William Evans was with Jeremiah Hacker in North Carolina on a missionary visit. Beside him in the gallery sat a Friend in a bright blue coat with brass buttons.  After meeting, William Evans said,  "I have been troubled as we sat together by the style and color of thy coat. Is it right for one who sits at the head of the meeting to wear such a coat?"

    The man replied, "Since thee has spoken so, it opens the way for me to tell thee that I have been much troubled by thy clothes. They are plain to be sure, but of very expensive broadcloth.  I am a poor man, too poor to buy a coat, and this one was given to me."

Charles, Helen White.  (ed.)  Quaker Chuckles.   1961.  The Cullen Printing Company.  Ohio.  pp 116-117.

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Well, it may seem silly  to change garments to be more  plain,but if it is important to them, if it feels right to them, if it expresses something of their faith or their tastes,  than I have no quarrel. As a matter of fact if someone feels moved by the Spirit to wear polka-dot pajamas inside out, stand on their head and whistle Yankee Doodle, who am I go question that?

The movement to conceptualize the inner state by outward expression, especially in contrary testimony to the cultural pressures of fashion and some of the coarse and ugly messages of  modern fashion is a blessed one and I celebrate it!

Frankly I am a clothesaholic.  A beautiful dress in a store window will literally take my breath away.  I will gasp and stare as if I have just seen the Grand Canyon.

My period of attempts at Plain Dress which lasted probably a little more than two years was like a fast for me. I would get into this more, but it doesn't feel right at this time.  I will also say though, when I was wearing Plain Dress that looked a little more distinctive, it stopped being like a fast from my clothing attachment and just started to me a new, vain attachment to clothes.  Some of those items were quite pretty.  The true clothes fast was when I wore the ugliest, ugliest things one can imagine, with no care whatsoever for anything other than that the clothes were boring and serviceable and made me appear anonymous and colorless.  I am a therapist and I even had desperate clients bring me colorful blouses as gifts. apparently not understanding that the understated,  humble  and self-denial expressed in my clothing were purposeful. !  I won't say there wasn't value in this journey of total fasting from pretty things,  (which wasn't even the root desire that started my journey in observant dress, it just kind of devolved into this, I won't go more into it.)  I won't say there wasn't value in this lesson.  There is a book from a Catholic perspective called "Feminine, Free and Faithful" much of which I can't remember whether I totally recommend or not,  but I did get something from its underlying essenses. One of the things the author talked about was the feminine expression of  draping oneself in lovely clothing, and not denying the curves and shapes we are given.   I am not ashamed of the feminine body I have been given, and don't feel it is my job to make sure men are not seized with lust and some fundamentalist modest dressers make reference to.  Preventing men from being seized with lust can't be done anyway if they are so inclined, and then even the tiniest glance of a petticoat over a buttoned boot will provoke that.   Modesty can mean different things, both covering the body to not overtly advertise sexuality, and not promoting one self with ostentatious dress. I was more motivated by the latter.  I was also one of those who experienced dreams and inward calling regarding this that were quite strong.   .    .  Well, one might mention that John Woolman was called for a while to be a vegetarian and then called away from it! Correct me if I am wrong on that Friends.  Only as an example that sometimes one's direction can change, especially once a lesson has been learned or one's inner motivations carefully examined and the next lesson ready to be presented. More than I wanted to say, yet I could write a thousand more pages on Plain Dress!

Thanks William Rushby.  William Evans sounds like quite a good man  who can't defend himself generations after his death on a device he never could have imagined, the Internet,  regarding a statement he may never have made!  Or if he did make he can no longer amend, expand and clarify.   Hopefully, well CERTAINLY  in the hereafter little squabbles, theological hair-splitting, cultural misunderstanding, trivial and trite sniping etc. are not Heavenly past times!  But we humans,  we still have a lot to discuss, and discuss it we will!  Apologies to his reputation and I am sure all of us understand that Quaker Chuckles is a collection of anecdotes that we take with a large grain of salt!

 Today at 7:39 PM

Thank you, Laura!
 
Actually, I sympathize with William Evans' "middleite" stance.  I believe that the Gurneyites and the Wilburites both had good points.  However, I would not advocate programmed worship or a one-person pastoral system.
I am an Orthodox-Conservative Friend, but attend a conservative Mennonite church which has a plural ministry, and a traveling ministry.  The ministers receive a small subsidy, but they are employed in regular occupations.  They give much more than they receive!  By the way, both of the resident ministers wear the plain coat!!  Their coats are dark in color, with no brass buttons!!  Every few weeks, a minister comes from a sister church and preaches at ours.

I enjoyed the story very much (true or not.. I suspect there is some truth there) I have learned a lot from the story and the discussion that followed.

Who knows, maybe William got a good laugh from it. Maybe, he is having a good laugh now.

If the story is true, maybe God placed them in the same meeting, on the same seat in those coats as a teaching experience,,, a chance to grow, a chance to get to know each other and to learn how bitter an incorrect judgment can taste.

I'll go a bit further, Maybe God did all that just to have us relive it here so we could see which coat fits us best.

