The Journal of the
Quaker Universalist Fellowship
In This Issue
The Quaker Universalist Fellowship is an informal
gathering of persons who cherish the spirit of universality that has always
been intrinsic to the Quaker faith. We acknowledge and respect the
diverse spiritual experience of those within our own meetings as well as of
the human family worldwide; we are enriched by our conversation
with all who search sincerely. Our mission includes publishing and
providing speakers and opportunities for fellowship at regional and
national Quaker gatherings.
Universalist Friends is published twice a year and pamphlets on an irregular schedule. All are free to on-line subscribers. These
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We trust that all of our subscribers will support our work
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A Message From The Clerk
Timely and Timeless The current US headlines about
Muslims, religious terrorism, race, immigration and environmental
traumas highlight the importance of the perspective on truth
arising out of the Quaker tradition of the Christian tradition of
the Jewish tradition of the primordial human tradition. Out of this
experience all religious traditions have grown in depth of insight
and distortions. Describing the Quaker experience over 350 years
within this broader human religious experience, scrutinizing both
of them and projecting them forward in our behavior and in the
testimony of our daily lives and our community lives is our task.
The Quaker Universalist Fellowship (QUF) is on the case in
providing forums and publications for the exploration of Quaker
experience in its universalist themes.
To date, these universalist themes that the Quaker experience
has embraced and evangelized include:
- The insight that there is that of God in every person
- The insight that spiritual truth is available to people of
all faiths and backgrounds
- Appreciation of the diverse paths to truth available in
humankind’s spiritual cultures
- The importance of overcoming discord and fostering
a spirit of love and listening among people of different
- The importance of direct, personal involvement in
living out the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, equality,
humility, justice, and compassion
Within these themes it is not easy to identify the implications,
and the list of implications for our lives is not complete. These
themes are not easy to integrate into our daily behavior. They
are not easy to integrate into our public testimonies as citizens.
They are provisional and open to expansion and modification as
way opens. In this process, the Quaker Universalist Fellowship
provides assistance to us all.
In this conversation, we value your insights, suggestions and
admonitions as we grope to understand and publish truth for our
time and the future. We are in this together.
QUF Presence at 2010 FGC Gathering QUF provides
forums for Quaker assessment of important perspectives on
universalist themes. QUF is delighted again to sponsor the
Elizabeth Watson Lecture at the Friends General Conference
gathering in Bowling Green, Ohio over the July 4-10 week, 2010.
Philip Gulley, a significant Quaker leader with important views
about universalism within the Quaker branch of the Christian
tradition, will give the lecture. QUF leader Steve Angell will
introduce him. We hope you will have an opportunity to hear
this lecture. It will be an important presentation of universalist
ideas from a pastoral perspective. QUF anticipates publishing the
lecture in a future QUF pamphlet.
In addition to the Elizabeth Watson Lecture at the FGC
gathering, QUF is sponsoring a number of afternoon discussions and
interest groups on universalist themes. QUF steering committee
member Anthony Manousos will organize and lead these sessions
with assistance from other QUF spokespeople.
Dan Seeger to AFSC QUF leader Dan Seeger has recently
resigned from the QUF steering committee to take responsibility
for guiding the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
as Interim General Secretary. He will lead the AFSC until a
permanent General Secretary is installed. Dan has provided great
service to QUF and now is providing great service to us all with
Words Quakers are better known for actions that serve
truth than for written words. But there is also a need to interpret
such service to the wider public by addressing and articulating
the conditions of the day. George Fox gave it a try regarding the
unmediated teaching relationship with God and the role of silence
in the maturation of worship liturgy. Later generations addressed
social issues such as slavery and the rights of women and children
in words as well as actions.
Today we face challenges of religious pluralism, religious
violence, internal management of religious institutions, torture
in human relationships and mechanisms for enhancing productive
community decision-making throughout the world. QUF can
contribute clarifying words on these subjects. QUF can also offer
words and thoughts for Quakers in conversations in the public
square. With your financial support, QUF can be a voice in the
crowd, calling out the truth for us all.
Universalist Friends on both sides of the Atlantic were
saddened last spring at the death of John Linton. He was, of
course, far better known in Britain than in the United States. I
wish to thank Eleanor Nesbitt, Bill Walley, and other members of
the Quaker Universalist Group for their help in putting together
my brief memorial piece.
Harvey Gillman needs no introduction to readers of
Universalist Friends. He is the author of the pamphlet What is
Spirituality? published in spring, 2009, by the QUF. His article
here is adapted from a talk he gave at the dedication of a restored
and rebuilt meetinghouse in Jordans, UK.
