Friends,

I'd like to hear your thoughts about plain speech, if you would be willing to write in about it. It has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and I think I am being asked to learn more about it and work to practice it. From reading a little of early Friends' writings and about them, I gather that originally there were several elements to it. One was to follow Jesus's command not to swear oaths, but rather to make everything that comes out of one's mouth conform to the truth: to speak with perfect honesty and to keep any promises one made. Another aspect was to give up using pronouns and other forms of speech which exalted some and demeaned others on the basis of class (which led to Friends' use of "thee," of course.) But it appears to have developed into a much larger practice, something that had an effect on every aspect of life and was highly distinctive of Quakers. I would like to learn more about what it was and how these practices developed if anyone feels led to write in about that or suggest good reading about it.

I'd also like to know how anyone who practices plain speech today thinks of it. When I first began attending my meeting, I noticed that a few elders there responded to conversation with me by appearing to think carefully before they spoke. This practice was so alien to me that I felt intimidated by it. I had the impression that they thought I was such a trial to talk to, they had to work hard at it. (Maybe they did!) I realized recently that I've come far enough now that I appreciate the practice of taking care over one's speech and would like to do more of it myself.

Thank you for your help,
Rosemary

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Jeremy Mott,
I have often read your messages on other blogs as well as here and have been grateful for your knowledge of our history and generosity in sharing it.
Thank you!
Rosemary
Jeremy

I agree that England at the time of GF had human social class orders that were not be broken by marriage.

I was in Chile in 1998 on a mission trip. Our interpreter was pleasantly shocked, when I told him the rich class in the U.S.A. sometimes marry the poor or middle class.

So . . . do you have an idea . . . for dropping "thou"?
Rosemary, Thank you. I appreciate knowing that I may still be useful to
Friends in some way.
I see now that you're in Charlottesville, Va. As you know, I'm in Roanoke.
We're not that far apart. But I don't travel far. There is a Blue Ridge
Gathering of Friends once a year. Friends from Charlottesville would be
welcome, of course. This year it was held in the brand-new Blacksburg
meetinghouse, and Friends from six or seven different meeetings all
over southwestern Virginia came. Friends from Fancy Gap, a house
church near Galax, would also have come, except that the pastor
there, Tony Lowe, was at the Young Adult Friends meeting in Wichita.
If you enjoy Quaker history, and have some spare time, read
the book The Friendly Virginians, by the late Jay Worrall, a remark-
able Friend from your meeting.
And if you enjoy Quaker blogs, I suggest that you regularly read
Johan Maurer's blog, Can You Believe, which often appears on
this site. It unquestionably has the best blues music on the Quaker
blogosphere. I haven't read today's edition yet.

Here's another example of the plain language, and a Quaker folkway:
no honorifics. In other words, all Friends are on a first-name basis
with each other. No titles. Not even last names if not necessary.
I learned this so well as a boy that I'm very pleased when a Quaker
office (like Friends Journal or Friends United Meeting) addresses
me on the telephone only by first name. Of course, this is quite
cliquish, but it makes me feel at home.

Jeremy Mott
Jeremy,

Thank you for the information about honorifics. I would have normally called you Jeremy, but I noticed you used last names with Rickey and Elin so I thought you might prefer that. I've wondered about that whole issue, too, in regard to plain speech. (This is an opportunity for me to blow my own horn!) I had an essay published by Friends Journal in October (did you see it?) and I didn't know how I ought to address the editor. And that raises the question of integrity, too. If I address him by his first name, should I write to any editor, Quaker or not, using their first name?