Apologies to the hard-working Quaker pastors who have served me but I don't much appreciate the one-person pastoral system or programmed worship either.  When I became a Friend, I was all ready a Christian and being out west the choice was the un-programmed meeting, where one may have to walk on egg shells on mentioning Jesus.  Or the Evangelical Meeting which was programmed but  you could talk about Jesus all you wanted, so given the choice I chose the Evangelical Meeting.  My apologies to my many friends in so-called liberal meetings too.  Someone once asked me why I don't feel comfortable in such meetings, especially when many of them do contain people who do not reject Jesus.  I said I didn't know, but I guess it is because I often feel starved after attending a liberal meeting. Sad and starved.  Sometimes it is nice to sit in the quiet and it is relaxing, but sitting in any quiet place with good-hearted people is relaxing, but not spiritually nurturing.  And speaking of the post schism branches,  I have bonnets from those eras that are supposed to represent what one branch or another usually wore, e.g. whether Hicksite or Gurneyite or Wilburite.   I treasure my bonnets, but sometimes it also makes me a bit sad to think that the size and shape of the brim was something that indicated and emphasized our separation,   like gang colors or something.   So, perhaps my posting about the tale of the bright blue coat and the broadcloth suit partly springs from that, that division that is deepened by wearing something outward that deepens our separation.  Anyway, currently, I walk a solitary spiritual life, and don't know if I ever will attend meetings of any sort ever again.  For a time I longed for my Quaker heritage to come alive again like the "Dry Bones" ( (dry bones, dry bones.   . ) as if we could emerge again and be alive.  I pretty much accept that it is over, at least for me, and this past time of discussing issues online is more of an intellectual past time than anything else.  There is a person here at this site who has told me as he has told others,  that, I am "not of his faith", that is apparently, I have been tried and found wanting, have missed the boat,  lying in the desert with the other Dry Bones, not able to grasp the ascension into Light that perhaps one or two or three have accomplished,  a few ancient Quakers and one or two people on this website.   So, yea, not of any community or connection anymore.    .   Although my ancestors at least didn't miss the boat, and managed to get on the Lamb in Penn's Fleet.   So here I am, in the desert of dry Quaker bones with my collection of withered dry papery old Quaker bonnets, testaments to schisms. 



Rick Massengale said:

I enjoyed the story very much (true or not.. I suspect there is some truth there) I have learned a lot from the story and the discussion that followed.

Who knows, maybe William got a good laugh from it. Maybe, he is having a good laugh now.

If the story is true, maybe God placed them in the same meeting, on the same seat in those coats as a teaching experience,,, a chance to grow, a chance to get to know each other and to learn how bitter an incorrect judgment can taste.

I'll go a bit further, Maybe God did all that just to have us relive it here so we could see which coat fits us best.

That's a cool way to look at it Rick.   I do know one thing,  there is humor and there is laughter in lessons with the Divine.  That's a cool way to think of it that God, encompassing all time would knit us together through time that way.  

Thanks, Rick. 

Thanks for the topic, Laura!

I am confused as to why sometimes my replies to people are place in italics within the body of their comment and sometimes show up disconnected as a separate new posting. Anyway,  there are several people I tried to acknowledge and reply to.  Thanks all for your thoughtful comments.

One person I tried to reply to is Rick, and I said that I thought his way of bridging across time and seeing the Hand of God knitting our stories together was cool.  And also I acknowledge that joy, laughter and playfulness are part of experiencing God.

Laura

You became my friend early here, as did Olivia, Forrest, William, Jean and others.  I know where you are coming from with your thoughts... I have posted comments to some and was ignored,, I got the feeling I wasn't worthy of their presence,, so I went back and deleted them.  If you have missed the boat ( and I think I know your spirit pretty well) Then is that seat beside you taken? You and I will wait for the bus.

( and surprise the heck out of em when we arrive in a Rolls)
 
Laura Scattergood said:

Apologies to the hard-working Quaker pastors who have served me but I don't much appreciate the one-person pastoral system or programmed worship either.  When I became a Friend, I was all ready a Christian and being out west the choice was the un-programmed meeting, where one may have to walk on egg shells on mentioning Jesus.  Or the Evangelical Meeting which was programmed but  you could talk about Jesus all you wanted, so given the choice I chose the Evangelical Meeting.  My apologies to my many friends in so-called liberal meetings too.  Someone once asked me why I don't feel comfortable in such meetings, especially when many of them do contain people who do not reject Jesus.  I said I didn't know, but I guess it is because I often feel starved after attending a liberal meeting. Sad and starved.  Sometimes it is nice to sit in the quiet and it is relaxing, but sitting in any quiet place with good-hearted people is relaxing, but not spiritually nurturing.  And speaking of the post schism branches,  I have bonnets from those eras that are supposed to represent what one branch or another usually wore, e.g. whether Hicksite or Gurneyite or Wilburite.   I treasure my bonnets, but sometimes it also makes me a bit sad to think that the size and shape of the brim was something that indicated and emphasized our separation,   like gang colors or something.   So, perhaps my posting about the tale of the bright blue coat and the broadcloth suit partly springs from that, that division that is deepened by wearing something outward that deepens our separation.  Anyway, currently, I walk a solitary spiritual life, and don't know if I ever will attend meetings of any sort ever again.  For a time I longed for my Quaker heritage to come alive again like the "Dry Bones" ( (dry bones, dry bones.   . ) as if we could emerge again and be alive.  I pretty much accept that it is over, at least for me, and this past time of discussing issues online is more of an intellectual past time than anything else.  There is a person here at this site who has told me as he has told others,  that, I am "not of his faith", that is apparently, I have been tried and found wanting, have missed the boat,  lying in the desert with the other Dry Bones, not able to grasp the ascension into Light that perhaps one or two or three have accomplished,  a few ancient Quakers and one or two people on this website.   So, yea, not of any community or connection anymore.    .   Although my ancestors at least didn't miss the boat, and managed to get on the Lamb in Penn's Fleet.   So here I am, in the desert of dry Quaker bones with my collection of withered dry papery old Quaker bonnets, testaments to schisms. 

Thanks Rick!

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