Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Quakers have a rich, fascinating and prophetic past – but on the whole we are not very actively involved with our future. We are the heirs and custodians of an enormous heritage of Quaker literature, buildings, spiritual struggle and historic witness, but we are investing less and less in the needs and interests of the next generation or even in the generation around us.
If left unaddressed, our youth are left ill-prepared and vulnerable to a system where war is left out of the public view, and Selective Service sweeps them up unaware. Our meetings have a responsibility to bear witness to conscientious objection and nurture the conscience that lies deep within our young people.
The backlash is devastating, the backlash is painful, particularly for folks of color who in our faith tradition see a white backlash to their dignity and to their lives. But nonetheless the backlash is going to be a part of the process and so how do we actually use the backlash to galvanize progressive sources even more? How do we unite our people even more to live our values in the time and not let the back lash undermine our efforts?
Coming to grips with some very basic practices, such as ordering well-made and styled clothing that is both simple and expressive, has been an unexpectedly liberating exercise, one that helps me overcome feelings of victimization and deprivation in America’s highly materialistic society. When these things become personal idols, then we need to worry.
You can tell how well your outreach is doing by seeing how attendance changes over time. You can tell how current events impact attendance. That’s both internal and external. Current events sometimes drives people to faith. Internal conflicts sometimes drive them away. My meeting’s assistant clerk said she wished she knew if the “this current conflict is making people stay away” talk my meeting had going on earlier this year was accurate. Well, I personally did head counts, so I could tell her the trends. None of that’s written anywhere, though.
Looking outdated can be a problem [for a website], because websites are for newcomers. When a seeker finds a website that looks like it hasn’t been updated in five years, they wonder “is this group still around?” In fact, a pair of first time guests at my meeting a few weeks ago explicitly told me they’d ruled out the first meeting in their Google results because the website looked so outdated.
It does apparently take a certain personality type to be dedicated to the truth above popularity or even security. That kind of personality is it seems at times flamboyant or “rude” or aggressive and self-righteous in making its point. As Redikar says about Lay: “His confrontational methods made people talk: about him, his ideas, the nature of Quakerism and Christianity, and, most of all, slavery.”
I found everything was out of date. A calendar where all the dates had passed. An old version of our “Guide to Meeting”. No mention of our website url. Random Quaker mailings and notices for Quaker programs that not longer exist. This is common in many meetings – someone posts a great event, but then it sits.
My choice “to protest the Vietnam war” in this fashion was respected and never questioned by the people I worked for and with. My experiences there greatly influenced my later tenure as a teacher, providing me with patience, insight and compassion for an individual’s particular circumstances.
I did not grow up in the RSoF, but since I was a boy I had a dread of being asked to take an oath, salute the flag or recite the Pledge. I was asked to leave an Aikido class in college because I could not bow before a picture of the founder of the…Continue
I just got back home from a weekend meeting of Quakers. It was called a retreat but it was a meeting. It had a leader not a clerk. The Leader had expectations and a plan for the weekend. At the end of the meeting it became apparent to me that…Continue
Dear Friends.I'm running a small café in the quiet harbour town of Hafnarfjörður in Iceland. I would like to ask you your opinion, if I may. If you were to walk into a Quaker-run cafe, what would your expectations be? It could be anything from food…Continue
What follows are field notes from my experience serving at the intersection of institutional leadership and renewal in the Quaker movement. I hope this reflection might offer encouragement to your work of exploration and discovery in your own context: your local meeting, yearly meeting, other Friends institution, or in some new garden where you find yourself called to labor.
Includes views from Joyce Ajlouny, director of the Ramallah Friends School, and incoming general secretary of American Friends Service Committee.
“Quaker time” is not a thing. We’ve made it a thing. Discernment is not about doing things in “Quaker time,” it’s about doing things in God’s time, which is sometimes much slower than earthly time and other times faster. I don’t think early Friends, the Publishers of Truth, often wrote a pamphlet and then sat on it for six months because they weren’t completely sure about the placement of a comma.
Professor 'Ben' Pink Dandelion, Editor of Quaker Studies, said “This is a very exciting moment for the journal and for Quaker studies as a whole. The new arrangement will be of great benefit to scholars worldwide, in Quaker studies and in the wider humanities.