Australian Friend Maxwell Ketels includes some words about
himself in giving us another view of last year’s Parliament of the
The communication from Arvol Looking Horse was given
to me recently as a board member of the Pilot Knob Preservation
Association, where I serve as a historian and also represent the Twin
Cities Friends Meeting. Our meeting has been one of several faith
communities that have joined with environmental organizations
and Dakota people in saving a river bluff that is sacred to Native
Americans. Known locally as Pilot Knob, the bluff overlooks the
junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Its open space
was threatened with a housing development, but the effort at
preservation was successful, and last October members of Twin
Cities Friends joined with Dakota and many others in a formal
ceremony on Pilot Knob to rededicate it as a sacred site. At the
request of local Dakota communities, the religious ceremony was
conducted by Arvol Looking Horse, a Lakota holy man from
western South Dakota. For more about him and his teaching, see
Remembering John Linton
By Rhoda Gilman
John Linton died on March 4, 2010, just short of 100 years of
age. Born in England in 1910, he founded the movement toward
Quaker universalism as it evolved in the late 20th century. With
the help of Ralph Hetherington and several others, he organized
the Quaker Universalist Group in the UK in 1978, and his speaking
tours to the USA inspired the formation of the Quaker Universalist
Fellowship in 1983.
A sense of his personality is conveyed in a tribute by Alec
Davison, published in Number 89 of Universalist (June 2010):
There was always something of the ancient mariner about
John Linton. The jowled face and the glint in the eye
commanded attention and he was a man who knew what
he knew with no messing. He had a vision that he stood by
with great tenacity but it was gilded with a hearty laugh: he
was a man of great integrity and good to know.
Linton was not a birthright Friend. Descended from a long
line of Anglican priests, he studied for the clergy but never sought
ordination. Growing doubts moved him to join a humanist society
instead and declare himself an agnostic. During World War II he
served with the British army in India then returned to England to
work briefly with the India Office and later with the BBC as Indian
His growing acquaintance with the wisdom of the East and
his admiration for Mohandas Gandhi may have been factors in
his conclusion that humanism “had thrown the baby out with the
bath water.” Continuing spiritual search led him to the Society of
Friends in the 1950s, and in 1961 he and his wife became Quaker
international affairs representatives for south Asia, living in New
Delhi. He also served for a time as an Oxfam volunteer in Bihar
and did research at the Gandhian Institute in Benares.
Years of gathering in the silence of Quaker meetings to worship
with Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists, as well as Christians,
convinced Linton that Quakerism is a universal path, open to all.
On his return to England, however, he found that many Friends
did not agree. It was in response to those who saw the Society of
Friends as a Christian sect that Linton and his supporters formed
the QUG. In a lecture on “Quakerism as Forerunner,” he said:
What I envisage for Quakerism to become is a meeting-place
for spiritual seekers of all faiths or none, where they can
worship or meditate as they feel drawn. It will be a world-wide
religion, without any particular bias, Christian or otherwise,
but enshrining the supreme truths of all religions.
Now, when it has become clear that human civilization faces
an immediate and planet-wide threat to its very existence, some of
his later reflections speak with even greater force. During a lecture
tour in India he said:
Today there is the danger of religious fundamentalism growing
in Christian and Islamic countries. The yearning for religious
certainty and authority must somehow be exposed as a
negative and reactionary development. Only the growth of
a universalist outlook can counteract these trends.... It is the
continuous spiritual search that really matters. We are all
fellow human beings, groping after the truth that lies beyond
In 1994 John Linton’s scattered writings were collected with
the help of Eleanor Nesbitt and were published in a small book
entitled Athwart the Storm (William Sessions Ltd., York, England).
In it the following lines of poetry appear:
As we sped on into the European night,
The humble grass – I thought – that grew by the rail-side
Was the grass of homeland for those countless uknown,
Untouched by these transcontinental emotions,
Grass not different from that of my Oxfordshire lanes,
Growing straight up to heaven by the power within it.
Everywhere are the souls of men growing straight up,
Untrammelled with thoughts of vying with the unknown,
Untrammelled and therefore perfect as God ordained –
Until they learn they are God’s peculiar people,
Whether in force of arms, or culture, or beauty,
Or pride of soul, or past, or new, ideal.
Then they foregather, possessed by this strange force
Of conscious superiority, and strive no more
Toward the heights, but only to grow higher
Than their less fortunate fellows, for so they deem them –
Forgetting their fellows’ no less ironical claim,
No less passionate, no less blind, of excellence.
