If Old School Quakers Lived Today

“Um. .¬† . is this thing on?¬† Is anyone watching over this blog?¬† Hello?”¬† I wonder sometimes if that’s what folks think when they come to my site and see that it hasn’t been updated in foreverandeveramen.¬† And sometimes I wonder with my blabberings that are shot out into the great blogosphere if folks think, “Um . . . who let that kid have a blog?”¬† Similar to what happened this week as we took our 21 month old son to a wedding and amazingly enough he started to act up (shocking, I know:¬† a toddler not want to get dressed up and sit still and meet strangers after flying on an airplane and sleeping (well, dozing) in a hotel?!!?).¬† He was across the room being chased, and I started to joke, “Man, who was dumb enough to bring a toddler to a wedding?¬† What a non-non.”¬† Heh heh.¬† Okay, so I’m not that funny.¬† I’ll leave the stand-up comedy routine to Gregg (who this morning compared himself to a dog on a leash.¬† I’ll let him explain that one).

Thank you SO much for your comments.¬† Hearing other experiences and thoughts and ponderings is a true blessing, a gift. ¬† I hope to lead this workshop more as a facilitator than a “teacher” because the collective experiences are so much deeper than my singular experience.

Starla’s comment hit close to home:

I am facinated that the Friends are experiencing the decline of membership from the same demographic that is flocking to the emergent movement. I find it facinating, because Friends are more theologically similar to the emergent movement than almost any other denomination. . . . So, I can‚Δτt help but be personal about what I experienced. I know that I tired of the love affair Quakers have about beieng Quaker. I tired of reading Fox, Trueblood, etc. I tired of feeling like I need a personality make-over to be a good Quaker‚Δμhave you noticed the similarity in personality within the group? Similar mannerisms? I tired of silence-all the time. I wanted to mix it up and be loud from time to time. I tired of the tradition of not following tradition, as I see value in the liturgical movement.

I’ve been reading some Quaker history stuff:¬† pamphlets, books, etc.¬† I realized that I’m pretty saturated in emerging church and young adults, but not so much in Quakerism and young adults.¬† Since I’m facilitating two workshops, I figured I should probably know about both.¬† πŸ™‚

In my readings what truly struck me was how responsive the early Quakers were to the Spirit, no matter how abnormal it looked to their culture.¬† Yet, they didn’t behave simply to be counter-cultural:¬† they were following the call of the Spirit.¬† They sought “Primitive Christianity Revived” – hey, isn’t that what the emerging church movement desires as well?¬† Starla seems to resonate with that as well, and this has led her to attend an emerging church.

I don’t feel the call to leave my meeting (yet:¬† you never know), but I do understand her frustration with the “love affair with Quakerism” (I might call it “idolizing”).¬† Living in Northwest Quaker Mecca (i.e. our Yearly Meeting/Area Headquarters and George Fox University are here) I am saturated with Quaker culture, but it’s mixed:¬† some is contemporary, some is old school.¬† Yearly Meeting is interesting – a sort of “which Quaker are you?” experiment.¬† Do you talk about Jesus or Christ?¬† The Spirit or the Light?¬† Are you Board of Evangelism or Social Concerns?¬† Do you think that the Peace committee is making a difference or is a home for misplaced flower children?¬† I’ve heard so much reverence for Fox and Trueblood from folks that I haven’t necessarily seen living out anything radical or worthwhile that I stayed away from those writers until now.¬† And man:¬† I love this stuff!¬† So much truth – straight to the point.¬† But I think I’m in a place where I’m ready to receive their writings due to my experience with Emerging Church – it’s put the overall truths into a cultural context for me.

“It is important, as our contemporary rediscovery proceeds, that we do not succumb to the temptation to idolize the earliest Quaker period.¬† The past cannot be repeated and ought not to be repeated even if it were possible.¬† What is important is that the vision of greatness demonstrated in an earlier time may help¬† men and women of this generation to know how to discover the secret of an equal vitality, with relevance to the contemporary situation.”¬† Trueblood

Starla said she thought Woolman would be jumping and yelling if he were around today, but would it be allowed?¬† What about Fox?¬† Would he be blogging and podcasting as a current means of spreading a message?¬† Would he be saying, “Does thee fare well today?” or “S’up?”¬† Would Elizabeth Fry be wearing gray, or would she be wearing environmentally-friendly, sweatshop-free made clothes, and then campaigning to eliminate the sweatshop environments?¬† Would William Penn have created a place like MySpace, venturing out into the new territory of the internet to create a community?
A lot of time is spent nailing down, “What kind of Quaker are you?”¬† I don’t know how much of the early Quakers did that;¬† it seems that they listened to their leaders, their community, the Scriptures, and the Light.¬† They wanted folks to be pointed, not towards them and their actions, but towards the Spirit:¬† to encounter Christ personally.¬† That’s the type of folks young adults are drawn to.¬† That’s a place where growth and expansion and radical transformation can happen.¬† That’s where I ache to be.
(And instead of riding naked into town on a donkey, do you think Naylor would’ve done a naked stunt on a reality show?¬† You gotta wonder. . . )¬† πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *