T h o s e o T has r B rSacrament |aQuaker Testimony e xGreen T y: a P l|eAaYoung Friend’s BookshelfT o g e T h e r To read The BiBle Composting e Holy a n c h Q u k e r s • h o m o s in u a l i Building
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faiTh PracTice communiT y
What makes us Friends?
J u n e /J u lY 2012 $6
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s we were putting the final touches on this issue of Friends Journal, nearly a thousand Friends from around the world were gathering together at Kabarak University near Nakuru, Kenya, for the Sixth World Conference of Friends, an event organized by Friends World Committee for Consultation. What makes us Friends?—faith, practice, or community. No doubt this question was on the minds, if not the lips, of many of those in attendance. We who call ourselves Quakers come in a dizzying array of varieties. We are outspoken, soft-spoken, evangelical, quietist, Bible-loving, Bible-phobic, Christian, nontheist, liberal, conservative, unprogrammed, and programmed. We span the spectra of gender and sexual orientation. We worship in silence. We worship in song. If one were on the outside looking in, it would be easy to suggest that there’s no there there: that there’s no unifying property (certainly no creed we’d agree upon), that the center cannot hold, or that there is no center. And yet . . . I believe that there is a center: our shared belief in the possibility and reality of direct spiritual inspiration in each one of us. Furthermore, we recognize that this belief has implications for our interactions with other fellow humans. As John Fitzgerald, a Sixth World Conference participant from Scotland, wrote on his blog of the Kenya gathering: “It felt like God was using us to teach one another.” We want our Quaker spiritual community to be a place where listening to God and listening to one another are not two different things. If anything, we are united in our willingness to listen. When we are on our best spiritual behavior, we are attuned: we are radically open and listening, whether we be speaking, singing, or silent. Here’s something that is sad but true: sometimes listening to one another does not seem to draw us closer. This is happening right now in Indiana, as Stephen W. Angell describes (p. 13). In the feature that accompanies Angell’s piece, Douglas C. Bennett tackles the divisive issue of homosexuality, which is at the root of Indiana Yearly Meeting’s slow-motion schism. As Bennett sees it, the controversy over homosexuality has the potential to bring us together, if we can make a concerted effort to listen and speak to one another using a common language. e’re pleased to have contributions in this issue from Quakers from North Pacific Yearly Meeting, Northwest Yearly Meeting, Freedom Friends Church, Intermountain Yearly Meeting, Indiana Yearly Meeting, Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting, Wilmington Yearly Meeting, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, Evangelical Friends Church Eastern Region, Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, and an independent Friends worship group in Mexico in international membership under the care of FWCC. The contributors include several Quaker bloggers and one Quaker logger. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the words of these diverse Friends as much as I did. Share them with those in your community. Let’s keep this conversation going; we are in use.
We Are in Use
Friends Journal, 1216 Arch St., 2a, Philadelphia, PA 19107-2835 • (215) 563-8629 • (800) 471-6863 Fax: (215) 568-1377 • [email protected]
May 2012 Friends Journal
faith practice communit y
What makes us Friends?
J u n e /J u ly 2012 • V o l . 58, n o.6 w w w.f r i e n d s J o u r n a l .o r g
Those Other Branch Quakers
What Bridges Are Made Of
Sarah Katreen hoggatt
A Friend urges us to find places of common ground with those “other” Quakers.
A Friend wonders if it’s time to accept our differences.
Homosexuality: A Plea to Read the Bible Together
DouglaS C. Bennett
10 28 14 17 19 9
Surmounting our Quaker Language Barriers
Our Quaker language can keep out seekers.
Painful rifts over sexuality could draw us closer together.
Timeline of Indiana Yearly Meeting Schism
Stephen W. angell
Understanding Ourselves, Respecting the Differences
Faith, Practice or Community
Daniel J. KaSztelan
Differing definitions of Quakerism create a significant challenge for inter-branch communication.
A photo essay explores what makes us Friends.
In the Redwood Grove
Strangers in a Strange Land
Isolation brings Friends together in Serbia despite differences.
Listening for the Silence
gretChen l. MorSe
nanCy CoMpton WilliaMS
A musician listens across the silence of worship
2 Among Friends 4 Forum 32 Meditation
An Ecology of the Spirit
Where do Friends Worship?
Schisms and Branches
37 Books 46 News 50 Milestones 54 Classified
From Quaker Process for Friends on the Bentches
33 Life in the Meeting
FGC and FUM types of worship
European Trip Report
Sarah Katreen hoggatt
Toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology The Night I took a Second Look
Cover: Emily Stewart of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and a Kaimosi Friend identified as Roselyne Rageha. Taken by David Millar at the Sixth World Conference of Friends, April 17–25 in Kenya.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Forum The Living Presence bridges difference and heals
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the April issue of Friends Journal, you may have noticed Earl Mitchell’s lovely painting of the Durham (Maine) meetinghouse, built in 1829 (Mark Greenleaf Schlotterbeck, “Waiting with the Outcasts and Strangers”). The door to the meetinghouse is open. Like all monthly meetings within New England Yearly Meeting, we are dually affiliated with both Friends General Conference and Friends United Meeting. Our door is open for all to enter, and our meeting is home to a wide spectrum of belief and practice. The open door is an invitation to worship together. While Mark Greenleaf Schlotterbeck imagines that Jesus stands outside Durham Meeting, it is our experience that the Living Christ Light transforms and deepens worship here. Far from excluding, that Living Presence helps us to bridge difference, to heal, and to draw us together into the (however imperfect) Beloved Community. Daphne Clement, pastor, Edwin Hinshaw and Sue Wood, co-clerks Durham (Maine) Meeting I am in the throes of packing for a journey and haven’t finished reading the April issue of Friends Journal, devoted to the subject of membership. But I am delighted to see attention given to the generation gap and the need to attract and retain young Friends. I’m also grateful for Mark Greenleaf Schlotterbeck’s powerful essay “Waiting with the Outcasts and Strangers,” which defines a kind of membership of conscience in unexpected ways. I hope Mark will find his way back into Durham (Maine) Meeting, both physically and spiritually. In the meantime, his argument (“to exclude gay people from staff and volunteer positions is morally indistinguishable from excluding people because of their skin color or gender”) is rendered in the most compelling terms. His discomfort with Friends United Meeting’s anti-gay personnel policy and his argument that Jesus himself would wait outside the meetinghouse will, I hope, be heard by FUM. “If we cannot take this step of solidarity” in support of gay Friends, we should, Mark suggests, install two drinking fountains in the vestry: one for gays, the other for straights. It would be a situation not so different from the drinking fountains in the South, once labeled “Whites only” and “Colored only.” David Morse Storrs, Conn. the many young-adult Friends who choose to remain outside conventional meeting membership, I’m wondering if they are experiencing feelings similar to my own. George Fox’s Pendle Hill vision was of “a great people to be gathered.” Why must that great gathering of people be anything other than God’s children coming together as one family? Shelley Bourdon Lexington, Va. I just read the beginning notes by Gabriel Ehri in the April issue. They got me thinking about my own experience of Friends and meetings, especially his two questions: “Who do we mean by we?” and “How do we define who is one of us?” From about 1976 to 1986, I was associated with Wilmington (Del.) Meeting. I was on the Religious Education Committee for three of those years and clerk for two. For that entire period, I was not an official member of the meeting. First, I was very uncertain of my worthiness to be a Friend, since I am a Vietnam veteran and extremely and uncomfortably conscious of that (I am still working on this problem). Second, and quite strangely as I think about it, I was never asked if I planned to become a member of the meeting. During this time, I also became what amounts to an unofficial member of the meeting at Wilmington Friends School’s Lower School. For four years, I took my daughter to school and stayed for meeting every week. When she moved on to middle school in another building, I stayed. Since about 1990 and continuing to the present, I have been volunteering every Thursday morning at the kindergarten. When time for meeting for worship comes around, I go with my kindergarten buddies. I attend meeting regularly throughout the year, except when school is not in session. I am still not an official member of a meeting. When asked why not, I reply that Lower School meeting is not an official meeting. Then I am asked: “Why don’t you just join Wilmington Meeting?” The real reason is that it is not my meeting. The other, and probably more important, reason is that I love meeting with my kindergarten buddies and the rest of Lower School. The messages, while sometimes hard to hear (given in those tiny voices), can be wonderful. I
At Chestnut Hill Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., we are focusing on Quaker heroes in First-day School. Deborah Swiss’s article on Elizabeth Gurney Fry (“The Angel of the Prisons,” FJ, March) whetted my interest. I requested her book The Tin Ticket from the library, which it obtained from a small town in western Pennsylvania. The book is captivating—focusing on research, creating full characters from archived materials, identifying issues of becoming a new country, and bringing alive not only Elizabeth Fry but the young women who were transported. Please pass on my thanks and praise to Deborah Swiss. Susan Betts Wyndmoor, Pa.
Whole world is my meeting
Gabriel Ehri’s comment (“How Do We Define Who Is One of Us?,” FJ, April) that “one can practice faithfulness to the Inner Light whether or not one calls oneself—or is called—a Friend” made me smile. I am a person whose primary focus in life has been faithfulness to what I believe is my Inner Guide—a force that, as a young Methodist, I referred to as the “God radio” in my heart. Though I feel a great sense of kinship with Quakers (whom I discovered at age 31 and worshipped with for three years), I find that my spirit is fed primarily through the experience of ecumenical contemplative-prayer groups. I was guided to join one such group 17 years ago, but it was not love at first sight. I was unable to understand, initially, why I had been inwardly steered to a contemplative-prayer group of individuals whose theology was far more conservative than my own. Only through much prayer on my part, and I’m sure on the part of the other participants, did we finally (after five years!) begin to accept each other and, consequently, help each other to grow and expand spiritually. I now appreciate the gifts that I receive when I allow myself to worship with those who appear to be “other,” and because of this I yearn for additional opportunities to bond spiritually with as many religiously diverse humans as I possibly can. I now like to think of the whole world as my meeting. After reading in the April issue about
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
membership not old-fashioned
he April issue of Friends Journal raised a number of interesting issues about membership. One of them is the peculiar habit Friends have of identifying themselves as Quaker through their membership in a meeting, a tendency not found in other denominations. The issue also asks us to look at whether this emphasis on membership also makes some (especially young adults not yet able to put down roots) feel unwelcome or like second-class citizens. These are good questions. To some degree, the concept of membership is one that belongs to another time and place. As we do with other things in a heavily secular world, we begin to forget the religious reasons for membership. Early Friends believed deeply in an accountability to the fellowship that was found in a meeting and a group of people. Quakers had rejected both Pope and clerical hierarchy as the source of Truth, and they even said the Bible was not the primary source of Truth; Truth, they said, was to be found experientially. After the James Nayler incident, it became clear to Friends that there had to be checks on leadings claimed as Truth by individuals, that leadings should be tested, and that individuals be held accountable to the collective wisdom of the fellowship. Thus membership in a meeting provided a group to labor together to discern all of the most important decisions of a lifetime: to marry, to pursue a specific career, or to answer a call to ministry or activism. Fast-forward 350 years to the United
States where the entire population is highly mobile and young adults especially are in transition. I was raised a Friend and went to college as a member of the meeting in which I grew up. It made no sense to transfer my membership while in college. Following college, I lived in six places before settling in Seattle, which has four meetings and worship groups. I attended each of them before finally finding my home. By then I was 36! It was a long journey, yet it was convenient to have my membership at the patient meeting where I grew up and to be able to list the meetings where I was sojourning. Rather than simply discarding the idea of membership (as some suggest), we should hold young Friends’ membership in their yearly meetings, to which they could pay their annual fee. For those who come to Quakerism from another faith, our approach to membership must be puzzling. In many churches, becoming a member is no more significant than signing up for a book group. We, however, hold a clearness committee for potential members and report back to business meeting on whether we have clarity to accept the person into membership. For many this is an intimidating process. In my meeting, a long-time attender never applied for membership out of concern that her husband’s employment for a major arms manufacturer might disqualify her. She was never persuaded to apply because there were indeed members of meeting who, given her husband’s employment, were not clear to accept her. I also recall children the benefit of the doubt, because I have spent worse times in other meetings trying to rise above the turbulence of grown-ups. Where does that put me? Thomas F. Bayard (Tim while in kindergarten) Wilmington, Del.
someone in my yearly meeting who did not apply for membership because he felt that he was not good enough, not sufficiently morally pure. That seemed tragic to me. Is membership as value-free as applying for a library card? Or does it stand for a set of values? We must grapple with this, not ignore it. For older attenders who are ambivalent about membership or unclear about its purpose or benefits, I would offer the following: some look for the perfect meeting, waiting to find it before applying for membership. Like some singles who are dating, they will have an eternal wait. There are no perfect mates or meetings! In fact, it is helpful to think of membership being like a marriage: it is a two-way commitment. At its best, it brings great gifts and fulfillment; at its worst, it can be a lot of work and painful. Like a marriage that isn’t wholly satisfying, a meeting can be worked with, rather than treated as a sporting event watched by spectators. As in a marriage, we also may be asked to grow. Requiring accountability and spiritual work and growth, membership in a meeting is not to be cast aside as some sort of old-fashioned idea. We should not confuse membership in our Society with membership in secular groups like social clubs or other organizations where membership helps define social status or identity. That is not what the Religious Society of Friends is about. Lynn Fitz-Hugh Seattle, Wash. foundational relationship with God is clinically excised by a hostile ideology. Why even bother to bring this man to the attention of a wider public if only to distort his faith and then bring someone else to wider attention? Clearly Bayard was a man of great faith, and it was this faith which poured into his efforts for justice. This is no secular and politically correct, sterile hero, but a man of God. Mark Johnson Blue Mountains, Australia
honestly feel that Lower School worship is my meeting. If I am not officially a Quaker, if I do not attend an official meeting, does that matter so much? The sense of community I get at Lower School is sometimes overwhelming, very real, and satisfying. Isn’t that what is most important about meeting for worship and being a member of a particular meeting? I hope so. Here’s one last note: my meeting is the largest in Delaware, about 300. That seems like a bonus, especially when there is a vibration of all those small souls being together in one room, all in meeting together. I certainly would never admit that on some Thursdays there is less vibration and more turbulence. But then, I always give the
Remembering Rustin without distortion
For those of us who truly want to engage with this inspirational man (“Bayard Rustin at Swarthmore College,” FJ, March), it is distressing to see how time and time again Bayard Rustin’s
Striving to mend a broken world
In reading your issue on prisons (FJ, March), I asked myself, “Why have I been Continued on page 51
Friends Journal June/July 2012
What Bridges Are Made Of
S A r A h K At r e e n h O g g At t
With our branches growing in so many different directions, we are able to give shade to more of those who need a quiet or praise-singing place to rest, wherever in the world that may be.
e certainly stood out. Our driver, Philemon, had taken us, four white women, to the edge of the crowd of 1,200 Kenyan youth and had us walk through to the front. We were there for their yearly meeting’s youth conference, and we stood out like four white marshmallows in a sea of dark chocolate. Watching the crowd from under the main tent, we had an excellent vantage point to hear everyone and to experience what was going on. Ruth, Emily, Holly, and I wanted to spend time with the youth, to become one of the crowd, but we discovered that was extremely difficult to do when we were the guests and treated with kid gloves. Being treated in such a way, however, did have one benefit: after speaking the next morning, we had the opportunity to see first-hand one of the expressions of Kenyan Quaker worship. It started with the man who first spoke. He was a large African in a yellow, buttoned-up shirt, and he had the booming voice to go with it. If you have ever seen preaching in a gospel church—complete with the Amens and Hallelujahs and the voice flowing up and down over the ears of the listeners like water breaking through a levee—you can imagine his sermon. When he finished 45 minutes later, the worship singing picked up where it had left off, but this time with much more verve and energy. The youth stood where they had been sitting, their hands raised to Jesus, and sang with
Sarah Katreen Hoggatt is an author, speaker, spiritual director, and photographer. She holds a masters degree from George Fox Evangelical Seminary and was on the editorial board for the Quaker Youth Book Project. She is a member of Freedom Friends Church in Salem, Oreg. Her blog is at WalkingTheSea.blogspot.com.
tears running down their faces. As the music continued, some of them fell to the ground crying out Jesus’s name and shaking as they lay prostrate before us. Though I had seen something similar in a Pentecostal church, the three women with me were all unprogrammed Quakers and had never in their lives seen anything like this. Used to sitting in silent spaces, their hands in their laps, quietly listening to God, and speaking when they felt led, my three friends had never heard of speaking in tongues or being slain in the Spirit. It startled them. For me, having helped compile and edit the book Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices, it was like seeing the stories I had read jump off the page and onto the ground before my feet. As an editorial board, we had read numerous submissions from African youth and young adults, describing how they wanted to worship in that style and how many were not allowed to do so in their home churches. Thus, it was hardly surprising that left on their own, they would move toward the worship that we were then experiencing. Once the four of us were on our own without a chaperone around (quite a feat to accomplish for any length of time when you are the guests), I explained what we had seen and what I had learned about the June/July 2012 Friends Journal
background to this Quaker practice. A little more than a year later, the proverbial shoe was on the other foot. This time, I was the uncomfortable one, traveling through Europe on a speaking tour for Spirit Rising. The trip was to last over five weeks, span six countries, and center around the mission of telling Friends about the book. Before stepping off the plane, I knew the trip would be challenging. I also knew a good deal of that challenge would be spending so much time in unprogrammed worship with people whose tradition had traveled some distance from the
Christian waters Quakerism was birthed in. In the church in which I grew up (not of the Religious Society of Friends), I was taught how to stand before a congregation and share my relationship with God: what I was learning and where I was struggling, as well as praying with others about such things. Looking back, I see this not only as a strong foundation for a later career in writing and speaking, but as essential to our relationship with God. If we are the Light and know the Light, then we ought not to hide that Light under a veil of privacy and fear of judgment. Yet there are many times I’ve been with unprogrammed Quakers who quake to hear the name of God spoken in meeting, let alone Jesus. Personally, I find this disturbing. If we respect the Light in everyone, as we claim to do, should we not also let that Light speak, even if we disagree? Some Quakers don’t believe in God but share the Quaker passion for social justice. For these Friends, Quakerism is more about a way of life: living simply, loving equality, and working faithfully for genuine world peace. I love their passion for this kind of ministry, though I know they would not call it such. These are the Friends I expected to meet in Europe. After all, though England is where the Society first came together under the leadership of George Fox and Margaret Fell and though Britain Yearly Meeting has never split, over the years I understood it had shifted into a generally non-Christian, unprogrammed gathering of Friends. I knew this from studying Quaker history, and I expected the Quakers to be much the same in the other countries I would be visiting. I expected to be craving a mention of Jesus by the time I returned home, longing for a praisesong-singing, rollicking Christian service with lots of scripture reading somewhere in the Bible Belt of America. But that is not what happened. It started one night while I was worshipping with Friends at a meeting in London. Ironically, it was the only time I visited a meeting without also speaking afterward about the book. Sitting there along with a local friend of mine, trying to keep my eyes closed and ears open, I was startled to hear the name of Jesus mentioned. I thought that wasn’t done. I had been told it wasn’t done. I was not
Pages 6 and 7, top: Quaker preaching and praise in Kenya; Sarah Katreen hoggatt during a visit with Friends in Belgium
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Photos courtesy of Sarah Katreen Hoggatt
It’s important not only to know about each other but to share friendship with those who are different from ourselves.
prepared for “Jesus.” A week later, it happened again when I was worshipping on Palm Sunday in the Netherlands, then again by me on Easter Sunday in Switzerland, and again in the north of England. By this time, my preconceived notions of European Quakerism had taken a definite hit. Several of my notions, however, were still standing. Many of the people I met were of the quieter variety, leading simpler lives than many people I knew in America (though I realize there is also a cultural difference). Though Jesus was mentioned on occasion, it was rare, and several meetings I participated in were mostly silent. Unprogrammed worship is hard for me: I want to move, to have conversations, and to discuss ideas. Having periods where I have to sit still and behave myself is a challenge, and needing to do this often in Europe was a test in loving endurance. I did come to enjoy these quiet moments, however, where I could let my mind wander and ponder
Friends gather for a presentation on Spirit Rising Page 9: Switzerland during Sarah’s visit
things in between the many meaningful spoken messages. After all, traveling with such a full itinerary, quiet moments were a rare treat. While traveling in England, I found it fascinating to see people who worship in the same buildings Quakers did 300 years ago but who hold widely different beliefs. I am sure George Fox would have had a hard time imagining this expression of Quakerism. I am also certain he would have had difficulty imagining what a Quaker meeting in Kenya would look like, though he would probably have been more comfortable with the quaking than we were. In the same vein, he would have had a hard time with the programmed churches in the area where I live, and I am sure with the unprogrammed as well. He would have had choice words of one kind or another for us all. I had always imagined George Fox as a bit of an
eccentric, starting out as a confused young man who became a rebel in later years. He had certainly spent enough time in jail to earn the title of rebel. When I traveled into the north of England, I spent two nights at Swarthmoor Hall, an early center of the Quaker movement. My interest was its role in Christian history, not its Quaker history specifically. But I was excited to walk where Fox had walked, to sleep in the house where he had slept, and to view the rooms where Quakerism had come into bloom. Cuddled up in a chair in what must have been the 1600s version of a parlor, I opened up Fox’s journal one night and read some of the stories of how he was persecuted for saying and acting upon what he believed. A rebel he was, title or no, but I came away with a new respect for him. He stood up for his choices. He was willing to pay the price for his decisions, and he did so repeatedly. Margaret Fell suffered, too, while helping birth the movement, and I came away with a new respect for her as well. If not for her organization and managerial skills, not to mention the protection afforded by her and her husband Judge Fell, we would not be Friends today. But we are Friends today, at least in faith if not in friendship. From the quiet meetings of Belgium and France to the spirited worship on the African plains, to meetings in England full of memory and hope, to the praise-singing evangelicals and the passionate unprogrammed in America, we are all Friends. In all the places I have traveled, I found there are new ways of living out Quakerism, new expressions. Because of this travel, I am often asked, “What do all Quakers have in common?” This question brings to mind some of the Quakers in England who don’t believe in God but love social justice and work for equality, and I also recall my African friends living in a hierarchical culture who shout out to Jesus on their knees and thank him for helping them in school, finding food, and living another day. Of all the questions, this is the hardest one to answer. It’s hard because whenever I come up with a belief or idea of one group, I can come up with an example of a Quaker who would not share it. My passion is building bridges, but describing what those bridges are made of is difficult. One of the reasons we put Spirit Rising: Young Quaker Voices together was to show not the unity of Quakerism, but its diversity. Most of my work is about living in diversity. There are many people around the world who have no idea there are forms of Quakerism other than their own, and it’s important not only to know about each other but to share friendship with those who are different from ourselves. What do we have in common? Maybe some Friends call God by another name; maybe they use the name of Jesus or call this greater power the Light; maybe they don’t believe that God exists at June/July 2012 Friends Journal
In the redWOOd grOve
the silence is the thing. to sit among these giants Is to feel the huge weight Of the absence of sound And to glimpse the ages Of its vast presence. these ancient trees Are descendants of Companions of dinosaurs. Our brief lives Are as a single needle Freeing itself from some high branch Falling slowly toward the ground While the tree continues on Indifferent to our passing. the fragility of their immensity Speaks in that silence We can take them down in hours, Convert them to homes that last barely a century We can change the climate that has sustained them For ages beyond the measure Of our small grasp of time. Or we can listen to the silence in which they live, Feel the soul of creation, And take our place within its bounds.