I do read Johan's blog. I also saw that Blue Ridge gathering and really wished I could go to it. I would like to participate in more that happens outside Charlottesville eventually. I'm unable to travel much myself right now because of my children's needs. I was fortunate enough to know Jay a little before he died and I've read the Friendly Virginians. He was one of the best people I've ever known. I still think about him all the time.
Rosemary
Hello Rosemary, When asking for or e-mailing Bob Dockhorn
(the actual editor) at Friends Journal, I've used two names---
because that organization is so big that there might be another
Bob. I just don't know. I know (by phone and e-mail)
the people at Quaker Life fairly well. Since there are only
two of them, I address them only by their first names.
If I were addressing a non-Quaker editor, I supposse I
would use Mr. or Ms., unless I knew them well. But I
restrict myself mainly to Friends. Our Quaker world has
expanded so much in recent years that that is all I can do.
I address the people at the New York Yearly Meeting
office (the yearly meeting where I am a member) by their
first names only. There are only four, who carry on all
the business of the yearly meeting. If addressing the
people at FWCC, which I do on rare occasions, I will use
their first names only. I never get in touch with Friends
around the world, except by reading The Friend (British)
magazine and viewing videos on Quaker websites. It's
amazing to me to see how much is going on among
Friends around the world.
By growing up in New York Yearly Meeting, mainly
in Ridgewood meeting but also in Rochester, I had a
different experience than Friends in Baltimore Y.M. are
likely to have. The two N.Y.Y.M.'s reunited in 1955,
after many years of joint activity and sessions. In 1955,
I think that about half of the local meetings in the
yearly meetings were already reunited locally. There
was very little concern about theological unity among
Friends; but there was great concern for social action.
Many Friends in both yearly meetings (including my
parents) had been pacifists during World War II, and
others who had fought in the war had come out as
pacifists. And very many Friends felt that nonviolent
action would have practical application in the very
near future, especially in overthrowing racial segregation
in the South. (Of course, it turned out that they were
right in their thinking.) These Friends greatly resented
many Friends institutions in Philadelphia and Baltimore
Yearly Meetings, where the Quaker schools were often
still segregated. Friends General Conference met in those
days at Cape May, N.J., which was a segregated town.
There were only a few Friends in the South then. (As
I'm sure you know, this was true of Roman Catholics
as well, in many places.) There were Friends in ancient
meetings in a few odd corners of Virginia, in many places
in North Carolina, and in extreme eastern Tennessee.
A fair number of Philadelphia Friends had retired to
Florida, and started Friends meetingss in resort towns.
But that was almost the sum total of Friends in the
South in the early 1950's. Atlanta meeting had been
founded during World War II; Nashville, Chattanooga,
and West Knoxville meetings came in the 1950's, as
did Little Rock meeting. There was not a single Quaker
meeting in Mississippi or in South Carolina, and only
one in Alabama (at the single-tax colony at Fairhope).
Now there is a meeting at Oxford, Mississippi, and
several meetings in South Carolina and in Alabama.
And Virginia now has many Friends meetings: in
the early 1950's there were no meetings at all in
southwest Virginia, except for the old pair near
Galax; now there are about nine (not counting
evangelical Friends churches).
In a few places, including Little Rock
and Nashville, Friends furnished white leadership
for the civil rights movement. And it's safe to say
that throughout the South, Quakerism owes an
incalculable debt to the civil rights movement. If
it had not been for this movement, there would
not be more Friends in the South today than there
were in the 1950's, I think. As it is, we are a grow-
ing group in much of the South, as we are not in
most of the rest of North America.
I had an aunt, an uncle, and cousins, who had
a dairy farm about 10 miles south of Charlottesville.
In the summer of 1961, I spent a few weeks staying
with them (they acquired their herd). At that time,
I don't think that the Friends meeting even met
during the summer! Of course, everyone could
remember the closing for a year of Charlottesville
schools because of Sen.Harry Byrd and his policy
of massive resistance. The schools in Prince Edward
County had already been closed for several years,
and stayed closed until 1964.
My grandparents lived near Orlando, Florida.
(No Disney World or Space Coast in those days.)
Because I was a sickly child, my family sent me
to stay with them once or twice a year. So I got
a pretty good idea of the old South. And because
I was a Quaker, I grew up with a good idea of
what was happening in the civil rights movement.
It was a good time to be a Friend, I think; the
Sixties and Seventies were not a good time at all.
There's enough good news coming from Friends
overseas that I think things are looking up for us.
We also have a great many more newcomers
to the RSOF in this country than we have had
for many years, I think.

