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Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

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Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Ivan on Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:30 pm

First topic message reminder :

This article is reproduced in full with the consent of the author, Dr Jill Segger:-

Not speaking unless you can improve on silence is something with which most Quakers are comfortable. This may mean holding your peace even when you have an opinion.

There is much strife and division on our society today and it has become apparent that to occasionally choose silence is no longer an option for many people. But silence, properly understood, is so much more than evidence of fear or a lack of conviction. It has the power to create a space in which difference, far from being glossed over, may be acknowledged, but deprived of its power to polarise.

When all parties in difference pile in, eager to get their point across and usually seeking to win or dominate, truth and understanding are not served. Mediation or reconciliation becomes difficult as words drive people apart and embed them in the outcomes of confrontation.

If the 'aggressive secularism' of Bideford Town Council – who, let it be remembered, received a ruling which simply said it had no powers to compel councillors to attend prayers - had not become the subject of so much over-excited attention from people who, in Philip Pullman's words: “simply haven't read the judgement, or don't want to read the judgement, because they seem much more keen on making a fuss", someone might have considered the simple solution of replacing the oxymoronic 'compulsory prayers' with a period of shared silence.

In those restful moments, no councillor's faith or lack of it would have been a source of threat or irritation to another. Each would have been at liberty to daydream, pray, reflect, centre down or just step away a little from their previous preoccupations. During my years of service as a local councillor, I can think of many instances where a few moments of consensual silence would have greatly improved both our proceedings and our relations with each other.

The zealotry of that part of the faith community which sees a secular state as an instrument of 'Christianophobia', does not deal in this healing silence. It flies to its pulpit - some would say to its bully pulpit - without pause for reflection. It appears to believe that to be vociferous is to be faithful and that any other course would be a betrayal of trust. Conviction must, of course, be free to speak its mind. But that should not blind it to the possibilities of preparing fruitful ground for dialogue with those who hold an opposing view with equal sincerity.

If George Carey's Coalition for Marriage and the supporters of same sex marriage could agree to meet regularly and spend time in silent reflection, both sides would have the opportunity to place their difference beyond polemic and point scoring. It is evident that imputing bad faith or error to each other can do nothing but increase division and resentment. A respectful and gathered silence would, at least, create the possibility of moving beyond the megaphone.

In the words of Quaker Faith and Practise: “As, together, we enter the depths of a living silence, the stillness of God, we find one another in ‘the things that are eternal’, upholding and strengthening one another."

That is the seedbed in which the future may best be grown.


-----

© Jill Segger is an Associate Director of Ekklesia with particular involvement in editorial issues. She is a freelance writer who contributes to the Church Times, Catholic Herald, Tribune, Reform and The Friend, among other publications. Jill is an active Quaker.
See: http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/TQig/Jill-Segger
You can follow Jill on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/quakerpen

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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by polyglide on Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:29 pm

I have been in some very sticky situations along with others who have no belief, have a try at what they did.

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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:02 pm

Smoked a tab?
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by polyglide on Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:26 pm

Nearly correct. prayed.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:18 pm

polyglide wrote:Nearly correct. prayed.
I gathered that but so what? The fact some people might resort to it in times of stress doesn't in anyway validate its efficacy in problem solving. If they weren't indoctrinated as a child they probably wouldn't have prayed in times of stress. With exactly the same results.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by polyglide on Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:50 am

There are millions of examples of people who put certain matters down to the power of prayer.

Not all prayers are answered in the manner sought or everyone would have everything they want.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Penderyn on Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:52 pm

Silence is okay, and various exercises that calm us down, but we can build too much on that fact if we expect more. I was a Quaker attender for a long time: sometimes the testimony seemed important, but a lot of it consisted of weather reports and Guardian editorials. Silence is what's golden.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by boatlady on Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:45 pm

Oh, yes - I often miss Quaker meeting - not for the 'wisdom' but for the companionable sitting in silence
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Shirina on Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:57 pm

I like noise.

Silence allows the "demons" into my mind. I have to keep busy and I like noise. I even sleep with the television on (but I play my documentary DVDs, not broadcast television).
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Penderyn on Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:54 pm

boatlady wrote:Oh, yes - I often miss Quaker meeting - not for the 'wisdom' but for the companionable sitting in silence

We both.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Penderyn on Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:56 pm

Heretic wrote:
Penderyn wrote:Silence is okay, and various exercises that calm us down, but we can build too much on that fact if we expect more.   I was a Quaker attender for a long time:  sometimes the testimony seemed important, but a lot of it consisted of weather reports and Guardian editorials.   Silence is what's golden.

Silence seems to be the common thread in a lot of skills ranging from meditation to the martial arts. Perhaps what we are really doing is giving ourselves some space that we need so that our rational processes can catch up with the events we have been exposed to. That space between me and reality does help me in many ways but primarily in making better decisions.

