Thursday, February 16, 2006

Every once in a while you do something right

Last year about this time, I co-led a Quakerism 101 class with another Friend. Among the forty students were three teenage boys, including Only Son, then 13-and-a-half. Each one came faithfully with his dad, but none of them offered much in large group discussions, and they always clumped together during small group activities, and I was never quite sure whether they were discussing anything about the lesson or not.

The other morning Only Son got up and went to the computer to see if the "edit I made on Wikipedia was still there."

"What edit?" I asked.

He said he had been visiting the entry on Quakers and saw the section on Testimonies. The section listed, and had short explanations of, the testimonies of peace, integrity, equality, simplicity, and peace.

He said he had added this sentence: "You can always remember it by thinking of S.P.I.C.E. Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community and Equality." He had learned this at the Q101 class, he said, and he added it to the entry.

I was amazed (1) that he remembered the acronymn and (2) that the cared and bothered enough to add it to the article. You never know what will sink in. (I know, I know, a lot of us don't care for that mnomic and question its accuracy and usefulness, but that is a discussion for another day.)

Post script: When I went to Wikipedia tonight, I saw that someone named Paul Carpenter had removed the edit earlier today, as well as the testimony of "Community" as not being accepted as one of the "big four." Well, I might agree with him (I've never really understood what it meant in terms of a testimony), but I was a little disappointed. When I told Only Son of the change, he said, "What the . . . " and expressed the wish to do something sort of un-Quakerly to the guy.


Martin Kelley said...

The wikipedia controversy is pretty funny. When I first saw that section a few months ago I was kind of disappointed: I had wished more Friends would stop treating them as something so canonical. Fighting over the identity of a "big four" or "big five" forgets that the history of the testimonies is much more varied than the relatively-recent SPICE labels.

Glad to hear your son was listening in First Day School and wanted to lay his mark on a definition of Quakerism. I see that Paul Carpenter is a British teenager, which means we have two young Friends editing each other about what it means to live as Quakers. That in itself is pretty cool, eh?
Your Friend,

Paul L said...

Yeah, it is funny. Kids these days, thinking they can rewrite 65 years of Quaker history . . . . .

(By the way, your blog seems to be down; you probably know this, but it throws a wrench into my daily routine.)

Liz Opp said...

Paul, I'm charmed by this story. Thanks for sharing it--and does Only Son know that he is now a part of the Quaker blogosphere...?

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Robin M. said...

Perhaps you could let your Only Son know that out here in the wild west, we sometimes talk about SPICES: adding sustainability as a sixth category, encompassing our environmental concerns and some socio-economic-political concerns as well.

I think that these SPICES terms are very useful if you think of them as categories, rather than single testimonies. For example, Simplicity is not a single testimony, but it is a handy category that covers a variety of practices and intentions.