Raised in a conservative American community, under the shadow of a Strategic Air Command Base (bombers going over the pole during the cold war), I had never questioned what it meant to be an American. I just accepted that the Air Force provided most of the local income, that men served in the Armed Forces, that the protests agains the Vietnam War were not helping any. It just was not something to be questioned; the Baptist Church and the local school system were one hundred percent American, and Democrats were in short supply.
I didn’t stay in the Baptist Church, but my faith journey was not in the peace churches. If anything, I went in the opposite direction, baptized as a Lutheran and confirmed in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church. These were state churches at their founding; they owed their beginnings to monarchs and parliaments. They were establishment churches, and still are.
It’s not as if I haven’t wanted to leave. I cannot abide the htought of providing for a standing army; seeing how the military almost ruined my sons lives made me see the armed forces quite differently. “Cannon fodder” is not just a joke, not just a cold statement by cold-hearted men. It is a reality. Those in uniform are expendable, no more than equipment. If it works well, fine; it it doesn’t, it can be discarded. If lost, it will be replaced. There’s no soul to the military.
I’ve been drawn to Quaker theology and philosophy since a young age. I’ve known Quakers, both Conservative and Liberal. I’ve never met a Quaker I did not like, love, or see as a newly-found brother or sister. I need peace people in my life, because there have been so many angry, warring, bitter people. I need people who will stand up and be counted for peace and the love of Christ. We all do even if we do not know it.
And yet I am not a Quaker myself. I’ve come close, but I haven’t crossed the line and never will. I suppose it is the sacramental nature of my faith. I also need the real, tangible, palpable signs of faith. I wish I could commune spiritually only, but I am of the earth, earthy. I need to hold the Lord in my hands, need to feel the water over my head. (Well, that happens once, but the memory is there.)
It’s probably deeper and more profound, as well. I am ordained to the sacraments, and the Lord is not going to let me go, come hell, high water or bishops with hardened hearts. The Lord has called me out to serve His flock in a profound way and I cannot put down the rod and staff and walk away. Besides, the sheep know the shepherd’s voice; they will follow anyway.
I am not leaving thee, Friends; I am just walking a parallel path.