Rick Ells Seattle, Wash.
all. What about our belief in the Inner Light, already a theologically loose term? Do we have that in common? I don’t think we do because there are those who think this is too close to the idea of God, and there are others, such as in Africa, who have never heard of this belief. Yet they are Quakers. What about our belief in equality, our practice of consensus? No, we don’t have these in common: there are Quakers who are very hierarchical and who take votes in their business meetings. Silence is obviously out; quaking is not worldwide; praisesinging is anathema to some. I’ve sometimes wondered if our commonality is only our name and shared roots. But lately, I’ve started to think a little deeper than that. Truth, real Truth (such as the name of God), is past all language, past all symbols we could use to represent it, so maybe what Quakers have in common is also beyond our language, our theology, or our testimonies. Perhaps instead of saying we all believe in the Light, we can agree that each person has value. Instead of trying to unite about consensus or voting, we can agree that we are passionate about making choices that will make love more obvious today and thus tomorrow. Instead of concerning ourselves with finding a common form of worship, we can find a common purpose in living out that
love and working to make the lives of those around us more filled with daily joy, whether through political lobbying in the United States or ensuring that villages in Kenya have access to clean water. Perhaps even more than these greater underlying truths, I would hope that we all have respect and love for one another, no matter our theology or worship style. But frankly, I know this isn’t the case. Friends struggle as much as any other group with angry division and handing out harsh judgments. Though we like talking about peace and nonviolence, we often don’t live out this testimony well among ourselves. Perhaps it’s time simply to accept that we can be different from one another, even as we share the trunk of the tree. Perhaps it’s time to see our diversity as a gift: While none of us has this whole Friend thing figured out (much less God, or whatever you do or don’t call God), we have Truths to share with each other. With our branches growing in so many different directions, we are able to give shade to more of those who need a quiet or praise-singing place to rest, wherever in the world that may be. And perhaps when we do find similarity, we can embrace it in joy and then let it recede from our minds, so that instead, we may embrace the value of our Friends.q
Friends Journal June/July 2012
homosexuality: A Plea to read the Bible together
dOuglAS C. Bennett
t is the issue that most threatens to create new schisms in the world of Quakers. I’m talking about homosexuality, of course. It is provoking painful rifts in many monthly and yearly meetings and in many Friends organizations. Yet it could be the controversy that will draw us all more closely together, if we find honest ways to worship together about the issue. And that will require reading the Bible together. Over the past three decades, I’ve been a member of monthly meetings in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, North Pacific Yearly Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting, and now Indiana Yearly Meeting. As Earlham College’s president, I worshipped in Friends meetings across the geographic and theological terrain of Friends. Never once have I encountered an honest, searching discussion on homosexuality. Yes, it comes up often, but in some coded form. Occasionally someone interjects a candid sentence into a discussion about something else, and, like a shark’s fin, the question of homosexuality surfaces, induces shudders throughout the room, and then disappears from view for several more months. It is time we had the courage to undertake an honest discussion that seeks God’s will about whether we should view homosexuality as a sin or should view same-sex partnership as one form of loving relationship that can give a glimpse of divine love. It is not an issue we can afford to duck or sidestep, not if we are serious in saying “Thy will be done.” Some Friends General Conference Friends will
find themselves objecting: “Oh no, I’ve been in discussions of homosexuality” or “my meeting has decided to celebrate marriages of same-sex couples.” Yet once we reach a local solution, don’t we let the issue slip from view? Don’t we feel released from any further need for discussion, any further obligation to engage with Friends beyond our meeting? Don’t we flee the conflict that continues in the wider Society of Friends? If asked where Quakers are with regard to homosexuality, wouldn’t our most honest answers be “We don’t want to talk about it” or “we’ve settled into separate camps, so we don’t have to talk about it.” Settling into separate camps is certainly what is happening in Indiana Yearly Meeting. Following a long and deliberate process in 2008, West Richmond Friends approved a minute that says:
We affirm and welcome all persons whatever their race, religious affiliation, age, socio-economic status, nationality, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, or mental/physical ability. We offer all individuals and families, with or without children, our spiritual and practical support.
Douglas C. Bennett is President Emeritus of Earlham College and a member of First Friends in Richmond, Ind.
The inclusion of “sexual orientation” upset some in Indiana Yearly Meeting. West Richmond made it clear that the welcome and affirmation extended to “apply[ing] for and serv[ing] in positions of paid, public ministry, or other positions of leadership in our meeting.” This past October, after months of controversy, IYM’s Representative Council approved a minute calling on IYM Quakers to commit themselves “to a year-long process of seeking a future that honors each other’s consciences and understandings of scriptural guidance, and that is life-giving for all our monthly meetings.” A second task force is now June/July 2012 Friends Journal
at work devising a plan for accomplishing the separation, a process of “deliberative/collaborative reconfiguration” (see Timeline of Indiana Yearly Meeting Schism, page 13). There is grief throughout the yearly meeting and also a good deal of resignation that this schism was inevitable. This is a story in one yearly meeting, but many other yearly meetings have parallel stories of conflict and schism. Indiana Yearly Meeting invited Western and Wilmington Yearly Meetings to join them in the process. Both declined, but the same conflict grips them, too. The more immersed I am in the matter, the more convinced I become that the question of homosexuality has the potential to draw Friends together if we will have the courage to talk with one another, putting the Bible at the center of the conversation. The main issue now being discussed in Indiana Yearly Meeting is the question of the authority of the yearly meeting. Last summer’s separation minute puts it in this way:
We ask Friends to discern whether they want to be part of a yearly meeting that, as our current Faith and Practice provides, has the power to set bounds and exercise authority over subordinate monthly meetings; or whether they wish to be part of a yearly meeting that is a collaborative association, with monthly meetings maintaining considerable autonomy and allowing great freedom in matters of doctrine.
Though homosexuality is the deeper issue, IYM is focused on the issue of locus of authority. Were we in unity about homosexuality, the question of authority would never arise. (Of course one could also ask, since IYM is visibly in disunity about homosexuality, by what authority does IYM’s leadership insist upon the 1982 minute, which held that homosexual practices were “contrary to the intent and will of God for humankind”?) Homosexuality, however, is an issue we do not want to discuss and will avoid discussing at all costs, even the cost of separation.
Those who believe homosexuality is a sin rankle at any suggestion that they do not welcome homosexuals, but they want homosexuals to confess their sinful behavior, seek God’s forgiveness, and begin a new life. They want to be welcoming but not affirming. Thus the 1982 IYM minute adds, “We further believe that, whatever our condition of sinfulness, forgiveness, redemption, and wholeness are freely available through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 1:7).” In the face of this, what can be said—what should be said—by those who believe homosexuality is not a sin? We generally say that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice but rather a deep, given, and fundamental aspect of one’s being that cannot and should not be denied. We say that God loves everyone and would not want to deny committed, faithful love between two human beings. We say that it is slanderous to attribute to homosexuality the terrible consequences that are often portrayed. We say that opposition to homosexuality is a prejudice. We say that each of us has a right to living and loving as we choose. Yes, but we are much too reluctant to challenge the reading of the Bible passages—the erroneous reading—that sees them as declaring homosexuality a sin. We are too given to turning our back on the Bible. And that leads Friends who do revere it to feel dismay and even disgust, thinking they can never find spiritual unity on any matter with those who reject the Bible. The rupture over the Bible is the deepest schism of all among Friends. We will not find our way to unity about homosexuality (or about a great many other matters) if we are not willing to talk seriously about the Bible together. We need to value the Bible together as a font of spiritual authority. The most important of the texts taken to declare homosexuality a sin is the passage in Romans 1:
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:21-27, New International Version)
We are much too reluctant to challenge the reading of the Bible passages— the erroneous reading— that sees them as declaring homosexuality a sin.
here is a yet deeper issue than homosexuality, however, one that has vexed Friends before and divided us on many occasions. It is the question of the Bible: How do we read it? What other sources of spiritual knowledge do we recognize? And how do those sources relate to the Bible? For some Friends, homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says it is; they point to several passages as evidence. The 1982 Indiana Yearly Meeting minute puts it this way:
Indiana Yearly Meeting believes homosexual practices to be contrary to the intent and will of God for humankind. We believe the Holy Spirit and Scriptures witness to this (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:21-32, I Corinthians 6:9-10, I Timothy 1:9-10)
Friends Journal June/July 2012
We are too given to turning our back on the Bible. And that leads Friends who do revere it to feel dismay and even disgust, thinking they can never find spiritual unity on any matter with those who reject the Bible.
The principal sin that Paul is discussing in this passage is idolatry: failing to love and worship God. Paul talks about the possible consequences of idolatry: note the “therefore” in verse 24 and the “because” in verse 26. That is “their error.” Among those consequences are “shameful lusts,” which includes samesex sexual relations. This is no condemnation of all homosexuality; it is rather a warning that idolatry will lead you to do things that are against your nature. It says nothing about those whose nature (sexual orientation) leads them to be attracted to those of the same sex. We need to give fresh, thoughtful attention to the handful of biblical texts used to denounce homosexuality (some progressive Christians have taken to collectively calling these “the clobber texts.”) An excellent place to begin is with the chapter “The Bible and Homosexuality: The Last Prejudice” in Peter Gomes, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart. Another is “Homosexuality and the Bible” in Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches, edited by Walter Wink. During its first thousand years, Christianity did not view homosexuality as a sin. In 1980, a young, gifted historian at Yale named John Boswell published Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality, which excavated this critical turn in history. One scholar summarized the turn: “it was only in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that Christian writers formulated a significant hostility towards homosexuality, and then read the hostility back into their scriptures and early tradition.” Mark those words: “and then read the hostility back into their scriptures.” We need to read the Bible anew, together, to find our way back from that latter-day, even if long-standing, hostility. We also need to remember how Friends have read the Bible. In the midst of the Indiana Yearly Meeting controversy, one Friend wrote:
Those who hold the Bible to be authoritative, as Friends have since the first generation, will be free to practice their religion, and those who hold other factors to be overriding authorities over the Bible will be free to practice their religion, and in a few years we will be able to look at the fruits of the two trees.
The following is contained within the 1887 Richmond Declaration:
It has ever been, and still is, the belief of the Society of Friends that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by inspiration of God; that, therefore, there can be no appeal from them to any other authority whatsoever; that they are able to make wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Jesus Christ.
But the Richmond Declaration was controversial (and schism-inducing) even at the time it was written. Compare this excerpt with what Robert Barclay, the greatest of Quaker theologians, had to say about the Bible in 1678:
[B]ecause the scriptures are only a declaration of the source, and not the source itself, they are not to be considered the principal foundation of all truth and knowledge. They are not even to be considered as the adequate primary rule of all faith and practice. Yet, because they give a true and faithful testimony of the source itself, they are and may be regarded as a secondary rule that is subordinate to the Spirit, from which they obtain all their excellence and certainty. (Apology for the True Christian Divinity)
They are regarded as a rule “subordinate to the Spirit.” When George Fox was seeking for spiritual truth and finally came to his epiphany, he found that only Jesus Christ could speak to his condition, not that “the Bible is unambiguous, and all you need.” Early Friends knew the Bible well. They recognized it as a source of great truth, and yet also recognized that we need the light of the Holy Spirit to understand it. Such an understanding led Margaret Fell to exclaim, “And I cried in my spirit to the Lord, ‘We are all thieves, we are all thieves, we have taken the Scriptures in words and know nothing of them in ourselves.’” Accepting the homosexuality-is-a-sin reading of the five famous “clobber texts” empties the Bible of its central message, which the Spirit can illuminate. That reading focuses erroneously on five snippets, snippets that make no sense in the context of the two Great Commandments Jesus gives us in Matthew 22:36-37:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as
This simply isn’t an adequate understanding of Quakers and the Bible. 12
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:36-40 NIV)
Unity among Friends is not our most important challenge; the most important challenge is always knowing and doing what God asks of us. I believe God’s will asks us to reject the harmful idea that homosexuality is a sin. But I also believe that God asks us to bring others along into the Light. Do we think we can do this by turning our backs on the Bible? We have been in this situation before: facing a major social issue and trying to see clearly what God asks of us. Many American Friends were comfortable with slavery in the eighteenth century when John Woolman began his ministry. Friends and other Christians could point to dozens (dozens!) of Bible passages that show comfort with slavery and none (none!) that declare it sinful. Read Woolman’s Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes. He draws frequently on the Bible but dwells on none of those passages where slavery is presented as acceptable. Instead, he seeks to understand the deeper teaching of Jesus, trying to
understand where loving God with all your might and loving your neighbor as yourself may lead. Eventually Quakers came to substantial unity that slavery was a sin. We can find our way in unity to a loving understanding of homosexuality, but only if we will read the Bible together. If some Friends insist that the Bible is simple, clear, and all-sufficient and other Friends turn their backs on the Bible, then there will continue to be a deep rupture within Quakerism. That rupture will express itself as a disagreement about homosexuality as well as about many other issues, but its deep and fundamental source is differing views of the Bible. The way to unity among Friends is to talk about the Bible together, to value it together as a font of spiritual guidance, to be prepared to listen to one another’s leadings, and to be tender to different readings of what is a deep and complex revelation of God’s work among humankind. We will find together that homosexuality is no sin: sinning is failing to love. q
timeline of Indiana Yearly Meeting Schism
S t e P h e n W. A n g e l l
and this was replaced with a covenant of mutual expectations. One area where the conflict over the interpretation of Scriptures has been especially intense was on the issue of homosexuality. In 1982, Indiana Yearly Meeting approved a minute in sessions declaring its belief that “homosexual practices are contrary to the intent and will of God for humankind.” A 1995 yearly meeting minute, designed as a supplement to the 1982 minute, recognized that “a diversity of beliefs exist within our own yearly meeting regarding the interpretation of Scripture” on the subject of homosexuality. The minute further stated that “we welcome all people to our meetings, to worship and join in becoming fully devoted followers of Christ.” After a lengthy process of study and discernment, West Richmond (Ind.) Meeting, located near Earlham College, approved a June 2008 minute that stated: “We affirm and welcome all persons whatever their . . . sexual orientation.” Gays and lesbians would be fully welcomed in both membership and positions of leadership. Eight other categories of persons that would be affirmed and welcomed by the meeting were also mentioned, but sexual orientation proved to be the only controversial category. West Richmond’s pastor Joshua Brown communicated with Indiana Yearly Meeting leadership about his meeting’s actions. The matter was referred to the yearly meeting’s Ministry and Oversight Committee, which, in March 2009, requested that West Richmond Friends take its welcoming and affirming minute off its website. A dialogue ensued between the parties. Eventually the Ministry and Oversight committee identified two problems with the West Richmond minute, saying that gays and lesbians should not be welcomed into membership, and that the possibility of leadership should not be opened to gays and lesbians. In July 2010, IYM’s Ministry and Oversight Committee reported its “deep concern” that “West Richmond Friends has chosen to not submit itself to the guidance of Indiana Yearly Meeting” and that this Continued on page 48 13
ndiana Yearly Meeting was formed in 1821 as a result of Quakers who migrated out of the U.S. South, where slaveholding was rife, and into the Midwest, where there was plenty of fertile land available at reasonable prices. Indiana Friends underwent numerous changes in the nineteenth century, including a series of Holiness revivals that swept through Indiana meetings in the late-nineteenth century. Conflicts over the interpretation of Scriptures were common in the aftermath of the revival. Methods of religious and biblical instruction, and some other matters, at the yearly meeting’s flagship educational institution, Earlham College, were episodically targeted by the yearly meeting’s conservatives in the intervening century. In 2010, Earlham College and Indiana Yearly Meeting agreed to change their legal relationship: the yearly meeting relinquished appointment of trustees,
Stephen W. Angell is the Leatherock Professor of Quaker Studies at Earlham School of Religion, and a member of Oxford (Ohio) Meeting.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
What Makes us Friends: Faith, Practice, or Community?
PhOtOS BY dAnIel J. K ASz tel An
hen I look back on my 20 years’ belonging to the religious Society of Friends, I find it impossible to untangle faith, practice, and community. I learned my faith by watching and participating in the practice of that faith by the community around me. Yes, I was first attracted to Quakerism by what I read about it. But then I learned my faith by being among the people who are Friends. I learned from the books they kept in their libraries; I learned from the simple lines and folding chairs of their meeting rooms; I learned from a word at the right time that spoke to my condition. I had read about silent worship and agreed with the principle, but I only learned how to find god in the silence from the people who met in the meetinghouse on First days. I learned from work camps, service projects, and the way the entire meeting participated in care for the building and grounds. I
learned from adult education classes and small groups. I watched those who were willing to assume the weight of leadership–those who always chose the hardest, dirtiest jobs–and I have begun to learn to do the same. I learned from the witness of the saints: those who’ve been channels for god’s love in quiet but extraordinary ways that I’ve met in every branch wherever I’ve traveled among Friends. Which of these things makes me a Friend? Is it the books in the library on Quaker faith, the messages (programmed or unprogrammed) that have spoken to my condition in worship, or the places where my friends have let their lives speak? the only possible answer is this—all of them. q
Daniel J. Kasztelan is an independent visual journalist, campus minister at Wilmington College, and director of Wilmington’s Quaker Leader Scholars Program. He is a member of Campus Meeting in Wilmington, Ohio. Photos © Daniel J. Kasztelan.
