On bringing books into Meeting for Worship

April 4, 2008

I have feelings and judgements … and try to put these aside.

I’d like to believe in the purest simplest communion … that some or many of us might just sit in silence and get closer to that Spirit … that some will hear or feel that Spirit offering guidance, clarity, direction … and that when this is strong enough it may result in vocal ministry. In this view, reading would be a distraction from this serious exercise.

But who am I to say? Perhaps for some a book of poetry or meditations may be the entry to that space we seek. For some (not me!) a book of mathematical equations may have similar beauty. And for those who have made the bible, or another book, their close friend, perhaps having it on the table right in front is handy and helpful.

And, I must confess, on occasion when I’ve worshiped in Amsterdam, and I believe in other meetings as well, I can recall reaching for a book to find a quotation that has been dangling imperfectly in my mind.

A quite different situation is that some parents bring books for their children, as the silence alone is too much. Here I must trust that these parents are seeking a balance.

In all of these, we need to be wary of DAD (Dogmatic Anti-Dogmatism). Different people come to meeting in different ways, with different practices. I’d hope that we welcome as many as we can — while still noting that some practices are just outside our sphere.

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