A post-Quaker vision of the Society of Friends

I’m going to take a hiatus from Quaker blogging, for at least a month or two, though I’ll probably still be contributing to my non-Quaker blog and to Quakerpedia, a Quaker wiki reference project I’m working on, as well as commenting on other blogs.

Partially this is because I want to devote more time to my spiritual practice and my practical life. I’m trying to meditate more often. I’m trying to take part of the life of Friends Meeting at Cambridge, and to help YAFs in the Boston area to stay organized. I’m also trying to gain more clarity on where my work life is going.

But it’s mostly because I can feel myself entering a period of “root-level” reorganization in my thinking (how I’ve grown to hate and love these!), in this case about spirituality and religion, and it’s premature to write frequently until this process is more worked out.

But I’ll give you the gist of where I think it’s headed, a little fast and loose.

After a long period of growing dissatisfaction with the narrowness and smallness of the Society of Friends, I’m coming to a more concrete picture of the kind of spiritual community I’m looking for, and that I think the world needs.

What would it be like? I’ll give you four basic points, the last one being just an illustrative example. Bear in mind this is all a very rough draft, and I’ll probably disagree with at least some of this in a couple months.

And because I think this kind of community would be similar to but not identical with Quakerism as we know it, I’m going to use a completely made-up phrase – “Spiritual Society of Friends” – so I’ll have a short way of describing it.

A vision of the “Spiritual Society of Friends”

(1.) The unifying purpose of the “Society” as a whole would be to foster the spiritual life, and nothing else.

I’m not clear yet on how or how specifically this would be defined – or not defined. It would be the key element, and therefore deserve much more discussion than I’m ready to give here.

But generally speaking, it would be something in the ballpark of what liberal Friends would recognize: openness, personal experience, continuing revelation, listening inwardly and to one another. Depending on how much influence I had, it might also include the neglected aspects of the mechanics of Quaker spiritual practice emphasized by the Experiment with Light.

(There was discussion along these lines on Kevin’s recent post.)

(2.) Because of this focus, it would be a big tent.

People who believe in God, the Dharma, Odin, or none of the above, would all in principle be equally welcome – as long as they were committed to the common spiritual practices of the community.

People who believe in pacifism or just wars, simplicity or extravagance, equality or respectful distinctions, would all in principle be equally welcome – as long as they were committed to the common spiritual practices of the community.

Only two things would be forbidden. (Remember, this is a draft.)

Practically speaking, basic adherence to the spiritual practices of the wider community would be required, because that’s what it would be about (see 1). And intellectually speaking, dogmatism at a universal level – the notion that my truth is an absolute, non-negotiable truth for all people in all time – would be unacceptable, because it is impossible to think in this way and also to practice a spirituality of continuing revelation. There are plenty of communities already where you can indulge yourself in that intellectual vice.

(3.) Within this big tent of inclusiveness and mutual recognition, diversity.

Different subcommunities would be allowed – even encouraged – to emerge with radically different peripheral practices, beliefs, organizational structures and cultures. Inclusiveness need not mean no one can go beyond the lowest common denominator. Smaller tents under the roof of the big tent, so to speak.*

So you might get people who felt led to particular practices or testimonies forming associations, while remaining in communion (if more distant) with everyone else.

Peace-loving folk might meet and organize themselves more closely and interact less closely with everyone else, if that’s what they felt led to do. And this would be fine, even encouraged, so long as they continued to recognize as “Friends” others who disagreed but were still committed to the spiritual practices of the larger community.

People drawn to the language of Christianity for expressing their spirituality would be free to form associations for more frequent contact, even that excluded non-Christians – so long as they continued to recognize others who were non-Christian but committed to the spiritual practices of the larger community.

Same for Pagans, nontheists, and so on.

Put differently, local “creeds” or “dogmas” (if not by that name) – metaphysical or behavioral, written or unwritten – would be fine, so long as they were local. In this way both deep local community (the “small tents”*) and inclusive, broader-but-shallower community (the “big tent”) would be maintained.