Meanwhile the grass grows by the railway track
In every superior, self-proclaiming state,
Not realizing at all, poor ignorant grass,
That it’s the other side of those damning customs,
And therefore out of bounds, outside the pale,
Altogether inferior, second-rate grass!
The Quaker Way, A Vision For The New Century
By Harvey Gillman
That all people may have a direct awareness of the divine at any
time and at any place; that this relationship may be deepened through
a communal quiet listening to the divine within and between; that any
awareness of the divine has practical consequences in how we live our
lives; that the words in which this is expressed are secondary; it is the experience which is primary.
Everything else is commentary.
Tonight my commentary is about restoration and enhancement;
the vibrancy of the Quaker vision in its worship, its witness,
what it has to say to the world, and how it affirms the spiritual
path of each of those who worship after the manner of Friends.
For almost twenty years I was outreach secretary for Britain Yearly
Meeting. In that period I met many Friends, seekers, explorers,
many people who were hurt by previous encounters with religious
institutions or simply baffled with the whole religious business. It
was indeed a pilgrimage on which we told each other our stories,
as pilgrims do.
The stories came in many shapes and sizes, in many different
languages of the spirit. I have been a member of Friends now for
about thirty years, but for long before that I was a pilgrim, even in
my atheist days. I have journeyed though my childhood orthodox
Jewishness, my fascination with Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism,
Hinduism, and forms of psychology. I see myself in some way
on the path of the mystics, still I hope a dreamer, still trying to
understand what it means to “answer that of God in everyone,”
which was the dream of George Fox, the great early prophet of the
I am by nature an optimist. I prefer to be more of an Isaiah
than a Jeremiah. I believe that one of the main gifts that a religious
community has to offer the world is hope, so I am not going to ask
the question as to whether the Religious Society of Friends will
have died out by 2030, which is the forecast of some. I actually
believe that the guiding S/spirit (with both a capital and small S)
is more important than an institution and that if we did die out in
one form, the principles for which we stand would be resurrected
The spiritual life is not about what we believe or how
successful we are. It is about how we trust. Faith as knowledge so
often takes the place of faith as trust. The real question is: to what
do we give our hearts? And the question that follows is: after the
deep and immediate encounter with Spirit which is at the core of
the Quaker movement, do we have trust for ourselves and therefore
hope to offer the world? The interplay of seeking and finding are
really questions of trust and hope. We need a wider perpective than
that of church history or politics or sociology however useful it is
to engage with these. We need to consider the world in which we
find ourselves, the language we use to express our deepest longings,
the needs of the world itself. The church, however we define it,
does not exist for itself. We are not here simply to prop up old
foundations. We are here to explore the past and examine the
present in order to discern the signs of the future. I believe the
basic truths are eternal; how we live them out day by day requires
the worshiping discernment of the community. Past, present,
and future are all part of the continuing revelation. If I say I am
optimistic and speak of hope, this is not a form of facile optimism.
The great image of George Fox after a period of depression stays
with me: “I saw (also) that there was an ocean of darkness and
death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over
the ocean of darkness. And in that also I saw the infinite love of
God: and I had great openings.”
On the one hand we have this vision of George Fox and
the early Friends, and we have the great song of Paul of Tarsus in
Corinthians – the celebration of trust, hope, and love in the early
church with its vision of a transformed world. On the other we
have the ocean of darkness. It is out of the flow of these two vast
oceans that my vision springs. Let us consider first of all something
of the darkness. In the latest edition of its magazine, Amnesty
International states that according to the UN refugee agency 11.4
million people across the world are refugees, up from 9.9 million
last year. Another 26 million are internally displaced. And in an
article in a different journal, published in Sept./Oct.2006, I read
that more than 40,000 Indian farmers had committed suicide since
1997 in despair at their inability to earn enough income to repay
their debts for high-tech input; that six million people die every
year as a result of hunger; that according to the World Health
Organisation, 5,000 children die each day due to consuming water
and food polluted with bacteria; that according to UNESCO, more
than a billion people lack access to clean water and 2.4 billion lack
access to basic sanitation services.
With the credit crunch at the moment, with increasing food
scarcity, with ethnic conflicts in so many parts of the world, what
have we, a tiny, generally unheard-of group of people to say to
the world? With the worldwide churches, including Quakers and
other religions, split on how to understand sacred texts however
inspired, and arguing over church constitutions and who has power,
where is the voice of the Spirit that affirms the human soul, that
has something to say to refugees who are very unwilling pilgrims
in lands totally foreign to them?