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
Page 14, clockwise from top left: Wilmington Yearly Meeting one-day peace camp, held on a Saturday in March. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2005. Members of the Wilmington College Quaker leader Scholars Program work with Wilmington Yearly Meeting Friends disaster Service to roof a trailer for Friends who need assistance. Morning prayer in the Friends disaster Service dormitory. FdS built or rehabbed a number of houses in lafitte in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and rita. lafitte, louisiana, 2007. library shelf. Friends Center of Ohio. Barnesville, Ohio, 2012. Page 15, top to bottom, left to right: Friends and their friends, working with eastern region (eFI) Friends disaster Service, build a new house in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and rita. lafitte, louisiana, 2006. Abel Sibonio, of Australia Yearly Meeting, dedicates one of the rwandan children of louisville Friends Meeting. Sibonio was the pastor for the rwandan families of louisville when they were all located in refugee camps in rwanda. louisville, Kentucky, 10/23/2011. A member of louisville Friends Meeting greets one of the babies dedicated to the church by Abel Sibonio. Open worship during one of the plenary sessions of the “new Kinds of Quakerism” conference hosted by the Friends Center of guilford College in november, 2008. greensboro, north Carolina, 2008. Singing was included in the closing worship of the Friends World Committee for Consultation “Being Salt and light” gathering in louisville, Kentucky. 10/22/2011.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Photos, clockwise from top left: lonnie valentine, Professor of Peace and Justice Studies at the earlham School of religion, preaches on Archbishop Oscar romero during regular worship at the seminary. richmond, Indiana, 3/11/2010. Bible study during the YAF 2010 gathering. university Friends, Wichita, Kansas, 2010. Wilmington College Quaker leader Scholars move a fallen tree off a trail at Quaker Knoll Camp. trail-clearing fulfilled part of the service requirement of the QlS Program. Wilmington, Ohio, 2011. listening conversation at Cincinnati (Ohio) Meeting. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2005. Peeling apples for a fundraising meal prepared by the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Cincinnati Meeting. Funds were donated toward the construction of an orphanage in Afghanistan. Cincinnati, Ohio, 2008.
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
StrAngerS In A StrAnge lAnd
he story of my meeting is unusual, although I find it to be so in a typically Quaker manner. Rather than a recognized meeting, it is an informal, annual (on a good year, a semi-annual) gathering in the Serbian city of Novi Sad. We have about a dozen Friends who come mostly from Serbia and neighboring Hungary, countries that have only a symbolic Quaker presence. Some of us are expats from different Western countries, supported by a meeting back home; some of us are local, isolated Friends in the care of the International Membership Committee; others are fellow travelers, friends of Friends who come along and contribute to both our stories and our silence. Most of us have become convinced during our adult lives, each with a personal story that is a testament to overcoming obstacles and cutting no corners; to searching, exploring, and questioning. You will probably not find much, if any, information on us in online Quaker directories, but once or twice a year our modest gathering is the closest thing Serbia has to a regular meeting. First-time comers always comment on the spirit of tolerance and acceptance, regardless of any personal differences. In this volatile part of the world, which is marred with nationalism, constantly heightened rhetoric, and frequent political unrest, the meeting is a place where one can safely be who one is, where all are equally valued and affirmed for their experiences and perspectives. For example, in the fall of 2010 a prominent Quaker LGBTQ (Lesbian/Gay/ Bisexual/Transgender/Queer) activist from England visited us. She was witnessing, sharing, and charging batteries in anticipation of a difficult day that was to follow, a groundbreaking gay-pride event in the Serbian capital Belgrade (it sadly ended in outbursts of homophobic hatred, some of it promoted by traditional faith groups, and massive street violence). Before arriving, this activist had not known there were Quakers in Serbia, nor that
A regional gathering unites a diverse group of Isolated Friends
Nenad Knezevic is a classical scholar, translator and researcher in the fields of gender and religion studies. His current work is focused on the writings of Hildegard of Bingen and Juana Ines de la Cruz. He holds International Membership under the care of FWCC and attends the informal regional Novi Sad Meeting; ecumenically minded, he also worships in Anglican Church in Belgrade. Born in Croatia in 1979, he currently lives in Belgrade, Serbia.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
John Davis Gummere
our meeting was to be held the same week of her visit. She decided, however, to skip meetings and workshops in order to be with us in Novi Sad. Her presence enriched us, and I believe we, too, gave her encouragement and strength for her traveling ministry. Our meeting is woven from coincidences like that one. Although residing in different locales across the region and sometimes not hearing from each other for weeks or months at a time, we find a common theme we can all readily identify with whenever we gather. One time we all arrived with thoughts and feelings of vulnerability. The gathered group was small, but the silent part of the meeting was powerful. It ended on an idyllic, picture-perfect note, with golden rays of autumn sunshine beaming onto our small circle through one of the windows (sometimes the experience of Light gets very in-your-face, perhaps at times when we need it the most). Hands were held, after which our silent meeting turned into the customary afterthoughts session, a period of spoken reflection and discussion. A young woman spoke of a recent betrayal she had experienced in her life. Another, the pillar of our the term “isolated community, reflected on a persistent feeling of brokenness. Most people Friend” becomes present that day would not have purely technical. necessarily described themselves as religious, but the words of heartache, Physical distance loss, thanksgiving, and perseverance notwithstanding, all carried profound spiritual meaning. An atheist friend with no previous there can be no Quaker experience commented isolation in such afterward that the meeting was great and not at all what she had expected richness of ideas, nor based on reading the introductory in the warmth of leaflets. “Soothing” was another word she used. She went on to say that the genuine, personal next time we gathered I had to make support. sure she was invited. I love that usual labels do not carry much weight in our meeting. An insight from a lifelong, Christ-centered Friend is on a par with that of a non-Quaker first-timer. For such a small group of people, we have a surprising wealth of religious backgrounds that precede our Quaker experience or develop alongside it. Among others, there are former or current Lutherans, Zen Buddhists, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans, some more and some less religious in the traditional meaning of the word and some not at all. Quakerism helps this mishmash of backgrounds and personal beliefs make sense. A person mentions tikkun olam in a sentence, and heads nod with approval and understanding. Or someone quotes a passage from George Fox, and in it are echoes from the Qur’an 18
or Béla Hamvas or contemporary feminist theory or whatever else has been on our nightstands recently. There are often hilarious personal insights and experiences of the sort that probably did not seem so funny at a time they happened but now give us something to laugh about. What we bring to the table may seem disparate and mutually exclusive on the surface, irreverent even, but it all adds to a wonderful feast of thoughts and emotions that leaves me nourished and strengthened for weeks to follow. The term “isolated Friend” becomes purely technical. Physical distance notwithstanding, there can be no isolation in such richness of ideas, nor in the warmth of genuine, personal support. My experience with this particular group of Friends has defined for me what it means to be a Quaker. It is not subscribing to a set of ideas, nor nominally belonging to a denomination, nor mainly about social activism and ministering to a hurting world, although Quakerism does entail all these, making it the unique religious culture that it is. What I have gleaned from others in my meeting is that, all denominational peculiarities aside, what makes us Friends is not unlike what makes us friends. It is about shared reverence toward our human condition and being mindful of both our strengths and our frailties. Everything else seems to stem from that: empathy, activism, and approach to the traditional Quaker testimonies. Meeting serves as an appointed time and place during which, enveloped by the Spirit, all the dichotomies of daily life (including the faith/practice dichotomy) can be safely put on hold and each person recognized, greeted, and affirmed as an integral whole, “wonderfully and fearfully made.” I am reminded here of an observation made by the British author Patrick Gale that I could not agree with more: “Quakerism’s extremely plain, but it’s the least sanctimonious religion I’ve come across. You just have to believe in the potential for God or goodness in people. It is in many ways the ideal religion for the twenty-first century.” I am happy to say this describes my meeting very well, and I am sure others will recognize their communities in it as well, from fledgling Quaker groups of Eastern Europe to the established ones in the United Kingdom, United States, and elsewhere. It also describes the essence of our faith and what we are all about as a people who identify with a common religious background. The simplicity of our testimonies has served us well; making them a lived and shared experience is what will keep us going in the times to come. q
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
listening for the Silence
gretChen l. MOrSe
adidn’t hear any singing! These were the words of a neighbor across the street from the new Red Cedar Friends’ meetinghouse, after our inaugural meeting for worship there in March, 2010. The woman who spoke these words was clearly aware of the Sunday morning activity at this new building, but somewhat befuddled, as well. She called out as I was on my way to my car after a rich meeting filled with unity and joy. I smiled, and responded, “Oh, there was singing! The silence was ringing with it!” After taking a moment with the woman to explain what I meant, and a little bit about Quaker worship, she seemed satisfied and went merrily on her way. But it struck a chord in me, in thinking deeper about what can be heard in the silence. Many a Quaker can report the power of “listening” in the silence to that “still, small voice within”; to the thumping of one’s heart as the words of ministry begin to seek their way out; to the gentle sounds of a wind-chime outside in the breeze; or even to the wiggles of a child, whom we hold in the Light with care and love. For me, experience at Quaker Meeting and with the silence have brought many of those very precious experiences. But it has also given me the space and the framework to “listen” to my life, and to music, in a different way. Since the third grade, my life was focused on sound. I loved music and pursued it to the doctoral level. I had a full musical life as a professional oboist, and played as many as 150 symphonic, Broadway, and chamber performances a year until physical issues and major burnout hit, lasting for many years. I didn’t enjoy playing or even listening to music, anymore. As a musician, I performed at many churches over the years, but did not attend anywhere. Though I was led to Quakerism for other reasons, I found it lovely to be a participant in the worship
Gretchen L. Morse is a member of Red Cedar (Mich.) Meeting. She finds joy in the close relationship between the arts and spirituality and is a professional musician and teacher. Gretchen is also a healer, and owns her own neurofeedback practice.
in Music and in life
without having to perform. It was also nice to have a personal and spiritual identity—rather than a musical one—as basis to get to know people. And in the meeting for worship, it was amazing to feel the collective crescendo of community energy that I have felt on the stage in a symphony, in a group of people without instruments, in complete silence. As time passed, the deep experiences with community and Spirit at Quaker meeting seemed to have tiny tendrils that reached tenderly into an embittered musical spirit, little by little. Ministry by a faithful attender one Sunday morning reflected upon the value of hearing “old chestnuts” with “fresh ears” at a symphony concert I had performed in the previous evening. Other Quakers later began attending the concerts. Renowned Quaker healer Richard Lee asked me to bring my oboe to several First Day lessons he was presenting to youth on “kenning.” This experience taught me to “listen” on various spiritual and intuitive levels, as I learned to improvise and then settle in on a particular tone to sustain as point of focus for the participants to “travel” on. People “traveled” on this tone to beautiful places in nature, to past events, to colors, or to Spirit. I later used a variety of instruments
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Photos by Gretchen L. Morse
When sitting in meeting, I love to “listen” to the silence. It is particularly fascinating when there are no movements or sounds from others, but I feel as if I can “hear” their presence. I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m “hearing,” but there is a soothing sound that is different than when sitting alone.
with younger children in First-day school to explore the different ways we “listen,” and to provide them with ways of giving (and listening to) “ministry” through sound. Recently, I performed a recital after a 15-year hiatus from solo work. I would not have thought this possible three years ago. The recital took place in the meetinghouse, which felt like a safe space and audience to perform for. It was a wonderful evening, and I felt as if I got a part of me back again. All of these experiences have begun to transform my relationship with music and with the audience, much in the same way many of us have transformed our relationships with people and the Divine, through Quaker meeting. Music had become a very demanding, physically draining, and competitive “job,” subject to great criticism (from others, and from within). But through my Quaker experiences and practices, it started to become a vessel of connection—to people, between people, and to higher energies. I believe that from my earliest musical experiences, I felt some sort of “mysticism” in them; that beyond the sound and the mechanics and the relative ease of it, there was something powerful that I felt beyond myself and the music that connected me to others, and to a higher vibration in the universe. This was a language given to me by my father, as he introduced music in a very “experiential” way as we settled in after dinner each night at the piano; we played piano duets, and he accompanied me on my recorder, clarinet, and oboe. He challenged me to play in different keys than what were written, and to improvise descants and counter-melodies. I don’t remember him saying many words, but rather giving me the setting and the space to explore and experiment and to see what would unfold in the moment. There was delight and excitement at the challenge and joy involved in these collaborations. As I look back on these experiences now, they feel very much like worship does—as things “unfold in space.” Those music sessions with my father felt in a way “Divine-inspired” and almost like a form of worship; they were certainly an escape from an otherwise negative and violent household, and gave my father and I a connection with an energy far more energizing and hopeful than what was around us in the family. (My father would’ve enjoyed being a Quaker, I think). Music is also a wordless way of expressing and sharing profound emotion, and is a tool to help evoke that in others. I feel like the silent and powerful experiences in meeting and in worship have re-awakened the mystical and emotional connections in my musical performing life that had been buried in pain, frustration, and burnout. When sitting in meeting, I love to “listen” to the silence. It is particularly fascinating when there are no movements or sounds from others, but I feel as
if I can “hear” their presence. I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m “hearing,” but there is a soothing sound that is different than when sitting alone. (I have had opportunity to sit in the empty meetinghouse.) Here, once I move beyond the fans and the other transient noises inside and outside the building, I am “hearing” the space around: empty space, but a space that has a particular “sound” to it. When listening to music, now, I am also now much more aware of the silence and space within it. It feels easy and natural to follow melodies, rhythms, chords, and other sounds. But it is a completely different experience to be purposefully mindful of the silence that surrounds these components. The spaces between notes and phrases are an important aspect of the feeling and the meaning of the music. These gaps allow the piece (and sometimes the performer) to “breathe.” Silence can “frame” or give emphasis to different elements or sections. Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” comes immediately to mind; where a brief pause separates the final four sustained notes of the movement from the energized statements of “Forever, and ever, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!” Is this space a dividing line? Does it make the final “Hallelujah” more emphatic? Or is it a moment of magic and joy, without sound? The Japanese have a word called ma, which is a concept of space or silence between elements. We don’t have a singular word in English that can describe this idea. Ma is sometimes referred to as “negative space” and is a key feature in Japanese art forms, such as Shakuhachi music, sumi paintings, flower arrangements, Kabuki theater, Japanese gardens, calligraphy, and poetry. It is as if the art forms are constructed so as to elucidate the ma. The resulting silence or space is celebrated and revered as an opportunity for imagination, deep insight, or spiritual connection. The concept of ma is not surprising in a culture cramped for physical space, where silence is honored and respected, and where Buddhism has its roots. Musically speaking, it is fascinating to think of writing to emphasize silence, rather than fill it. American composer John Cage took this to the extreme in his work entitled 4’33”, which instructs the musician(s) not to play during any of its three movements. Some analysts believe the work was an attempt to remove artistic control from the performers or the composer (part of a larger post-Romantic movement called “automaticism”), and to shift focus to random, ambient sounds from the environment. But Cage (a long-time student of Buddhism) expressed the following desire:
to compose a piece of uninterrupted silence and sell it to Muzak Holdings. It will be three or four-and-a-half minutes long—those being the standard lengths of
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
“canned” music and its title will be Silent Prayer. It will open with a single idea which I will attempt to make as seductive as the color and shape and fragrance of a flower. The ending will approach imperceptibility.
It was Cage’s own report that the premiere of this work incited rage and fury in the audience when they realized there would be no sound from the performer (a pianist, who sat silently at the keyboard). Though one could understand some of the unsettledness that could arise from such an experience, it is interesting to ponder this level of discomfort in reaction to silence. This past April, I performed at Palm Sunday services at another local church. There was much liturgy on that celebratory day, and after faithfully attending Quaker meeting for two years, I found myself reading the bulletin and looking forward to the point in the service labeled “A Moment of Silence.” I somehow missed it in the first service; dutifully waited for it in the second service, and . . . just couldn’t find it. It never happened, I guess. I found myself wondering what might’ve happened for the congregation if there had been a moment of space . . . or two moments? What is it that has made so much of our society afraid of space and silence? Our movies, our stores and our cars all have “soundtracks” to them. MP3 players have made it possible to have sound virtually anywhere we go. Television is everywhere, and we’re glued to cellphones when all else fails. Think of what can be “heard” if we stop, for a bit. It was not long ago that I had great fear of space and silence, too. But it is that same silence that has helped me face some of my greatest fears. It is the silence from music that helped give it the space to come back. It is the silence between the notes that has helped bring deeper meaning to the sounds that come forth. As an orchestral player, I have to “listen” on a number of levels; I first hear my own sound, pitch, vibrato, inflection, etc. Then, I am listening to others right next to me and right behind me in my section, making sure I am synchronizing with them. And I am listening “around” and “across” the orchestra to fit my sound and part into the texture and fabric of what is happening, momentby-moment. When I am in worship, I “listen” in a similar way as I do in the orchestra; as I settle, I am listening to what is arising in me as I connect with the Light. I sit with that a while. I then listen through the silence for the ring and resonance of the Light in the people closest to me, and I sit with them for a while. I then “listen” to the whole room;
not for noise, but for Light and communion with Spirit. And then I “listen” across the community, the state, the country, and the world, imagining all of our hearts connected with harmony and Light. I listen around the orchestra: How does my part fit? Who am I with? What else do I hear? What is the collective feel of energy, here? I listen across the
orchestra: I am with the first violin—can I hear her? If not, can I see her? I see her bow and her body moving, and her eyes and her face deep within the music. Tuning into these signals helps me to “hear” her, as we play together. I listen around Meeting: How many presences do I hear? What does it feel like? What energy do I sense from this? I listen across Meeting: there’s Sally—I hear her spirit, her soul, her pain, and send her Light. In college, I had an ingenious wind quintet coach, who had the group rehearse with our backs to each other. This was an incredible exercise in connection and collaboration. Instead of using our eyes to connect, we had to rely on subtle sounds of the breath and phrasing from our colleagues, as well as a great deal of intuition, to coordinate our playing together. It deepened our ability to respond and make music together. To reach through the many layers of an orchestra and place one’s tone into the sound of another who is sitting far away and whom we not even be able to hear, is not completely unlike the
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Friends Journal June/July 2012
hIgh WIndOWS FIxIng nItrOgen
how exactly do bacteria living on the roots of my beans fix nitrogen anyway? Is it like fixing someone’s hair, or a leaky radiator, or a spaghetti dinner? Is it like fixing a boxing match? Or do they do it the way god fixed the stars in the firmament? And what about this need we have to fix our lives? As if we had a recipe As if we had a clue what was going on under the hood As if we could shave a few points and beat the odds As if we weren’t already blazing away in the brilliant dark.
Tony Martin Bedford, Va.
high windows in the meeting house next to the raftered ceiling witness seasons passing. tree tops in view a piece of sky, grey or blue, tree branches, leaves, limbs and snow testify to change. light streams across the floor where pairs of feet in shoes—shined or scuffed, stretched out, tucked in, lined up or skewed— relax in scattered seating. Faces raised or bowed, eyes open, closed, some hands folded, held, arms draped across the backs of pews or family members’ shoulders. eyes meet across the room. A smile may bloom between Friends sharing the sacred silence. the meeting house is bare of decoration but resplendent in simplicity— a testimony to Friends simply seeking the light shining through plain speaking.
Peggy Purcell San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
All those years on the surface, gleaming in the least attentive light, we rushed parallel to shore, oblivious of the deep. What we once buoyed, we finally release, let drift and settle — a contemplative sediment in a depth of calm.
Nancy Compton Williams Huntsville, Ala.
those Other Branch Quakers
“Be careful of those ‘other branch’ Quakers.”
hese words were spoken to me at a recent Wednesday evening Bible study by the group leader. I had been in conversation with a partner teacher at our church, a woman who was teaching Quaker history to the children in her charge. I was telling her that I was teaching Quaker values and practice on alternate Sundays to the same children. We were comparing notes to determine if there was any overlap, not that it mattered. Our Bible study leader was listening to the conversation, since his lesson for the evening hadn’t yet begun. I think it was my mention of peacemaking and unprogrammed meetings that got his attention. I asked him to clarify his thoughts about “other branch” Quakers. He said “they” had the tendency to emphasize the Divine Light as a guide for life as opposed to affirming the centrality of Jesus Christ. Hmm. I attend services at an Evangelical Friends Church (EFC) meeting. We have a programmed service, with a pastor and a choir; a sermon; and singing. Our church is historically Quaker, but we do things differently from our unprogrammed “other branch” Friends. We have about 400 regular and irregular attendees. The focus is the Sunday morning services; we have two. But there is a schedule of activities in addition to services, including youth projects, service opportunities, Bible studies, and chances for people to get together. We have a café, a library, several classrooms, and even a gym. Our salaried staff includes the pastor, a church administrator, a youth director, a music director, and others. Our clerk is not salaried. We are well organized. I was bothered by the us/them thinking implied by the phrase “other branch Quakers.” It indicates the divisions in our movement, where today we are seeing meetings ranging from traditional Christian congregations—such as mine—to non-traditional, unprogrammed worship structure. It has been a practice of mine to ignore advice such as that given by my Bible study leader, and visit Quaker meetings in other places, including
Rick Artzner is a retired teacher from Massillon, Ohio. He attends Jackson (Ohio) Friends Church with his wife Pam, and is a frequent visitor to Wooster (Ohio) Meeting. He has spent his retirement as a guest lecturer at local colleges and churches, on topics such as peace, economic justice, and civil disobedience. He has served on the hospital ship Africa Mercy as a missionary. He is an avid bicyclist.
