Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Excerpted from my blog at WordPress.com
When I was on staff at Pendle Hill we had a weekend staff workshop. We took the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) which categorizes people on four dimensions according to Jungian theory (click here for description). As I remember all but two of us were INFP and all of us were IN. It means we are all introverts and intuitive on the two main axes. In addition we were all perceiving rather than judging. I was one of the two Ts, or thinking (rather than feeling) on the staff.
This is extremely unlikely. I and N are both minority types. To find a group of thirty some people with all of them being IN and almost all being INFP is far beyond chance expectation (and no, I didn't do the math). My thought is that there is something in Quakerism that attracts this type, or in the case of birth right Friends (Quakers born into the faith) something that molds them into that type. In the group I am describing there were only a few birth right Friends.
What follows is pure speculation, but following that line of thought I suggest all religions attract a certain type of person in social settings which allow one to select a church. Obviously someone raised in a small town with one church will attend that church, or none at all it the fit is particularly bad. In a large city or suburbs where options are available individuals will seek out a faith community which fits their type. And if INFPs are the Quaker type we Quakers should not be concerned that not more are attracted to our faith. It is the same God, and we all have different ways of worship.
Gene Hillman wrote: " And if INFPs are the Quaker type we Quakers should not be concerned that not more are attracted to our faith. It is the same God, and we all have different ways of worship."
There's room for considerable skepticism as to what such tests measure -- My guess would be 'self-concept.' Self-concept will, of course have a lot to do with how a person becomes; and certainly it means something that Pendle Hill staff would fit overwhelmingly into a certain pattern; being 'intuitive' would be a natural element in that pattern. From my time there (loved it!) I expect it would drive an extrovert inside out... Pendle Hill, of course, is far from a representative sample of Friends. There seem to be plenty of talk-your-ear-offs who think an hour of ceremonial silence is good for them before they open up their mouths for fellowship & munchies; and who am I to say they're wrong?
Whether God orchestrates His worshippers according to Jungian theory (unlikely unless God is a Jungian, which I doubt sincerely) I do observe that people sort themselves in ways appropriate to whatever feeds them best at the time, and that would indicate frivolity for those in frivolous states of mind, solemnity for the grumpy, etc... But does He wave a baton at the various sections: "Intuitive Thinkers! A little louder, please; I'm hardly hearing you at all!"? Do 'silent worshipers' do subsonics or ultrasonics -- or simply 'other'?
What my wife observed years ago, describing it as 'Quaker smugness' -- seems to be a class thing. [She's gone Episcopalian since then, but it's with a pretty down home congregation in one of our interesting neighborhoods.] That is, much of our political thinking seems appropriate to members of a class that really could influence public and governmental policies, as I suppose some of us did for awhile. In such a mindset, ordinary humans don't find much of a place except as targets of the prominent members' generic benevolence... Does it matter to God whether such an organization flourishes or languishes? Maybe not.
But the original intention of Friends, to restore the church to what it had been around the time of Jesus' earthly career -- would not be a haven for introverts, or a podium for extroverts -- rather a body, in which different types could share what they did well, nourish each other spiritually and in all other ways needed for the mission of making the Gospel known... This is not a goal that appeals much to the Comfortable, which goes a long way to explain why we've become what we've become.
Well put, Forrest!