Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I gather from studying the thinking of others at this website, that we're encouraged to share our vision of Quakerism going forward, and in particular to address the topic of a Quaker revival. What might that look like?
In my view, the practice of Quakerism is ideally a whole lifestyle, with cradle to grave aspects, not unlike Amish in this regard, but minus the prohibitions against using technology. Perhaps this ideal is unattainable, but it's the focus of my science fiction nonetheless.
Influential in my practice was the Gathering of Western Young Friends at Camp Myrtlewood, Oregon. The camp is owned by Church of the Brethren and is quite remote (Remote is the actual name of a small town nearby).
We'd live and work together in an intergenerational manner, and some of us would imagine living such a lifestyle on a year-round basis. We shared kitchen duties, wood chopping, cabin cleaning. We didn't farm or care for livestock, which is what the natives did (and still do).
Also influential on my thinking (versus practice) was the rather recently published Quakernomics, a book by non-Quakers arguing that Quakers in their heyday, in the late 1700s, almost succeeded in creating worker utopias, company towns, wherein education, health care, elder care, was available to all. This was a form of capitalism, but not of greedy capitalism, and as such was a major threat.
My speculations, therefore, center around around what a Quaker Village might look like, understanding "village" to mean "small community" (hundreds or thousands, but not millions). How do these people live? How do they put their Christian values into practice?
Let's say it's a hundred years from now, when all of us are safely dead. Or maybe we'd like to accelerate the timeline?
For me, a hallmark of Quakerism is its egalitarianism and commitment to rotating roles. That's not a feature of every branch I realize, and those who decry "outward forms" may consider Oversight, Property Management, Children's Program etc., to be the opposite of "primitive" by definition. Perhaps such infrastructure seems too complicated, too much like everyday life. I realize we use our words differently.
For now, I'm going to give my science fiction future Quakers a mixed-use skyscraper in which to situate their village. Living quarters, shops, health care facilities, schools, all exist in a single building.
We have several meeting rooms for Meeting for Worship, and for Business. The people living here mostly consider it a relative utopia compared with how they were living before, or compared to how many of us live today, guzzling fossil fuels and expecting single family dwellings in suburban cul de sacs.
I realize my vision is quite different from that of many who will read this, especially the "skyscraper" part. That's fine. I'm a liberal in the sense of "live and let live".
However I would argue that my commitment to outward forms does not make my branch of Quakerism either anti-Christian or anti-primitive.
I would also hope such Quaker Village lifestyles, or even just the vision thereof, might even spark a revival and attract more people to our faith and practice.
I somewhat rambling saunter through the Quaker Village meme. Connects back here.