Wooster, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, and several others which have the unprogrammed format. My experiences have taught me that we sometimes create enclaves within our churches and meetings, as we do in other walks of life. These enclaves become shelters of influence where we see ourselves as the ones who have the correct perspectives in life, and we see outsiders—“other branches”—as those who don’t. In these shelters of influence, the rhetoric will be familiar and comforting. People will agree to the same, or a similar, point of view. Conservative Christians, such as fundamentalists and many evangelicals, create a shelter of influence for themselves far removed from more liberal religious and academic circles. Many homeschool their children, teaching them conservative values and politics. Conservative Christians vote and encourage each other to vote for like-minded candidates. Not surprisingly, liberal shelters of influence are much like this, that is, acting from their own perspectives. Shelters of influence create isolated pockets of thinking where people listen only to those leaders they trust and read only books, pamphlets, and literature promoting their preconceived understandings. They will visit websites where they can find wording for their opinions. They will tune in to media personnel who promote their agenda. With few exceptions, people in one shelter of influence rarely cross over to hear what others are saying. They may pick up bits and pieces here and there to learn that the other shelters of influence are—in their view— just plain misguided. Even Friends meetings can become shelters of influence when particular values and opinions are promoted within the meeting, be they conservative politically or liberal, militaristic or pacifist, given to emphasis on Scripture or Divine Light. It doesn’t have to be this way. Instead of pulling away from each other, we ought to find places where we have common ground, at least enough to have give-and-take discussion. Listening to another point of view doesn’t mean giving up one’s own. When George Fox in the 1600s told of his opening that “there is one, even Christ Jesus who can speak to thy condition,” it not only was the beginning of the Quaker movement, but it also spoke of great understanding of what it means to be Christian. The experience goes beyond salvation provided by Jesus; it moves the individual to listen carefully to his teachings, what he had to say about faith, about life, about service. Jesus wanted us to
With few exceptions, people in one shelter of influence rarely cross over to hear what others are saying. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
learn many things and to be open to his lessons. I think he would advise us to avoid shelters of influence, where Christians only associate with others just like themselves. Christianity thus was meant to be an active lifestyle. Being confined to a shelter of influence, where only a few points of view are recognized, stifles these important messages. Christians need to move beyond the shelter and, strengthened by faith, deal with the problems of the kingdom. I have believed for a long time that an inner spiritual life is vital and necessary before meaningful service can be accomplished. Individuals must know where they stand before they can live an effective life of helping others. Believing that Jesus is a great teacher is not enough; we must believe that Jesus embodies great purpose and enlightenment. The spiritual, or inner life, inspires and drives the physical, or outer life. We can’t have one without the other. Elton Trueblood, in The People Called Quakers, writes, “The experience is inner and spiritual, because it is God who calls, but the experience cannot be genuine unless it eventuates in work.” We cannot walk on one leg; we need both legs in order to follow God: the leg of spiritual life, precipitated by an ongoing faith and seeking of God’s will, and the leg of service and evangelism, meeting others’ needs and spreading Jesus’ love. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick, trying the best we can to bring a complete life to everyone in need. We fight for the causes that promote equality of persons, justice, and peace in our world. And we tell others about Jesus, both through our actions and our words. Unfortunately many Christians go to worship for fellowship and/or People who sermons but do little else with their lives. On the worship with other hand, there are great vigor and many who get into service and righteous energy and do causes simply because nothing else they are good and important. But unless are trying to we are grounded in a walk on one spiritual purpose, it leg. becomes mere superficiality. People who worship with great vigor and energy and do nothing else are trying to walk on one leg. Those who are given to service and good works and nothing else are 24
trying to walk on the other one. Not only is walking on two legs vital to effectiveness, it is vital to growth. When one concern is emphasized and the other neglected, eventually life becomes a series of temporary events, without meaning or fulfillment. A meaningful, spiritual life would lead to meaningful service. I think the early Quakers understood this, as they understood what the earliest Christians understood. This understanding is needed today. If the Bible verse John 1:9, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” has any validity, and I think it does, then God sent Jesus Christ into the world to be the Light “to every man,” and this supplies the Quaker belief that there is “that of God in each person.” This Light can be called the Holy Spirit, and many people understand it that way. Jesus came into the world and essentially never left; he is still here as Light, as Holy Spirit. It bothered me to hear my Bible study leader separate Light from Jesus when he advised me to be careful of those “other branch Quakers.” If Jesus is the Light, then he is working in my conscience all the time. I began to think there was a problem with the wording or with the understanding of Scripture. The “other branch Quakers,” the ones I have visited, tend to use the term “Light” quite a bit. At my branch, Jesus is mentioned frequently. Walking on two legs allows me to understand that Light and Jesus are the same, and this validates the Scripture reference. I have learned also that the Bible, Holy Scripture, has much to say not only about Jesus but also about his message. I have learned valuable lessons in those pages, lessons which come alive through stories and parables. I think true Quakers would give the Bible a prominent place in their lives, using it as it was intended: as a source of instruction, of reproof, of guidance, and of inspiration. It tells the story of God’s love. We should attend to it as well as we attend to continuing revelation. I don’t think Jesus, as the Divine Light of my soul, wants me to ignore the Bible. A compatible balance between a reverence for Scripture and for revelation from the Divine Light is necessary. Christianity needs both. Quakers need both. I believe Jesus speaks to us through the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Bible. Our lives should reflect this. Using George Fox’s realization that Jesus Christ is the focus of the individual’s life (“one… who speaks to thy condition”), it is clear to me where my spirituality leans. My own church affirms Jesus’ centrality to spiritual life. It is a great comfort to have his presence to rely on as Savior and teacher, the One who shows the way, and the One who is the Light of the world. This centrality of Jesus Christ, by name, defines the focus of my June/July 2012 Friends Journal
branch of Quakerism. Authentic worship in a programmed Friends church can be a blessing beyond measure. When an inspired speaker addresses a particular point of Scripture or a controversial issue and is able to bring understanding to individuals in the pews, it is a moment of uplifting drama. When voices are raised to sing songs of worship and meaning, hearts are affected. Of course, I have found a great deal of spiritual uplift in my visits to unprogrammed Quaker meetings as well. There is value in quiet waiting for God and attending to Jesus speaking to my condition. As the Light of the world, he will bring truth and comfort as I sit in corporate quiet time. Occasionally, a speaker is heard in the quiet time, not an ordained or recorded minister with a prepared sermon but an ordinary congregant with a message from the heart. It’s wonderful to hear these openings; I never know what to expect. The speaker has even been me. Finally, I would ask this question: in our Quaker worship times, whether programmed or unprogrammed, does God come to us, or do we go to God? Well, it’s a little bit of both. When we go to that quiet, secret place and deliberately free ourselves from worldly distraction, we go to God. In that moment of eternity, he comes to us. It’s a moment beyond words, beyond visualizations, and beyond the limitations with which we are born and the limitations we create for ourselves. It’s a mystery with which even the great theologians grapple. People speak of the “still small voice” of God that comes in moments of quiet reflection. When we wait for God in our silence, we hope for that. We pray for that. It can be in either programmed or unprogrammed worship time that I feel close to him, so close sometimes that I believe he is right there beside me. I have gone to him, and he has come to me. Because of the difficulties and limitations of human comprehension, people create organized religion to help overcome the anxiety of separation from eternal God. Religion is our creation, not God’s. Clergy may be hired to learn all they can, so they can tell us what it all means. Rituals are created so that we can find comfort in the majesty and splendor of ceremony. Many people love the Roman Catholic high mass because it is programmed with parade and costume, music and incense, chanting, and repetition. The senses of each individual are treated to spectacle and emotion. But I wonder if they are closer to God as a result. Even unprogrammed worship time can be considered ritual. Any congregation that practices a repeated formula of worship and/or has a list of dogmas to be memorized and followed falls into this limited way of understanding God. But God is greater than all this. He is greater in such a way that he enters quietly, enters the heart
Friends Journal June/July 2012
and soul of the individual. God exists beyond prescriptions of behavior, lists of beliefs, shelters of influence, or methods of corporate worship. Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “God should come into our thoughts with no more parade than zephyr into our ears. Only strangers approach him with ceremony.” Many of us crave ritual and ceremony while remaining strangers to God. Maybe we are just widening the gap, so to speak. Perhaps we use rituals because we are afraid to know him, afraid to wait and listen for his still small voice, afraid of the truth. It has become clear to me that my search for the perfect Quaker meeting may never be realized. It isn’t simply a matter of sitting silently, waiting for the spirit to inspire, or sitting passively, listening to a sermon on some significant Bible message. It isn’t a matter of keeping company with those who may share political persuasions or similar viewpoints of a particular shelter of influence. those who are It is a matter of given to service searching for a personal and authentic relationship and good with the Divine, with works and God, with the Light of the world. This is a nothing else lifetime quest for are trying to meaning and meaningfulness of things walk on the transcendent, for spiritual other one. reality, for truth. It is seeking a place to stand in faith and a place to walk with mission, using both legs for the journey. I have found value in both programmed and unprogrammed worship times. I have seen the importance of a spiritual life that informs a practical life of service. I am learning how these two work together. I have decided to make the most of the several decades I’ve been given by walking among the various branches of Quakerism, by attending as fully as I can to living a complete Christian life. q
Surmounting our Quaker language Barriers
he young woman stood outside our meetinghouse staring at our sign. Neatly calligraphed and painted in carefully chosen, muted hues, it read: “Multnomah Monthly Meeting. An unprogrammed congregation of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).” A Friend arriving at the meetinghouse noticed that the young woman seemed perplexed. “How can I help you?” asked the Friend. “Well, I was just wondering which Sunday in the month you meet. Is it today?” Clearly the young seeker knew something of Friends. She knew that “meeting” referred to the congregation or perhaps a worship service. She assumed that the whole of Multnomah County didn’t meet in the modest building each month. Her knowledge of the word “Quaker” must have gone beyond her breakfast cereal. And somehow she had gotten over the odd and ambiguous word “unprogrammed.” Maybe she thought she’d find out about that once she had gotten inside—if only she could figure out when she could enter. Our meeting had unintentionally put up a barrier, a language barrier, that this seeker was having trouble surmounting. A language barrier normally means a barrier caused by the lack of a shared language. How can we have a “language barrier” when we speak the same language? It’s easy: talk to a few Friends. Who is God to you? I once asked a longtime Friend. “Well,” she said without hesitation, “You must start by realizing that God is merely a word.” Time also changes the meaning of words,
Rick Seifert is a retired journalist, clerk of Multnomah Meeting in Portland, Ore., and a member of a Quaker Quest traveling team.
You either know it or you don’t. You are in or you are out. Our language isn’t helping seekers get from outside to inside.
creating more barriers. Today’s English is very different from the language of early Friends. Context changes the meaning of words. What is your context? And what are your own personal associations with particular religious words? We have two kinds of Quaker language barriers. There is the external one: the language barrier we pose to non-Quakers like our perplexed young seeker. These are barriers to those who know little or nothing about Friends. “Religious Society,” “monthly meeting,” “unprogrammed congregation” are terms that confound. Then there are the internal barriers: Do we openly and clearly communicate with each other? Do we suffer from an uncharacteristic barrier of silence outside of worship? Do we understand our own Quaker terminology such as “seasoning,” “the Light,” “the Light of Christ?” Is our language dualistic? Do we understand the historic context or theological context of these terms? Is our language confining? Does it keep us from fully exploring who we are? June/July 2012 Friends Journal
onsider the sign on your meetinghouse as an outsider might see it. As you do so, realize that you suffer from the curse of knowledge: you presume that others know what you know. They don’t. Assume the beginner’s mind: see the sign as if for the first time; try to forget what you know about Quakers. The problem with our own meeting sign was that we used the language of our internal Quaker
At the recent clerking workshop at Multnomah Meeting, facilitators and experienced clerks Ann Stever and Dorsey Green asked us to share our words for God, Spirit, etc. Here are some we came up with as a group: God, Father, Lord, Spirit, Love, Truth, Creator, Jesus, Mother Grace, Conscience, Light, Holy Spirit, Teacher, Source, Comforter, Ineffable, Allah. Then Ann and Dorsey asked for words that cause us problems or make us uneasy. Here are a few that were mentioned: Cross, Master, Father, Authority, Savior, The Son, The Way, Lamb, Lord, The Holy Word, A Mighty Fortress, King. What about the more mundane words that cause us to feel twinges of unease or confusion? Do we, for instance, have shared meanings for these “T” words?: Truth, testimony, tender, threshing session. How about these terms?: Eldering, holy days/ holidays, sense of the meeting, attenders and members? They raise questions: Can a three-yearold elder (recently a toddler reprimanded an adult Friend during worship by whispering “stop squirming”)? Do we really treat Christmas and Easter as just two more holy days? Is there a non-sense (as well as a sense) of the meeting? Might not “participants” suffice for member and attender?
audience in a place where the purpose was to address an external audience of seekers. So now we have a new sign. Does our new one (to the left) work better? Yes and no. Questions remain for the seeker: Who are Friends? Friends of what? Who are Quakers? Unprogrammed Worship? This all sounds akin to a secret handshake, except our handshake is a secret language. You either know it or you don’t. You are in or you are out. Our language isn’t helping seekers get from outside to inside.
s my using the word God the same as your using the word Spirit? If you use Spirit does it leave my God unacknowledged? If you use Spirit, does it speak to my God? Why the difference in words? Is this a barrier to understanding? Is the difference important for us to explore together? Are God and Spirit the same—particularly, and perhaps only, in the silence?
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Constraints, bracketing, and defining metaphors
o unquestioned Quaker terms subtly constrain us? Consider our sharing of Joys and Concerns following meeting for worship. Are these truly the outer parameters of our feelings? They bracket and confine us. What lies beyond these brackets? And is there nothing worth sharing in between? Could there be joy in having a concern; could there be a concern associated with our joy? Do our brackets allow anger, outrage, or our-and-out objection? Do they allow ecstasy, or elation? Friends, we have many metaphors including: Light and its variations (holding in the Light, Children of the Light, the Light of Christ), center down, hold up, lamb’s war, Spirit-led, clearness, seasoning. How do these define us? Duality is common in our metaphors. What if duality prevents us from experiencing unity? What if we skipped the duality? Or are we led to find unity through duality? Consider breathing in and out, inhaling and exhaling: together they constitute breathing. They sustain life itself; each is vital to the other. If you do only one (which the body doesn’t allow), you die. These are a few of our Quaker language barriers. Studying and discussing them will ultimately lift them. A barrier points to its opposite—an opening. By exploring barriers, we discover gateways to better understanding and to fuller experience. Let’s lift the barriers and walk through the gates! q
understanding Ourselves, respecting the differences
Accepting each Other as Friends
uakers sometimes view conflicts between the branches of our faith as trivial. These conflicts, however, express real differences, and we should neither dismiss nor ignore them; rather, we should understand them. If we were to recognize the different moral viewpoints, visions, and definitions of Quakerism held within the different branches, we would have a useful perspective from which to understand this conflict. While all the branches lay claim to the spiritual inheritance of our Quaker forebears, each one wishes to uphold a legacy that is fundamentally different from the others. In his book A Short Introduction to Quakerism, Ben Pink Dandelion describes the different branches of Quakerism in this way: Evangelical Friends are those Friends who hold “Scripture as primary, which they sometimes balance with revelation”; while Conservative Friends hold “revelation as primary, but find it confirmed by Scripture”; and Liberal Friends hold “with experience alone.” In this article, I will use Dandelion’s description as defining the three branches of Quakerism.
differing Moral viewpoints
ccording to Moral Foundations Theory (see www.yourmorals.com), there are six categories or foundations that inform morality. Those with a liberal viewpoint focus their moral concern primarily on the following three foundations: • care/harm • liberty/oppression • fairness/cheating While sharing a moral concern with liberals for these three foundations, those with a conservative viewpoint add three more: • authority/subversion • sanctity/degradation • loyalty/betrayal Broadly speaking, Friends of the Liberal branch tend to hold liberal moral viewpoints, and Friends of the Evangelical and Conservative branches tend to hold conservative moral viewpoints. Differing moral viewpoints are a significant source of conflict
Isabel Penraeth is the author of QuakerJane.com. A member of Mountain View (Denver, Colo.) Meeting, Isabel is active with Denver Conservative Friends’ mid-week worship group. She currently spends most First Days at First Denver Friends Church.
for Friends both within and between branches. The following account of an incident within a Liberal Friends worship group illustrates the causal connection between differing moral viewpoints and conflict. A Conservative-branch recorded minister and I felt led to attend a small, Liberal-branch worship group. During worship, this gospel minister regularly shared biblically based Christian ministry. After attending for about 10 weeks, the visiting minister was asked at the rise of meeting by a group of Friends to amend the Christian messages to more neutral language. The content of the gospel minister’s ministry was neither hateful nor obviously harmful. It was, however, from the perspective of the Liberal Friends unacceptable for her to offer and appropriate for them to curtail. Some Liberal Friends view Christianity as a historic as well as an ongoing cause of harm. Furthermore, Liberal Friends often believe that any distress felt when Christian language is heard constitutes real harm. Thus, Christianity violates the care/harm moral foundation, one of the foundations listed in the Moral Foundations Theory. Additionally, some view Christianity as oppressive (violating the liberty/oppression foundation). As a result, Christianity is seen by some Liberal Friends as fundamentally immoral. From this perspective, it may be a moral violation to give ministry using Christian language, particularly if anyone expresses discomfort in response to it. The Liberal Friends functionally invoked the care/harm foundation when they said they knew that the gospel minister, as a kind and caring person, would want to stop offering ministry that was causing others discomfort. The viewpoint of the gospel minister, on the other hand, was that it would be immoral to adjust a message that was given: It would be disobedient to God (violating the authority/subversion foundation). Also, it would be unloving to withhold gospel ministry because sharing God’s message is the most loving thing to do (invoking the care/harm foundation). The gospel minister believed that the ministry offered could mean salvation for someone in the room, and therefore, the ministry was never to be tampered with by the messenger. The gospel minister knew that the messages would not be welcomed by all present, but she was nonplussed that Friends wanted to ban Christian ministry from meeting for worship. The Liberal Friends decided, ultimately, that the gospel minister had to be “true to herself,” June/July 2012 Friends Journal
(invoking the liberty/oppression foundation). This conclusion was unsatisfactory to the gospel minister: it showed no indication that they understood the gospel minister’s perspective.
down at the table, as they are sure other Friends really must be reasonable, intelligent, and good, and therefore a discussion will bring them over to their side.
tragic versus utopian vision
n the account given above, the validity of the ministry, for Liberal Friends, was assessed by the results of the ministry, that is, how the message impacted those present. Conversely, for the Conservative Friend, the validity of the ministry was found in the process, that is, how the message was faithfully delivered. In each case, an underlying vision of Quaker faith presupposed the different evaluations of the gospel ministry. “A vision is our sense of how the world works,” writes Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions. In the preceding account, two different visions were present. Examining each of the visions, each undergirding a particular moral viewpoint, gives us insight into the conflict that arose between the Liberal Friends and the Conservative minister. The Liberal Friends vision is one that is described as a utopian vision in the book The Blank Slate. Author Steven Pinker describes utopian vision in this way:
iffering definitions of Quakerism create a significant challenge for inter-branch communication. Some Friends have only a vague definition of their faith, and yet they are perfectly clear that other branches aren’t really Quaker. Liberal Quakerism, according to Dandelion, was created as “an explicit reaction to both Quietist and Evangelical Quakerism and was constructed on four main ideas”: • that experience, not scripture, should be primary • that faith should be relevant to the age • that Friends needed to be open to new ideas • that in each age, Friends would know more about the nature and will of God, a doctrine called progressivism, and that, as such, revelation has a chronological authority. Further, Dandelion offers this analysis:
Liberal Quakerism is now bounded . . . by a particular approach to theologizing, what I have termed “the absolute perhaps.” The ideas of progressivism and of being open to new Light have become translated into the notion that the group cannot know truth, except personally, partially, or provisionally. Thus Liberal Quakerism is not just about the possibility of seeking, it is about the certainty of never finding.
human nature changes with social circumstances, so traditional institutions have no inherent value. . . . Traditions are the dead hand of the past, the attempt to rule from the grave.
real superiority is only to be found in god, because human brokenness is universal. each branch of Quakerism has its strengths and weaknesses, and each might do well to attend to the timber in its own eye.
