it remains vital, expand in time to include some understanding of the opposite side of the paradox.
In reflecting on this chart, it is useful to take a long-term view. Although it may appear so at a given point in history, neither side represents an intrinsically ?conservative? or ?progressive? view. That depends on historic context. It has flipped twice since 1800. Also, neither side is intellectually more respectable in a long-range view. That, like the question of which one is conservative, is a matter of current fashion.
The chart is neither definitive nor infallible. It is merely a description of tendencies we have noticed among Friends, intended to simulate reflection on our own spiritual journeys and on the way we communicate with other Friends and hear them.

(more formatting problems - the chart really didn't come through - we will have more available in class next week. - e-mail if you just have to have it and I will fwd to Marge -PP)
Comments:
Hi Peggy: I did spend a good bit of time getting that chart to display properly on FGC's versions. See the link to Bill Taber's related piece, "The Unity of Paradoxical Quaker Extremes."
 
Thanks, Martin.
 
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