Jim Wilson's Blog (38)

Quaker Quietism - Authors and Works

Greetings Friends:

I am interested in knowing what specific works people think of that are expressive of the period of Quaker Quietism.  I am interested in works that were written during the period of Quietism (aka The Second Period of Quaker History).  Personally, I have found the following works of help in accessing the thought of this period:

A Guide to True Peace, Counsel for the Christian Traveler by William Shewen, The Grounds of a Holy Life by Hugh Turford, A Short…


Added by Jim Wilson on 8th mo. 24, 2017 at 8:06pm — 2 Comments

Cambridge Platonists

This is an open question to readers here who have a broader knowledge of Quaker history than I do.  I am wondering if the early Quakers had any relationships with the Cambridge Platonists.  I have only recently become aware of them.  Some of their doctrines seem similar to some Quaker perspectives (though admittedly I have at this time read very little).  I have not come across any mention of interaction between Quakers and Cambridge Platonists.  But the timing is right; the Cambridge…


Added by Jim Wilson on 6th mo. 7, 2017 at 2:55pm — 16 Comments

February Friends Journal Article on Zen Buddhism & Quakerism

The latest Friends Journal, February 2016 (page 32), has a thoughtful article by Peter Taylor about the relationship between Zen Buddhism and Quakerism.  The article appealed to me because I have a similar background.  I studied Buddhism of the Zen variety in Korea and Japan and was dedicated to this type of practice for a long time.  At one point I took vows as a Zen monastic.  Because I was raised in a secular household Zen was the first religious tradition that I had experience with. …


Added by Jim Wilson on 2nd mo. 15, 2016 at 8:02pm — 1 Comment

Chris Hedges Writes a Stinging Critique of the Idea of Progress


In a previous blog post on Progressive Quakers I noted that the progressives were fully immersed in the idea of progress; that things will inevitably get better and better.  And it was this idea of progress which allowed the progressives to undermine traditional Quaker Faith and Practice so effectively.  It was also this idea of progress which provided them with conceptual tools for their support of W.W. I.  Chuck Fager in his two books on Progressive Quakers seems to agree…


Added by Jim Wilson on 5th mo. 27, 2015 at 11:00am — 3 Comments

Why I'm Not a Progressive Quaker

Why I’m Not a Progressive Quaker

In 2014 Chuck Fager, a dedicated activist, peaceworker, and Quaker historian, as well as the publisher of the thoughtful journal ‘Quaker Theology’, published two books on the history of Progressive Friends.  One is called Angels of Progress; it is a documentary history of Progressive Friends.  In Angels Fager recovers many significant episodes in the history of the Progressives and the writings wherein they defined themselves and…


Added by Jim Wilson on 2nd mo. 11, 2015 at 10:30am — 25 Comments

Was World War II a Good War?

One of the difficulties with maintaining a commitment to the Peace Testimony is the elevation of W.W. II to the status of a ‘Good War’.  The idea is that W.W. II is an exception; other wars may be awful, unnecessary, or even evil, but W.W. II is considered to be an example of a necessary and even a virtuous war.  The impact of this view is that the same kind of logic is carried over to contemporary conflicts so that the U.S. attack on Iraq under Bush II was done for righteous and ‘moral’…


Added by Jim Wilson on 12th mo. 17, 2014 at 10:18am — 12 Comments

Following Jesus: A Review

Following Jesus: A Review

 I grew up in a secular home.  That means I don’t have a background in Christianity.  As an adult when I turned to religion my first attraction was to Buddhism which I studied intensely for many years.  I mention this to clarify that the Evangelical tradition of Christianity is very far from my own experience.  I have no direct knowledge of this tradition, its views, or its forms of worship. 

 As a Quaker in a Meeting that is affiliated with the…


Added by Jim Wilson on 10th mo. 20, 2014 at 2:37pm — No Comments

The Activity of Prayer

The Activity of Prayer

Martin recently featured a post on the ‘Spiritual/Activist’ divide amongst Friends.  It is from a blog by Lynn, a birthright Quaker whose blog, ‘The Friendly Seeker’, is thoughtful and insightful.  Lynn’s post is called ‘Corporate Witness’ and it can be found here:


Because I find myself on the…


Added by Jim Wilson on 10th mo. 2, 2014 at 12:07pm — 5 Comments

Less Politics, More Light: Part 1


As my experience of Quaker Faith and Practice has deepened I have become steadily more attracted to the period of Quietism; its teachings, its way of life.  At the same time I have become gradually more estranged by contemporary Quaker Faith and Practice both liberal and evangelical.  I plan to put up a few posts expressing why I think contemporary Quaker Faith and Practice has lost more than it has gained.  From a certain perspective, I view these posts as a kind of ‘Critique of…


Added by Jim Wilson on 8th mo. 4, 2014 at 4:33pm — 8 Comments

Thoughts on a Quaker Monasticism

In the series I have been posting on 'Intepreting Our Past' I was leading up to the idea of Quaker Monasticism.  But Martin beat me to it by featuring the blog that discusses the 'New Monasticism' and its possible application to the Quaker community.  I'm glad the subject has come up.  Here are a few comments:

1. I think the biggest obstacle to a Quaker Monasticism is that modern Quakers, both liberal and evangelical, have rejected their Quietist heritage.  The period of Quietism…


