More classic Quaker books available online

Geeky read­ers out there might want to know that Google Books is now mak­ing many of its out-of-print col­lec­tion avail­able as down­load­able and print­able PDFs. They list 42,500 entries under “Soci­ety of Friends”: I’m unsure whether this is books with that phrase or pages inside books with that phrase, but either way that’s a lot of read­ing. A quick breeze turns up some good titles. Thanks to “Tech Crunch”: for the Google news. Older online book projects worth a men­tion: “Project Gutenberg”: the “Chris­tian Clas­sics Ethe­rial Library”: and the Earl­ham School of Religion’s use­ful but clunky “Dig­i­tal Quaker Collection”:


Quakersong.orgWeb­site for Peter Blood & Annie Pat­ter­son, musi­cians most well known for their insanely-popular song­book Rise Up Singing. They sell books and tapes on the site (e-commerce han­dled ably and sim­ply by Pay­pal) and they also have lots of high-quality con­tent includ­ing a lot of hard-to-find Pete Seeger CDs. Mov­able Type is used as a con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem (CMS).

Tech­nolo­gies: Mov­able Type, Pay­pal. Visit Site.

Random updates

Just a quick note to every­one that I haven’t posted more lately. It’s a busy time of the year. I’ve had my hands full keep­ing up with arti­cles and links to the “Chris­tian Peacemakers”:/quaker/cpt.
I’ve also been doing some free­lance sites. One is launched: “”, the new online home of Annie Pat­ter­son and Peter Blood of _Rise Up Singing_ fame. It’s just the start to what should soon be an inter­est­ing site.
Geek-wise I’ve been inter­ested in the Web 2.0 stuff (see “this Best Of list of sites”:, link cour­tesy “C Wess Daniels”: I’ve talked about some of this “back in June”: but it’s get­ting more excit­ing. In the Fall I was asked to sub­mit a pro­posal for redo­ing the web­site of a Quaker con­fer­ence cen­ter near Philadel­phia and it was all Web 2.0-centric – maybe too much so as I didn’t get the job! I’ll post an edited ver­sion of the pro­posal soon for the geeks out there. Some of the new tech stuff will under­gird a fab­u­lous new “” fea­ture that will allow iso­lated Friends to con­nect to form new wor­ship groups (to launch soon) and even more is behind the dreams of a new “” site.
In the mean­time, I encour­age every­one to order “On Liv­ing with a Con­cern for Gospel Ministry”: – 888305-38-x, the new book by New Eng­land Yearly Meeting’s Brian Dray­ton (it arrived from the print­ers yes­ter­day). It’s being billed as a mod­ern day ver­sion of “A Descrip­tion of the Qual­i­fi­ca­tions” and if it lives up the hype it should be an impor­tant book for the stir­rings of deep­en­ing faith­ful­ness we’ve been see­ing among Quak­ers lately. While you’re wait­ing for the book to arrive in your mail­box, check out Brook­lyn Rich’s “Test­ing Leadings”: post.

Quaker Ranter Reader

A recent email cor­re­spon­dence con­firmed that all of our won­der­ful web­sites aren’t always reach­ing the peo­ple who should be hear­ing this mes­sage. Self pub­lish­ing a book is almost as easy as start­ing a blog so why not put together a book­let of a website’s essays? You can order the first edi­tion of the “Quaker Ranter Reader”: for $12.00 through Cafe­press (a few dol­lars of each sale comes back to me to sup­port the web­site). The Reader is also avail­able from “Quaker­books of FGC”: – 99-01749 – 3.

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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”: This 36 page pam­phlet is a must-read for all of us Quaker Ranters.

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Quakerism 101

In Fall 2005 I led a six-week Quak­erism 101 course at Med­ford (NJ) Monthly Meet­ing. It went very well. Med­ford has a lot of involved, weighty Friends (some of them past yearly meet­ing clerks!) and I think they appre­ci­ated a fresh take on an intro­duc­tory course. The core ques­tion: how might we teach Quak­erism today?

This is the pro­posal for the course. I started off with a long intro­duc­tion on the his­tory and phi­los­o­phy of Quaker reli­gious edu­ca­tion and ped­a­gogic accul­tur­a­tion and go on to out­line a dif­fer­ent sort cur­ricu­lum for Quak­erism 101.

