It's been my experience that all those who believe in Jesus sing in harmony.
Some voices in the choir, however, blend a little tighter than others. They sing in "family harmony" - a sound that feels like it comes from shared genes.As a Mormon, for instance, I've felt a kinship with tight-knit religious communities like the Mennonites and the Amish. I've even felt "in tune" with the Puritans - and I'm pleased that "revisionist history" is showing they actually lead lives with room for sensuality, romance and earnest recreation.
Over the years the Methodists have often blended with my voice and thought, and the Anglicans (or Episcopalians) and I have sung some sweet chords together.
But the people who really sound like the Don Everly to my Phil Everly are the Quakers - the Religious Society of Friends.
The superficial similarities are obvious ones:
They go by a nickname because the name of their church is so long.
They believe in service to others.
They worship in monthly, quarterly and yearly reunions.
They have a version of "testimony meeting" and a strong belief in education and self-improvement.
But more than the similarities of the "outward church below," what strikes me is the harmony of spirit I find with them.
For instance, after years of debating and discussing films made by visionary artists like Paul Cox and Federico Fellini, my favorite movie is still "Friendly Persuasion," the old Gary Cooper chestnut about a Quaker family during the Civil War.
It still vibrates inside me like a piano tuner's tuning fork. The movie is my version of Emily Dickinson's "cathedral tune," a kind of music that hits you down inside "where the meanings are."
For example, when I met the poet William Stafford many years ago, it was as if I'd come across a long-lost uncle.
The tone of his poetry, the topics he chose, the point of view he expressed all had a family resemblance.
When he eventually told me he'd been raised as a Quaker in the Society of Friends, I simply said, "Of course you were."
Finally - last week - as I flipped past the Odyssey Channel, I caught some words that sounded familiar. I listened longer and realized they weren't familiar at all - but the way they were being said was familiar indeed.
The next day at work I looked up the speaker's name on the Internet, got a list of his books and checked a couple out of the library.
I couldn't put his book about prayer down.
And in an essay about Christian community, I read some things I knew - but didn't know till I read them. Things like this:
Those seeking communal expressions of Christian community must wrestle with major issues: how to maintain proper authority without becoming authoritarian, how to maintain a high level of intentional community life without becoming ingrown, how to make this way of life highly accessible to families with small children and couples who are highly mobile. Vigorous prayers need to arise for prophetic vision to create new solutions to old problems.
It was another "tuning fork" experience.
The man on the Odyssey Channel was named Richard J. Foster, author of the best seller "Celebration of Discipline."
I flipped to the back flap of one of his books to read a little more about him.
The short biography began:
"Richard J. Foster, a Quaker, is the author of several books. . ."
I closed the book.
Of course he is, I said.