The End of the World – parts 2 and 3

Here are the second and third part of a series of study sessions on Quaker theology and history illuminating the “end of the world” topic.

For the first part, you can go to the following blog post: The End of the World – part 1

The following parts are available here: The End of the World – parts 4 and 5

The End of the World – part 1

Are you anxious about global warming, the repeat waves of recession, government shut downs, or any other discernible sign of an impending apocalypse?

The end of the world has been a popular topic for centuries, but none of the doomsday scenarios so far have caught my attention. But I feel inspired by the thoughts and queries shared by Ben Pink Dandelion, a quaker scholar from England.

Here is the first part of a series of study sessions on Quaker theology and history illuminating the “end of the world” topic.

The study sessions took place during the Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Kemptville, ON in August 2013. I will link to the following instalments of this five part series as they are posted publicly.

The End of the World – parts 2 and 3

The End of the World – parts 4 and 5

Obedience – Gehorsam

Die deutsche Übersetzung folgt weiter unten.

Obedience is very often understood in relation to the fact that one gives orders and others obey. Obedience is of great importance in hierarchical systems, such as the army, where obedience is imperative and non-obedience leads to punishment. The same is true in the church, where obedience is a special virtue and leads to salvation. Non-obedience is a guide to hell in various church organizations and denominations. But even the seemingly value-free market economy demands absolute obedience. According to proponents of a neo-liberal economic paradigm, influencing the invisible market forces will only lead to misfortune: therefore are government regulations, and other considerations and interventions for the common good responsible for all the ills of today’s consumer society. Continue reading “Obedience – Gehorsam”

Daily Random Act of Kindness #7

Yesterday, I had the good luck of making another journey, within the city of Philadelphia. Through a friend of a friend, I received an invitation for dinner with strangers. But there was nothing strange about meeting the people I have never met before.

Mt Airy Station, Pennsylvania (photo credit: Smallbones/Wikipedia Commons)
Mt Airy Station, Pennsylvania (photo credit: Smallbones/Wikipedia Commons)

Except that I took a bus to get to the railway station, which is not so strange, but the bus followed the trolley lines. And except that the railway station was full of books, and the railway was long ago replaced by a suburban trolley. Had I spent browsing through the 50,000 books at the railway station, I could have found one that would explain the transportation history of Philadelphia and how the traffic patterns have changed over time.

After all, I was close to where the former summer White House was. Before the capitol was built in Washington, the government governed from Philadelphia, but when it was too hot and the mosquitos were too fierce, the government went up the hill to Germantown to conduct its business. And not far from the centre of power, a few German immigrants and Quakers were so upset about witnessing the everyday business of slavery, that they wrote a letter of protest to the government.

I consider myself blessed for the friendship and hospitality I received. It also gave me opportunity to experience some places of United States history along the way. And if you ever desire a used book on history or any other subject, feel free to check out the online section of the bookstore at the railway station.

Resolved: Looking at my roots

A stunning set of roots: Tree at Pendle Hill, Quaker Education Centre in Wallingford, PA.

Creating and committing to this blog site was one of the intentions for this year. So far, I can say that the journey has been a positive challenge and that I enjoy the process.

The picture itself is an expression of what I set out to do with my blog: An exploration of roots and what is growing from them.
I consider my life to be rooted. Using another word for roots derived from Latin, I can say I consider my life to be radical.
In an early blog entry, I explored that connection between roots and radicalism. Read it here: Ofradix the name.
I would like to continue throughout the year to put my faith into action – and the OFRADIX blog is one of the tools for me to do so. It is my hope to use the strength of my roots to sprout a tree and to be a living testimony for what I believe in.


En route – Philadelphia

Simplicity in the marketplace

As we were gathered in silence this Sunday, it was easy to listen to and to hear the raindrops outside.”

The reference to rain shows that I wrote this account of my thoughts back in October when I was worshipping with the Victoria Friends Meeting – here in the Yukon it is currently -35 degrees and no rain in sight!

I was contemplating on the various ways they follow their journey in their natural cycle. Some of them will fall on the earth, the ground that is receptive to soak them up, to store it for the plants, and to release it in the cycle later. Others will run off and pool in a depression, being available for animals to quench their thirst. Yet others will fall on a roof, go down the gutter, onto the concrete, run off the roadways, into the sewer system and the storm drains. Some of them will need to go through a water treatment plant before they are released back into the wild, allowing them to join the natural cycle again.

Water - the essence of Life
Water – the essence of Life

Continue reading “Simplicity in the marketplace”

Letting our Light shine

In the last two months, the Quaker Worship Group in Whitehorse witnessed an increased interest in the Quaker tradition of seeking God and the Quaker form of worship. As a very small and very isolated group, the concern of how to build community has been raised on several occasions.

William Swainson - doing Quaker outreach Yukon style at -30 degrees (photo credit: Celia McBride)
William Swainson – doing Quaker outreach Yukon style at -30 degrees (photo credit: Celia McBride)

Within the last year, we have reframed and updated the entry in the listing of religious services in the local newspaper. We have also updated the listing on the website of the Canadian Yearly Meeting and established a dedicated email address. However, the increased interest seems to have come mostly from the relationship-building done by the individuals from our Worship Group.  Continue reading “Letting our Light shine”

The (personal) impact of working with Doctors without Borders (+de)

Community mobilization and health education during a malnutrition crisis in Babalmé/Chad
Community mobilization and health education during a malnutrition crisis in Babalmé/Chad

The following article has just been published this week in The Canadian Friend, 108(5) p.13 , a publication of the Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. You can find the current and many back issues online: The Canadian Friend.