I took exten­sive notes of each ses­sion and will try to work that feed­back into a revised cur­ricu­lum that other Meet­ings and Q101 lead­ers could use and adapt. In the mean­time, if you want to know how speci­fic ses­sions and role­splays went, just email me and I’ll send you the unedited notes. If you’re on the Adult Reli­gious Ed. com­mit­tee of a South Jer­sey or Philadel­phia area Meet­ing and want to bring me to teach it again, just let me know.

Thoughts on a Quak­erism 101 Course

Over the last few years, there seems to be a real groundswell of inter­est in Quak­ers try­ing to under­stand who we are and where we came from. There’s a revival of interst in look­ing back at our roots, not for his­tory or orthodoxy’s sake, but instead to try­ing to tease out the “Quaker Trea­sures” that we might want to reclaim. I’ve seen this con­ver­sa­tion tak­ing place in all of the branches of Friends and it’s very hope­ful.

I assume at least some of the par­tic­i­pants of the Quak­erism 101 course will have gone through other intro­duc­tory courses or will have read the stan­dard texts. It would be fun to give them all some­thing new – luck­ily there’s plenty to choose from! I also want to expose par­tic­i­pants to the range of con­tem­po­rary Quak­erism. I’d like par­tic­i­pants to under­stand why the other branches call them­selves Friends and to rec­og­nize some of the pec­u­lar­i­ties our branch has uncon­sciously adopted.

Early Friends didn’t get involved in six-week courses. They were too busy climb­ing trees to shout the gospel fur­ther, invit­ing peo­ple to join the great move­ment. Later Qui­etist Friends had strong struc­tures of recorded min­is­ters and elders which served a ped­a­gogic pur­pose for teach­ing Friends. When revival­ism broke out and brought over­whelm­ingly large num­bers of new atten­ders to meet­ings, this sys­tem broke down and many meet­ings hired min­is­ters to teach Quak­erism to the new peo­ple. Around the turn of the cen­tury, promi­nent Quaker edu­ca­tors intro­duced aca­d­e­mic mod­els, with courses and lec­ture series. Each of these approaches to reli­gious edu­ca­tion fid­dles with Quak­erism and each has major draw­backs. But these new mod­els were insti­tuted because of very real and ongo­ing prob­lems Friends have with trans­mit­ting our faith to our youth and accul­tur­at­ing new seek­ers to our Quaker way.

The core con­tra­dic­tion of a course series is that the leader is expected to both impart knowl­edge and to invite par­tic­i­pa­tion. In prac­tice, this eas­ily leads to sit­u­a­tions where the teacher is either too dom­i­neer­ing _or_ too open to par­tic­i­pa­tion. The lat­ter seems more com­mon: Quak­erism is pre­sented as a least-common-denominator social group­ing, form­less, with mem­ber­ship defined sim­ply by one’s com­fort­a­bil­ity in the group (see Brinton’s Friends for 300 Years.) One of the main goals of a intro­duc­tory course should be to bring new atten­ders into Quaker cul­ture, prac­tice and ethics. There’s an implicit assump­tion that there is some­thing called Quak­erism to teach. Part of that job is teas­ing out the reli­gious and cul­tural mod­els that new atten­ders are bring­ing with them and to open up the ques­tion as to how they fit or don’t fit in with the “gestalt” of Quak­erism (Grundy, Quaker Trea­sures and Wilson’s Essays on the Quaker Vision).

The great­est irony behind the Quak­erism 101 class is that its seemingly-neutral edu­ca­tional model lulls proudly “unpro­grammed” Friends into an obliv­i­ous­ness that they’ve just insti­tuted a pro­gram led by a hireling min­is­ter. Argu­ments why Q101 teach­ers should be paid sounds iden­ti­cal to argu­ments why part-time FUM min­is­ters should be paid. A Q101 leader in an unpro­grammed meet­ing might well want to acknowl­edge this con­tra­dic­tion and pray for guid­ance and seek clear­ness about this. (For my Med­ford class, I decided to teach it as paid leader of a class as a way of dis­ci­plin­ing myself to prac­tice of my fel­low Philadel­phia Yearly Meet­ing Friends.)

