Sunday, August 21, 2005

Two new features at the Friends Journal web site; and hearing restored

Check out two new features at the Friends Journal web page. The first is a multi-media presentation created by Breeze (Leutke-Stahlman) Richardson about the Quake the Rocked the Midwest in 2004. Here's her summary of the project:

I had the honor of meeting with 20 Young Friends from Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota at the "Second Annual Quake that Rocked the Midwest" to talk with them about their Quakerism and its impact on their lives. Many of these Young Friends are the only Quaker in their social circles and schools. In some cases, they are the only Young Friend in their meeting.

This project is extremely unique in that you will hear from them, in their own voices, their thoughts about Quakerism. It is the only project of its kind publicly available and offers listeners—both within the Quaker community and in society at large—the opportunity to learn about our faith from those who are our future.
The second is a reprint of a series of articles Friend Elbert Russell first had published in eleven issues of the Friends Intelligencer in 1927. The article, The Separation after a Century is an appraisal of the causes and effects of the catastrophic (is this the right word?) separation in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1827. I haven't read it yet, and so can't personally vouch for it, but given the many requests Friends Journal has received over the years for a reprint, I can hardly wait.

(I should disclose that I serve on the board of trustees of the corporation that publishes Friends Journal.)

For those who've been following the blog -- if there are any -- I'm happy to report that as of about 3 pm yesterday I have full use of both of my ears. The cure: oil and water.

So now I'm sitting here on the front porch listening to the crickets in glorious stereophonic surround sound. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. . . ."


Paul said...

Friend's Journal! Aha! So you're the guy who's rejected my poetry!

But now I know where to find you...

Paul L said...

I'm not an editor, just a trustee; the board hires the editor, and then leaves editorial decisions to her.

Mark Twain once remarked that an editor is someone whose reponsiblity it is to separate the wheat from the chaff. And then prints the chaff. Perhaps you'd agree.

Jeanne said...

The pamphlet is very interesting. Thanks for posting it on your blog. However, having recently taken a women's history course filled with Quaker women and African Americans and how they changed the course of history (and Quakerism), I would love to see this pamphlet updated. It was written 85 or so years ago. You know, when there was still racism and sexism. Blessings, Jeanne

Paul L said...

Indeed. I would be very surprised if race played any discernable factor in the separation, but the obvious question is, Where were the women?

When can we look forward to your article answering this question, Jeanne? (Or, digging it up if it's already been done. . . .) I'm pretty certain Friends Journal would seriously consider publishing the update.

Jeanne said...

Then Paul, you should read some history. One book in particular about how the abolitionist movement created the women's movement talks about how much race relations played into the separation. When the article published in Friends Journal talks about "worldly matters", one of the things they mean is abolition. Many Quakers believed that they should not be involved in the "worldly matter" of abolition; instead they believed that abolition would happen in God's time and by God's hand, not man's. The Hicksites believed strongly that they should get involved. And while abolition was not the only issue, it was a big one.

Writing something for Friends Journal would take more work than I have time for right now. If no one does it before I graduate in a couple of years, I'd be happy to spend time researching this issue and writing something credible.

Paul L said...

Your main point -- that Russell wrote from a particular point of view and would have had blind spots that influenced his analysis -- is exactly right. Nevertheless, the article was received by Friends in 1927 as a fresh and liberating analysis of the separation and was, I am told, widely credited for helping the reunification movement move along, and so it has value as a historic document in itself, even if there may have limitations in its content.

And you may very well be right that race was one of his (and his audience's) blind spots and that it had a much more important role in causing the separation than Russell realized; his focus certainly seemed to be more sociological than political. I'd be interested in reading the book you cite that sheds light on how race had a more prominent role in the separation than Russell acknowledged.

My own reading of the history of the era has led me to understand that the friction between Quaker gradualists and abolitionists to have arisen as a result of the separation, rather than as a significant cause.

But inasmuch as what-to-do-about-slavery was one of the worldly concerns over which Friends had different leadings, and that the degree of tolerable latitudinarianism was the stated cause of the separation, race and and slavery and abolition may well have had much more of a role than Russell (or I) realized.

You might be interested in this Pendle Hill lecture that asserts, among other things, that a very large number, if not the majority, of Hicksites were as anti-abolitionist as they were anti-slavery.

So while it might be true that a majority of Quaker abolitionists were Hicksite, it probably is not true that a majority of Hicksites were abolitionists.

I'll add this question to the list of things I thought I knew that may be wrong. Contrary to my expectations (and thus one of the things I thought I knew that was wrong), the list gets longer rather than shorter the older I get and the more I learn. . . .

Jeanne said...

The book I referred to is called "Women's Rights Emerges Within the Anti-Slavery Movement, 1830-1870" (don't be put off by the date...they are actually talking about events of the early 1800s that lead up to the mobilization of the white abolition movement in the 1830s).

Your doubt led me to question my understanding so I went and looked it up. The author, Kathryn Kish Sklar, has been wrong before on Quaker issues. One example is that she stated in this book that NY Yearly Meeting refused a request by Mott, in 1848, to grant equal power to men and women in the Yearly meeting. I did some research and found out she was wrong about this (the YM had actually granted equality to women ten years before) and put the author in touch with the Quaker archivist at Swarthmore. He corrected Dr. Sklar.

So I found the citation in the book where I understood that abolition was part of the split.

First, I do understand that the primary factor in the split is what historians call the Second Great Awakening in the 1820's.

A white abolitionist movement also came out of SGA. It was not just a few Quakers, but more mainstream churches were looking at this issue as well. (Yes, I do know that most Quakers were not opposed to slavery, and in fact, many Quakers held slaves until it was abolished, right up to and during the Civil War...and not just southern Quakers).

The author states, on page 7 and 8, that the 1827 schism was brought about in part because of the difference between groups, one (Hicksite) "tended to promote radical reform" about the "great social issues of the day, including slavery" and the other (Orthodox) "tried to avoid controversy".

It would be very interesting to study this particular issue more deeply. There were many free African American Quakers but they were always marginalized by Meetings (separate benches, for instance). How were they involved in the separation? I am certain that they were, especially if the SGA was the primary cause of it.

History always has a bias, as do I.

Paul L said...

This isn't the place for an exhaustive review of Quaker history, but I've been reading a lot about the separation recently and it's clear to me that it was the Orthodox party that was more involved in social reform -- abolition, temperance, child welfare, public education -- things they had picked up on from the evangelical Christians (mainly Methodists) they were in frequent contact with in Philadelphia and other cities.

The Hicksites themselves were a very mixed lot in terms of engagement with the World. Hicks himself, though strictly anti-slavery (to the point that on his deathbed he directed that the cotton blanket that had been placed over him be removed and replaced with a non-slave produced wool one), did not encourage political or social engagement with the World; his call was for Friends to reclaim and keep their pecularities as a witness and a sign to the World.

However, many of the Friends who separated and who the Orthodox Friends labelled "Hicksite" were not, in fact, in followers of Hicks. They left because they were offended by the attempts of the Orthodox establishment in Philadelphia to stifle Hicks' preaching, not because they agreed with Hicks' positions.

Thus, the Hicksites included Friends who were far more "liberal" Christians than Hicks was (and who did believe things that the Orthodox incorrectly ascribed to Hicks) and were more politically engaged Quakers such as the Motts.