Rambling: Quaker or Anabaptist? A matter of class?

As I say sometimes, I am "not literal enough to be a Mennonite" and "not liberal enough to be a Quaker".

I suppose that this is partly a matter of class consciousness. I have grown up in a small village where most men were industrial workers (with some additional farming) and even if  I am lazy by nature I have internalized the small people work ethics.

Now, Anabaptism is historically a religion of (and for) farmers and craftsmen. The good side of that: They have still some yeomen's insticts: sense for practical skills and solutions and for self-responsibility. This makes Mennonite Disaster Service or MEDA (the support for third-world development) really useful. The bad side of that: They overestimate holy books and their literal application.  And they have too much respect for authorities like pastors and professors.

In fact, this changes Mennonism (not the Amish or Hutterites) today more and more to a pastor-and-professor religion, extremely unattractive. (We have no more the blunt and dogged obedience to the letter, but a handiness to give the letter just the meaning you want).

On the other hand, Quakerism is historically a religion of (and for) businessmen. The good side of this is Quakers' instinctive understanding of "discernment' (as different from literalcy). And Quaker did a lot to improve the morals of businessmen!  The bad side is their tendency to solve problems by "managing" other people - no "yeomen" rugged standoffishness here, they have a natural liking for ideas like "social engineering" just unto outright socialist solutions. And of course they provide for other businessmen - Sidwell Friends High is the preferred school for the rich and powerful Washingtonians because Sidwell Friends instinctively understand the parents who want their children to "get the right connexions" for later "networking". But what use is that for me?

So which religion is preferable?

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Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 13, 2018 at 12:54pm

I enjoyed this. Thankfully, we are not limited to the dynamic reflected here.

I do not see much of a difference between identification with, and being guided and informed by, outward ideas openly professed and ideas not specifically attached to a particular person. The former being the Ana spurs in your accounting and the latter being Quaker. But are of the nature of a consciousness anchored in and a conscience informed by identification with and participation in outward political and religious forms and institutions. What do you think?

Comment by Keith Saylor on 1st mo. 13, 2018 at 12:57pm

Eratta - Ana spurs = Anabaptists

Both instead of but in the next Sentence.

Comment by Kirby Urner on 1st mo. 16, 2018 at 9:58pm

I enjoy the perspective of Quakerism as business friendly, as clearly, based on its jargon, it's business oriented through and through.

Yet I think of Quakers today as stereotypically more likely public librarians, school teachers and/or social workers, who look askance at large businesses, and choosing to forget the late 1700s Quaker apex, so well documented in Quakernomics (book by non-Quakers about the centrality of Quaker businesses to the industrial revolution).


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