Andrew J. Brown, an English liberal Christian Unitarian, blogs at CAUTE: Some more thoughts on Garden Academies

. . . if liberals are going to get real things done in these difficult times then we need to recall that our power has always been in the cultivation of small and ever-evolving gardens which, collectively, show something real about our liberalism which includes, of course, a commitment to the incredible diversity and vulnerability of all life upon our home planet. The moment we are tempted to scale up to bigger institutions we begin to resemble, not gardeners (i.e. people actively commingling with the world) but managers (i.e. people who act at a distance from the world).

And Martin Kelley, a Quaker (I won’t hyphenate him!) blogs at Quaker Ranter: Is it Convergent to talk about Convergence?

Just the last thing is that for me if our work isn’t ultimately rooted in sharing the good news then it’s self-indulgent. I don’t want to create a little oasis or hippy compound of happy people. Friends aren’t going to go to heaven in our politically-correct smugness while the rest of the world is dying off. It’s all of us or none of us. If we’re not actively evangelizing, then we are part of the problem. “Convergence” is Quaker lingo. When we say it we’re turning our back to the world to talk amongst ourselves: a useful exercise occassionally but not our main work.

Hmm. I’m not sure the two quotes I’ve chosen do the best job at showing why I think these two posts are related, but it’s the best I have time to do at the moment!

3 Replies to “Convergence?”

  1. Thanks for the link, Kenneth–to the link to my blog, of course, but even more for linking these thoughts up to someone else’s blog.

    I for one see how Andrew’s piece fits mine, or fits some of my thinking these days. Liberalism should be the fruit of our actions, not the cleverness of our arguments. It’s loving the neighbor, not in simply in theory but also in reality. I’m sure the good people who walked by the wounded traveler in the Good Samaritan story all thought they had Big Important things to do that trumped the little act of attending to a hurt stranger, but as the parable shows neighborliness starts in the here-and-now.

    Andrew is hitting it right on when he contrasts gardeners and managers. Management is ultimately trying to get people to do what you want to do, and in the religious sphere it often becomes trying to get the Holy Spirit to do what you want it to do (when you want it to do it). Quakerism arguably evolved as a response that that, a critique of programming and a lifting up of silent waiting, but today even a lot of “unprogrammed” Quaker leaders tend to see issues as management problems needing programmatic solutions.

    Some of the most powerful spiritual moments have come to me when I decided not to do something Big and Important but instead just spent some time getting to know people who couldn’t possibly advance my career. I guess we could say I was just mucking about the garden.

    Hope all’s well, haven’t seen you in like forever I think.

  2. Dear Kenneth and Martin,

    Greetings, thanks for your link to my recent blog and, therefore, to the various links on your pages connected with this subject. I’ll read some of them and, perhaps, post a more useful comment than this one later. I simply wanted to say hello at this point and to agree wholeheartedly with the point you make, Martin, when you say “Liberalism should be the fruit of our actions, not the cleverness of our arguments. It’s loving the neighbor, not in simply in theory but also in reality.” It is as easy and as difficult as that.

    Warmest wishes to you both,


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