The stan­dard Quak­erism 101 cur­ricu­lum com­part­men­tal­izes every­thing into neat lit­tle boxes. His­tory gets a box, tes­ti­monies get a box, faith and insti­tu­tions get boxes. I want to break out of that. I can rec­om­mend good books on Quaker his­tory and point par­tic­i­pants to good web­sites advo­cat­ing Quaker tes­ti­monies. But I want to present his­tory as cur­rent events and the tes­ti­monies as min­istry. The stan­dard cur­ricu­lum starts with some of the more con­tro­ver­sial mate­rial about the dif­fer­ent braches of Friends and only then goes into wor­ship, the meet­ing life, etc. I want dis­cus­sion of the lat­ter to be informed by the ear­lier dis­cus­sion of who we are and who we might be. The course will start off more struc­tured, with me as leader and become more par­tic­i­pa­tory in the later sec­tions.


What I want to do is have one solid overview book and sup­ple­ment it with some of those fas­ci­nat­ing (and coversation-sparking!) pam­phlets. The overview book is Thomas Hamm’s Quak­ers in Amer­ica. Pub­lished last year, it’s the best intro­duc­tion to Quak­erism in at least a gen­er­a­tion. Hamm wrote this as part of a reli­gions of Amer­ica series and it’s meant as a gen­eral intro­duc­tion to con­tem­po­rary Quak­erism. His later chap­ters on debates within Quak­erism should be easy to adapt for a Q-101 series.

Ses­sion I: Intro­duc­tions

  • Wor­ship
  • In-class read­ing of two pages from Quak­ers in Amer­ica (pro­file of Ohio Yearly Meet­ing ses­sions, p. 1), reflec­tions. (maybe start this class 2?)
  • Intro­duc­tions to one another.

Ses­sion II: What Are Our Mod­els

  • Wor­ship
  • In-class read­ing of two pages from Quak­ers in Amer­ica (pro­file of First Friends Church of Can­ton, p. 3), reflec­tions.
  • What are our mod­els? Role­play of “What Would X Do?” with a given prob­lem: JC, George Fox, Methodists, Non-denominational bible church, col­lege. Also: the “nat­u­ral break­ing point” model of Quaker divi­sions.
  • Read­ing for this class: “Con­vinced Quak­erism” by Ben Pink Dan­de­lion

Ses­sion III: The Schisms

  • Wor­ship
  • In-class read­ing of two pages from Quak­ers in Amer­ica (pro­file of Wilm­ing­ton Yearly Meet­ing ses­sions, p. 5), reflec­tions.
  • Read­ing for this class: Quak­ers in Amer­ica chap­ter 3, “Their Sep­a­rate Ways: Amer­i­can Friends Since 1800,” about the branches

Ses­sion IV: Role of our Insti­tu­tions

  • Wor­ship
  • In-class read­ing of two pages from Quak­ers in Amer­ica (pro­file of Lake Erie Yearly Meet­ing, p. 7), reflec­tions.
  • Read­ing for this class: “The Author­ity of Our Meet­ings…” by Paul Lacey

Ses­sion V: Con­tro­ver­sies within Friends

  • Could pick any 2 – 3 con­tro­ver­sies of Hamm’s: “Is Quak­erism Chris­tian?,” “Lead­er­ship,” “Author­ity,” “Sex­u­al­ity,” “Iden­tity,” “Unity and Diver­sity,” “Growth and Decline.” Early in the course I could poll the group to get a sense which ones they might want to grap­ple with. The idea is not to be thor­ough cov­er­ing all the top­ics or even all the intri­ca­cies within each topic. I hope to just see if we can model ways of talk­ing about these within Med­ford.
  • Read­ing for this class: Quak­ers in Amer­ica chap­ter 5, “Con­tem­po­rary Quaker Debates,” p. 120

Ses­sion VI: Role of wor­ship, role of min­istry, role of wit­nesses.

  • Focus­ing on Worship/Ministry (Witness)/MM Author­ity (Elders). If the cal­en­dar allows for eight ses­sions, this could eas­ily be split apart or given two weeks.
  • Read­ing for this class: “Quaker Trea­sures” by Marty Pax­ton Grundy, which ties together Gospel Order, Min­istries and the Tes­ti­monies.

Ses­sion VII: What kind of reli­gious com­mu­nity do we want Med­ford MM to be?