And then we might consider the land in which we find
ourselves with the growth of so much despair and loss of a sense of
purpose; with the old political narratives in decay; with growing
fearfulness about members of different communities; with the
growth of fundamentalism and the decline of religious liberalism;
with many regarding all religion as irrelevant, and with some
religions obsessed with sexuality and gender as if that alone was of
divine concern. Religion in Britain has suffered an immense decline
since the 1950s, and all indicators show a continued secularisation
of British society in line with other European countries. Where
religion is growing it is among newcomers to these shores, especially
their children, for whom religion is an antidote to alienation and
provides a community in a fragmented land.
There has been vast ignorance of religion on the part of
younger generations for some time. When my pupils thirty years
ago discovered that I had become a Friend, one boy asked what it
was that I could no longer do, as I had become religious. To become
religious meant to him giving up the good things of life. In Post-
Christendom, Stuart Morris recounts two anecdotes. The first is
of a teenager in a London school who hears the Christmas story
for the first time. He is amazed and captivated by it, and at the
end of the lesson asks his teacher, “Why did they give the baby a
swear word for his name?” The second is of a man visiting a church
in Oxford one Sunday to collect something for his partner who
runs an art workshop in the multi-use building during the week.
He arrives as the congregation is leaving and says to the minister,
“What are all these people doing? I didn’t know churches were
open on Sundays.”
And yet... and yet... There is the growth of religion as an oasis
in an uncertain world; there is a growth of witches and shamans;
there is the growth of the need for therapies of all sorts, serious
and amazing. The longing of the human heart for meaning and
for community is not in decline. The need for belief runs deep, but
its flow may take many diverse forms. This is part of the challenge
to Friends in the new century.
Although the word does not go down well with many people,
in my Blackbird book (p. 56) I describe this context as a sort of
postmodern condition and I describe some of its characteristics as
transitional. There is a movement
FROM organic community based on family ties
TO communities based on work or friendship…
FROM a sense that there is a universal Truth
TO a multiplicity of truths...
FROM deference in the face of authority
TO listening to the inner voice...
FROM reverence for particular sacred texts
TO the idea that the whole of reality is a text to be explored...
FROM the norm of the white upper-class male
TO respect for the multiplicity and diversity of
So there is the need, the discontent, the desire to relate, the
struggle to make sense of a reality that often seems overwhelming.
There is curse and blessing of the human being, who realises that
one day all she or he knows will come to an end. This is the
challenge of the Spirit to the seeker of today.
How then do we deal with this paradox of light and darkness?
How do we balance threats of global disaster with transformation
into a new sort of society with new, more inclusive values? Can we
look upon the ocean of darkness itself as part of this creativity? How
do we answer the dark places? How do we say with the Psalmist
in Psalm 139, “When I make my bed in hell, there you are also?”
Perhaps visions need to contain aspects of the ocean of darkness,
in order, as Fox said, that we may have a sense of all conditions, so
that we can speak to all conditions. Any visionary must be able
to see the darkness within as well as the darkness outside – but
then he or she must carry some of the light within to make sense
of that darkness.
At this point I want to look at what Friends may have to
offer. I am aware that not everyone will find my use of language
straightforward. I use theological language to point to a dimension
of depth which the language of scientific rationalism does not
illuminate for me. Reason and the scientific enterprise are essential
ingredients in any discussion of spirituality, but they are not the
last word. My favourite Catalan theologian Maria Corbi wrote:
“The mythic gave content to our moral lives; science has taken
over from myth but cannot provide a moral basis for our lives.” The
disappearance for many people of the old mythic religious story, and
the inadequacy of the scientific quest as a source for daily living
have led them to seek in what I call the domain of spirituality new
living myths. I am trying to use language here not to define but to
explore, more in the nature of poetry than of theology.
So back to the Quaker message. We have no monopoly on
trust, hope, and love. Neither do we have the answer to life’s great
questions. But there are lives; there are patterns and examples
of truthful living. When I became a Friend, it was not because I
thought, “At last here is the meaning of the universe,” but because
my questions had changed. I came to Friends after a deep experience
that fundamentally there was both diversity and unity, and they
were not a contradiction; indeed that natural diversity is part of
divine creativity. I experienced also that within the human was a
seed of the divine and that I did not have to go from one temple
to another, from one book to another, from one guru to another, to
find the key, because the door was not locked anyway. My whole
spiritual development has been a rejection of the exclusive way,
which I think is profoundly cruel and destructive.