(In practice, this would serve to temper the in-theory openess of the community. For example, in theory, people with racist views could be a member of the community at the broadest level, but in practice would rightly have a hard time finding particular local communities that would admit them.)

(4.) Within this spiritual ecology, where would I live?

There may a million valid ways to be spiritually in the world, and we should value and respect each other’s paths with joy. Which why I want to see something like the above take shape.

But each of us has to figure out what we are led to do in our particular lives and situations – and to testify to it, in the process challenging others.

So, while continuing to recognize people walking other paths within this framework as my fellows, I personally would be looking for a (sub-)community more like this:

  • A place that was not too embarassed by middle-class values to speak openly, and clearly about the need to love one another deeply, from the heart.
  • A place where people more often shared their whole lives together – perhaps living together, making art and music together, supporting one another emotionally and practically, even extending economic mutual aid (gasp!), and otherwise resisting the individualism of modern society.
  • A place where people take spiritual development seriously enough that they practice together several times a week.
  • A place that actively seeks to participate in the surrounding community and to do good publicity and outreach.
  • A place that took no part in the “silly poor gospel” of asceticism (both the activist and the spiritual sort) and saw real value in the arts and the senses.
  • A place that was proactive about dismantling gender norms, heterosexism, racism and classism within its own walls and the surrounding community.
  • A place wholeheartedly committed to ecological sustainability and restoration.
  • A place where rigorous and critical thinking was seen as important (however much it doesn’t belong in the meeting room during “worship”).

I could go on about each of these numbered and bulleted points. But you get the general idea. In essence, I’m simply unpacking what I, Richard, and Simon discussed recently on Richard’s blog about a community that would be the spiritual/ethical incarnation of the “scientific” ethic – that is, the practice of seeking the truth together, basing our beliefs on evidence, and forever remaining open to new truth.

(Richard, if you’re reading, I’m interested to know to what extent the above jives with what you had in mind there.)

The RSoF and post-Quakerism

The question you might be asking is, where does Quakerism fit into this?

Well it does and it doesn’t, as far as I can tell.

It does because the kind of spirituality I have in mind is mostly inspired from Quakerism in its early and modern unprogrammed varieties. That’s a significant connection, so maybe the above should be seen as a new kind of Quakerism. And beyond that, any possible real-life embodiment of the “Spiritual Society of Friends” or anything like it would have a lot of overlap with the RSoF in a multitude of ways – and that would be a good thing.

But I don’t think the RSoF and the “SSoF” described above are the same thing. Because the common spiritual practices are about where the similarity ends. I’ll explain why, taking the divergences from my above points in order.

(1′) Quakerism is not a community that unites around spirituality and nothing else. The movement has been a big mess of different ideas from the beginning, as most movements are, with its spiritual practices only being one aspect. And as we all know, in the fullness of time, different Quakers have emphasized different aspects of the original stew.

Programmed Friends have emphasized the “biblicality” and evangelical fervor of early Friends, but generally abandoned the distinctive forms of Quaker spiritual practice, and correspondingly have come to see the Bible as a higher authority than spiritual practice and experience. It’s possible that this is a basically valid Quaker position, but it’s not compatible with what I described above.

Conservative (-leaning) Friends generally don’t have this problem, but like many Orthodox Friends in general, some appear to be dogmatic about their faith, in that many, though not all, are unwilling even to consider that theism or other Christian doctrines might be misapprehensions (contra 2 above). This does not appear to be a controversial attitude in Conservative circles – nor should we necessarily expect it to be on Quaker grounds. But it’s not really compatible with what I described above either.