  • This should be par­tic­i­pa­tory, inter­ac­tive. There should be some go-around sort of exer­cise to open up our visions of an ideal reli­gious com­mu­nity and what we think Med­ford Meet­ing might be like in 5, 10, 25 years.
  • Read­ing for this class: “Build­ing the Life of the Meet­ing” by Bill & Fran Taber (1994, $4). I’ve heard there’s some­thing recent from John Pun­shon which might work bet­ter.
  • Also: some­thing from the emer­gent church move­ment to point to a great peo­ple that might be gath­ered. Per­haps essays from Jor­dan Cooper & some­one at Cir­cle of Hope/Phila.

Books Used:

  • “Quak­ers in Amer­ica” is Thomas Hamm’s excel­lent new intro­duc­tion to Friends is a bit pricey ($40) but is adapt­ing well to a Q101 course.
  • “Con­vinced Quak­erism” by Ben Pink Dan­de­lion mixes tra­di­tional Quaker under­stad­ings of con­vince­ment with Ben’s per­sonal story and it sparked a good, widerang­ing dis­cus­sion. $4.
  • “Quaker Trea­sures” by Marty Grundy. $4
  • “The Author­ity of Our Meet­ings…” by Paul Lacey. $4
  • “Build­ing the Life of the Meet­ing” by Bill and Fran Taber. $4

Con­sid­ered Using:

  • “Why Friends are Friends” by Jack Will­cuts. $9.95. I like this book and think that much of it could be used for a Q101 in a liberal-branch Friends Meet­ing. Chap­ters: “The Won­der of Wor­ship,” “Sacred Spir­i­tual Sacra­ments,” “Called to Min­istry,” “Let­ting Peace Pre­vail,” “Get­ting the Sense of the Meet­ing,” “On Being Pow­er­ful” – I find the mid­dle chap­ters are the more interesting/Quaker ones).
  • Silence and Wit­ness by Michael Birkel. I haven’t read through this yet, but in skim­ming the chap­ters it looks like Birkel shys away from chal­leng­ing the Quaker sta­tus quo. Within that con­straint, how­ever, it looks like a good intro­duc­tion to Quak­erism. $16.
  • “Quaker Cul­ture vs. Quaker Faith” by Samuel Cald­well.
  • The Philadel­phia Yearly Meet­ing Quak­erism 101 cur­ricu­lum. It’s not as bad as it could be but it’s too heavy on his­tory and tes­ti­monies and too focused on the Jones/Brinton view of Quak­erism which I think has played itself out. I’ve seen Q101 facil­i­ta­tors read directly out of the cur­ricu­lum to the glazed eyes of the par­tic­i­pants. I wanted some­thing fresher and less course-like.

Quaker publications meeting (QUIP) in Indiana

Quak­ers Unit­ing in Pub­li­ca­tions, bet­ter known as “QUIP,” is a col­lec­tion of 50 Quaker pub­lish­ers, book­sellers and authors com­mit­ted to the “min­istry of the writ­ten word.” I often think of QUIP as a sup­port group of sorts for those of us who really believe that pub­lish­ing can make a dif­fer­ence. It’s also one of those places where dif­fer­ent branches of Friends come together to work and tell sto­ries. QUIP ses­sions strike a nice bal­ance between work and unstruc­tured time, it’s has its own nice cul­ture of friend­li­ness and coöper­a­tion that are the real rea­son many of us go every year.

Quakers Uniting in Publications annual meeting in Richmond Indiana 2004.
Quak­ers Unit­ing in Pub­li­ca­tions annual meet­ing in Rich­mond Indi­ana 2004.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”

Just fin­ished a quick read of Mal­colm Gladwell’s “The Tip­ping Point: How Lit­tle Things Can Make a Big Dif­fer­ence.” I remem­ber devour­ing some of the orig­i­nal pieces in _The New Yorker_ and was thrilled when a friend loaned me a copy of the book.

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Quakers & Anabaptists

Tough ques­tion in the book­store today: a cus­tomer called ask­ing for books about the con­nec­tion between Friends and Anabap­tists. Remark­ably, we couldn’t come up with much of a list. But let’s be inter­ac­tive here, read­ers! What books did I for­get about? And what’s this phe­nom­ena of deny­ing Quaker/Anabaptist com­mon roots and cross-pollination?

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