I see the Quaker way as an internalisation and spiritualisation
of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It has learned to sit lightly with
the old metaphors of divinity and may be open to new ones. There
has been a shadow side to this in terms of the rejection of the
physical world and the arts in Quaker history, but I think we are
getting over that nowadays. And above all I found Friends who
offered a sense of community to the pilgrim I was who needed
affirmation on his journey. They were the sort of people whose lives
could teach me. They did not offer creeds but valued experience.
They did not offer their theories; they offered themselves.
I was asked recently how I would put the Quaker path in
a nutshell. I began this talk with a considered reflection of the
response I gave. Quakers hold that a direct relationship with the
divine, however defined, is possible for all people, not just the
chosen few. This relationship is deepened through quiet communal
waiting. The relationship is expressed in how we live out our daily
lives with other people and with the planet on which we live.
None of these is unique to Quakers in themselves, but together
they form a basis for a spiritual and religious path. They involve
trust, worship, community, and testimony.
The Quaker movement was a revolt against the Calvinist
view that salvation was for the few only – that as the old prayer
book has it, “there is no health in us.” Listen to the great opening
words of Advices and Queries: “Take heed, dear Friends, to the
promptings of love and truth in your hearts.” For all that they
sometimes sound like a Quaker cliché, they are revolutionary.
There is health within the human. We are to nurture it both in
others and in ourselves.
The Quaker way offers possibility of change. We are not
condemned by the sins of our ancestors in a mythical garden. It is
true that early Friends had a much more dualistic understanding of
the world than we have. Their writings do suggest that they often
see it as a fallen place. They did try to bring the world to Christ,
even if this Christ spoke to them more directly in the heart than at
the pulpit or the altar. Today in Britain and in other places in the
Quaker world we tend to talk more in terms of the Light within.
It is a Light that not only shows up the darkness and the pain of
the world around us, but is a lantern to guide our footsteps. With
this light we can move forward to make the world a better place;
we can help bring about the divine commonwealth. We are still
confronting Calvinists; still encountering those who in the name
of a punitive God are condeming millions to eternal flames. There
are still those who believe they so know the will of God that they
are willing to carry out divine punishment on God’s enemies. But
if there is that of God in everyone, there cannot be enemies.
Chris Lawson, who used to be a tutor at Woodbrooke, the
Quaker study centre in Birmingham, talked of the characteristics of
Friends worldwide: the centrality of personal spiritual experience;
the collective experience of the worshiping group; our insistence on
the inseparability of faith and practice; our belief in the sacredness
of life. We must remember, of course, that the silent liberal
Quakers, those of our tradition, constitute only nine percent of
world Quakers, and we might add to Chris Lawson’s list, that for us
the collective experience when tested out by the group is a form of
revelation. The experience of worship is one of listening through
expectant stillness; spirituality only makes sense to us as a form of
lived-out ethical demand; and the sacredness of life has political,
economic, ecological and psychological consequences as well as
narrowly religious ones. This is the core. Preaching and sacrament
become part of daily living. Let your life preach, said Fox. Our
relationships are our sacraments where the divine is made manifest
in the flesh and the physicality of everyday encounter.
Encounter is a key word here. For me the spiritual process is
one of deepening relationships with the self, with the neighbour
who shares the planet, with the planet itself, all enfolded in the
sacredness of reality, which some call God or Spirit. This deepening
is done through listening, sharing, being attentive, caring,
admitting to our limitations, and loving. Indeed this would be my
definition of spirituality.
Duncan Fairn, a Quaker whom I met in the 1980s, echoed
this when he wrote of the five elements of Quakerism as being the
mystical, the evangelical, the rational, the social, and the ethical.
My list would include the contemplative, and the prophetic. Any
vision of Quakerism today should, I think, cover these elements.
But visions are not mission statements nor blueprints. They are
not detailed calls for action. They are dreams which spring out of
reflection on experience and perhaps contain elements which some
people might consider wishful thinking. I am aware also of the
great challenge of the spiritual life to transcend ego. Visionaries in
particular need to be conscious of this. I have taken the task with
me to meeting for worship, and I hope what I am about to say will
be the result of years of reflection with many seekers.
My vision for Quakers is of a community that is open
to the possibility of transforming encounter with Spirit. The
community affirms, offers stillness and reflection, offers space and
understanding, hospitality, and the prophetic voice that challenges.
