Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Liberal Quaker History

There are alotsa new people in my life now, and it dawned on my yesterday that most of them (you?) are unfamiliar with my Liberal Quaker past. I'm reading The Battle For God by Karen Armstrong and she included a bit on the Quakers; that brought back some long-forgotten memories.

When George Fox founded the Society of Friends in the 1640's, Europe was already in great upheaval not only between the Catholics and Protestants, but also in shifting religion from the field of intellect to emotion. So then this podunk upstart comes along comes along with his atheistic anarchy, according to the standards of the time. After initial insanity among the Society of Friends, they've ever since been active supporters of equal rights and the underdog.

In theory, Liberal Quaker beliefs and practices still make the most sense to me. All life is a manifestation of the divine and united, thusly, in equality. Seek out your inner light through personal methods. Meetings, rather than Masses, are times of quiet contemplation/meditation, with secretaries rather than authorities. Personal ideas of faith/spirituality are PERSONAL and just fine, they come second to the practices of equality and humility. This all makes sense, it leaves room for spiritual wanderings and doesn't repeat Catholic habits.

In practice, at least among the Liberal Quakers with whom I've talked, attending Meetings and active participation in the Society of Friends are demanded. I requested respect for my independent meanderings, and that was denied. Now that I think about it, that was a hypocritical attempt at authority...and the Friends with whom I spoke berated my sharing of information and questions solely because I'm not affiliated with a Meeting. The Society of Friends, at least the ones with whom I had contact, repeated the same issues of organization shared by other religions.

"make use of [your] own understanding without direction from another." - George Fox

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