Monday, August 11, 2008
To The Left of Elias Hicks
... that's what I found out I was whilst "e-talking" to my friend Haven Kimmel (who's new novel Iodine is a must read). She pointed out that while looking up Jessamyn West's entry on Wikipedia she was led to "American Quakers" and said laughing, "Look! In this column is my buddy Brent, and right across from him is Elias Hicks!"
Of course I wanted to know if I was on the right or left of Hicks and Haven kindly pointed out that I was on the left. I loved it (though I doubt that Elias or my Evangelical Quaker grandmother do) -- a "pastorized" Quaker (as my college prof T. Canby Jones called me) to the left of the namesake of the liberal Friends movement.
Of course, that set me to wonderin' (I often go a'wonderin') where I was in relation to other folks? To the right of Jesus ... or left? To the left of Moses or the right? To the right of Teddy Roosevelt ... wait, that couldn't be!
Then I got to thinking how unhelpful those designations were. Left, right, liberal, conservative -- compared to what? What's the standard? And who gets to set it? I have a sneaky suspicion that the standard-setters are not people I'd find particularly trustworthy -- using their biases to set the "norm" (as if I wouldn't!).
So I finally decided, I am neither left nor right of anybody. I am just who I am -- someone who's trying to follow the way of Jesus the best he knows how to. That's about all I can manage.
PS But I still love being left of Hicks!