This is another way of stating the old adage: God loves us as we are,
and wants us to be what we might become. My premise is that we
become our full selves in communion with others. I find, however,
the stress in some aspects of religion on personal salvation or even
the redemption of the tribe distressing and limiting. What I bring
from my Jewish background is the concept of the redemption of the
world. We know that in no way can we achieve this, but we can
walk towards it. What I bring from my days of exploring Buddhism
is the insight that we are all part of each other and that no light
is for the self alone. Earlier this year in the columns of The Friend
there was a debate about the meaning of the word “answer” in
the phrase “answer that of God in everyone.” One synonym was
“elicit” or “evoke,” as if there were a dormant seed in everyone and
that we were called to help that seed to germinate. In the words of
Eckhart, the German mystic, we are thus called to be midwives to
the divine in each other. And in this process the seed in ourselves
grows stronger. Spirituality is a mutual process. This is at the heart
of any vision of a vigorous Quakerism for the new century.
I cherish a community that values its time together in
worship, that is not afraid of exploring the meaning and the reality
of prayer, uniting contemplation with action, self-awareness with
the need for social reform.
My vision is of a community that does not confuse spirituality
with culture. Coming myself from an immigrant working-class
family, I realise how terribly offputting the assumption can be
that to be a Quaker means being a white middle-class educated
My vision is of a community that respects the need for quiet
discernment but which is truly experimental and adventurous and
is not afraid of passion. In a wonderful book on desert spirituality,
The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, Shelden Lane, a Presbyterian
The spiritual life extolled in popular religious circles today
is eminently unexceptional, generically inoffensive, and
(almost without exception) culturally correct. We too
often substitute availability for friendship, agreeableness for
dialogue, pleasantry for compassion.
My vision is of a community that allows a narrative of
inclusiveness to emerge, that honours the human story, finding in it
echoes of the divine. Thus we need to be a community that listens
to the voices that are rarely heard. Friends are already involved in
many parts of the world with the victims of warfare, with seekers
of asylum, with helping people overcoming paedophile behaviour,
with communities suffering economic hardship through unjust
treaties, with objectors to military service and so forth. What I
rejoice in about Friends is that we are not about converting people
to be Quakers, but we are about living out Quaker insights which
might lead people in very different directions.
My vision is of a community that can honour the eccentric
living out of personal conviction, that does not count numbers
of majorities or minorities, but respects individual conscience.
But also a society where the individual recognises accountability
to the group, and where the group values its responsibilty to its
participants. We attract individualists but must not be overwhelmed
by an anarchic individualism.
I see a community that affirms the gifts of all of its members,
irrespective of age, social and educational background, and sexual
orientation; a community that treats people as equals but with
diverse gifts. I would hope also that we are accepting of other
people’s use of language which may not be ours, but may well be
part of the other person’s truth.
I see a community that can make the holistic connection
between the life of the Spirit, the life of the individual, and the
future of the planet. We are to be practical witnesses to this deeper
reality. In Quaker language this is living the testimonies. I would
love us to be practical mystics.
I see a community that welcomes religious refugees, loves
them over their past hurts, but also challenges them to a new
boldness and exploration. This challenge, which is a challenge to
members, also involves some grappling with ideas and theological
concepts. We live in a world of growing biblical and religious
ignorance. The revolutionary understanding of early Friends was
based on a serious exploration and reinterpretation of Christian
history. We need as a Society not to base our outreach on outdated
and ignorant pictures of other forms of Christianity and other
I see a community that is evangelistic, in the sense of not
being afraid to share what it has found, as distinguished from
evangelical, which is a having a particular doctrine about Jesus
Christ. We are proud of being seekers, almost proud of travelling
without arriving, but it seems to me that each step of the journey
is a discovery. If we listen to others, it is respectful also to hope
that others will listen to us.
I see a community of prophets and peacemakers who undertake
the great risk of speaking truth to power and who together
sustain each other in the sharing of uncomfortable visions.
I see a community of people walking tenderly over the planet,
answering that of God in all life.
And to echo words of the American Quaker historian
Douglas Gwyn in his description of early Friends: I see egalitarian
communities of faith living a peaceful and plain life that stood
in stark contrast to (and radical critique of) the conspicuous
consumerism of the capitalist society around them.
In a recent Swarthmore lecture, Minding the Future, Christine
Davis encouraged Quakers to see that stewardship is about far more
than money and buildings. It is about handing on wisdom and
insights discerned from experience. “We are stewards of vision
and values,” she said. So we are all responsible for realisation of
the vision into daily life.
When I first came to Friends, I fell in love with the Society.
It makes me smile now when I think that the first time I attended
yearly meeting, I thought I had reached heaven. As I get older,
however, especially as I have stopped working for the institution,
I feel a resurgence of my young revolutionary fervour about the
spiritual life. But I have learned that Friends are human after all.