I see that Johan Maurer has gospel music on his
blog today. That is fine with me. Another blog
you might like, if you're not already familiar
with it, is "hystery quaker, plainly quaker," it
used to be "plainly pagan." She is truly one
of our clergy, a woman with a Ph.D. in
feminist spirituality, knowledgeable about
Friends in upstate New York in the 1800's,
and about early Christianity (since she was
a Methodist/Congregationalist preacher's
kid); also a mother of three home-schooled
children, and an adjunct professor, and a
confirmed pacifist----you get the busy
picture. Chuck Fager's blog is sometimes
excellent as well---it is today.

I could ramble on and on, but my
wife Judy plans to serve supper soon.

Yours in the Spirit,

Jeremy Mott
Hello Rosemary, I have just now read your article in the October
Friends Journal. It is excellent, and sad, since you don't have
much of an idea how your oldest son will do in life.
One never knows how a child will turn out. My wife and I
have an only child, a daughter Mary Hannah, born in 1974.
She is very bright, and for most of her life has been very
bright-spirited as well. Yet in her teen-age years, she fell
entirely apart. She finished high school only because she
went to summer school three summers in a row. We had
her do this in the belief that a diploma would serve her
better than a GED. When she was finished with high
school, we did not what to do. We were unwilling to
spend money on college, which she would probably
waste by dropping out. So we chose "tough love." She
could stay at home, with room and board for free; but
she would have to work, or go to school, or both. Since
she had no money, she had to work for a year to get
enough money to go to commuity college. She spent
two years there, still working part-time as I remember;
then she went on to a regular state college for another
two years. I told her about Americorps, which I think
is a wonderful program. She and her male life partner
used Americorps as a ticket to Washington state, where
they joined Americorps in Seattle. They spent two
years in Americorps, then had enough scholarship funds
for two more years of public college. It seemed as though
everything was going as well as could be.
All of a sudden, without warning, our daughter's
partner dumped her. No one knows why. She wished
to go on a vacation to the Netherlands---this was in the
aftermath of 9/11/2001. I told her that that would
certainly not be a restful vacation, and contributed some
funds that, along with her own, enabled her to take a
"cruise" on an Alaska state ferry to that state. She did
this, and on the way back, she met her present partner.
It took a lot of urging from me and Judy to get her
to finish up college at the University of Washington.
One never knows. She is an extremely loyal
daughter now. She lives near here, and works in a
library, and is going to library school on-line.
My youngest sister. also a Friend. has had a lot
of trouble with her older son, who turned out to be
learning-disabled, not in language to any great extent,
but in arithmetic, since his short-term memory is poor.
He barely managed to finish high school at Scattergood
school, but college education seems difficult to conceive
for him. Respiratory therapy is out; too much math.
We hope he will be a good counseling psychologist.
If he's good at geography, he might be a goodtrain
dispacher===no college needed for that, and it pays well.

Have faith,

Jeremy Mott
Jeremy,

RE: "Paula, I would guess that most of the Friends on this site
attend unprogrammed meetings. Will you tell us which one
you attend?"

