I have always wanted to be in a book club, and now I kind of am. Quaker Buddy* and I have started reading A Description of the Qualifications Necessary to a Gospel Minister, by Samuel Bownas and having long-distance conversations about it each week. When I told my Mom the name of the book, she groaned and suggested that we pick something a little lighter. Despite the very long title, the book is only 104 pages and, at two chapters a week, it is really not a lot of reading.
We have "met" twice now, and I have been amazed by how much we both have to say. Many of the themes Bownas discusses have been important in our lives lately, including what it means to be a minister, the purposes of traveling in the ministry, and how to discern a true leading.
By "gospel minister," Bownas means vocal minister. The other day, QB and I discussed whether we would identify as vocal ministers. Neither of us speaks in meeting very often, but we both do at times, and I think we each could have easily said yes or no.
QB decided that if asked, she would say that she considers herself a vocal minister because she has had the experience of being led to speak, and would be able to articulate that experience. I said that I would say no for similar reasons: I have had profound experiences in meetings when I did not feel led to vocal ministry and I could talk about the ways in which silent members participate.
After our conversation, I started thinking about how sometimes when I post, I have an experience similar to how I feel when I give vocal ministry―I feel strongly led. Even so, I have a hard time thinking of my blogging as a ministry.
The next topic for the Adult Religious Education class at University Friends Meeting is "Being a Connected Friend," and the discussion will be about how Friends use the internet to connect and interact, locally, regionally, and nationally. In keeping with my renewed commitment not to take on any more, I am not speaking. I am interested in the topic, though, and I think two of the queries for discussion are particularly good:
- Can you find real Quaker community on the internet?
- Can blogs actually help you center into the Light?
*QB asked to remain anonymous and we agreed that "Quaker Buddy" is funnier than "Spiritual Friend," but with the same basic idea.