We are often timid and unsure. We make great claims, and we fail
as does everyone else. We don’t talk much about sin, but we are
aware, at least in private, of some of our limitations. For religious
revolutionaries we are often very conservative, hiding behind
phrases like, “this is what Friends have done for three hundred
and fifty years.”
In fact it is very helpful to remember our limitations and
weaknesses. It is when we remember that we are part of the human
race that we can really speak to others, not from an impossibly
high moral ground but from real love. We know also that there
will be people who will have great difficulty with what we have to
say, to understand our language however we translate it. There
are people who cannot come to terms with the light within, who
feel they need an outward guide, a body of rules which give them
the certainty they crave.
In 1955 Harold Loukes wrote:
We live in a rationalist society that has shed the security
of dogmas it found it could not accept, and now finds itself
afraid of its own freedom. Some look for an external authority,
as they did of old, but in this situation there are many who
cannot just go backwards. They ask for an authority they can
accept without the loss of their own integrity; they ask to be
talked to in a language they can understand.
I question that we live in a rationalist society today, as in
many ways we live in a very superstitious society, but I accept the
gist of what he says. Visionaries need the humility to sit down
with others, to try to understand what inspires them and what
frightens them – to have a sense of all conditions, even of those
who reject the vision. And what do we say to those who maintain
our dreams are just day-dreams, that we are impractical idealists?
We wish to be useful, but when it comes down to it, our vocation
is to be witnesses, to point to another way, to cherish the fragility
of the world around, to reverence the sacredness of all people and
the planet, and to share what we have seen. Above all we must
let our lives be the message – that is the greatest risk of all. I still
dare to think that we have a revolutionary message.
In a materialistic society that message is countercultural. It
challenges commonly held values and assumptions about human
beings and society. It dares to base its understanding of truth on
an act of worship which is not about targets, or quotas, or agendas,
or a long list of petitions, but on the worshipper opening him or
herself to the sacredness at the heart of reality and trusting that
sufficiently without the help of definitions or theories. It dares to
seek the image of the divine in each person and in the planet. It
dares to believe that things can be better if each person follows his
or her leadings. In a world which is also seeking more spiritually
and which is characterised by an emphasis on inwardness and
authenticity of experience, there are many ways open to us.
However as I have said, we are not an empty space or a lowest
common denominator nor a mind-free zone. Although we are
limited and often frail, we may still be a community of prophets,
mystics, contemplatives, activists, and people who would deny any
of these labels, and simply open themselves up to the quiet and
possibly devastating promptings of love and truth in their hearts.
Two Mirrors Facing One Another
On Interfaith Dialogue at the Parliament of the World Religions
by Maxwell Ketels
Authentic dialogue has been described as two facing mirrors
reflecting each other in an endless deepening of meaning. Along
with many of us, in the early 1970s I fell in love with the spirituality
and culture of the gorgeous Orient. I read the French Abbe
Dechenet on yoga, and the Benedictine Bede Griffiths on his
Hinduism/Christian reconciliatory vocation, and bought and used
an Orthodox Jesus Prayer mantra woolen rosary. Then there was
Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy, Alan Watts and the Zen-Christian
literature by the Irish Jesuit William Johnson. I was especially
interested in the ”Buddhistic” aspects of the writings of the Spanish
St John of the Cross, The Cloud of Unknowing, Master Eckhart and
the Rhineland mystics, and so forth.
Such syntheses calmed my anguish and hesitations about
straying away from a former strongly held Western derived belief
system. I adopted the concept of the huge Mountain with the
different spiritual paths ascending it and drawing closer together in
practice and expression at the level of the rarefied, contemplative,
mystic heights. Having commenced teaching yoga, in 1974 I
visited and practiced at a Zen Catholic community in Japan, where
I was given the bishop’s room for my private use!
Curiosity killed the cat, despite its nine lives. Catlike
inquisitiveness and inquisitiveness in unnecessary matters can
lead one into dangerous situations! In his Confessions (397 CE),
Augustine wrote: God “fashioned hell for the inquisitive”; and
the poet, Lord Byron, called curiosity “that low vice.” At the
Parliament of World Religions, however, eager curiosity about
how others see and respond to this grand mystery of improbable
existence was alive and well, and what curiosity sought to kill was
bigotry, uninformed assumptions, and the preciousness of one’s
particular world view.