Conversely, the tragic vision, held by Conservative Friends, is described by Pinker in this way:
human nature has not changed. Traditions such as religion, the family, social customs, sexual mores . . . are a distillation of time-tested techniques that let us work around the shortcomings of human nature.
As an expression of the utopian vision, Liberal Quakers emphasize new Light, while Conservative Quakers express their tragic vision by emphasizing the Everlasting Gospel. Each vision seems obvious, right, and true to those who hold it; the other vision will correspondingly seem bizarre, benighted, and a source of a great many of the ills in society. Holding the tragic vision, Conservative Friends may see little need to engage in discussion with Friends who don’t “get” it. I’ve found that this can be a weakness. These Friends are less likely to even sit down at the table during conflicts, as they are sure that talking won’t change anyone’s mind. Liberal Friends with their utopian vision also have a weakness in their believing that anyone who is intelligent, good, and reasonable will come to the same conclusion that they themselves have come to. And if anyone has not come to that conclusion, then that person must not be reasonable, intelligent, or good. These Friends are eager to sit
Liberal Friends, says Dandelion, are defined by the communal experience of silent worship and concurrence with “the absolute perhaps.” Their identity as Quakers is central to their faith, and defining Quakerism in a way that excludes them can deeply trouble Liberal Friends. For Conservatives, both the traditional faith of Quaker-Christianity and the practice of waiting worship under the headship of Christ define Quakerism. They identify as Quakers first, Christians second. For Evangelical Friends, doctrine is central and Christian belief is primary. They consider themselves to be Christians first and Quakers second. Neither traditional Conservatives nor Evangelicals see any way to define Quakerism without Christianity. The progressivism of Liberal Friends can appear to be a Liberal Quaker manifest destiny: they are the future of Quakerism, while those Friends clinging to Christ are the dead past of Quakerism that will be sloughed off. Meanwhile, some Liberal Friends experience the firm Christian witness of Conservative and Evangelical Friends as condemnatory, as though Liberal Friends will be 29
Friends Journal June/July 2012
We’re all caught in the moral force field of our group and tend not to notice our moral foundations until one has been violated. In those situations, we can be unaware that a conflict between moral viewpoints is at the core of our anger and distress.
consigned to hell in the afterlife and are not true Quakers. Dandelion goes on to offer a foundational definition of Quakerism that lists traditional distinctives that all three branches continue to share. He seems to suggest that because we hold these distinctives in common, we can embrace each other as Friends. For me, his formulation evoked Gertrude Stein’s “there is no there there.” While it might describe what we all share as Friends, this least-common-denominator included so little substance that is important to my life as a Friend that it did not seem to be a way forward.
unique Witness of each Branch
onsidering the differences in the three branches of Quakerism, I see that there is more than one coherent way to understand Quaker faith. And by understanding my place within Quakerism, I feel strengthened. Each branch’s vision and viewpoint has its strengths and weaknesses, and the branches are in balance with the others. The greater good that is accomplished by each branch could not be done by either of the others. Liberal Friends offer a safe place for those uncomfortable with traditional Christian language and forms. They actively claim the social justice witness and societal reform that they see in historic Quakerism, and they pursue those aims energetically. Friends in this tradition see a great deal of work that needs to be done in the world to bring about peace, justice, and environmental balance, and they enjoy ministry that speaks to those concerns. They seek to support one another in living their Quaker faith in the world. Their ministry, at its best, is based on personal experience that offers insights into living a life in which their Quaker ideals are pursued with integrity. Conservative Friends have substantially preserved the traditional faith and practice of Friends, with the Everlasting Gospel at its heart. Still finding their unity in Christ, they seek the fruition within themselves of the historic Quaker project of bringing about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. They perceive Quakerism as a faith and practice worth preserving essentially intact; they believe that the spiritual insights of
founding Friends are as vital today as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow. Friends in this tradition describe powerful spiritual experiences of the Living Word, Christ, and often feel led to offer ministry that speaks to those experiences using biblical references. Their ministry, at its best, powerfully speaks to the condition of those present and brings about authentic spiritual transformation: a new life in Christ. Evangelical Friends are able to speak to those who seek more in their Christian walk than the silence and staid ministry of traditional Quaker meetings, and they’ve set aside the special forms and language of Quakerism in an effort to reach as many potential Christians as possible. They have considerable interest in social justice but ground that ideal in a clear, biblically based Christian doctrine. They speak the name of Jesus Christ with authentic joy, actively seek to support one another’s calls to faithfulness, and eagerly strive in their mission work to bring their Christian witness to the world. Friends in this tradition describe powerful spiritual experiences of Jesus Christ present in their lives, ardently study the Bible, and seek to be obedient and faithful Christian disciples. Their ministry, at its best, shows Friends how to live into their Christian faith with love.
A Caution about Superiority
y closing caution to Friends is a word from the Lord given to me several years ago as I began my exploration of the conflicts between Friends: “In thy sense of superiority is thy condemnation.” In my dealings with others, I have been reminded that real superiority is only to be found in God, because human brokenness is universal. More broadly, this Word reminds me that each branch of Quakerism has its strengths and weaknesses, and each might do well to attend to the timber in its own eye. We’re all caught in the moral force field of our group and tend not to notice our moral foundations until one has been June/July 2012 Friends Journal
violated. In those situations, we can be unaware that a conflict between moral viewpoints is at the core of our anger and distress. An ever-present temptation is to have contempt for those who have a different viewpoint or vision. In his book The Happiness Hypothesis, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt offers the following:
contempt [is] a moral emotion that gives feelings of moral superiority while asking nothing in return. With contempt you don’t need to right the wrong (as with anger) or flee the scene (as with fear or disgust). And best of all, contempt is made to share. Stories about the moral failings of others are among the most common kinds of gossip . . . and they offer a ready way for people to show that they share a common moral orientation. Tell an acquaintance a cynical story that ends with both of you smirking and shaking your heads and voilà, you’ve got a bond.
cultures and eras is that we are all hypocrites, and in our condemnation of others’ hypocrisy we only compound our own.” I believe that Friends can concede one small step to cross-branch peace that would be one large step for inter-branch communication: acknowledge that there are other branches by avoiding phrases such as “Quakers believe . . .” when one really means “Liberal Quakers believe. . .” or “Evangelical Friends believe.” This distinction is omitted almost everywhere on the web and in the published writings of Friends. It might seem unnecessarily complicated and even a little embarrassing to have to admit to the divisions in Quakerism. But in America, aren’t we used to this? One might not know what the differences are between a Southern Baptist and an American Baptist, but one knows there are differences. Can we not, then, in the interest of peace and clarity, add the proper branch designation in our writings and conversations? We would thereby respect the other branches by acknowledging their existence and allowing for their inclusion in our formulations of worldwide Quakerism. q
Haidt continues, “Well, stop smirking. One of the most universal pieces of advice from across
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Adapted from a photo by Marcos Santos
Seize the Day...
an ecology of the Spirit
n meeting this past First Day, I started working on the similarities and differences between ministry and pastoral care. My thoughts broadened to consider the entire picture of life in the Spirit. Six “areas” emerged. They were: ministry, pastoral care, action, faith, worship, and community. Having identified these areas, I found myself giving them definition and/ or function: Ministry is the work of opening to yourself or others, ways of living into the Spirit. It can take the form of words or actions. One of Quakerism’s radical concepts is that we are all recipients of God’s wisdom and are able to share it. I have had the unsettling experience of giving a message in meeting for worship only to have a Friend inform me at the rise of meeting that I was speaking to myself. Ministry is not always directed outward. Pastoral care is the act of helping to meet the needs, spiritual or physical, of others. Action is the way ministry and pastoral care are put into motion in our lives and in the world. Faith is the “driver” for the first three. It allows us to lift the veil of unknowing, to see what is possible. It allows us to move ahead and to know that a way forward will become apparent. Faith allows us to see possibilities that we would otherwise ignore or be unaware of. Sometimes action leads to the growth of faith; sometimes action springs from faith. Worship is the way we communicate with the Divine, and the Divine with us. Worship helps us build faith. The more we are able to worship, the richer our lives become. Ministry, pastoral care, action, and faith all take on new, more whole purpose in worship. Community is the structure that supports our work, both individually and corporately, to bring our lives into closer alignment with a life lived wholly in the Spirit. None of these is independent of the others. Together they comprise an ecology of the spirit. Martin Melville is a member of State College (Pa.) Meeting. He is married, the father of four, and takes online classes from Earlham School of Religion. As far as he knows he’s the “only Quaker logger out there (there are a few foresters).”
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June/July 2012 Friends Journal
Life in the Meeting
fgC and fUM types of worship
became a Liberal unprogrammed Friend in a conservative state. The small, family-like meeting I eventually joined was a little queasy about Christian expression. The Bible Belt maintains its dominant stature over the region, even though its pervasiveness has eroded some with time. Prior to then, I had spent eight years as a Unitarian Universalist, where the response to Jesus was often hostile and judgmental. I knew what I didn’t want. Quakerism, as rendered in Birmingham, Alabama, seemed to be a good compromise. When I started worshipping with Friends, “FGC” (Friends General Conference) and “FUM” (Friends United Meeting) were meaningless acronyms. I had no idea of what each entailed or of the vast differences and contrast between the two. It wasn’t until I fled north a year or so later to Washington, D.C., that I was properly introduced. I began to attend worship at the oldest monthly meetings in the D.C. area, which retained a dual affiliation, though an FGC attitude was affixed to most of the vocal ministry I heard. In time, I learned that Christian Friends were slightly covert, often not inclined to call attention to the fact. My first halting attempts at Christ-centered ministry were received without much commentary, or perhaps not much comprehension. Friends who have been raised unprogrammed often talk about the comfort of silence. After a period of inactivity, for whatever reason, they return to meeting for worship. For them, the quiet holds fond memories of childhood and adolescence. Some convinced Friends, like me, hold this same warmth of feeling for our own traditions of an earlier time in life. Specifically, I mean Christian discourse and church. If one should throw in lukewarm juice and slightly stale donuts before worship, then it truly would be Sunday School all over again. Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to Friends more aligned with Friends United Meeting as well as those more in the Kevin Camp is a member of the Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.). He serves as a member of the meeting’s Ministry and Worship committee and is active in Young Adult Friends.
Friends General Conference camp. Each has its own set of common concerns. FUM Friends are easily exasperated as to why other Friends don’t appear to emphasize the centrality of religion in their daily lives. FGC Friends, by contrast, are often wary of a philosophy that seems old-fashioned and not appropriately broad enough in scope for their liking. FUM Friends sometimes believe they are fighting for their right to worship as they choose. FGC Friends blanch at the idea of missionary work, and are very uncomfortable with the notion of proselytizing, at any time, for any reason. The evolution of the Religious Society of Friends will take many forms over time. Some of us consistently engage and re-engage with each other, with various degrees of success. In this eternal joust, patience and love are what is needed in massive quantity. Should we not reach unity, we often pull back and circle the wagons. Friends are very much in the Protestant tradition in their temptation to split apart and break into factions. In opposition to that outcome, I would hope that we recognize our worth as one body. Each of us has a role within it. The currents that push us apart are not modest ones. We ponder the same queries as anyone else. These are the very questions of belief itself. Is religion dying out or merely changing form? Are current and future generations resistant to our basic message, or able to be persuaded to join and participate? We are responsible for the answers. If we can speak across branches and between theological divides without schism, our numbers will reflect it. The sixteenth-century Hungarian theologian Francis David concluded that we do not have to think alike to love alike.
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Friends Journal June/July 2012
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“Thoroughly researched and footnoted, The Early Quakers and the ‘Kingdom of God’ contributes to our understanding of early Friends through a lively integration of biblical theology, religious history, personal conviction and social vision. Gerard Guiton’s work is not detached academics but engaged scholarship that passionately invites us to ‘seek first the kingdom of heaven’ in early Quaker testimony — and in the circumstances of our own lives.” —Doug Gwyn, author of Apocalypse of the Word “If I had a trust behind me I would send a copy to every meeting in the country. The book is packed with revealing detail with new insights on almost every page. You have given us a splendid systematic theology of early Quakerism. I am also greatly encouraged, because the model of early Quakerism I have always operated on is almost identical to what you have shown the reality to be.“ —John Punshon, author of Portrait in Grey, Encounter with Silence and Testimony and Tradition To Order:
Toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology
see two ways that Quakers and the larger church can move forward in the tension of unity and diversity: liberal deconstructionism or Pentecostal ecclesiology. While both are useful and both claim to be prophetic, I am becoming convinced that a new Pentecost is the only vital way forward. To reclaim Pentecost is to reclaim Quakerism, since our tradition was born a charismatic community. By Pentecostal I do not mean “charismania,” complete with televangelists and holy rollers. I mean an experience of God’s Spirit that gathers a diverse people together, arranges the community according to the inspired gifts of every person, and sends them out in empowered mission. A Pentecostal ecclesiology is a way of arranging our meetings and churches in anticipation of the Spirit’s continued presence and guidance among us. This was the experience of the early Church according to the book of Acts, when the divine promise was recalled: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” (Joel 2:28) And Peter expanded the list: men and women, young and old, servants and slaves. Then the narrative of Acts kept widening the circle: Greeks and Jews, widows and philosophers, eunuchs and strangers. The wind of God was releasing God’s people from their cultural and religious bondage and gathering a prophetic community, diverse and united. This was also the experience of early Friends. George Fox dared to ask “You will say ‘Christ says this and the apostles say this’; but what can you say?” Implicit in his question is the conviction that the Spirit was at work among the community, and each could speak with authority “as the Spirit enabled.” And speak they did. They spoke from silence and stillness, where the power of Pentecost baptized their hearts in love and moved them into concerns of compassion. Women, told to be silent, were given tongues of fire to speak truth to power. Men, told to be dominant, Andy Henry is a lifelong Friend from Ohio. He attended Barclay College in Kansas, and is now studying at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Ore. He lives with wife, Bryanna, in Newberg, Ore., and attends nearby North Valley Friends Meeting.
The Early Quakers and the ‘Kingdom of God’
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spoke tenderly about “that of God in every person.” Slaves found freedom, soldiers found peace, the poor found justice. The Church, including many Friends communities, now divides in debate over homosexuality. I hear debate about biblical interpretation and application. I hear arguments about biology, psychology, and sociology. But one “ology” we often forget is pneumatology, the study of the Spirit. The real questions are questions of pneumatology: is the Spirit’s fruit evident in the lives of our gay and lesbian Friends? Is the Spirit calling and anointing them for ministry and inspiring their prophetic voice? Is the Spirit bringing together gay and lesbian couples for marriage? As the Pentecostal wind blows through our communities, are they not being blown with us into new lands of ministry and mission? As an Evangelical Friend, my journey toward inclusion of God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children required a long time of wrestling. Like us all, I am still on a pilgrimage of discernment. But the deepest arguments for me were not arguments at all, but testimonies of Pentecost. They were the testimonies of Spirit heard in the stories of gay and lesbian Christians and the way the Spirit is giving them a voice and utterance among the beloved community. The testimony was also heard in an inner Pentecost of “dreams and visions” that mysteriously widened my heart and mind. I should not be surprised when the Spirit widens the circle, however, since that is the movement of Pentecost. God’s intention is firm and faithful: “I will pour out My Spirit on all people.” q
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
The Night I Took a second Look
Dorothy Kinsman Brown
og smudged the letters on the street sign and the features of the man on the sidewalk. It was 9:30 pm, and I was lost. Having driven past the U.S. Capitol on my way home from a class, I was then forced by construction work to take a detour. Even if I could read the sign, I thought, I wouldn’t know which direction I should be heading. I pulled up to the man on the deserted street. The fog wrapped each of us in a cocoon and put distance between us. “How do I get on Route 50 to Annapolis?” He started to give directions and then said, “Hey, I’m going right near that intersection. I’d be glad to ride along and show you exactly. . . .” He suddenly stopped. My heart tightened. Voices echoed in my mind like scratchy old phonograph Dorothy Kinsman Brown is a member of Annapolis (Md.) Meeting.
records: “Never go into that section of Washington alone at night. Never let a stranger get into your car. Roll up the window; lock the door; and go.” As the fog cleared, I saw that he was African American. The voices took on the accents of the rigidly segregated, southern town where I grew up as a white: “You can’t trust those people. They’re all alike.” But why had he broken off in midsentence? Did he see a look of doubt on my face? Could he be hearing another set of voices? “She may think you will attack her. You can’t trust those people. One false move, she calls the cops, and you land in jail.” Then I heard a single, clear, immediate voice, piercing the static of ancient warnings: “Look at this person. What do you see?” I saw a man who was perhaps in his 20s; neatly dressed in brown corduroy slacks and a zippered, yellow jacket; and carrying a ring binder. He, too, could have been on his way home from a class. He’d
sounded eager to help. “Sure. Thank you. Hop in.” I opened the door on the passenger side. As I followed his instructions through the maze of one-way streets, I gripped the steering wheel to still my trembling hands. We talked about how confusing the traffic circles in Washington can be, but the chitchat failed to drown out the words: “You’ve got to be out of your mind! It’s just plain foolhardy to take a chance like this.” Yes, yes, I know. I’m completely at the mercy of this stranger. He could assault me, take my wallet, steal my car, rape me, or kill me. “There you are,” he said, pointing to a sign that read “To Route 50 Annapolis.” “Thank you for showing me the way.” “Thanks for the lift.” He jumped out and strode off. Driving the familiar highway, I laughed with relief. It was as though the stranger and I had become secret allies. Each of us had taken a chance, defied hand-me-down prejudices, and proven that a person is not a stereotype, but a unique human being. q
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Where Do Friends Worship?
n February 20, 2011, there was two feet of snow on the ground in Wilmington, Massachusetts. Five people, dressed like lumberjacks, hopped out of a van to attend worship on a sidewalk. What compelled Quakers to sit for an hour in worship in a Massachusetts snow bank? For the past two years in freezing cold or blazing hot weather, Friends have been worshipping in front of Textron Systems, protesting the company’s manufacture of smart bombs and military aircraft. Friends are known to hold vigils at army bases and companies with questionable business practices. This is so common that it could be considered a part of membership. In addition, Friends march or speak out against war, and recently many Friends have joined Occupy Wall Street camps. However, when Quaker witness is mainly one of protest, problems can arise: we can become dismayed, confused, depleted, or embittered. Early Friends also were protesters, defying priests, kings, and jailers. But they were protesters with a difference. Although they spoke against duplicity and false salvation, went to jail for their beliefs, and endured public floggings, these public ministers returned on Monday mornings to the gathering of ministers in London to pray for further instruction. How can our witness and worship today flow seamlessly together? One way is to find a place of pain in the community and, worshipping with Friends from your meeting, listen to the Great Healer. In Boston, Friends pray on the spot of a recent murder: pray for the survivors, the perpetrators involved in killing, and for the neighborhood to heal in the aftermath of spilled blood, ambulance sirens, drugs, and police ticker tape. There’s no lack of places to pray: 72 murders in Boston in 2010 and 63 in 2011. Friends have visited a total of 50 sites, 12 times arriving in Dorchester/Roxbury. At each site, we read the name of the person who passed: “Toneika, age 22…Shawn, age 29… Victoria, age 39…Besher, age 23.” We Elizabeth Claggett-Borne is a member of Cambridge (Mass.) Meeting. Recently she has felt spiritual openings in supporting healing and reconciliation in the community after trauma. She blogs at www.pedalseeds.net.
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mourn the deaths, but in a strange way, the strength and resilience of the community buoy up the prayers. The ocean of light surrounds the ocean of darkness. May Friends swim in that ocean and not remain seated on wooden benches. At the munitions manufacturer Textron, Friends worship; we don’t exhort or point fingers. Although we know that blood is being spilt because of arms manufacturing and that we are a society that allows Textron to churn out weapons, our aim is to witness and to draw God to the site. We line up six to 20 chairs in two lines and sit facing one another. At both ends of the line are posters that read “Quaker Worship at Textron.” In winter, Friends bundle up in long wool coats and thick scarves, and in summer, Friends dress plainly, some bringing sunglasses and windbreakers. We may pass a water bottle around or share a blanket across three laps. Joggers, security personnel from the plant, and many vehicles pass by us. Some honk; some yell; a few give us a fist pump. Often people stop to read the signs. Some vocal ministry is offered despite wind, weather, and loud traffic. Songs are sung, and the wind carries the tune across the fields. While we worship at Textron, other Friends are praying at the Cambridge meetinghouse. Those inside the meetinghouse are praying for those outside at the munitions plant. The Textron worshippers and the Cambridge worshippers are one meeting simultaneously gathering in two places. Where we worship is important. Each time I read that the United States has sold arms to Kenya or Pakistan or Israel, I feel pain. Every time a 22-year-old is killed in Boston, I think that it could have been my son. An unusual antidote to my anger/ pain/guilt is my immediate memory of the previous Sunday worship at Textron or of the feeling of sunlight while we prayed on the sidewalk where a Boston youth had died. And I feel some peace, as illogical as that seems.
