A Gathered People

A Gath­ered Peo­ple. Craig Bar­nett on com­mu­nity in the mod­ern world:

A gath­ered peo­ple is not just an asso­ci­a­tion of indi­vid­u­als who hap­pen to share over­lap­ping val­ues or inter­ests. It is formed by the rais­ing and quick­en­ing of a new spir­i­tual life and power within each per­son.

Cheap Quakerism and Living Tradition

Cheap Quak­erism and Liv­ing Tra­di­tion. Mark Russ reflects on a recent lec­ture by Ben Pink Dan­de­lion:

Cheap Quak­erism results in pseudo-communities – groups of peo­ple who have made no com­mit­ment to each other, and there­fore don’t spend any time cul­ti­vat­ing inter­per­sonal rela­tion­ships. How can we trust each other if we hardly know each other? How can we be a Soci­ety of Friends? 

Thoughts on Quakers, zines, and participatory culture

Wess talks zines and pam­phle­teer­ing and sketches out a pos­si­ble con­ver­gent model:

I would like to see exist­ing and new Quaker orga­ni­za­tions move more towards what I would call “a con­ver­gent model” of pub­li­ca­tion. Draw­ing on the rich and vibrant voices within our var­i­ous streams Quaker pub­li­ca­tions can model what it looks like to be many-voiced, embrac­ing and build­ing up the beloved com­mu­nity.

I’m glad he lifted up zine cul­ture. My first pub­li­ca­tion was a weekly zine in col­lege. We asked all sorts of embar­rass­ing ques­tions about the school and had a lot of fun doing it.

But here’s the thing: most of the polit­i­cal zines were in-your-face. So too were many of the early Quaker tracts. There’s a Mar­garet Fell pam­phlet with one of those wonderfully-long titles that basi­cally out­lines every­thing she has to say. She man­ages to call out pretty much every Chris­t­ian denom­i­na­tion for heresy. It’s a thor­ough, detailed list of how they’ve sub­verted the true gospel and sold out the good news of Jesus:

To all the pro­fessed teach­ers in the whole world, who go under the name of Chris­tians and make a pro­fes­sion of Christ (who was offered up at Jerusalem, which the scrip­tures declare of), whether they are Jesuits, bish­ops, priests, protes­tants, pres­byters, inde­pen­dents, Anabap­tists, and to all sorts of sects and sec­taries what­ever. This [is] unto you all, to prove or dis­prove the doc­trine of the Quak­ers, which is the same with Christ, the apos­tles, and prophets, which does prove your doc­trine to be false and out of the doc­trine of Christ. (Page 19 of A Sin­cere and Con­stant Love, edited by Terry Wal­lace),

Today none of us would pub­lish­ing some­thing like that today – it’s too nasty and divi­sive. Being for­mally inde­pen­dent, Friends Jour­nal can get away with more of “Emperor Has No Clothes” pieces but we’d never get any­where near Fell’s tone.

And for good rea­son: those early Quak­ers fought not only the Pres­byters, Bap­tists, Papists and free­lance Pro­fes­sors of the Truth but also one another. All sorts of pol­icy and the­ol­ogy ques­tions were up for grabs, from the peace tes­ti­mony to wor­ship­ping in times of per­se­cu­tion to just how Jesus-like we claimed to get (Friends threw co-founder James Nayler under the horse­cart when he went a lit­tle too far into Jesus cos­play and entered the town of Bris­tol on a don­key).

And what are we to make of the sec­ond flow­er­ing of inde­pen­dent Quaker pub­lish­ing 150 years or so after Mar­garet Fell? I’m talk­ing about the explo­sion of ink pre­ced­ing and fol­low­ing the schisms of Amer­i­can Friends in the 1820s? A few feet from my Friends Jour­nal desk are bound vol­umes from one of our pre­de­ces­sor mag­a­zines, whose early pages are full of denun­ci­a­tions of the Hick­sites – that “other Soci­ety” that erro­neously claims to be Friends. This kind of infight­ing and denun­ci­a­tion is also part of our his­tory (and some­times our present).

Last weekend I was invited to speak to Abington (Pa.) Meeting’s First-day school…

Last week­end I was invited to speak to Abing­ton (Pa.) Meeting’s First-day school (n.b. proper FJ stylesheet) to talk about vocal min­istry in wor­ship. I haven’t been to wor­ship at that meet­ing for eons and can’t speak to the con­di­tion of its min­istry, but I do know that vocal min­istry can be some­thing of a mys­tery for unpro­grammed Friends. Many of us are “con­vinced,” com­ing to the Soci­ety as adults and often have a nag­ging feel­ing we’re play-acting at being Friends, but I’ve met many life-long Quak­ers who also won­der about it.

Per­haps as a response to these feel­ings, we some­times get rather pedan­tic that what­ever way we’ve first encoun­tered is the Quaker way. The cur­rent fash­ion of vocal min­istry in the Philadel­phia area is for short mes­sages, often about world events, often con­fes­sional in nature. What I wanted to leave Abing­ton with was the rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent ways unpro­grammed Friends have wor­shipped over time and how some of our prac­tices out­side wor­ship were devel­oped to help nur­ture Spirit-led min­istry.

(writ­ten this a.m. but only posted to lim­ited cir­cles, cut and pasted when I saw the mix-up) 

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