Added by Jim Wilson on 7th mo. 16, 2014 at 10:49am — 30 Comments

Interpreting Our Past: Part 5

Quietism and Abolition

 Quakers are proud of their abolitionist heritage.  The story of how Quakers confronted their own complicity in slavery and then, over a period of time, rejected that institution, is one that is often told.  John Woolman’s transformation on this issue, and his dedicated, and effective, campaign to remove slavery and slaveholders from the Society of Friends is inspiring and often held as an ideal to which modern Quakers should aspire and model their own behavior…


Added by Jim Wilson on 7th mo. 10, 2014 at 10:48am — No Comments

Interpreting Our Past -- Part 4

More on Discipline

 In Part 3 I compared Quaker Discipline as found during the period of Quietism to other religious disciplines such as those used in monasticism and among the Amish.  But there are other contexts where people follow a Discipline, or Rule.  And I thought it might be fruitful to see how disciplines function in these other areas; perhaps that will shed light on the meaning of Discipline in a Quaker Quietist context.

 Games are a simple example of Discipline, in…


Added by Jim Wilson on 6th mo. 16, 2014 at 10:59am — 2 Comments

Interpreting Our Past -- Part 3

Interpreting Our Past – Part 3

 The Logic of Withdrawal

 The period of Quietism is marked by a sense of withdrawal from the social sphere.  This should not be exaggerated as Quakers did continue to be involved in various political causes and concerns, notably the abolition of slavery.  Still, relatively speaking, Quakers in the period of Quietism became more inward, more contemplative, and less engaged with the specifically political. 

 I’m not a very learned Quaker…


Added by Jim Wilson on 6th mo. 9, 2014 at 1:24pm — 23 Comments

Interpreting Our Past -- Part 2

Interpreting Our Past – Part 2


 One of the characteristics of the period of Quietism is that the Quaker community was governed by a code of Discipline, which is to say a code of conduct.  Williams sums up some of the code on page 126 with items that include prohibitions on alcohol, tobacco, cursing, failure to read scripture regularly, and others.  I have read a number of Disciplines from this period in a book called ‘The Old Discipline’ and I think Williams’s…


Added by Jim Wilson on 6th mo. 4, 2014 at 8:25pm — 14 Comments

Interpreting Our Past -- Part 1

Interpreting Our Past – Part 1

 I have been reading ‘The Rich Heritage of Quakerism’ by Walter Williams.  I find it an enjoyable read.  It is a view of Quaker history from the perspective of an evangelical Quaker and since most Quakers are in this stream, the book likely presents a view of Quaker history that is widely held.

 Here I would like to make a few comments on Chapter 12, ‘The Age of Quietism’ which begins on page 119.  These are impressionistic comments, not a…


Added by Jim Wilson on 5th mo. 28, 2014 at 11:24am — 1 Comment

A Review of 'A Quaker Prayer Life' by David Johnson

Good Morning:

I recently read 'A Quaker Prayer Life' by David Johnson, published by Inner Light Books.  I found it a rewarding read, an insipring read, and a helpful work.  I posted the following review at amazon:


This short book, 67 pages of actual text, is an articulate, lyrical, and inspirational guide to the prayer of inward silence and stillness as practiced in the Quaker tradition.  It is a practical book rather than theological or argumentative.  That is to say…


Added by Jim Wilson on 5th mo. 4, 2014 at 11:55am — 3 Comments

A Response to Madeline Schaefer from a Quaker Mystic

A Response to Madeline Schaefer from a Quaker Mystic

First, I appreciate the willingness to both name and discuss the division between the Mystics and the Activists in the Quaker Community of our day.  It is an issue that is close to me, as I think of myself as a mystic and often feel, to varying degrees, alienated from the activist focus of so many Quakers individuals and Quaker organizations.

My take on this is that contemporary Quaker activism is a part of the largely…


Added by Jim Wilson on 3rd mo. 27, 2014 at 10:56am — 30 Comments


I found Micah Bales post about the reluctance some Friends have to talk about, to name, God and Jesus in our witness to be resonate with my own experience.  I wrote this sonnet about the current situation vis a vis this kind of speaking.  I wrote it a few years ago, not as a direct response to Micah, but it feels to me pertinent to that topic:


It's difficult to talk about Jesus.

Ev'ryone seems to have an opinion.

With so much conflict…


Added by Jim Wilson on 3rd mo. 23, 2014 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Madam Guyon and American Quakers

I was reading a brief biography of Madam Guyon by a Guyon scholar, Nancy James, who is an Episcopal Priest.  James mentions that after Guyon was released from prison she lived out her days in southern France.  During this period Guyon kept up an extensive correspondence and received visitors from far and wide.  Among the visitors James mentions are Quakers from Pennsylvania.  Madam Guyon lived from 1648 to 1717, so these would be Quakers from colonial Pennsylvania.


I have not…


Added by Jim Wilson on 1st mo. 27, 2014 at 1:56pm — No Comments

The 1815 Edition of 'A Guide to True Peace' Now Available

Good Morning Friends:

I have finally published a reissue of the 1815 Edition of 'A Guide to True Peace'.  It is now available at Amazon for $8.00.

This is a resetting of the 1815 Edition, which is the edition that all subsequent editions are based on.  Each subsequent edition has made some changes.  Most of them are minor, but a few are significant.  I have reset the 1815 edition without changing the original text: that is to say the vocabulary and sentence structure are as the…


Added by Jim Wilson on 9th mo. 9, 2013 at 10:30am — No Comments

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