Fellowship Model of Liberal Quakers

On the train this morn­ing I read Eliz­a­beth Caz­den’s “Fel­low­ships, Con­fer­ences and Asso­ci­a­tions: The Lim­its of the Lib­er­al Quak­er Rein­ven­tion of Meet­ing Polity”:http://www.bhfh.org/Bhfh-PubDesc.html#FCA. This 36 page pam­phlet is a must-read for all of us Quak­er Ranters.


Usu­al­ly I excerpt a par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing sen­tence or two from books I rec­om­mend. But for this, I’d have to excerpt the whole pam­phlet: it’s that good. Caz­den real­ly lays out how the “fel­low­ship” mod­el of Quak­erism became dom­i­nant in the last sev­en­ty years and talks about both its lim­i­ta­tions and strengths. Here’s the descrip­tion I wrote for Quaker­books:
bq. A look at the “con­fu­sion and dis­agree­ment” about how meet­ings gov­ern them­selves. Caz­den reviews clas­si­cal Quak­er mod­els and then looks at the “alter­nate mod­el that has come to char­ac­ter­ize lib­er­al unpro­grammed (‘Friends Gen­er­al Conference-type’) meet­ings in North Amer­i­ca.” An impor­tant read for any­one try­ing to under­stand con­tem­po­rary Quak­er debates over same-sex mar­riage, the mean­ing of mem­ber­ship, the role of com­mit­tees and issues of lead­er­ship in the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends.
Caz­den talks about many of the issues we’ve been dis­cussing on this site. She’s one of the few Quak­er his­to­ri­ans that will dis­cuss the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry and she’s one of the few who remain seri­ous­ly engaged with Friends, hav­ing served as clerk of New Eng­land Year­ly Meet­ing. You can “order it from Bea­con Hills Friends House”:http://www.bhfh.org/Bhfh-PubDesc.html#FCA. I won­der if we could get some sort of online book group going to talk about this?

  • Yep, I’ve ordered it. I also bought a copy of the pam­phlet referred to by Liz O. What were you think­ing as far as a online book/pamphlet group? I’d be inter­est­ed.
    Thanks again for your com­ments on beppe­blog!

  • Melyn­da Huskey

    I’ll order it today – or maybe tomor­row, depend­ing on the state of the uni­verse when I get home from work – and look for­ward to a pos­si­ble dis­cus­sion.

  • Robin M.

    I final­ly ordered it, only to find that it is actu­al­ly an excerpt from a Pen­dle Hill book, “The Bible, The Church, and the Future of Friends” which we already had.
    I agree that it was very good and inter­est­ing. So is Ben Pink Dandelion’s piece from the same book.

  • Hi Robin,
    Whoops, who was to know you have such a com­plete Quak­er library?!
    Your Friend,
    Mar­tin

  • Robin M.

    I didn’t mean to sound snarky, so please for­give me if I did.
    It actu­al­ly moti­vat­ed me to re-read sev­er­al of the essays in the book — and to real­ize how much I have changed in the sev­er­al years since I first read it in the Quak­er Stud­ies book group at our Meet­ing. Where before I was much more touchy about the whole Bible/Christian thing, now it makes much more sense to me. The book (Cazden’s essay less so) takes on the gen­er­al top­ic of the title with rela­tion to sexuality/same sex mar­riage as their spe­cif­ic exam­ples of how Friends are doing. I’m not sure how far Friends have come in the last few years about this, but for sure the ques­tions haven’t gone away.