And liberal Quakerism, the apparent best candidate for being a prototype for the “Spiritual Society of Friends,” has its own problems. It doesn’t seem to take its own spiritual practices terribly seriously, though I suppose that’s debatable. More surely, it still includes many people who think belief in God or Christ should be a dogma for the community, as well as a culture and a “behavioral creed” (SPICE, etc.) that is as limiting as any doctrinal creed. (This is the “Quaker Culture” Samuell Caldwell railed against, unfortunately in a fairly obnoxious way).

I still see liberal Quakerism as the best approximation, however, because I can imagine, with difficulty, liberal Friends learning to accept non-pacifist spiritual seekers as their fellows, for example, as they are beginning to do with nontheist ones.

But even if this were to happen, I still question whether “Quakerism,” whatever the adjective, is the best name for a community so radically different than what Quakerism has been historically. It would seem more natural that much of liberal Quakerism and some of the other branches be incorporated as subgroups within the “Spiritual Society of Friends” or something similar, should such a thing ever exist (while probably remaining within the RSoF also of course).

We can finish up the next two points quickly. (2′) Neither Quakerism as a whole nor liberal Quakerism in particular is really a big tent, and for that reason (3′) does not embrace diversity as much as it could. Buddhist Quakers, nontheist Quakers, libertarian Quakers, people who work in fashion or public relations, etc. all have to justify their existence to an audience with a long list of specific ideas about what counts as “Quaker.”

These cultural/historical biases of what Quakerism is even negatively affect the Christians. Because Quakerism is nominally Christian, non-Christians in liberal meetings feel the need to be especially vigilant against any attempt to re-impose Christianity on everyone (a more realistic fear than the token Muslim Quaker imposing Islam on the meeting), which sometimes results in overzealousness and undue hostility. An explicitly metaphysic-neutral community would not have these problems.

And on a personal note, (4′) Particular unprogrammed Quaker meetings generally are not ones I’d ideally want to be a part of. Everyone has their separate lives, houses, cars, jobs, finances, and seeing each other for a couple hours each week is considered normal. The extent to which we express and talk about love is perhaps greater than many places, but still seems hampered by norms of middle-class Anglo respectability. Spiritual practices aren’t taken as seriously as I think they should be. Most meetings do little or no publicity and outreach. Printed materials are typically — it has to be said — ugly (Times and Helvetica anyone?), because the aesthetic dimension of life isn’t seen as worthwhile. In my experience they’re overwhelmingly white, middle-class, and frequently located in the bougy neighborhoods. And sometimes it seems that we actively prize fuzzy and cliched thinking.

Conclusion

So I’m not sure the venerable RSoF is what I’m looking for. For all my complaining, I still find the various Quaker communities I’m a part of to be a blessing, and have no intention of leaving. But I most certainly am looking for something more, both for myself and for the world – not entirely unlike Howard Brinton was in his comment that our faith needs to be spread beyond the narrow confines of the RSoF.

So call me post-Quaker, perhaps.

(Which is not the same as “anti-Quaker”; compare with post-feminist, post-queer, etc.)

I’m not sure what the way forward is, or whether I personally even feel led to devote my time to realizing something like this. I’m sure I’ll have more clarity about that in a few months. As I said, I probably won’t be posting here, but I look forward to discussing things with all of you in the comments here and elsewhere.

Love,
Zach A


*The image of “small tents” beneath the “big tent” was added as a clarification after reading Richard’s comment below.

11 Responses to “A post-Quaker vision of the Society of Friends”


  1. 1 Ruby Mar 30th, 2007

    The person I’m seriously considering as a spiritual director is a Zen Buddhist priest, as well as a Quaker. A wonderful man.

    I’m going to mark this, and read through it a few more times. I’m too new to the RSoF to be able to address it at all well, but I hope you get some good feedback.

  2. 2 RichardM Mar 31st, 2007

    Zach,

    Sometimes it’s good to pull back from some project you’ve put a lot of energy into so that you can mull things over at leisure and come to a deeper understanding. I can unite with a lot of what you say so let me start with where we agree.