Frederick Monthly Meeting (BYM).
Hello Paula, I attend at Roanoke, Va., which is also in Baltimore y.m.
However, I have been an almost life-long member and attender
at Ridgewood meeting, in northern New Jersey, which is a
member of New York Y.M. New York and New England Y.M.'s
are united yearly meetings in a different way than Baltimore Y..M.
Both have a good number of Quaker churches. New York Y.M.
also has about a half dozen unprogrammed meetings that are
distinctly Orthodox in flavor. Long ago, when I was a boy,
many of the united local meetings in New York Y.M., including
Ridgewood, had hymns for half an hour before "silent" worship.
The founders of Ridgewood meeting, Delbert and Ruth Hinshaw
Replogle, were evangelical Friends from the Pacific Northwest.
They had spent their honeymoon year in founding a Quaker
church in Alaska, north of the Arctic circle!
I also attended at Rochester, N.Y., for two years when I
was a boy living there. Judy and I attended at 57th St. meeting
in Chicago for about five years when we lived there. These
are also unprogrammed meetings; so I have never regularly
attended a programmed meeting. If you attend New York
Y.M., however, in most years the pastors from around the
y.m.. get the responsibility of planning the worship; so it is
often mostly programmed worship, including a lot of
hymn singing. The current issue (October) of Quaker Life
includes a report on N.Y..Y.M. from Emma Condori Manami,
a Bolvian holiness Friend; and she was surprised and pleased
by what she found.
Yet sentiment in N.Y.Y.M. is almost unanimous in oppos-
sition to the FUM personnel policy. And I believe that in
almost every yearly meeting in the U.S.A., there are now
young men and women serving in the U.S. military.
(Why didn't we tell them about Americorps?) There are
many more important divisions among Anerican Friends
than what we call "worship styles."
Jeremy Mott
Mr Mott,

I gather I'm one of the few that doesn't attend an unprogramed meeting. I'm currently attending (along with my husband) Spring Garden Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC. Within the last year or so we've moved from completly programed to simi-programed as far as having open/silent worship time within the morning worship service.

RuthAnn Crum
Ruth Ann Crum, Spring Garden Friends Meetitng sounds interesting.
From what I hear, there are meetings of every conceivable variety
around Greensboro----ten all told. The only sort of Friends meeting
that you may be missing is an Hispanic evangelical Friends church!
If we measure by the number of Friends meetings and churches,
Greensboro is the biggest Quaker center in the U.S.A.
At any rate, even in the U.S.A., there are many more Friends who
attend semi-programmed or fully programmed meetings than there
are who attend unprogrammed meetings.
Jeremy Mott
Paula, Looking through a recent issue of Quaker Life
magazine,, I see at least four semi-programmed
meetings in Wilmington (Ohio) Y.M.. the FUM yearly
meeting in the southwestern part of Ohio. I believe
that still other meetings (churches) in that area are
also semi-programmed. Semi-programmed worship
has been with us for a long time, and is really not rare.
It used to exist, often alongside silent worship, in the
same meeting but at a different time, in England as
well as in North America. It is obviously well suited
to volunteer or part-time pastors, and to Friends
meetings that like to sing as well as do "silent"
worship. George Fox hated singing in worship, even
unaccompanied singing of the Psalms (which the
strictest Puritans allowed); but I don't think many
Friends nowadays would agree with him.
The one sort of music that Fox thought was OK
was impromptu unaccompanied singing by a single
person, Of course, we need not agree with or abide
by his strictures on music or anything else.

Erin, I hope you've taken a look at the new book
Spirit Rising, published in the U.S.A. by Friends
General Conference (quakerbooks). It includes
several hundred short pieces of writing from young
Friends around the world. Two of the authors are
young Friends from Sweden; neither is a plain
Friend but both are clearly Christians. There is
a strong Christian tide running in the RSOF right
now, for good or ill, but I hope for good.
Jeremy Mott
Greetings Rosemary,
I have been a Friend for nearly 40 years---liberal Meeting in the South---about a year ago I went plain in speech and dress. Thee must understand it to be an individual calling to ones Soul on breaking with the customs of the world in fashion and speech. To draw closer to God by giving Him All. Not to mention the witness it gives to others and the peace it brings spiritually. But it must be of personal conviction, I feel, and not mandated by any authority.
The only authority being God, is He speaking to thy heart to let go of the illusions of this world and grasp a simple life amid all the confusion and transitory fashion, speech, and worldliness that passeth as the flower in the Summer sun?
Listen closely to the still small voice of the Inward Light.
Will thee also come?
simon

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