Für eine deutsche Übersetzung klicke hier:
Arbeiten mit Ärzte ohne Grenzen – der Einfluss auf mein persönliches Leben

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders in Chad

by Othmar F. Arnold

I have been asked: “How did this service work change me? What impact did the experiences have on my life?”

I must acknowledge that I have not been working as a nurse since that time. I am not the same person as before the mission. A major shift began in my life several years ago. I was called back to my roots, to become radical again, and there were other factors enabling a mid-life reorientation

My children were growing up and becoming more and more independent. Though the high-paying nursing work in Nunavut enabled me to liberate myself from financial obligations accumulated over the years, I was becoming less and less convinced by the direction nursing was going.

Continue reading “The (personal) impact of working with Doctors without Borders (+de)”

Becoming a Quaker in a fragmented world (+de)

The Friends Meeting House in Victoria, BC. The Quaker community is celebrating the 100th anniversary of their meeting house in 2013. (photo credit: Vancouver Island MM)
The Friends Meeting House in Victoria, BC. The Quaker community is celebrating the 100th anniversary of their meeting house in 2013. (photo credit: Vancouver Island MM)

Für eine deutsche Übersetzung, klicke hier: Quäker werden in einer fragmentierten Welt

Now it is official, I have been accepted into membership of the Religious Society of Friends. I would like to share a quote from the report of the clearness committee that helped me discern whether becoming a Quaker is the right step for me and the Victoria Friends Meeting at this time:

…His readings, experience and deep reflections about his spiritual journey and its congruence with his life of service led him to apply for membership after some email exchanges and conversations with VFM members.

Our clearness committee enjoyed a lively visit with Othmar.  He exhibits a remarkable mix of delightful enthusiasm and direct, serious, and practical commitment to humane principals.  He also has deeply realistic expectations about his service without cynicism or romanticism.  We appreciated his good natured story-telling which was appropriately serious without solemnity.  We feel that he is committed to spiritual openings compatible with our understanding of Quaker faith and practice.  He seeks to deepen his spiritual life with support from Quakers and in particular our Victoria Meeting…

…We recommend his acceptance into membership with joy and the conviction that our conjoined spiritual lives of worship and service will benefit.

This is a big step for me. Continue reading “Becoming a Quaker in a fragmented world (+de)”

Teach me to stop and listen again

It looks like many readers have seen and hopefully enjoyed the initial posting on the “Teach me to stop and listen” song that was shared with the Whitehorse Worship Group by the Quaker Worship Group in Lucknow, Ontario. Next Sunday, our group will practice and sing the song for the first time at the beginning of our monthly meeting for worship.

As I experiment will all kinds of social networking sites (and learn from my children who are much more proficient users), I was able to upload the simple recording of my own arrangement of the song that I wrote about a few days back on this blog. Continue reading “Teach me to stop and listen again”

The significance of the insignificance of self

significance of insignificance
The winner of the 2008 Qavvavik sled dog races in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, supported by the community in an inhospitable environment.

In a previous post I made the statement that “we are insignificant but essential particles in the universe”. Out the of the entire article, this statement yielded an immediate reaction from the readership. I then recalled that I made a similar entry in my diary last summer during the time I was visiting in Switzerland:

A thought about the rank of self within the higher order of the universe: I am a small, insignificant part of a much larger organism. Despite that smallness, the self is assigned a significance of its own because it is at the same time a manifestation of the whole; also because it bears its own potential within. That potential is a substantial part of the larger organism, without which the whole would not be complete.

(my own translation from German)

I believe this thinking is influenced by the thought of Mahatma Gandhi.

Continue reading “The significance of the insignificance of self”

Don’t waste your time!

I was brought up with the mantra don’t waste your time. My parents were quite insistent that their children make the most of their time (and definitely not waste theirs). Only now do I realize that this attitude was not something purely utilitarian – a way to make it out of misery and to the top. It actually has biblical roots:

Make best use of the time, because the days are evil. Eph 5:16 (ESV)

for a German version of this article: Verschwende deine Zeit nicht!

For my parents’ and grandparents’ generation making most of their time seemed to have worked. They all have roots in an agrarian lifestyle – something that for the most part excluded options in life, and was equally associated with a good measure of back-breaking labour, servitude, misery and poverty. But they overcame the burden thereof and created for themselves a much more comfortable worldly existence.

Continue reading “Don’t waste your time!”

Teach me to stop and listen

Watch out, the ultimate commerce season is upon us! I went for a walk in the beautiful winter sun and decided to stop for coffee. There it was: the first Christmas tree and the entire store already decked out in red and green, seasonal symbols, and superfluous merchandise. I got all worked up about it and decided that this is the last time this year that I will stop at Starbucks for coffee!

Teach me to stop and listen,
Teach me to center down,
Teach me the use of silence,
Teach me where peace is found…

I really needed these words after my walk. They were helpful for me to find my calm again. Continue reading “Teach me to stop and listen”