Heretic

I suppose, given our constant mental chatter, that 'silence' = calm attention, which can't be bad.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:18 pm

Silence to myself is only ok for so long,as I live on my own with my dog,my flat is very quiet for the majority of the time. Then I find myself talking to myself or my pooch,or taking her for her walk on the hope that I may meet someone a fellow dog walker perhaps and have a discussion. The loneliness gets to me i'm sorry to say.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by boatlady on Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:07 pm

I think silence can only be healing really if you choose it - for most of the time, we humans need each other's company and involvement in the world.
The use of silence is for those times when we need to reflect on our experiences and take 'time out'.
It's a rare soul (and possibly somewhat disturbed) that can cope with constant solitude.
I think we're designed to be lonely if we don't interact. flower
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Shirina on Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:29 pm

boatlady wrote:I think silence can only be healing really if you choose it - for most of the time, we humans need each other's company and involvement in the world.
The use of silence is for those times when we need to reflect on our experiences and take 'time out'.
It's a rare soul (and possibly somewhat disturbed) that can cope with constant solitude.
I think we're designed to be lonely if we don't interact. flower

Yeah, that's been proven. Human beings will literally go insane if we are deprived of human interaction for too long. We are a very gregarious species. Even being cut off from society has a big effect, even if you live in a crowded city. One of the worst feelings in the world is being alone in a crowd. However, astronauts and navy personnel who sail in submarines are put through rigorous psychological testing to make sure they won't go bonkers due to being out of touch with the rest of the world for so long.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:29 pm

So very true Shirina,that is why taking my pooch for her walks helps myself as I meet people and chat,fellow dog walkers etc. If I did not have my pooch I would have gone insane myself from the loneliness of living alone.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:24 am

Dogs are great. What kind is yours, Stu?
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:18 pm

Golden retriever/labrador cross female,can,t read your private message Dan as not encrypted or something daft and it's marked also?
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:02 pm

Stu, it was just Bella / Nestov's email address. I said I would pass it on to you as he asked said he would like you to have it in case you fancied a chat. I don't really want to post it on a public message board though. Perhaps you could ask one of the mods / admin if they could sort out the problem with your message. Let me know if you manage to sort it out.
Incidentally, I have a terrier cross (Lakeland / Parsons). He's great, even if I do say so myself Wink
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:19 pm

Thanks Dan,and thank nestov for me,if any of my posts are still on the old site tell him to find my email address off there ok
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Penderyn on Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:35 pm

stuart torr wrote:So very true Shirina,that is why taking my pooch for her walks helps myself as I meet people and chat,fellow dog walkers etc. If I did not have my pooch I would have gone insane myself from the loneliness of living alone.

No doubt about that - but being constantly n company (as I was in the RAF, for instance) is probably worse. Public schools destroy people and turn them into smiling unknowables, for a start, and God knows what happens in prisons and ships!
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by boatlady on Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:56 pm

As with anything, there's a balance to achieve - the trick is to find the right balance for you (or me)
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:34 pm

Very true Boatlady,one or two visitors a day for an hour at a time would suit me fine as long as they were not noisy ones like some I get.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by boatlady on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:10 pm

I guess true wealth is the ability to choose one's surroundings and company ALL the time.

My dogs are terriers - but I do love a Labrador  - my favourite dog of all time though was a Bedlington Terrier.

Dogs are often much better company than people
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:18 pm

Yes they are Boatlady,and I adore dogs bitches especially as i've found them more loyal,but my retriever/labrador cross could have been a police dog I believe how clever she is,right paw means one thing left another she even shakes her head to say no to me.  Laughing 
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:47 pm

polyglide wrote:The human body is such that evolution cannot in any way be responsible for it's existance,

This is a joke right?  Rolling Eyes 
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by boatlady on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:51 pm

Stuart,
when they live with you day in day out you can really appreciate their intelligence.
My little Jennie almost talks
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by polyglide on Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:13 am

No, it is the truth based on available evidence.

Dr. Sheldon.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by polyglide on Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:17 am

What a happy and enjoyable topic our four legged friends are.

My dog is a cross between a Jack Russel and a Lapso and looks just like a Mere Cat and I can assure you it is brighter than many humans.
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by Penderyn on Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:09 pm

polyglide wrote:What a happy and enjoyable topic our four legged friends are.

My dog is a cross between a Jack Russel and a Lapso and looks just like a Mere Cat and I can assure you it is brighter than many humans.

In my experience most dogs are. I won't get into the justificatory detail! Smile
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:31 pm

They are are they not PG,COULD TALK ABOUT MINE FOR HOURS
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by boatlady on Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:58 pm

Dog lovers please note:- I've started a dedicated thread for talking for hours about our four-legged friends - hope to see you all there soon.

 sunny
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:03 pm

nice one boatlady
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Post by stuart torr on Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:09 pm

Ivan,the Bideford you mention in the OP is not the one in north devon by any chance is it?
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Re: Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

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