Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"What Quakers Believe: Easy Essays"

I'm looking forward to Patrick Nugent's project, What Quakers Believe: Easy Essays. Here's an excerpt from his Introduction that explains what he's about to do, and why:

I am writing these essays because I believe the early Quakers had it right, and because I would like to see large sections of the Religious Society of Friends take those ideas seriously again—not just the ideas they already agree with, but the ones that may be new and challenging to them. I am writing this book because I believe that the Holy Spirit can bring a period of renewal and revival to Friends, if we open ourselves to the transforming power which he gave to the early Friends. As John Punshon taught us in his book, Reasons for Hope: The Faith and Future of the Friends Church, the key to renewal and revival among Friends is to become more Quaker, not less Quaker. I am very worried that many Quakers today have been blown away by various winds of fashion: superficial pentecostalism; mass-market, high-tech evangelicalism; new age fads; political movements without spiritual grounding; rural community religion.
I share Patrick's worry and his belief that the way out of the prediciment is to become more authentically who we say we are, to reclaim our birthright instead of selling it cheap.

(Thanks, as usual, to Quaker Ranter for making the link.)

* * * * *

I also look forward to getting on the train tomorrow night for the trip to Tacoma and the Gathering. The name of the train is the Empire Builder. The irony isn't lost on me.

I hope to meet many of you there.

(The Empire Builder.)


Dave Carl said...


I'm looking forward to his articles as well -- although I'm wondering how true to 17th century Quakerism he'll expect us to be to avoid the "straying" label. Will you have to give up your banjo --and I me drums? How much cherry picking (winnowing?) will be permissible here? Since he's affiliated with FUM, what about that "H" word?

However, I'm hopeful that he's going to say something that will help my lawyerly, evidence-demanding post-modern mind make sense of Quaker Christianity. William Penn has come closest for me, but it would be nice to hear another take. Early Quakerism can be a bit like a Rorshach test, and I have some apprehension about what's coming. [Potentially provocative and fear-based text deleted here]. But ever the optimist, I'll keep an open mind and do my best to recieve what light he may shed.

Hope you enjoy FGC. I didn't point and click quickly enough to get there this year!



Paul L said...

We'll have to let Patrick speak for himself. If he makes the case that the early Quakers' testimony against vain amusements like playing musical instruments (including, liberally speaking, drums) (that's a joke) has literal application today, let him make it and see whether we're convinced. (I think he has bigger fish to fry, frankly, but we'll see.)

I initially wondered what the "H word" you mentioned meant. My first guess was "Hell." But I'll bet you meant "homosexual." Again, we'll see what he has to say. I wouldn't make any assumptions, however, by any Friend's institutional affiliation. None.

I, too, have a lawyerly, evidence-demanding mind, but I am shaking off the post-modern one, with some success. While we have to know how to engage post-modernism, we must not surrender to it, in my opinion (if, as a post-modernist would make us ask, there is enough of a common understanding of what "post-modern" means to speak of it intelligently.)

I don't find most early Quakerism a Roarsch Blot -- an objectively meaningless object used to reveal something about myself to myself. I read most of it as objective testimony about how the reality of the Living God changes lives of real men and women.

Let's look forward together and see where Patrick's articles take us.

Dave Carl said...


I don't know what possessed me to think the only "H" word that would occur to anyone in that context was "hireling." Seems like a shot in the dark now.

And sure, I knew that was a joke about the drums. I mean, who else would a banjo player have to make jokes about? (And really, I don't mind!)

I don't agree about the Rorshach test, but I'm feeling a little too laid back to debate such things at the moment. If you like, just imagine what I might say.

Take care,