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
A Lively Faith: Reflections on Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative)
By Callie Marsh. FGC QuakerPress, 2011. 102 pages. $14.95/paperback. Reviewed by Marty Grundy Conservative Friends in North America are the “other” branch that treasures expectant, waiting worship. They, too, gather in unprogrammed silence. A number of Friends, hungry for a deeper understanding of Quakerism, have visited one or more of the three Conservative Yearly Meetings and Friends are becoming increasingly aware of the treasure present in the sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). They demonstrate the best of our unprogrammed tradition: holding on to the process of being open to Divine Guidance, while being willing to accept the unfolding of an enlarging understanding of our faith and practice. Callie Marsh explains what is precious about IYM(C) and how its history has molded it. We are treated to a succinct but nuanced history of the yearly meeting with its mix of Friends of varied backgrounds, especially Wilburite and Conservative. Their differences over atonement reverberated long after the initial disagreements. Marsh gently points out the too-frequent misinformation passed on by recent Quaker historians who tend to lump together the three yearly meetings that call themselves Conservative today. Ohio YM(C) was Wilburite, North Carolina YM(C) was Conservative, and Iowa YM(C) had one Wilburite Quarter while the rest was Conservative, and that has made quite a difference. There are chapters on theology, Scripture, and same-gender marriage, among others. Part of the Conservative tradition is care with the use of words, using few, hoping that lives will speak sufficiently clearly. Although they rarely speak overtly of theology, Conservative Friends’ experiences, stories, and conversations teach an implicit theology. In the old days people learned how to be Friends by observing more experienced Friends. They learned over time, almost by osmosis. Callie describes what was learned, the hallmarks of the faith and practice—the culture—of Conservative Friends, with five phrases: discernment, teachability, care with words, corporate being, and recognition of spiritual gifts. The glue that holds it all together is a palpable love and tenderness for one another. Where
there is sufficient love and care, differences can be accepted, paradoxes may be held in fruitful tension, and in time unity will be experienced. Questions remain. In today’s fast-paced, technological, consumerist world, is this precious tradition of few words capable of teaching a new generation? Are visitors willing to attend for years, quietly observing, in order to learn how to be a Conservative Quaker? The author asks, “How much of the world can we let into our lives and communities? Rigidity does not serve us well. God is not rigid, even as God is unchangeable. God knows there are many ways under the sun. What does not change is God’s love.” She concludes with a call for Friends to be willing to share more openly and deeply their own personal spiritual experiences, and to be teachable by God’s Spirit. We learn from and are strengthened by one another’s experiences of being taught by the Spirit. The seed of transformation is within each of us; the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand as well as in the future. Marty Grundy is a member of Cleveland (Ohio) Meeting, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, and has spent time with all three of the Conservative yearly meetings.
unfolds different aspects of the theme. Abbott blends her readings from early and more recent Friends, and her own life experiences both inward and outward. These reflections are in every case penetrating and self-revealing, as the author speaks frankly of the struggles she has encountered in relation to each topic. For example, in the section “Encountering the Seed,” Abbott says: Learning to recognize that Seed [of God in everyone] is part of our worship and daily practice. What is its taste and feel? Can I acknowledge that Seed within my own soul? These are essential questions of faith. Some of us may find them easy to answer; others are unsure or have few words to suffice. In the encounter with the Seed, the Light of God became alive to me and broke down the walls within my heart. Abbott goes on to name an important tension or barrier that she encountered as she lived with the concern to “share as best I can how my spiritual ancestors knew this Seed and what they have taught me.” Our community extends not only across the landscape of our times but also embraces all the Friends of prior centuries, whose seeking to follow the Light created the Religious Society in which we have found a spiritual home. One does not have to travel far in time to realize that from the beginning the full meaning of the Light and Seed is rooted in the experience of Christ. Abbott is frank in admitting that this has been a major area of struggle and learning for her, but she now can say (and makes a strong case for her position), “My experience holds in tension the awareness that it is Christ who speaks to our condition, and that this same Spirit, present before the universe was, is available to all people in all times and places.” Abbott also emphasizes throughout the book that it is the encounter with the Power and Life, however named, that is the mainspring of our yearning for, and growth towards, spiritual maturity. And as Hannah Whitall Smith said, “I am wide, wider, widest!” Under the teachings of that power, we are made open in love to more and more of the world. Abbott writes “As this tenderness grows, being present to others is an increasingly joy-filled dimension of life.” Many Friends are uncomfortable with ideas like the Atonement, with its focus
To Be Broken and Tender: a Quaker Theology for Today
By Margery Post Abbott. Friends Bulletin Corporation, 2010. 242 pages. $20/ paperback. Reviewed by Brian Drayton This is a book that Friends of all stripes can profit from. Abbott’s reflections on Quaker theology are informed both by her own inward searching and her experiences in the diverse Quaker world of the Pacific Northwest, where one can find Friends United Meeting, Evangelical Friends International, and Liberal Friends neighboring each other—both in the sense of living near each other and in the sense of mutual engagement, being neighbors. The book’s arrangement is inviting. Sections named “Waiting and Attending,” “Encountering the Seed,” “Taking up the Cross,” “The New Creation,” “Retirement,” and “To Be Broken and Tender” each comprise several chapters. In each section, Abbott sets the stage with a brief statement, a sort of overture to the main problems of the section, then
Friends Journal June/July 2012
on the power and reality of sin, and the theology of the Cross, with its emphasis on suffering, submission, and miraculous renewal. The book builds effectively from the inward encounter with the reality of God to a recasting of these ideas and to a reconciliation of our modern selves with these ancient and often painful notions. Abbott is forthright, yet subtle and compassionate, in her exposition of these difficult topics and shows then how they lead organically to a deep compassion and active involvement in the work for peace and justice in the world. After her discussion of the new creation, she moves back to the sources of continued refreshment and power in retirement— the nature and practice of solitude and prayer both alone and in community. She pulls the whole book together in the final section, in which “being broken and tender” is revisited, and amplified by a frank discussion of mortality and its implications for a life lived fully emancipated. The book is completed by a very full, chapter-by-chapter study guide. It is interesting to place this lovely book alongside another recent restatement of Quaker theology, Ben Richmond’s Signs of Salvation. Abbott speaks first to Friends and draws from the deepest wells of Quaker writing—Penington, Penn, Nayler, and others. Richmond aims his book at non-Friends and builds his exposition on Scripture. They represent two authentic but very different approaches to Quakerism, and now that Abbott’s book is out, I can see that the two complement each other in ways that can enrich the search of any Friend. Neither is a complete and systematic account, yet grappling with them one by one could go far to enhance the theological knowledge of a meeting or study group. Such readers would find that their witness and their prayer lives would gain power, even as these books raised new questions and new horizons for community dialogue. Brian Drayton, a recorded minister, is a member of Weare (N.H.) Meeting.
Have salt in Yourselves: A Book of QuakerPsalms
Compiled and arranged with an introduction by T.H.S. Wallace. Foundation Publications, 2010. 104 pages. $10/paperback. Reviewed by C. Wess Daniels Have Salt In Yourselves: A Book of QuakerPsalms is a collection of excerpts
of George Fox’s writings from a variety of sources. T.H.S. Wallace draws the title for this collection of “Quaker Psalms” from one of Fox’s epistles which starts, “Have salt in yourselves and be low in heart. The light is low in you. It will teach you to be low, teach you to learn that lesson of Jesus Christ.” This imagery of salt in ourselves is meant to frame this collection in terms of the humility of the Spirit, one in which we are called to bear with one another, love one another, and labor with one another as the people of God. While it is small in size and subtle in its approach—each entry structured like a poem—it is not subtle in its content. The QuakerPsalms are rooted in the radical leanings of early Quakerism, which is evident in the section titles taken from Fox’s writings, such as: “The Right Course of Nature,” “Stand Fast in the Faith of Which Christ Jesus is the Author,” and “Forsake Not The Assembling of Yourselves Together.” This is a provocative and fiery collection of Fox’s writings. It will surely stimulate and inspire you to consider not only your own spiritual condition but the deep convictions of early Friends. Each entry is best read slowly and contemplatively. I’ve offered them as prayers in meeting for worship and in my own prayer time. What is written here draws on some of the best spirituality of our Quaker tradition. For instance, consider “In His Wisdom and Life Keep”: The light is precious to him that believes / in it and walks according to its leading, for the Light and the Truth were before / darkness and deceit were. So, while you have the light, / walk in the light and live in the light—Christ the Truth— that you may, / through obedience to it, be the children of the light and of the day. Here is the psalm called “The Original of All Language”: The Word of God is the original, / which fulfills the scriptures. The Word is it which makes divine, / is called a hammer, / but it is a living hammer; a sword and fire, / but it is a living sword / and a living fire,—a hammer, sword, and fire / to hammer, and cut down, and burn up that which separated and kept man from God. I recommend this book to anyone
who, like me, enjoys using poetry and prayers for reflection and meditation. What better way to reflect on Quaker spirituality than with such an accessible collection of Quaker psalms? C. Wess Daniels is a Quaker pastor and has enjoyed pastoring Camas (Wash.) Friends Church since 2009. He is a father of two (with one on the way), husband, and a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary. Visit him at gatheringinlight.com.
seeking Inner Peace: Presence, Pain and Wholeness
By Elizabeth De Sa. Pendle Hill Publications, 2011. Pamphlet no. 414. 34 pages. $6.50. Reviewed by Karie Firoozmand In Seeking Inner Peace: Presence, Pain and Wholeness, Elizabeth De Sa shares her story of intense work on how to live authentically, with integrity, and finding one’s way to ever closer alignment of the inner and outer selves and to union with the love of Godde (the more genderinclusive spelling of God that De Sa prefers). De Sa is very clear about the presence of pain in life. In the pamphlet’s title, she refers to our own need to be present with pain, to acknowledge it, and to treat ourselves with compassion. We can learn to accept woundedness and its shadows not as faults in ourselves, but simply as pain. This is a pamphlet about healing, but it is not about how to resolve all pain and be free of it. Rather, De Sa’s courage is in accepting pain, even permanent pain, as the woundedness we get from living on Earth among imperfect humans and unjust, human-created systems and institutions, such as racism and sexism. Yet her ministry is to share her own story, under guidance that it will be a force for healing. In the narrative of her search to live authentically and to be guided by the Divine Spirit, De Sa’s voice is steady and sure, a tone that comes from experience. She shares the steps of her journey, including those that did not work or served only to keep her moving and seeking experiences that would lead to greater awareness, acceptance, and compassion. She tells the story of coming to use her own life to speak, and her message is about the sacred process of healing and the union with Godde (and with others) that comes with it. Living with integrity doesn’t require us to be completely healed; rather, it requires
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
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us to be present in every situation to what is alive—our own feelings and an awareness of their effect upon our perceptions of reality. In this way, we gain access to compassion; our hearts are opened, and we’re given the power to see ourselves and others as wounded and searching for healing, often in community. De Sa’s words recall George Fox’s oft-repeated advice to stand still in that which is pure, and allow the Light to reveal everything, even that which hurts. And then, strength, power, and mercy come in. De Sa’s story, shared with a strong voice, tells us the same thing. Karie Firoozmand is a member of Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, Md., and the book review editor of Friends Journal.
The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John
By Paul N. Anderson. Fortress Press, 2011. 288 pages. $22/paperback. Reviewed by Susan Jeffers I read this new book by Paul Anderson looking for ways it might enrich Friends’ study of the Bible. The author is an Evangelical Friend, professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, and prominent New Testament scholar. He writes from a scholarly perspective, and reminds us that John’s gospel “invites people into a transformative encounter with the love of God.” The cover depicts Nicodemus speaking with Jesus, and Anderson uses Nicodemus’ growth in relationship to Jesus (John: 3, 7, 19) as a metaphor for the way people can take tentative first steps and be drawn ever more deeply into the story. Riddles of the Fourth Gospel comprises three parts: “Outlining the Riddles,” “Addressing the Riddles,” and “Interpreting the Riddles.” The “riddles” are questions that have long puzzled both scholars and ordinary readers of the Bible. Anderson names three categories of riddles: theological, historical, and literary; many result from differences between John and the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In recent years, many Friends have become interested in “Jesus Studies” or the “Historical Jesus.” This area of scholarly endeavor attempts to reconstruct an objective, historical picture of Jesus, using primarily the Synoptics along with evidence from archaeology and extrabiblical ancient texts. John’s gospel has been mostly excluded from Jesus Studies
on the theory that it was written later and is more concerned with theology (or spirituality) than history. Anderson argues that John is valuable as an independent historical witness. He proposes a “Bi-Optic Hypothesis,” encouraging the reader to engage both John and the Synoptics, for history as well as other areas of interest. Anderson’s approach throughout the book promotes holding multiple perspectives “in tension.” He presents ideas as “both-and” or “on the one hand” and “on the other hand.” Occasionally he discloses his own preference among competing theories, but he also articulates the alternatives; the book is full of lists of strengths and weaknesses of various scholarly analyses. It appears to me that academic study of the Bible is trending away from the mode of picking the Bible apart into separate strands, and toward a more holistic view, looking at Scripture from the standpoint of literary unity and the ways a passage or book speaks to the reader/hearer. Riddles of the Fourth Gospel provides a useful bridge from historical-critical approaches, as well as the Jesus Studies focus on teasing out bits deemed “authentic” from the Synoptics. Rather than leading the reader to a specific destination “on the other side,” Paul Anderson invites us to an inclusive and dialogical engagement not only with John’s gospel but with the entire Bible. One caution: This book is not a commentary on the book of John in the usual sense of that term. It does not go through the gospel of John passage by passage explaining historical context, highlighting literary features, and pointing the reader to other related Bible passages. For example, if one is studying the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 2:1-11), and consults the index of Bible passages, one finds 10 references, each of which uses the story as an example of some point Anderson is discussing; nowhere is there a discussion of the passage itself. Fortunately, commentaries abound. Riddles of the Fourth Gospel is a book for serious students of John, particularly those interested in scholarly approaches. If a Friends meeting Bible study group or adult religious education class embarks
on a detailed study of John’s gospel, this book would be an excellent choice for one or two members of the group to read and share. One of its most important lessons, enacted on many levels, is the simple and powerful paradox that John is full of questions with “both-and” answers. Read through John first, and then give Riddles a chance to explain itself. John’s gospel is a great treasure, and Paul Anderson’s book a wonderful companion to its exploration, whether one is a newcomer or a long-time Bible reader. And if you are a Friend who has accepted the Synoptic-based Historical Jesus as the whole story, by all means give Paul Anderson a chance to persuade you of the value of adding the independent perspective of John. Susan Jeffers is a member of Ann Arbor (Mich.) Meeting and a graduate of Earlham School of Religion. She teaches online Bible courses, including introductory biblical Greek. She loves the fourth Gospel, riddles and all.
By Eric Newcastle. Createspace, 2012. 342 pages. $15.95/paperback. Reviewed by Tockhwock (Geoffrey Kaiser) One of the first things the reader will notice about this book is the beautiful artwork on the cover. Internationally known artist Raphael Perez was well chosen to represent this work. The painting of a teenage boy has an edge to it that foreshadows the drama about to be told. I have known the author for about three years from my recent association with Friends in California. To Pacific Yearly Meeting Friends, Eric Newcastle is known by his birth name, Rick Troth. His pen name, chosen many years ago, is less about privacy than inhabiting a persona that frees Eric to breathe life into his characters. It became apparent to me after reading Eric Newcastle’s first novel that he was under the weight of a leading, one that has been with him for nearly a decade. Family Values spoke to me and I believe it will speak to Friends in general. Family Values is set in rural Sonoma County, California. It is “a compelling tale about a gay teenager who is found brutally assaulted and left for dead,” to quote the author. Really it is more than this. Family Values offers an insight into Quaker faith and practice that is both a love story and a critique. The main characters are mostly
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
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traditional Conservative Quakers. It could be argued that the portrayal of Friends in this novel is idealized and perpetuates the stereotype of plain dress and plain speech. There are few Friends of this ilk alive today, and certainly not here in Sonoma County. Nevertheless, the archetype works in that it shows that we still are a “peculiar people” in many ways. The setting is the Quaker community and most of the characters are Friends, yet the appeal is more universal. Family Values, while it concentrates on the life of two teenage boys, spans three generations. Karen Naylor, the paternal Bible-quoting grandmother, is straight from the Iowa Conservative tradition; she is no prude, but rather conservative for well-thought out reasons, not just heritage. Her daughter-in-law, Esther Naylor, is like her biblical counterpart—a woman of courage fighting for her family. The pairing of a naïve Patrick Naylor and a street smart Robert Torrie was no accident. Both boys are drawn to each other as inevitable halves of one whole. The sexuality and violence may be disturbing to some Friends, but the author makes no apologies, preferring to tell the story in all its raw truth. How does the Naylor family deal with an act of senseless violence? In dealing with it, Karen serves as mother to both Patrick and Robert as the family moves through various reactions. They, and we, come to see that in the end it is only through forgiveness that peace can be found. It is a story about what the power of love can do. In reading Family Values I was reminded of Jessamyn West’s The Friendly Persuasion, except that this story could never have been told in the 1950s. Both novels could be criticized as simplistic in their portrayal of Friends, yet the plots work equally well in both. Family Values will draw you in. When I started reading I couldn’t help but continue, and when the story was over I longed for more. Tockhwock (a.k.a. Geoffrey Kaiser) is a member of Apple Seed Meeting in Sebastopol, Calif.
Wobbling Home: A spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s
By Jim Atwell. Square Circle Press, 2010. 192 pages. $17.95/paperback. Reviewed by Judith Favor Quakerism is a way of life for Jim Atwell, as illustrated in the awardwinning weekly columns he has published in The Cooperstown Crier
since 1993. I’m glad that he gathered 54 insightful stories on faith, friendship and illness into Wobbling Home: A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s. Jim is a very engaging writer. A former Christian Brothers monk, his spiritual development over the past forty years led him to become a practicing Friend and a recorded minister. Should New York Yearly Meeting ever recruit Jim to help revise its Faith and Practice, I want a copy. Faith and Practice tells the testimonies; Wobbling Home shows them. Integrity, for example: in “Parkinson’s Progress” he says it’s “a brain breakdown, the failure of my original, factory-installed equipment, with really nobody and nothing outside me to blame.” Take simplicity: “Yep, that’s what spatters the soup on the tablecloth, splashes coffee and causes the stumbling walk.” Take equality: “I try to report to you every time I make a fool of myself,” he writes in “Put in My Place.” Unity is touchingly told in “Yoked as One,” as he describes life with “my Anne.” Testimonies of community undergird many of Jim’s stories. In “Quiet Celebration” he describes the Friends of Clinton (N.Y.) Meeting celebrating their 300 years as “undramatic, matter-of-fact mystics who work for peace, the poor, the imprisoned, and those savaged by war.” For those like me, whose circle includes a few “Parkies,” Jim’s reflections are both informative and assuring. He sees the disease as emanating from the same loving Source that gives us life, a Source that also manipulates his brain in mysterious ways and moves his body at random times. But don’t let Parkinson’s in the title deter you from buying a copy for yourself, one for your meeting or church library, and another for someone who’s aging or undergoing bodily changes. His writing is personal and universal, interspersing tender examples of human frailty and spiritual strength with poignant tales of everyday personal relationships. Atwell’s literary grace reminds me of Phillip Simmons, progressively disabled with Lou Gehrig’s disease, whom I once heard at Sandwich (N.H.) Meeting (in 2000 Simmons published Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life). Amidst increasing tremors and stumbles, Jim
Atwell reports that he continues to write, reflecting on God, Christ, and prayer from the perspective of a person whose soul journey has taken him beyond traditional religion. Parkinson’s is taking its toll on Jim’s creative writing. Sometimes “my mind seizes up. Then I just have to sit back in my chair and wait for my brain to reboot itself.” But he hasn’t given up. “I see that drive as a leading; an urge by the Spirit that a particular job is one’s to do. This one’s mine, and I’ve got to get cracking.” I pray that the author is granted strength and focus to finish his next book because I want more Atwell stories to reread, savor, and quote to Friends. Judith Favor is a member of Claremont (Calif.) Meeting.