    1) The focus of the RSOF should be squarely on fostering the spiritual life. Agree 100%. What’s the point of another political group or social club?
    2) Spiritual growth doesn’t get fostered by meeting for an hour or two a week, exchanging bland platitudes, complaining about George Bush and patting ourselves on the back for being “more progressive than thou.”
    3) A community of seekers can foster each other’s spiritual growth but it takes a level of intimacy not found in many Quaker meetings. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen in isolation from ordinary life. A serious seeker will recognize that the challenges of work and home life are the laboratory in which their growth in grace occurs. This is what we need to be talking about among ourselves.
    4) We need to get over middle class respectibility hang-ups enough to talk about our emotional lives. Love certainly, but also hate, fear, despair and the other shadows that hang around us.

    The things we agree about are the essential points. You have a vision of the way the RSOF could be. That’s great because I think we need more vision today. Too many people seem to have given up hope. Now on to the disagreement.

    I sense confusion in your thinking about how to acheive the ideal community you envision.

    1) You say you envision a big tent (because you don’t like the rigidity of credal thought systems or anything along those lines) but what you really seem to have in mind is a bunch of little tents.
    2) You seem to think that a group can unify around shared practices without shared beliefs and values. I don’t think this is coherent when you take a hard look at it. An action is not the same thing as mere physical behavior. To know what I am really doing you have to understand what I am doing from my point of view. What do I believe I’m doing and what value am I trying to acheive. Without shared beliefs there are no shared actions even if people are sitting in the same room together and look like they are doing the same thing. If Smith comes to meeting to listen for the voice of God so that he can know God’s will and obey it and Jones comes to meeting to find a quiet time when he can practice his concentration exercises then they are not participating in a shared practice.

    This is getting a bit long but I’ll mention one more disagreement. You seem to think that the problems with Quakerism are somehow inherent within the tradition and that some kind of break with the tradition will be necessary to fix them. My view is that the tradition is fine but quite a number of traditional practices have fallen into disuse (recording ministers and elders, answering queries as MM, traveling in the ministry, etc.) If we just made proper use of all the parts of our tradition people would be pleasantly surprised at how well Quakerism really worked to forster the spiritual growth of its members. If you think about it I believe you will find that the meetings that dissatisfy you have let many of these practices lapse and are only “Quaker” in the sense that they meet in silence for an hour per week. But traditional Quaker practice isn’t merely unprogrammed worship. Even the quality of the worship suffers if it’s cut off from the other elements of traditional practice.

  3. 3 Mike Mar 31st, 2007

    Perhaps what you are looking for, or in need of creating, is an intentional living community within or consistant with liberal Friends.

  4. 4 Cat Chapin-Bishop Apr 1st, 2007

    Hi, Friend. Here’s hoping your time off from Quaker blogging, and your “root changes” are as fertile as this post.

    You have spoken to my condition–with very few exceptions, what you say here fits what I am coming to believe. One of the exceptions is that I do not perceive your SSoS as needing to be distinct from the RSoF, at least as I experience it in action within my own meeting. By the way, I’m not necessarily saying that’s about my meeting vs. other meetings, fond though I am of it–just that your ideals seem to fit the direction I’ve experienced Friends moving when I have been in their midst myself–mainly in my own meeting, just as a practical matter.

    I admit, I often feel marginalized or discounted, as a non-Christian Friend, in certain messages in the Quaker blogosphere. The Christian origins of Quaker practice are repeatedly pointed out to me, as if I could have avoided noticing them! And, unless I am mistaken, some Quaker bloggers who would, I think, accept and even celebrate my words when I describe my experiences of worship simply do not hear or do not believe my descriptions as matters stand–and, I suspect, may never hear me until and unless I speak the magic word, “Jesus!” (Alacazam! a magic word that changes all!) The notion that Quaker practice, process, or discipline _can_ work for non-Christian Friends seems to be unacceptable to some, and sometimes, sitting on the margins of the Quaker movement that calls itself Convergent Friends, I am sad and sorry to think that I suppose the label for me must be “Divergent” Friend.

