This is a post in my organizing “between and beyond” series. Other posts are here. The purpose of this post is to explore Lloyd Lee Wilson’s notion of Quaker good order.1
Lloyd Lee Wilson writes in his Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order that gospel, right, or good order is an organizing principle by which Quakers come to a clearer understanding of their relationship to all divine manifestations, and the responsibility of this relationship. Here is my book review.
Good order is the order that exists in every part of the universe. It is the right relationship of every part to every other part. Good order includes the ability to meet specific needs of a specific situation and time. Interestingly, good order is also an organizing principle by which we come to a clearer understanding of our relationship with others and the whole of nature. It is our responsibility to live in a manner that is in line with good order.
Good order is effective in the present moment. It is also possible to discern good order in every situation. Good order is discerned by centering down, listening, and feeling out. The process is intuitive rather than intellectual. Intellectual explanations cannot capture the essence of good order, or the means by which it is perceived. Descriptions can only point toward the experience.
Practices followed ritualistically cannot ensure good order. What is required is an underlying desire to be in good order. The individual must find out what is good order on her own. Aliveness and coherence are gained by keeping close to good order in each circumstance. What is required is a personal centering down into the Life which guides us.
We cannot see anything with clarity until we have faced ourselves with sensitivity and honesty. Our ability to discern good order is closely related to how we feel out our own self-worth. Our deepest values and aspirations reside below both reason and emotions. Outward actions both reflect and shape our inward condition. Inward changes make new outward behavior possible.
I think that discernment of good order is generally available to all human beings regardless of their religious beliefs. Any group can, for example, search for unity provided there is trust. I believe, furthermore, that good order is related to deeper generative order for organizing. A particularly interesting example of communal discernment of good order is the Quakers’ approach to decision-making.
1 Lloyd Lee Wilson, Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order (FGC QuakerPress, 2007, first published 1993).