An excerpt from Jack Powelson, "The Political Ideology of Unprogrammed Quakers," *Religion & Liberty*, Volume 13, Number 1.

"The Religious Society of Friends seems to be comparatively a rather weak form of religion.  [Mark] Cary believes that 'Quakers basically have a religion with a niche appeal on the boundary between religion and philosophy.  Unprogrammed Quakerism has very limited appeal outside of the liberal, intellectual elites, having attracted those sorts of people overt time and thus having become even less diverse in politics.'"

Okay, Forrest Curo, what do you think??  

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Forrest: I don't always understand what you say, but I perceive that you subscribe to a very rationalistic model of human behavior and decision-making, with almost no place for those aspects of personhood which cannot be accessed consciously through the exercise of reason.   My experience is that the human mind is much more complicated and less accessible than you imagine.

I think this is a bunny trail from the discussion I had hoped for of Jack Powelson and Mark Cary's incisive description of the Society of Friends.  It is all too easy to pick up on a side point, and miss the issue(s) that should be the focus of a discussion.

By the way, I think your tendency to poke fun at people/issues is not a good way to address objections you may have.  Calling Freud "Fraud" is a good case in point.  If you have objections to Freud, say so, rather than hurling insults at him.  

William, you certainly don't always understand what I say, & thus your models of what I _must_ be saying sometimes drift very far indeed. I will try to leave a less artistic & more pedestrian mental trail...

The mind is certainly complex & illusive; much thinking, feeling, etc goes on -- in other people's minds, for one obvious example -- which people typically don't access consciously. Much thinking gets included in our own which we haven't thought "consciously" -- whether we access it through the use of "reasoning", rationalizing, plain simple observation, whatever -- But we don't need to construct elaborate, fixed mental structures ala "The Unconscious," "the id", etc ad nauseum to carry out that thinking...

Maps of the psychic world are just maps. Given the state of our actual knowledge, much territory should probably be simply marked "Heer ther bee dragons" & left unclaimed until someone can really visit it & return.

Freud may not have cooked his books that much more than (too many) other "scientists" -- but obviously he built vast theoretical edifices with weak foundations & shoddy stuctural materials, promoting their uncritical public acceptance & the kind of respect customarily accorded to experimentally-grounded physical science.

I don't know why there's such a tendency for psychologists to form cults around themselves & their models; much of it probably results from a desire to put the placebo effect to good use... You do know, I hope, that you can relieve headaches to a measureable extent -- or at least get people to report such an effect -- by giving people (people educated to, yes, know the meaning of the word 'placebo') inert pills from a bottle plainly labeled "placebo".

The mind is a stranger place than even you think, wouldn't you say?


I asked, early on, whether it was religion or politics you wanted to raise...

I do not feel that Jack Powelson's description, "incisive" as it may have been, was at all insightful.

His use of the word "elite" is a common pejorative usage among right-wing propagandists attempting to discredit people who could probably be best described sociologically as 'retainer' class: 

ie people who perform intellectual services which the true elites of this civilization would rather not have to do for themselves -- when said retainers venture outside the automatic loyalty their masters might prefer.

The word "weak" applied to non-authoritarian forms of religion has already received sufficient comment.

"Liberal" is a misnomer that would only be applied to us in a nation which has drifted extremely far to the right politically; I would term the bulk of LiberalFriendists as "fervently moderate." An accurate description of the national political condition would strike them, much as it would you, as 'madly left-wing to anarchic' (although I'm not sure that's a territory you've visited enough for an accurate picture either.)

Thought the dominant tone in LiberalFriendist Meetings is, as I say, devoutely Moderativist, they include considerable political diversity among their membership, with probably more outlyers to the right than to the left... real political activists being too busy to sit with us.

I would agree with Forrest from my varied experience with liberal Friends that the assessment of us from the Evangelical side of Quakerism and the Ohio Conservative side of Quakerism and the traditional Christianity side of Christendom, is somewhat skewed due to these one's own well-defined spiritual experience.  It generally does not accurately convey the deep spiritual experience of liberal Friends; an experience that is not easily grasped by those who do not share it.

I have no doubt that detractors in Jesus day felt similarly about him and his followers; that they were in 'la la land' and therefore labeled them as radicals, as well as out of touch with the religious "realities" that were acceptable by the masses.

The liberal Friends I have come across in many places are indeed moderate in outlook and behavior for the most part, and whether they label their outlook as spiritual or not, by any definition - it surely is.  Labels are just not that important to liberal Friends - just as they weren't that important to another guy we all know who lived 2000 years ago.   Even though most liberal Friends are indeed moderate, they lovingly make room for outliers whose heart is in the right place (again, there was another guy 200o years ago who did that).

The liberal Friends I have met are temperamentally moderate but politically tend to be very much on the Democrat side. The liberal Friends meetings I have visited (7 or 8) were all (more or less) challenging places to be a Republican, especially during the Bush years. I'm not a Republican, but I was struck by how free people made in their disparagement of the Right. Maybe St. Louis, Chicago, Charlottesville and the greater NYC area are outliers, though...

That was the case at my meeting too years ago, Adria.  But, I believe that is changing rapidly in many liberal Quaker meetings.  The politics of the world is becoming more inappropriate to drag into meeting as fuel for disparaging conversation.

Having Republicans and Libertarians among us is part of being diverse.  Once our meeting wholeheartedly embraced that, and made an effort to act in concert with that decision, we have attracted many - and guess what: they want a peaceful world with compassion too!  We are still united in Spirit; we now just have a more comprehensive approach.

Howard wrote: "I would agree with Forrest from my varied experience with liberal Friends that the assessment of us from the Evangelical side of Quakerism and the Ohio Conservative side of Quakerism and the traditional Christianity side of Christendom, is somewhat skewed due to these one's own well-defined spiritual experience.  It generally does not accurately convey the deep spiritual experience of liberal Friends; an experience that is not easily grasped by those who do not share it."