    But that’s only in the blogosphere. In person, my experience of Quakers is quite different.

    I find that (liberal) Quakers (the only sort I have much direct experience with–I’m not dissing other kinds, just acknowledging the limits of my experience) are, to deeper or less deep degrees of awareness, striving to unite around spirituality first and formost. I don’t say “only”, because my sense is that a spiritual life that is fully lived will encompass many things that are commonly experienced as secular. It is my understanding that the testimonies, properly conceived, are like this. Some adopt them because they are there and because they suppose them to be The Quaker Way, it’s true… but I’ve long been guided by the anecdote about George Fox and William Penn–the story about Penn asking Fox if, as a newly converted Quaker, he should give up the gentleman’s practice of wearing a sword–something inconsistent with the early peace testimony. Fox, of course, told Penn to “wear it whilst thou canst,” and so he did, up until the moment when he was no longer able to do so, and threw the sword from him.

    I’m pretty clear that that story is about the importance of _owning_, through spiritual experience and not through creed alone, what of the testimonies we have been led to. There is room for a corporate dimension to all this–and, certainly, I believe that, where my leadings and my life do not accord with the testimonies, I ought properly to question myself very closely, and be very, very open to the ongoing revelation that will likely cause me, too, to cast away my sword. But this is very different from demanding Friends as a society be unified through outward conformity to a particular rule book. (Hopefully, the days of being “read out of meeting” for listening to music or putting antimacassars onto armchairs are over and done!) Friends, when most faithful to Friends’ disciplines, play the role of Fox in the anecdote–letting our lives speak, but waiting for the seed to ripen inwardly in those who are drawn to us, rather than demanding adherence to a humanly recorded, creedal version of divine will.

    Of course, Friends don’t always live up to this expectation. Sometimes Friends fail on the side of not questioning ourselves deeply enough–I suspect I have a long way to go in being led into the ways of simplicity, for instance. And sometimes, we do fall into the trap of judging others based on outward conformity to social expectations. (I have heard the story recently of a man in active military service who had a conversion to the peace testimony, and wanted to explore it and CO status more deeply within Friends. Liberal Friends groups he approached turned him away, owing to his military service. How many of the early Friends’ voices would have been lost to us if Friends had always been such fools? James Naylor’s, certainly, along with Penn’s. Happily, the soldier in question did find a more conservative Friends meeting that was open to supporting him, as I understand it.)

    This, however, I think is owing to the fact that Friends are humans–limited, fallible, frequently foolish humans. I know of no group, anywhere (including my personal group of one–myself) that doesn’t fall from it’s best practices on a regular basis due to being made up of naturally flawed human beings. So I’m not dismayed by the fact that Friends do fail to live up to our best practices. (Having watched Pagans do the same thing, over the course of twenty years in that community, has certainly made me more tolerant of fallibility.)

    There is more to having spiritual experience as the true heart of a community than practices shaped by experience and leadings rather than conformity and creed, of course. You mention that your SSoF would involve serious enough practice to include worship together several times a week. Certainly, I do know Friends who meet that test. And I know others–I hope I’m among them–who attempt to live their practice in daily life. My job as a teacher leaves me little time to be more physically involved with my community than I can manage on a weekend–but it also affords me many opportunities to try to live in that Spirit I encounter among Friends on First Days.

    I’m long-winded enough, so I’ll say no more on that subject.

    I have also experienced Friends as a “big tent.” Despite my sometimes painful experiences among online Friends, only very, very rarely have I sensed the smallest degree of rejection among Friends in person. (Twice, in fact, in five years. I think that’s pretty good–even Pagans, open as they legendarily are to differing perceptions of the sacred, don’t do better than that.) And I think that the failures to listen for unity that have come up for me in the online world have more to do with the fact that Quaker practice–listening together for Spirit–translates so imperfectly to the very heady and verbal world of the Internet.

