Liberal Quakers have an important message and spiritual practice to offer the world.  Our spiritual practices can truly improve the daily lives of people and the world at large.  These practices are:

  • Connecting directly with our Source of love through ‘expectant waiting’ worship

  • Seeking communal guidance from that Source through worshipful discernment together

  • Being open to continual revelation regarding what is loving for today’s world

Anything that detracts from these core spiritual practices becomes our “idol”.

Our testimonies (values) that have arisen from our spiritual practice are logical outcomes of Jesus’ teachings for today’s world.  Vestiges of ancient Quaker speech patterns, developed centuries ago, are not core to this spiritual practice.  In fact they stand as a detractor from our testimony of simplicity. 

Using archaic words and phraseology in our meeting’s communications - like “First Day” instead of “Sunday” - have no meaning to the general populace.  These complex vestiges of the “plain speech” are viewed as not so plain or simple to a modern world. 

Expecting the use of these ancient phrases, in order to distinguish ourselves as Quakers, actually leads us away from our core spirituality as Quakers.  It makes such speech patterns an “idol” that only serves to keep us separated from seekers who might otherwise find comfort and community with us.

Views: 195

Replies to This Discussion

It's almost an existential question: when trying to keep an identification with a tradition going back to the 1650s, what's essential to the faith and what's needless peculiarity? Liberal Friends tend to think that weird language is what we should clean and update. Evangelical Friends tend to think it's the weird practices that are the unnecessary holdover. Conservative Friends will think both are needed together but then can appear like historical re-enactors and off-putting to outsiders.

We need to respect where everyone is on the question. We're all faithful Friends trying to live out the Good News. I think Friends are stronger for our cultural differences (I've seen where are different approaches speak to the world in different, but often-necessary, ways). One of the geniuses of Friends is that we respect personal leadings even when we don't understand them. Quirkiness is okay. Leadings can be mysterious, even to the person being led. Their purpose sometimes become clear years afterwards (if ever) and are often not about what they initially appear. 

My personal tests of language-based essentialness has two parts: 1) can the original rationale can be explained in a sentence or two without resort to a long-winded history lesson; and 2) is the reasoning universal enough that other Christians should consider adopting it?  Numbered days actually passes this test, though I tend not to use them in everyday speech.

I guess to your initial point, Martin: we all see things differently.  I think numbered days do NOT pass your two-point test.  To most modern listeners the explanation of numbered days indeed sounds like a history lesson.  And the logical expectation due to this "history lesson" would be that Quakers (and other Christians) should refuse to participate in any practice that has pagan religious origins (the list of these is quite long and exhausting).  Such a proposition would appear unreasonable and cultish to 99.9% of modern Friends, as well as other Christians. 

Why would liberal Quakers want to hang on to this one peculiar thing that is a turn-off for many that might be attracted to liberal Quakerism? 

The fact that liberal Friends do not use such speech patterns outside of the meetinghouse (even with each other) says it all, I think.
 
Martin Kelley said:

It's almost an existential question: when trying to keep an identification with a tradition going back to the 1650s, what's essential to the faith and what's needless peculiarity? Liberal Friends tend to think that weird language is what we should clean and update. Evangelical Friends tend to think it's the weird practices that are the unnecessary holdover. Conservative Friends will think both are needed together but then can appear like historical re-enactors and off-putting to outsiders.

We need to respect where everyone is on the question. We're all faithful Friends trying to live out the Good News. I think Friends are stronger for our cultural differences (I've seen where are different approaches speak to the world in different, but often-necessary, ways). One of the geniuses of Friends is that we respect personal leadings even when we don't understand them. Quirkiness is okay. Leadings can be mysterious, even to the person being led. Their purpose sometimes become clear years afterwards (if ever) and are often not about what they initially appear. 

My personal tests of language-based essentialness has two parts: 1) can the original rationale can be explained in a sentence or two without resort to a long-winded history lesson; and 2) is the reasoning universal enough that other Christians should consider adopting it?  Numbered days actually passes this test, though I tend not to use them in everyday speech.

I agree Stephen that liberal Quakerism has so much to offer many who are wandering spiritually, looking for a home.  
 
Stephen James said:

I agree 100%. I believe Quakers need to focus less on having a unique, peculiar identity and more on reaching out to today's world with the teachings of Jesus. The idea of being a "peculiar people" in a far away meetinghouse tucked away in the woods only appeals to a minority of people. I think it's time that we try to become a more "mainline" denomination in other people's eyes if we want the tradition to survive. That's not to say we need to change our core spiritual beliefs, but we must make the presence of modern-day Quakers known. When people picture a Quaker in their head, they should think of today's everyday people: doctors, students, lawyers, grocery store clerks, etc., not just the people who lived 200-300 years ago. Maybe I'm digressing from your (not thy) original point a bit, but I feel that what you've written heavily supports my hopes for 21st century Friends.

There is another point to consider. Use of symbolic, traditional language can help to establish that entering meeting is entering a liminal space. 

Tradition can hinder, but it can also help to ground us. We have minimal enough reminders that we are the Religious Society of Friends and not just a secular group. 

How do you prepare for a Worship Service? Can you do anything to make it a meaningful experience?

Of course there are ways that I can and do prepare for worship. I also maintain the tradition of spending time in daily retirement.

The question for me is how might our use of language and other traditions help make new comers aware that they are leaving standard secular space when they enter meeting? How might those peculiarities engender questions to which we respond? 

Ron Boguszewski said:

How do you prepare for a Worship Service? Can you do anything to make it a meaningful experience?

RSS

Support Us

Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.


You can also make a one-time donation.

Latest Activity

Keith Saylor posted a blog post

All Shadows, Types, and Figures

Let him to whom an Idol is nothing, to whom all shadows, Types and Figures, are come to an end, let…See More
5th day (Thu)
Kirby Urner replied to Kirby Urner's discussion 'Quakerism and Religious Freedom'
"Thanks for joining the discussion.  Yeah, one line or word summaries of a complex conversation…"
5th month 8
jay replied to Kirby Urner's discussion 'Quakerism and Religious Freedom'
"Great message, thanks!  As you point out, it's not a simple question of good guys Vs bad…"
5th month 8
Kirby Urner commented on Kirby Urner's blog post 'On Recording One's Affiliation with Friends'
4th month 27
Kirby Urner posted a blog post
4th month 27
Kirby Urner commented on Kirby Urner's blog post 'A Campus Curriculum'
"http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2019/04/facebook-rant.htmlI have a followup query at the end of my…"
4th month 27
Kirby Urner posted a blog post

A Campus Curriculum

I'm reaching out to Friends in higher education with my recent Youtubes, which I'm free to…See More
4th month 13
Keith Saylor posted a blog post

Definitions

Iconography: The process of guiding and informing human relationships and interactions through…See More
4th month 10

© 2019   Created by QuakerQuaker.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service