Friends for a Lifetime: The saga of a sixty-Three Year Quaker Love Affair
By Don and Lois Laughlin. Springdale Press, 2011. 221 pages. $10.80/paperback, $6.95/ Kindle. Reviewed by William Shetter It is not often that we get a chance to hear so insightfully the joys, sorrows, and steady growth of such a long marriage, some years of it spent with their six children managing the farm at Scattergood School in Iowa. The two voices of Lois Wood and Don Laughlin alternate throughout the book, each in its own clearly distinct font. While this may imply a dialog, in fact the book consists of extensive excerpts from Lois’s private journal interspersed with historical notes and personal comments by Don. Lois’ journal forms the core of the book. During her entire adult life up to her death in 2008, Lois recorded here her inmost thoughts: her lifelong struggle to understand herself and come to terms with her frustrating insecurity and depression, her attitudes—not evading the exasperated ones—toward husband and family, and how the loss of two daughters impacted their family life. Her questioning of the roots of her insecurity and what Don once called her “insatiable bent for order,” in daily conflict with the disorder of ordinary family life, is a repeated theme in her journal. Lois was a private person and thought of her journal that way too. The reader quickly becomes aware of an ongoing conflict with her dream of becoming a published writer. She wondered to herself in her writing whether her journal was a mere private outlet for thoughts and
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
feelings or whether it possibly had a “literary” aspect. She often thought about this, and once wrote, “the thought came that this is what I might write about— family relationships in the raw of a very ordinary family.” An occasional remark like “I’m always aware . . . that I may be writing for future readers” makes it plain that she really aspired to express something like this in publication but never succeeded in overcoming her self-doubt to do that. So we might ask: In the light of her strong sense of privacy, is Don’s posthumous publication of these extensive excerpts in some sense a violation of that? Readers will likely end up agreeing with him that this publication of journal entries amounts to the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. We find many insightful thoughts about the ups and downs of a Quaker marriage and family life, supplemented by Don’s own extensive clarifications and reflections—concluding with his moving account of how she and her family lived the last months leading up to her death. At a more fundamental level, we meet someone engaged in an unsparing quest for self-knowledge and it is this that gives her voice its authentic ring. The journal entries we are privileged to read reveal a person on an unrelenting quest to understand herself, struggling to find the roots of her individual self in the relationships she so intensely entered into, with her husband, her children, and the world. The title and subtitle chosen for this book are certainly appropriate as far as they go, but they do not seem to quite suggest the book’s underlying message to us. But Don did perceive this core when he chose as its opening quote Socrates’ “The unexamined life is not worth living.” William Shetter is a member of Bloomington (Ind.) Meeting. Two of the founders of the meeting in 1950 were Lois’ cousin Faye Wood and her husband Keogh Rash.
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Missions by the spirit: Learning from Quaker Examples
By Ron Stansell. Barclay Press, 2009. 280 pages. $24/paperback. Reviewed by Rosalie Dance Missions by the Spirit documents the experiences of four twentieth century Evangelical Friends missionaries to Kenya and Burundi, Guatemala, India, and Bolivia. All four were influenced by and indeed, trained within, the Holiness Movement. The Holiness Movement could be characterized, at its best, by “a belief that God changes hearts and lifestyles, convinced that women are equal to men, and confident of the human potential found in all cultures.” It should be understood that it arose out of Wesleyan Methodism. Joseph John Gurney was a key figure in connecting Friends to the Holiness Movement, as were Walter and Emma Malone, who directed the Cleveland Bible Training School, now Malone University. The Pentecostal church in the United States grew out of the Holiness Movement, as did the Pilgrim Holiness Church and others. One of the subjects of this book, Arthur Chilson (Kenya and Burundi), was thought by some to practice a spirituality rather close to that of the Pentecostal church. Stansell intends this book for those who feel called to cross-cultural Christian mission work in the twenty-first century. He notes that we are now in an age when (once again) the majority of Christians are in the Global South and the East, and he endeavors to share the examples and experiences of these twentieth-century Friends missionaries in order to be helpful to missionaries from these regions as well as from the West, both by building upon what these four did well and by avoiding their errors. Readers will be just as interested in how the Friends church was established in the countries where the missionaries, their families, and their colleagues worked. Arthur Chilson’s missions (1902 to
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1939) successfully paired what we might now think of as development work with evangelistic preaching. Chilson’s diaries, amply quoted by Stansell, reveal a severe lack of understanding and respect for the local culture, in spite of a deep love for the people within it; they also show that he worked hard at manual labor cooperatively with equally hardworking local workers in his industrial development mission. In Guatemala, Ruth Esther Smith, a superb administrator and a loving and motherly presence, led a mission dominated by women from 1906 until her death in 1947. The equality of men and women is visible in all four examples. In Guatemala, nursing and schools went hand in hand with evangelism, prayer, and a “revival spirit”; this was a typical feature. Everett and Catherine Cattell went to India in 1936 to work to convert Hindus to Christianity while Mahatma Gandhi was working to bring Hindus and Muslims together in a nationalist movement in resistance to British rule. Jack and Geraldine Willcutts went to Bolivia in 1947 where they combined training new pastors with demonstrating better farming methods; they appear to have been the most effective in their effort to live within the local culture and share their lives with the local people (the Aymaras). Turning the work of the mission church over to the local people was a stated goal of all four missions and was achieved in all four to varying degrees. Missions by the Spirit can teach us, twenty-first century Friends in all our varied practices and understandings, much about American Friends missionaries of the first half of the 20th century and how they influenced those with whom they worked. Friends will be interested to note that we learn surprisingly little about the local cultures, perhaps because, with the apparent exception of the Willcutts in Bolivia, they worked mainly to change those cultures rather than to find that of God within them. The absence of missionaries’ interest in learning from others was pretty apparent in the stories of three of the four early twentieth century Friends in this book. Rosalie Dance is a member of Adelphi (Md.) Meeting, sojourner at Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, Md., member of the African Great Lakes Initiative Working Group, and sometime “mathematics traveler” to Africa, including a six-year sojourn in Tanzania in the 1960s.
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Friends Journal June/July 2012
QuakerSpring 2012. For the past five summers, Friends from more than 20 yearly meetings and from all branches of Quakerism have gathered together at Olney Friends School in Ohio or The Meeting School in New Hampshire to explore and experience Spirit-led Quakerism. With most of the week left unplanned and open to God’s leading, these truly have been gatherings with a difference. This year QuakerSpring meets in Barnesville, Ohio, from June 24th through 29th. All are invited to attend this radically unprogrammed retreat. It will be an opportunity to drink from the spring of living water and rest at the feet of the Inward Teacher with other Friends who long to deepen their spiritual lives and listen to ways the wind of the Spirit is blowing. Go to www.quakerspring.org for more information and registration. AFSC Epistle to Quaker Yearly Meetings. Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. — Martin Luther King, Jr. Week after week, American Friends Service Committee staff member Dominque Stevenson visits four prisons in Maryland and invites the incarcerated men to consider how they can change their lives from within the walls of their confinement. The men have worked with Dominque to design the program that she runs. Some weeks they learn about mediating conflict; some weeks they learn about parenting. And one week in the past few months, they talked about love. It is love, says Dominque, that is the foundation of their work together. The men didn’t hesitate to express their thoughts: “Love can be defined as a noun or a verb,” one man said. “When you’re in love, that feeling can fade; then what? Mature love is about what you do, how you act, and the sacrifices you’re willing to make.” Another man responded, “How do we define family? If your brother’s been oppressed, help him. If your brother’s been an oppressor, help him by helping him to stop the oppression.” From across the room, a man said, “We have a government that doesn’t advocate love. I don’t expect the government to offer love. Humans make it up, but don’t behave in human ways. We’ve come from communities that were denied love.” They continued their conversation until a man concluded, “One issue is we lack understanding, and love
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June/July 2012 Friends Journal
is the highest degree of understanding. You can hate someone’s actions, but love the person. If you hate someone, you hate the Creator. We need to hate the action. We hate others because we lack understanding.” In a concrete classroom in a prison in Maryland, these men vulnerably explored their experience with love. All over the world, in 13 countries and in more than 35 U.S. towns and cities, AFSC invites people to explore what love can do from within the walls that confine them. In doing so, they also explore how to free themselves from and overcome the constrictions of injustice. Drawn from Quaker faith and testimonies, the work of AFSC is to create a world where all people can live in peace. The work can be seen as a constellation of optimistic experiments with truth and love, and with the human vulnerability that underlies both. We believe that answers lie within those with whom we work, and when they are heard and responded to with compassion, the power to work for justice is released. Through this work, we address the seeds of war and violence and thereby begin to create the social and economic conditions necessary for lasting peace. We deeply appreciate Quaker meetings’ and individuals’ support of this work; they make it possible. In the coming years, we hope to deepen our connection and partnership with Quakers. As part of that effort, we have hired Lucy Duncan as Friends Liaison. She writes and edits a blog on AFSC’s work entitled Acting in Faith, at afsc.org/friends. She is establishing a new Quaker meeting/church liaison program to strengthen ties to monthly meetings and churches.You can reach her at [email protected]
This year we published a booklet, An Introduction to Quaker Testimonies, which reminds us of the spiritual basis for AFSC’s work. You can find it at afsc.org/document/ friends-testimonies-booklet or order it from QuakerBooks.org. Friends, please challenge us, hold us in your prayers, and continue to help us. Together we can do so much. In the Light, Shan Cretin, General Secretary of AFSC, and Arlene Kelly, Clerk of the Board
Life at Fern Creek points toward simplicity, community, compassion, justice, gratitude, generosity, hope, humility, openness, faith, and integrity. These concepts have idyllic connotations when stored as words in the mind. But when connected to Willamette Valley dirt, the words become the foundation for stories. Mark and Lisa McMinn unpack their life and values as they chronicle life at Fern Creek. Their narrative is about something beyond growing produce for community-supported agriculture subscribers, it’s about making choices that enhance life.
“All genuine spirituality is local. It is rooted In time and place and people. And in the soil. Dirt and the Good Life: Stories from Fern Creek is genuine spirituality. I commend it to you.” Richard J. Foster
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Indiana Yearly Meeting continued from page 13 “jeopardizes the relationship between their meeting and the yearly meeting.” In January 2011 the yearly meeting M&O committee solicited views from IYM’s 64 monthly meetings as to next steps in this process, and in April a task force of seven yearly meeting members was established to sort through responses. In July the task force recommended a “division” in Indiana Yearly Meeting and a “possible realignment” (this was later refined to a “deliberative/collaborative reconfiguration”). In October 2011, in a very difficult and emotional all-day meeting, IYM’s Representative Council adopted the “deliberative/collaborative reconfiguration” model, with two yearly meetings established with different models of church authority; and appointed an expanded task force to work out the details. In February 2012, the new task force released outlines of an “Indiana Yearly Meeting A” (which would be based on a model of church authority where monthly meetings collaborated with each other in a structure of mutual accountability) and a “Indiana Yearly Meeting B” (where subordination of the monthly meeting to the yearly meeting would be emphasized as a “means of common protection). A revised draft proposal for the two yearly meetings is expected in April 2012, followed by a question and answer session at the July yearly meeting sessions; monthly meeting will be asked to decide by September 1 which of the two yearly meetings they wish to join. Formal approval of a “reconfiguration” of Indiana Yearly Meeting into two yearly meetings could come as early as October. Ongoing coverage of Indiana Yearly Meeting is taking place in Quaker Theology, with recent developments detailed at: quaker.org/quest/QT-20-Final-for-Web.pdf quaker.org/quest/QT-19.pdf quaker.org/quest/QT-18-Online.pdf q
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June/July 2012 Friends Journal
Listening for the Silence continued from page 21 experience of holding someone in the Light. The “sender” in both cases must have some degree of intent, resonance and intuitiveness with the other person or people. There comes a mystical point, whether in the symphony or in worship, where the listening becomes “whole body, whole universe”; you are the instrument, singing in complete resonance with God. Thoughts, and analysis of those thoughts, become background. There is an intertwined human and divine energy that seems to propel actions, words, and full “being” beyond self, into harmonious rhythm with everyone and everything around us. We find ourselves playing a solo like we’ve never experienced, shaking with intent to deliver a message or a healing gesture, or lifted into a profound Light humming with love, goodness and acceptance. So, what is to be heard in the silence? This will be your own journey. What do you hear in the room? What do you hear within? Are you listening around? Are you listening across? You may hear something as simple as the hum of a building fan—a reminder of this space that brings this rich community together each First Day, and then some. Or you may hear a silence which gives a beautiful and contrasting frame to some noise or imbalance within you or your life. As I listened in the silence in Quaker meeting, I found deep connection to community and Spirit, and remarkably, a healing of my lost love of music. Like in the Japanese concept of ma, the spaces in speech, music, Worship, and in life activity can be opportunity for insight, creativity, and divine connection. Let yourself “listen for the silence” as you go forward in your daily life. q
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Friends Journal June/July 2012
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Schutz—Adele Schultz Schutz, 98, on June 8, 2010, in Hunt Valley, Md. Adele was born on December 9, 1911, in Vienna, Austria, to Antonia and Josef Schultz. After she lost three family members when she was very young, further suffering after World War I led her to Vienna Quakers, whose practical and spiritual nurture began a connection that sustained her for the rest of her life. As a young woman, she apprenticed as an office worker and served as secretary to the president of an engineering firm in Vienna, where she met the man she would marry, Harald Schutz. In 1938, she fled to England because of the coming war, and she and Harald emigrated to Cambridge, Mass., where Cambridge Meeting helped them in their settlement. A second move in the United States brought them and their children to Baltimore, Md., in 1948. There they joined Stony Run Meeting. Adele’s proficiency in French, German, and English allowed her to help other central European immigrants in the years after World War II. She was an active volunteer at Baltimore’s McKim Settlement House during the 1950s and ’60s and took part in a sewing group that sorted and repaired garments for American Friends Service Committee. Adele remained an ardent worker for peace throughout her life. She and Harald moved to the Quaker retirement community Broadmead in 1987, and she began attending Gunpowder Meeting in Sparks, Md., transferring her membership in 1998, saying in a letter to the meeting in 2007 that she had found warmth and peace there and closeness “to what we all seek.” Adele was sustained through a long life by her love of walking, the joys of music, and a spirit of service to others summed up in her watchwords, “Be good to yourself and be good to others.” She remained cheerful and welcoming through her last years, and when Friends visited her for singing, reading, and spiritual nurture, they left with a sense of the fullness of her spirit. On the day of her death, Friends at Broadmead greeted her as she collected her mail; she enjoyed a telephone conversation with her daughter shortly before she drew her last breath in the comfort of her home. Adele’s husband, Harald Schutz, preceded her in death. She is survived by two children, Hank and Trudi Schutz; and her grandchildren, Allen David Schutz (Alexandra) and Kathryn Elizabeth Schutz. Her ashes were interred beside those of her beloved husband Harald in Gunpowder Meeting burial ground in Tenth Month 2011. Watson—George Henry Watson, on December 21, 2011, at home in Minneapolis, Minn., surrounded by family and friends. George was born on September 29, 1915, in Chrisman, Ill., to Margaret and P.M. Watson. He graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 1936. Receiving his MA from University of Illinois in 1937, he married Elizabeth Grill, whom he had met again on a blind date in college after having known her growing up in Lakewood, Ohio. They began attending 57th Street Meeting in Chicago in 1937, and became
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members in 1938. Starting in 1939 he taught political science at Southern Illinois University, and he received his Doctorate in Political Science from University of Chicago in 1942. From 1942 to 1945, he worked as research director of the Federation of Tax Administrators, becoming executive director. After serving in Civilian Public Service from 1945 to 1946, he joined the faculty of Roosevelt University. This racially and religiously integrated experiment in higher education offered evening and weekend classes so that working men and women could pursue college and graduate degrees, and some of his students went on to become leaders in Chicago’s African American community. Over the next 26 years, George served as professor and chair of the Political Science Department, created and directed a new multidisciplinary graduate program in Public Administration, and served as both Dean of Students and Dean of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Independent Voters of Illinois (part of Americans for Democratic Action) and served as president of Hyde Park Co-op and as board member of Central States Cooperatives. In addition to their three biological children, he and Elizabeth raised a foster daughter and in 1964 adopted three daughters from Germany. They worked to improve race relations, establishing with other Chicago Quakers the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference, one of the first inner-city community organizations in the United States formed to develop interracial harmony. In 1972, the family moved to Long Island, N.Y., where he and Elizabeth helped to found Lloyd Harbor Meeting. From 1972 to 1980, he was president of Friends World College, and he finished his academic career as a Fellow at Woodbrooke College in Birmingham, England, in 1983-84. George was often clerk of his monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings and served on the boards of American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation, as a representative to seven Friends World Committee triennial meetings, and on the executive committee of the FWCC Section of the Americas from 1976 to 1982. In 1980, he and Elizabeth moved to North Easton, Mass., making Friends Community their home base during travels sponsored by Quaker organizations. They also served as Friends in Residence at Pendle Hill during this time. In 1991, they moved to Minneapolis, Minn. When macular degeneration caused him to become legally blind in 1995, George adapted to his greatly changed abilities with grace and patience. Cherishing his family, classical music, and political discussions, he continued to be active in Minneapolis Meeting, in Blind Incorporated, and in Missing Children Minnesota, and his graciousness, good humor, and appetite for learning continued until his death. George’s wife, Elizabeth Grill Watson, died in 2006. He left behind six children, Jean McCandless, John Watson, Carol Watson, Elke Diener, Heidi Whelan, and Silke Peterson; a foster daughter, Jamie Paradise; 17 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren; and countless friends and colleagues.
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
continued from page 5
visiting in prisons off and on for the last 25 years?” The answer is that I am joining in an action that strives to mend a broken world. The prison worship groups and Alternatives to Violence Project workshops, in which I have participated, both focus on creating community, something that makes all of us more complete. For me, it is important to see and to know those whose lives are hidden from our view and whose struggles are unacknowledged in the wider world. All of us are diminished when some are not seen. My hope is that my witness is experienced as a supportive act. All who participate are enriched. “When we are all welcome, we will all be free,” was a message given by someone in my home meeting that I experience as a truth. When I go into a prison, I am expressing my faith in an Inner Light that has the possibility of transforming my life as well as those of others. It is my responsibility to bring the hopefulness of my faith with me, and it is also my responsibility to convey to the outside world the potential of those I have met in prison. Because I have been going into prisons for a long time, I have had the opportunity to see people I have met in prison struggling to lead constructive lives on the outside, often with significant success. These struggles are regularly the result of long sentences, lack of programs in prisons, and parole policies that do not recognize the possibility of change. Other problems may occur as a result of unexpected consequences following release from prison. Some people have not been able to change while incarcerated. I believe that prison policies focused on punishment and revenge do not support positive change in those who are incarcerated, and as a Friend, I stand against a criminal justice system based on these values. In recent years, I have found it important to add my voice to those advocating for the need for a fundamental change in this system. Pamela Wood New York, N.Y. I have been a recipient of the Quaker visitation program for a good 20 or so years now, and it has afforded me an opportunity to explore and better understand not just myself but Quakers, the greater community, and society. This gives me faith and hope that I will return to society someday. I have never been judged by Friends, only shown respect, kindness, and compassion. These last two decades have
Friends Journal June/July 2012
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been a learning experience that has helped to produce a new person in me, and has also helped those with whom I have shared my experience. Prison is a lonely and isolated environment. Quakers have broken the bonds of negativity that can encompass and enclose a prisoner’s self-esteem and self-worth. The visitation program is one way to keep prisoners informed and in tune with the community and societal events, a way to remind those of us behind these walls that “there is that of the Creator in all of us,” if only we seek to explore deep inside ourselves. Quakers are with us to say, in effect, that we are not alone in our struggle. Quakers are a living example of their motto “Let your lives preach!” On behalf of all socially conscious prisoners who have experienced or heard of the Quaker experience, I thank you for your tireless efforts. Yohannes Johnson Clinton Correctional Facility, Dannemora, N.Y. The March issue on crime and punishment really caught my attention, for I don’t believe that too much publicity can be focused on the injustice of the U.S. criminal courts and prison systems; it stirs the conscience of us all. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much in the issue to be relevant, excepting Richard K. Taylor’s “A Quaker Stand Against Mass Incarceration,” which was comprehensively on point. I hope Friend Richard’s approach will serve as a model for future issues of Friends Journal on topics truly focusing on crime and punishment. Gerald Niles Tomoka Correctional Institution, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Geoffrey Kaiser, 365 Gemma Circle, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Peace in ordinary things
There is a wonderful freedom about Peter Lang’s “Walking from the Shadows into the Light” (FJ, April): the witness of a life lived with abiding reality. He suggests walking cheerfully (without earphones or rushing!) over all the Earth, seeing that of God in the poor souls who suffered in the Morristown, N.J., hospital for the insane, which was built in 1876 and is now in ruins. I cannot think of a better place for pilgrimage. I hope to go there myself one day and walk in his footsteps. In every family there is insanity, now often named Alzheimer’s or autism. Our nursing homes may be in ruins by 2076! At the moment I am homebound with pneumonia and caring for a husband
June/July 2012 Friends Journal October 2010
receiving hospice care. Like Shakespeare’s Prospero in his last play The Tempest, I struggle to release Caliban (the dark, earthbound sins we all battle at 3 a.m.) and Ariel (the bright, too bright, sickness that strikes at noon). I am slowly breaking the magic wand of control in order to leave the enchanted isle for hometown Milan (or Dumont). Peter Lang’s peace is found in doing ordinary things like a daily walk, faith service to a loved one, or worship in the same old place with the people we see every Sunday. When we are unutterably at home, we may be surprised by joy and grief when we meet God among the ruins. Roberta Nobleman Dumont, N.J.