    Mike, in his comment on your post, says that he perceives that your “big tent” of inclusiveness will actually function as a series of “little tents.” I might share that fear if it were not for the fact that one of my spiritual communities–the Pagan one–already has such an open, “big tent” form. And, though there certainly are smaller groups that bond together firmly around common interests (shamans comparing notes with shamans, priests and priestesses of a particular pantheon or deity communing together for deep worship of that god or goddess, covens of Wiccans and groves of Druids) we are, in fact, able to worship together and live together as community. So my lived experience makes me secure on this score.

    More than that, though, I think that such a structure already exists wherever there are lifetime friendships that spring up among Friends. My experience is that such deep bonds between people deepen the connectedness of our whole meeting. I will never have the bond with some of the older members of my meeting who raised first children and now grandchildren within the meeting have with one another. But the depth of their love enriches me, and shows me a model for the kind of connection I want to have with those who are raising their children _now_. Similarly, I may or may not participate in our committees that are active in protesting the war, or in the collections of Friends who participate in other interests outside the boundaries of our meeting, like the Alternatives to Violence Project in local prisons. But their depth deepens me. And when I gather with other Pagan Friends and share our perceptions of how the “scripture” of the natural world and Friends disciplines guide our practice, I am not pulling away from my meeting–I’m rooting myself in it, in a quite positive manner, just as those who participate in pre-meeting Bible study are doing. It works, Mike. It just does.

    My sense is that the tentative leadings you have posted here are, in fact, the direction in which Friends are being led–to the joy of some, and the consternation of others. Certainly, Friends do not have full clarity and unity on any of these points… but I trust ongoing revelation to get us where we’re supposed to be. Part of my faithfulness, I think, is simply to be present, and to hold my differentness gently where it can be seen; to be open to remaining in community even with those who might, thinking logically, be certain I do not belong. Because, though we don’t always manage to pull it off, we Quakers have got some wonderful tools that surpass logical thought alone. And I have a sense that those tools–the openness to the leadings of Spirit and ongoing revelation–are trying to shape Friends into something quite a bit like the SSoF you describe.

    I realize I’m just speaking for myself here. Sorry if it sounds otherwise. But, from where I stand today, that is what I see.

  5. 5 simonstl Apr 1st, 2007

    Zach -

    Ten years ago I would have embraced this call with glee. Today, however, I don’t think it works.

    It seems to me that there is already a good, if disused, name for what you propose: Seekers. They shared your call for more serious spiritual commitment, your doubts about the value of settled answers, and your interest in the quest.

    Perhaps we should look at Seekers as more than a waystation toward a Quaker destination, a worthy path in itself, and one that all too rarely gets to surface as a group of people rather tha individuals.

    My own seeking, though, has led me to Quakerism. My own experience suggests an eventual conflict between your push to focus sharply on commitment to spiritual process and your insistence on avoiding the dogmas that I think are inevitably going to develop from that process.

    I wish you luck on the journey, though, and hope we get to visit some similar places.

  6. 6 Zach A Apr 2nd, 2007

    Thank you Ruby, Richard, Mike, Cat and Simon so much for sharing your thoughts.

    Mike, an intentional (residential) community is exactly what I’m hoping to do. The catch is the “within or consistent with liberal Friends.” Basically, yes, but what would that look like? I think a break of some kind with the RSoF may be needed, which is what this post is about.

    Richard, thanks for your kind words. I heartily agree with your four points, as expected.

    Taking your disagreements in order: You’re right to notice that I have in mind “a bunch of little tents” – what I have in mind is a big tent that contains little tents. That’s arguably the essence of the whole thing, not a confusion.