It may be of interest that Jack Powelson defines his version of Quakerism at the beginning of his essay.  I would label (whoops, sorry, Howard!) it liberal Quakerism.  He is not associated, as far as I know, with either evangelical or  Conservative groups.  I think he may belong to the Boulder CO liberal meeting.

My impression is that Mark Cary, whom Powelson quotes, is affiliated with Middletown Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting; they have a long-standing Christian affinity.  However, he also seems to fellowship occasionally with the Conservative Friends in SE Pennsylvania, and appears to be a fellow traveler. 

Mark Cary, a professional psychologist, is apparently employed as a biostatistician at the U of PA Medical School.  He has published a couple of interesting articles, coauthored by Pink Dandelion, on the theological makeup of Britain Yearly Meeting:  

Adria, "the Democrat side" would have been considered "moderate right wing" in any European democracy, half a century ago, before the banksters & their minions got such a chokehold on the public discourse. If anything, the US Democrat party has moved to the right since then.

As for "disparagement" -- of whichever political and/or religious persuasions the bulk of a group don't belong to... I can't say I've hung out with Republicans a lot, but I suspect they disparage "Liberals" freely, with all the assurance of innate superiority with which the Dems look down on them.

Most human belief systems are, in fact, so absurd (particularly their political beliefs) that trying to 'understand' them is probably wasted effort -- while the people who hold to them are generally passionate in wanting others to "Love me; love my belief system." [People can, however, readily observe that another person's rhetorical pants don't hold up.]

I don't see an 'answer' to this 'problem' -- certainly not trying to run around with no beliefs of one's own. Occasionally checking for congruence between beliefs & observations should be a helpful practice; but it'll never catch on.

Forrest reported to me that Jack Powelson is deceased.

My experience among Republicans matches your assessment, Forrest, that many are as disparaging of Democrats as Democrats are of them. Adria's sense of self professed Liberal Democrats matches my experience too. Having attended many Meetings in both rural and urban contexts at various times throughout my life and all over the United States, my experience is that those in the rural context do not identify politically as much as those in the urban context; at least they are not as willing to expose their politics in Meeting or open admit to it. Obviously, this observation is purely anecdotal as I am there as an observer and rarely attend more than eight meetings in any given place.

As an aside and for the record, I was a Young Republican who thoroughly and completely supported "Ronaldus Magnus" and was part of the 1980 Republican Convention in Detroit, MI.

Not to be argumentative. I can testify that the inshining Light working in the conscience often does lead people out of identity with any outward political or religious belief system or construct or organizational arrangement and into identity with inshining Presence as sufficient and complete in itself. In that withdraw from outward constructs and into Presence itself many people find the Answer itself.

More on the Bunny Trail:  I am disturbed by Forrest Curo's rather casual dismissal of  the person and work of Sigmund Freud.  For better or for worse (and probably some of both!), Freud was one of the great shapers of modern western thought.  He should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand as a "fraud".  And the evidentiary  base of his work is that of a pioneer in psychology and medicine; we are not justified in holding its tentative character against him.

For more on Freud, see:

Among other accomplishments, Freud is responsible for the modern awareness of the role of the unconscious in human behavior, and for our present-day understanding of how early life experiences play a major formative role in people's psychological development.

Much of modern western thought is based on one man's delusions which happened to resonate with the needs & desires of his contemporaries.

Blurb/quote from Frederick Crews, _The Unknown Freud_:

"Over the past thirty years, a revolution has occurred in the study of Sigmund Freud and his brainchild, psychoanalysis. The Freud of legend has been exposed as fiction, a joint concoction of Freud himself and his official biographer, Ernest Jones. The emerging truth is that Freud was a dogmatist who browbeat his patients and consistently failed to mark the crucial difference between their fantasies and his own. Now Frederick Crews, the most authoritative of Freud critics, collects the trenchant writings of eighteen experts who put to rest the myth of Freud's scientific and therapeutic prowess..."

but established myths die hard -- and Freud most certainly intended, by the end of his career if not initially, to promote the establishment of his -- do not die easily, particularly if (as you say) they've set the foundation for a great deal of subsequent thought (not all of it so dogmatic, much of it actually increasing human understanding of how we misfunction.)

Jung's account (in _Memories, Dreams, & Reflections_) of the conversation which ultimately distroyed his loyalty to Freud's psychiatric papacity was clear enough; Freud insisted that they must uphold "the dogma" of the sexual origin of neuroses; while Jung (who'd been actually one of the more rigorous experimentalists of the movement) was well aware of myriad other factors which could produce equally neurotic effects. Freud retained his continued respect and personal affection throughout Jung's life; but I doubt Jung had time to critically examine Freuds clinical notes while overwhelmed with producing his own (and yes, a great deal of his own sometimes over-the-top notions, though usually more reality-based than those of his one-time mentor.)

The phenomena associated with hypnosis -- studied well before Freud began his own consideration of them -- and the sort of experimental studies Jung produced in his early years -- established clearly that thoughts, emotions, & physical sensations could be strongly influenced by unconscious factors.

"The unconscious" ... is a conceptional construct most people impose on such phenomena, whether validly or not pretty much moot.

The assumption of 'unconscious' intentionalities Freud habitually ascribed to human behavior he disapproved of... remains a persistent distortion of how people commonly seek to "understand" each other -- and thus too casually misundertand instead.

As hynotists have repeatedly demonstrated over the years: When people don't know why they did, thought, felt something problematic -- they make up 'reasons'. The desire to have things make sense is perfectly conscious, and the production of efforts in that direction -- is simply something people habitually do.


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