What we say versus what we do
I love the story in the April issue titled “General Sam Wants You!” It’s less about what we say and more about what we do. With all our talk, what will we, you, or I do? Words can inspire, but leaders like Gandhi and King demonstrated courage by being willing to sacrifice and be imprisoned. Is the article more about the obscene amount of funding for the military, the disparity between spending for the military and that for social programs, or about the principle of being forced financially to participate in war? Alan Gamble Jackson, Mich.
The answers may be within
In the article, “The Faith of the Magi” (FJ, Dec. 2011), it’s stated that the Magi of Zoroastrianism had many names for the Lord, but the main name Ahura Mazda (God of Light) is the name Friends use. As Friends wait on the Light to interpret the divine, do they really worship a different God? As we look at Scriptures and peel back the layers, literal interpretations aren’t the truth we seek; the answer may be within. Spiritual allegories that use the world without to symbolize the abstract world within have meanings that relate the Way, the path of challenges within. Dirk Davenport Salem, Ore.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
Classifieds appear on our website at <www.friendsjournal.org/classified>. august issue: June 11, 2012 september issue: July 16, 2012 Submit your text to: <[email protected]
> or Advertising Manager, Friends Journal, 1216 Arch Street, 2A, Philadelphia, PA 19107-2835. For information call (215) 563-8629. Classified rate is 94¢ per word. Minimum charge is $29.70. Logo is additional $20. Add 10% if boxed. 10% discount for three consecutive insertions, 25% for six. Appearance of any advertisement does not imply endorsement by Friends Journal.
Books & Publications
www.vintagequakerbooks.com. Rare and out-of-print Quaker journals, history, religion. Vintage Books, 181 Hayden Rowe St, Hopkinton, MA 01748. Email: <[email protected]
>. Western Friend (formerly Friends Bulletin), a magazine by and about Western Friends, supporting the spiritual lives of Friends everywhere. Subscription: $30, 8 issues. 5 month intro subscription just $10. Email for free sample copy. <[email protected]
>. Western Friend, 833 SE Main St. Mailbox #138, Portland, OR 97214. Visit <www.westernfriend.org> for news, books, and more. Pendle Hill Pamphlets, insightful essays on Quaker life, thought, and spirituality, about 9,000 words each. Subscribe: five pamphlets/year/$25 (U.S.). Also available: every pamphlet published by Pendle Hill. (800) 742-3150 ext. 2, <[email protected]
Classified ad deadlines:
Come to Pendle Hill June 22–24: inquirers’ Weekend: an introduction to Quakerism, with Emma Churchman and Paul Ricketts June 24–28: Women Weaving Work and Worship, with Sara Knisely Bixler July 8–12: Writing Your spiritual autobiography, with Dan Wakefield July 15–19: Creating Poetry and song: Write now! with David LaMotte July 27–29: The ancestors are Calling on You: spiritual Resources for living life Powerfully, with Amanda Kemp July 29–August 2: The sacred art of spiritual discernment, with Nancy Bieber August 3–5: finding Your Voice, with Cheryl Chamblee and Tamara Kissane August 5–10: Beyond diversity 101, with Niyonu Spann and BD101 Associates
Traveling the West Coast? Visit Ben Lomond Quaker Center in the redwood forest, near Santa Cruz, Calif. Personal retreats and an annual schedule of Quaker programs. (831) 336-8333. <www.quakercenter.org>. Rustic country home in the woods has a room available for travelers and a large room for meetings. Less than an hour from Washington, D.C., close to BWI Airport. Exchange and length of stay are negotiable. Contact us: <[email protected]
>, or call (410) 531-5610. Coming to london? Friendly B&B. A block from British Museum, 10 minutes walk to Friends House. Centrally located. Convenient for most tourist attractions. Direct subway from Heathrow. Easy access to most other transport links. Quiet, safe, secure. Ideal for persons travelling alone. Full English Breakfast included. Complimentary wireless connection. +44 (20) 7636-4718. <[email protected]
>, <www.pennclub.co.uk>. santa fe—Charming, affordable adobe guest apartment with kitchenette at our historic Canyon Road meetinghouse. Convenient to galleries and downtown. Pictures at <santa-fe.quaker.org>. Reservations: <[email protected]
> or (505) 983-7241. Quaker House Managua, nicaragua—simple hospitality, dorms, kitchen, laundry, Wi-Fi, library, meeting space for individual travelers, volunteers, groups. <[email protected]
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Quakers Empowering Nicaraguans Cleveland—simple, short-term accommodations at the Meeting House located in University Circle, Cleveland’s Project Partners in education, health, cultural, educational and health services hub. Off-street nutrition, economic development parking, access to public transportation. Contact Walter Money, Delegations, Volunteers (216) 633-8283. Quaker House Managua
leadership and studies at esR Organizational Leadership Leadership Formation Fiscal and Resource Stewardship Quaker Process Take these courses and others! For more information: <[email protected]
>, (800) 432-1377, <esr.earlham.edu>. ”lost stories of faith.” An exciting peace exhibit for your congregation, school or organization. Available in banner or panel forms for a modest loan fee. For info contact: <[email protected]
>. <www.envisionpeacemuseum.org>. The Tract association of friends (founded: 1816) Offers Friends Calendar, pamphlets, and books on Quaker faith and practice. 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1403. <www.tractassociation.org>; phone (215) 579-2752; email <[email protected]
>. Costa Rica study Tours: Visit the Quaker community in Monteverde. For information and a brochure contact Sarah Stuckey: +011 (506) 2645-7090; write: Apdo. 46-5655, Monteverde, Costa Rica; email: <[email protected]
>; <www.crstudytours.com>; or call in the USA (937) 728-9887. The school of the spirit Ministry has under its care a program of Silent Retreats in the manner of Friends. In order to expand our offerings we are seeking a Friend or pair of Friends who are called to the ministry of Silent Retreat facilitation. This Friend(s) will be mentored by our current facilitators, Linda Chidsey and Carolyn Moon, as they prepare for a silent retreat in Cincinnati, Sept. 27-30, 2012. Attendance at this retreat is expected. For more information, including qualifications, expectations, and application (first review of applications May 25), visit <schoolofthespirit.org/programs/silent-retreats/>. Upcoming in 2012 May 25: Application deadline for On Being a Spiritual Nurturer. Late applications reviewed at our discretion. June 8–11: A Contemplative Retreat, at Powell House, Old Chatham, NY Sept. 27–30: A Silent Retreat in the manner of Friends, Transfiguration Spirituality Center, Cincinnati, OH More information at <schoolofthespirit.org>, or call Mike Green at (919) 929-2339. eden Valley llC is looking for a part-time organic, small plot intensive farmer and groundskeeper. Housing available as an exchange. Country home in the woods less than an hour from Washington, D.C., near Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting. Contact us: <[email protected]
> or call (410) 531-5610. of the Religious society of friends? Support growing meetings and a spiritually vital Quakerism for all ages with a deferred gift to Friends General Conference (bequest, charitable gift annuity, trust). For information, please contact Larry Jalowiec at FGC, 1216 Arch Street, 2-B, Philadelphia, PA 19107; (215) 561-1700; <[email protected]
Pendle Hill 338 Plush Mill Road Wallingford, PA 19086-6023 (800) 742-3150, extension 3 <www.pendlehill.org>
fRiend in ResidenCe. 6 week to 6 month terms. Ben lOMOnd QUaKeR CenTeR, santa Cruz California redwoods. Members of Friends meetings come live, worship and share hospitality/ on-call duties with our small staff community. Participate in Quaker Center programs. Call Kathy or Bob Runyan, Directors, (831) 336-8333. <www.quakercenter.org>.
Connect with like-minded Friends. Forums, Photos, Private Messaging, and more It’s Friendly, It’s Free, It’s Fabulous Contact: <[email protected]
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links socially conscious singles who care about peace, social justice, race/gender equity, environment. Nationwide/international. All ages. Since 1984. Free sample: Box 444-FJ, Lenox Dale, MA 01242. (413) 243-4350; <www.concernedsingles.com>.
friend in Residence—Burtt House friends Center, ithaca, nY. Available August 2012. Person or couple to oversee and nourish the spirit of cooperation within intentional living community of residents, sojourners. Shared kitchen/dining. Short walk to Cornell. 227 N. Willard Way, Ithaca, NY 14850. Contact <[email protected]
seeking spiritual Community? Beacon Hill friends House, www.ProNica.org donations applications: 1–4 Boston, accepting gratefully accepted years, Quaker-based multi130 19 Av SE, St Petersburg FL 33705 generational community. All welcome. Guest rooms < 2 weeks also available. Information: <[email protected]
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Quaker House HOUse/University simple Meeting. seaTTle QUaKeRManagua, Nicaragua -friendshospitality, Selfdorms, kitchem, laundry,WiFi, library, meeting space service overnight accomodations. Free parking/Wi-Fi. Microwave/ for individual travelers, volunteers, groups. refrigerator/teapot. Near University Washington/Trader Joe’s/ [email protected]
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Three Groves eco Village is a multigenerational co-housing community walking distance to West Grove, PA Meeting. Net zero energy homes, perma culture landscaping and gardens. Join us! (610) 643-4411, <threegrovesecovillage.org>.
Rentals & Retreats
Burlington (nJ) Meeting House Conference Center (25 minutes from Philadelphia) offers meeting rooms of various sizes for groups of up to 200 for day use and/or modern, overnight accommodations for groups of up to 88 adults or school children at $32pp; large commercial kitchen and adjacent restored 1783 Meeting House; all ADA handicapped accessible; (609) 387-3875, <[email protected]
>. Peaceful ridge-top sanctuary hosting workshops with Quaker-related themes, group retreats and individual sojourns. See our website for a full program listing. Woolman Hill Quaker Retreat Center, 107 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342; (413) 774-3431; <www.woolmanhill.org>. Blueberry Cottage on organic lavender, blueberry, and dairy goat farm in the mountains of N. Carolina. Pond, mountain views, protected river. Sleeps 8+. Family farm visit or romantic getaway. Near Celo Friends Meeting. By week or day. <www.mountainfarm.net>, or (866) 212-2100.
Penington friends House: New York City. Quaker-based community for long- and short-term sojourners. A unique place where you can find hospitality, shared meals, and simple living. Benjamin the Meetinghouse Mouse font is nice, too Wireless. Three Many ages and many cultures. Shared facilities. blocks from Union Square Subway. <www.penington.org>. E-mail <[email protected]
>. Call (212) 673-1730. ashland, Oreg.—Friendly place in southern Oregon for outstanding theater, rafting, fishing, birding, quiet time. Anne Hathaway’s B&B and Garden Suites. <www.ashlandbandb.com>; (541) 488-1050. Lodging; groups, individuals, families in WILLIAM Washington, DC. Workcamps seminars. PENN Internships, gap year program. (202) 543HOUSE 5560; <[email protected]
>; <www.williampennhouse.org>. A Quaker Center on Capitol Hill
do you care about the future
June/July 2012 Friends Journal
Cape May, n.J. Beach House—weekly rentals; weekend rentals in off-season. Sleeps 12+. Air-conditioned bedrooms. Great for family reunions! Block from beach. Close to mall. Ocean views from wraparound porch. Call: (718) 398-3561. Charming, updated 4-BR family cottage. Chautauqua beach community, Ocean Park, Maine. Ice cream parlor, bikes, clay tennis courts, 7 miles of sandy beach. Sleeps 7+. $1000/wk. <[email protected]
>. arizona sunshine! Friends Southwest Center, a Quaker founded residential community in S.E. Arizona, welcomes friends to share our high desert peace and beauty. Furnished rentals include a 30’ Avion trailer, a three bedroom house and a sweet renovated farmhouse. $200-$400+/month. Enjoy birding, hiking and Quaker worship. Contact <[email protected]
>. (520) 508-4864. Pocono Manor. Beautiful, rustic mountain house. Suitable for gatherings, retreats, and reunions. Seven bedrooms. Three full baths. Beds for 15. Fully equipped. Deck with mountain view. Hiking trails from back door. Close to parks and attractions. Weekends or by the week, April through October. Contact Melanie Douty-Snipes: (215) 736-0948. Kendal communities and services reflect sound management, adherence to Quaker values, and respect for each individual. Continuing care retirement communities: Collington—Metro Washington, D.C. Kendal at Longwood; Crosslands—Kennett Square, Pa. Kendal at Hanover—Hanover, N.H. Kendal at Oberlin—Oberlin, Ohio Kendal at Ithaca—Ithaca, N.Y. Kendal at Lexington—Lexington, Va. Kendal on Hudson—Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. Kendal at Granville—Granville, Ohio The Admiral at the Lake—Under development on Chicago’s Lakefront independent living with residential services: Coniston and Cartmel—Kennett Square, Pa. The Lathrop Communities—Northampton and Easthampton, Mass. nursing care, residential and personal care: Barclay Friends—West Chester, Pa. advocacy/education programs: Untie the Elderly—Pa. Restraint Reduction Initiative Kendal Outreach, LLC Collage, Assessment Tool for Well Elderly for information, contact: Doris Lambert, The Kendal Corporation, 1107 E. Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square, PA 19348. (610) 335-1200. Email <[email protected]
experienced Carpenter. Quaker background, close attention to detail; quality work. Additions, structural repairs, faithful historic restorations, new kitchens and bathrooms, sunrooms, basement upgrades, interior/exterior painting, new siding/decks. Office remodels, store renovations, historic store fronts, commercial maintenance work. Bucks, Hunterton, Montgomery Counties/Philadelphia area, Scott Saunders. (215) 766-4819. Insight and Clarity for nonprofit boards. Consulting and coaching on mission, focus, structure, vision. Help with board retreats, mission statements, governance, internal conflicts, outreach, social media. <ArthurFink.com>, (207) 615-5722. Conducting business? Friend with over 30 years’ experience in organizations and businesses, for- and non-profit. Bringing servant leadership to fruition. Services include incorporation, setup, reorganization, accounting/finance, marketing/advertising, crisis management, ongoing support. On-site or distance. Deneen Consulting, <www.deneenconsult.com>, (407) 563-1370. fRee The essiac Handbook. Learn about the famous Ojibwa herbal healing remedy discovered in Canada in 1922. Call toll free (888) 568-3036 or write Box 1182, Crestone, CO 81131.
friends House A Quaker-Inspired Elder Community Friends House is a nonprofit Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Santa Rosa, in the Wine Country of Northern California. Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, garden apartments for Independent Living, a Library of 5,500 volumes, and a Fitness Center are situated on a seven-acre campus. Residents participate in governance, educational programs, entertainment, and hospitality activities. For more information, call us at (707) 538-0152 and/or visit our website at: <www.friendshouse.org>.
RCFE#496801929 / SNF #010000123 / COA #220
Journey’s end farm Camp Quaker farm family shares simple farm living, nature, fun, and friendship with 34 boys and girls, ages 7–12 years. Campers milk cows, gather eggs, grow and eat organic vegetables, hug alpacas. Sessions of two and three weeks, one-week family camp. Kristin Curtis, P.O. Box 23, Sterling, PA 18463. (570) 689-3911. <www.journeysendfarm.org>. Apply early for financial aid. CaMP CelO. A small family farm camp in the mountains of North Carolina. Under Quaker leadership for over 50 years. Coed Ages 7–10 & 11 & 12. 3:1 camper/staff ratio. <www.campcelo.com>. (828) 675-4323. Camp Woodbrooke—Quaker led summer camp in southern WI with emphasis on simple living and connecting with nature. 162 acres, pond, woods, swimming, hiking, nature crafts, woodworking, garden, chickens, goats. Labor Day Weekend Family Camp. Coed, ages 7–15. ACA accredited. (608) 647-8703, <www.campwoodbrooke.org>.
frankford friends school: The joy of lifelong learning takes root in childhood. Coed; Pre-K to grade 8; serving Center City, Northeast, and most areas of Philadelphia. We provide children with an affordable yet challenging academic program in a small, nurturing environment. Frankford Friends School, 1500 Orthodox Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124. (215) 533-5368. <www.frankfordfriendsschool.org>. lansdowne friends school. Pre–K (3 years of age) through 6th grade LFS provides a challenging and exciting educational program in a nurturing Quaker setting. Our program builds on the natural curiosity our children have for their immediate surroundings and supports exploration of their ever changing world. 110 N. Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, PA 19050. (610) 623-2548. <www.lansdownefriendsschool.org>.
Visit us and learn all about our: • Two beautiful campuses in Medford and Lumberton, NJ • Over 200+ acres of arboretum settings • Wide choice of garden-style home & apartment designs • Dynamic, resident-driven community life • Ideal locations for culture & recreation • Superior health & wellness services For details on our community and our many programs open to the public—call us at (800) 331-4302 or visit our website <www.medfordleas.org>. Home of the Barton Arboretum & Nature Preserve Member, American Public Gardens Association, Greater Philadelphia Gardens Member, and Garden State Gardens friends Homes, inc., founded by North Carolina Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends, has been providing retirement options since 1968. Both Friends Homes at Guilford and Friends Homes West are fee-for-service, continuing care retirement communities offering independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, both communities are close to Guilford College and several Friends meetings. Enjoy the beauty of four seasons, as well as outstanding cultural, intellectual, and spiritual opportunities in an area where Quaker roots run deep. For information please call: (336) 292-9952, or write: Friends Homes West, 6100 W. Friendly Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27410. Friends Homes, Inc. owns and operates communities dedicated to the letter and spirit of Equal Housing Opportunity. <www.friendshomes.org>.
Custom designed and decorated WeddinG CeRTifiCaTes, illuminated letters, poetry, family trees, citations etc. by calligrapher Mary Teichman. All archival materials used. <www.mtcalligraphy.com>. Email: <mar [email protected]
>, (413) 529-9212, Mary Teichman Calligraphy, P.O. Box 446, Easthampton, MA 01027. labor arbitration and mediation services. Thomas J. Nowel. Member, Cleveland Friends Meeting. Roster memberships include FMCS, AAA, AMS, Ohio SERB. 40 years of collective bargaining, labor relations and human resources experience. (513) 850-4235. <[email protected]
>. See <www.nowelarbitration.com> for more information. Purchase Quarterly Meeting (NYYM) maintains a peace tax escrow fund. Those interested in tax witness may wish to contact us through NYYM, 15 Rutherford Place, New York, NY 10003. Custom Marriage Certificates and other traditional or decorated documents. Various calligraphic styles and watercolor designs available. Over twenty years’ experience. Pam Bennett, P.O. Box 136, Uwchlan, PA 19480. <[email protected]
>, <www.prbcallig.com>. all Things Calligraphic Carol Gray, Calligrapher (Quaker). Specializing in wedding certificates. Reasonable rates, timely turnarounds. <www.carolgraycalligraphy.com>.
Friends Journal June/July 2012
JUne 24–28, 2012
Women Weaving Work and Worship
fiber arts with Sara knisely Bixler JUly 8–12, 2012
Writing Your spiritual autobiographY
With dan Wakefield JUly 15–19, 2012 With david laMotte
Creating poetrY and song Write now!
AUgUST 12–16, 2012
AUgUST 17–19, 2012 With Melanie Weidner
free floW Creativity as a spiritual practice
AUgUST 19–23, 2012
touChing the earth, giving a gift
Creative retreat with Bob and kim deane
Creative spirit paper arts Collage
With Melanie Weidner
What’s Your storY? uncover hidden stories from Your life experiences
With Saundra gilliard
AUgUST 31–SePTeMBer 2, 2012
Consider Pendle Hill’s resident Program!
Contact Darlene Walker at [email protected]
or 800.742.3150, ext. 161
©2006 John Meyer ©2006 Carly Frintner
A QUAker STUdy, reTreAT, And ConferenCe CenTer
338 Plush Mill road · Wallingford, PA 19086
To learn more about our programs or to register, contact: 800.742.3150 (US only) ext. 3 610.566.4507 ext. 3 [email protected]
©2005 Julie McClure
Deepen Your Spirituality