    Your second disagreement makes me think I should clarify my first point above further. When I say the community should be about spiritual practice, I mean there would be a specific description of what one would be doing, like, “listening for and obeying the promptings of love and truth in your heart.” Something along these lines would be immune to your objection, because two people can do this, and indeed be doing the same thing for most practical purposes (which is enough), even if they have different meta-level beliefs about the practice.

    There’s also a counterexample to your general principle: science, the very community you and I think “the Society” should take more cues from. Scientists have a shared practice without having shared meta-level beliefs (i.e. positions on the philosophy of science). Thankfully, groups of scientists need not have the same meta-level beliefs in order to work together, and I don’t think spiritual communities should either.

    As for your last point, I think a lot could be done, some along the lines you suggest, to revitalize the spiritual life of the RSoF from within, and I hope to work for that. Cat makes a similar point, that the liberal RSoF meetings she’s a part of seem to be heading in the direction I suggest.

    But I still think a “divergence” from the RSoF may be the best way forward, later if not now. (This seems to be what evangelical Friends are slowly doing on the other side, using the new name “Evangelical Friends Church” rather than RSoF.)

    Because essentially I think we’re talking about the spirituality of the future, one that would eventually become (perhaps after evolving and synergizing with similar communities) as widely practiced and respected as science is now, just in a very different sphere. There are a lot of people outside the RSoF who really want to see something like this happen. Yet the RSoF will always be mired in the past; however much some Friends might reform along the above lines, there will still always be other friends – ”Conservative Conservative” and pastoral Friends, some “convergent” ones perhaps – who would remain as they are now. I don’t think the two should be yoked together by a common name.

    Another problem: the big tent wouldn’t be “religious,” so it would be misleading to describe the entire community as a “Religious Society.”

    Cat, I’m heartened that liberal Friends in your experience are already moving in this direction. And I’m glad this post spoke to you so strongly, and will be mulling over your words in the coming weeks. I appreciate the example of the Pagan community being structurally (and perhaps otherwise) similar to what I’m saying, being a large ”big tent” with many smaller subcultures and subtraditions that all have their own character but all mostly get along.

    One clarification. The things I listed in point (4.) – meeting more than once a week, for example – were only meant to apply to the sort of “local chapter” of the “SSoS” I would seek out. I didn’t meant to say any of those bullet points would be SSoS-wide mandates: that’s the whole idea, that there would be no Society-wide mandates, aside from listening to the inward guide.

    Simon, I think your feelings may serve to illustrate why I think a divergence will be necessary, rather than expecting the liberal branch to reform en masse in a particular direction. As for names, I’m not so sure about “Seekers” – the historical connection to Quakers doesn’t seem a very compelling reason, and I’m not sure the communities are really that similar. They were still very much working within a Christian and Biblical framework, for example.

    Peace,
    Zach

  7. 7 simonstl Apr 10th, 2007

    I don’t know if it fits with your current interests, but you might explore Heaven on Earth: Quakers and the Second Coming. There’s a lot of discussion of different kinds of seekers in there, much of which echoes what you’re describing here. It’s probably only 3% of the book overall, and it’s pricey, but you might well find it interesting.

    In it, Doug Gwyn talks about Seeker-A and Seeker-B types in early Quaker context. Seeker-As looked back to Primitive Christianity while Seeker-Bs looked forward to a new world of the Spirit. Fox managed to bring them together, for a while at least. Ben Pink Dandelion gives some thoughts to Seeker-C, those who prefer the path to the destination. While I don’t think you’ll love or even necessarily like the book, it might be a useful way to combine your interest in early Quakerism with your current hopes.

  1. 1 Four ways to make your meeting Christian at The Seed Lifting Up Pingback on Apr 5th, 2007
  2. 2 Rationalizing Quaker meeting for business at The Seed Lifting Up Pingback on Jun 29th, 2007
  3. 3 Carrying the Society as long as you can at The Seed Lifting Up Pingback on Aug 26th, 2007
  4. 4 Am I a nontheist…? (Part II) « The Empty Path Pingback on Oct 12th, 2007
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