Quakers don’t talk about conversion or outward baptism. Instead we say that we’ve become “convinced.” What does that look like?
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- Walter says that after we become convinced, we “live in the world in a different way.” Is this your experience? What changes when convincement happens?
- Walter uses working on racism as the example of something that he became “convinced of” after years of already being a Friend. In your ongoing journey as a Quaker, what have you only recently become convinced of?
Convincement is that moment when the idea of being a Quaker becomes a lived reality of being a Quaker, in which the Quaker way comes into the heart and finds a home and makes a nest and settles. It’s a subtle thing but it’s everything also. It’s everything.
Walter Hjelt Sullivan
When Jesus said, “I am the way,” my understanding of that is that when we come to Spirit and we say “yes” and we allow Spirit to be in us, we live in the world in a different way, and it becomes our way of being.
Overcoming Our Limitations
There is this human way of deciding things that is driven much more by ego, by fear, by our addictions to food and sex and all of those human things. And that way of being creates oppression and separation, where some small group in our culture gets to drive the agenda for their own self-interest. So it’s the source of racism, it’s the driver of climate change, it’s what has caused oppression from the first days.
The Quaker way is not the only way to alleviate that human energy that colonizes the world and colonizes our minds, but it is one particularly skillful, particularly elegant, particularly powerful other way for us to make community together.
Convincement Is Ongoing
Maybe many people in many traditions, religions, say that convincement is a one-time thing: “I was convinced and now I am.”
So I am now a Quaker and I am a member of this tribe and I’m committed to its health. But every time I say yes to something, there’s a new level, a new arena, a new something that I’m ready to learn that God is calling me into, and there’s a deeper connection to Spirit.
So when I first came into the Religious Society of Friends, I was not conscious of the need to work on issues of racism, to have that work be part of the perfection of a religious society, but recently I have become convinced that that is a part of my piece in this fellowship. And I don’t even know what are the future pieces of convincement that need to happen in me that I need to be open to.
And so, yes, I’m a Quaker. But I’m not yet fully the Quaker that I might be. And it’s when I stop and say, “Been there, done that, it’s over” that I think I stop being a Quaker. And I need to maybe become convinced again.
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.