The seminal 1893 Chicago PWR provided a seismic boost
to ecumenism, interfaith activity and the academic study of
comparative religion. At that time the Sultan of Turkey, for
instance, was cool on this interfaith idea, and the Archbishop
of Canterbury refused to attend, because it placed Christianity
in a position of parity with other faiths. In the late 1980s, in a
kitchen, members of the Chicago Vedanta Society hatched the
idea for a modest, retrospective, centenary PWR commemoration.
However the zeitgeist had changed. Our societies were now as
diverse as the initial Chicago PWR, and huge numbers attended
the 1993 PWR. In 2009 Melbourne was privileged to host the
fourth modern PWR.
Double or multiple faith belonging
Now in my sixties, I find that three favoured paths have
coalesced for me. As a retired person, I have recently taken up
positions as secretary and librarian of the Carl Jung Society of
Melbourne; and I generally practice Buddhist meditation at my
Quaker meeting. Looking at other faith traditions and practices
can highlight, define, and enrich one’s core faith position.
I volunteered early and received training to be a PWR
representative to local Quakers. In presentations to meetings I
used YouTube downloads of remarkable, archaic audio recordings
of the influential Swami Vivekananda from Chicago, 1893. (Take
a listen yourself!) In his opening speech, he spoke of “universal
acceptance” and quoted from the Hindi scriptures words that he
had often recited in his boyhood days:
As the different streams having their sources in
different places all mingle their waters in the sea – so, O
Lord, the different paths which people take through different
tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight,
all lead to Thee.
Vivekananda reported a remarkable phenomenon that
occurred while he was in Chicago. Extremely fatigued by having
to lecture constantly (he was dead within ten years) he fell into
a type of slumber:
… and in that same state I heard as if somebody standing by
me was lecturing, many new ideas and new veins of thought,
which I had scarcely heard or thought of in my life. On
awakening I remembered them and reproduced them in my
lecture. I cannot enumerate how often this phenomenon took
place. Many, many days did I hear such lectures while lying
in bed. Sometimes the lecture would be delivered in such a
loud voice that the inmates of adjacent rooms would hear the
sound and ask me the next day: “With whom, Swamiji, were
you talking so loudly last night?” I used to avoid the question
somehow. Ah, it was a wonderful phenomenon.
What colossal, benign influences are we dealing with here!
Ubiquitous forces that do in fact sometimes manifest in our little
lives in BIG ways!
Although the Latin etymology of the word “religion,” like
“yoga,” means “to bind back to or unite with something,” I had
problems with the institutional sense of the term “Religion” in
the PWR title. Of some three hundred large and tiny groups
represented in Melbourne, as well as the legion of individuals
without any affiliation, the identification of many attendees
would be primarily as indigenous spiritual, mystical, esoteric,
metaphysical, pagan, New Age, a-theist or humanistic. But I got
over that, and I was glad that I also got over wanting to know the
faith orientation of the many wonderful Melbournian, Chicagoan
and international staff and volunteers I worked with for more than
The incident of Jeshua (Jesus) and the Samaritan woman at
the well is an interfaith encounter that records a successful bridging
across boundaries, since the Samaritans were so despised for,
among other things, their heterodox beliefs. Inclusive liberalism
is an enduring and profound stream within Christianity and was
very influential before – and after – the construction of a state
religion, with Nicene as its creed, under the emperors Constantine
(272-337 CE) and Justinian (483-565 CE). Justinian switched
the theological allegiance of the Roman Empire from the famous,
strongly universalistic Alexandrian Catechetical School (founded
in 190 CE and still in existence among the Copts), and also away
from the free and diverse interpretation of the way of the Galilean
that prevailed eastward from the Levant to the Ganges. The
centre of theological gravity moved westward toward the Latin
world where such severe “notions” as original sin and a binary and
shocking afterlife were theologised and developed. (Wikipedia on
“Christian Universalism” makes very interesting reading!)
Maintaining social cohesion was a major concern of the
Parliament, along with the critical world issues we face together as a
species. Indigenous peoples from all continents, including 16 elders
and traditional healers, were represented. We urban sophisticates
witnessed their culture-specific and combined rituals before us all,
and we were soberly silent as they spoke, often with fiery urgency,
of their ancient reciprocal contact with land and water and air.
President Obama sent a representative to observe and report on
the Parliament. His identity was made public in the press only on
the day after the conclusion of the Parliament.
Attended by 6,500 people, the Parliament received publicity
in the form of letters in the press from atheists who were unhappy
that their major international Atheist Conference in Melbourne
did not receive the governmental grants and support which the
PWR received. A neutral letter writer pointed out that the PWR
was not supporting a specific religion, but was interfaith and
could be expected to deliver valuable social outcomes. Another
letter writer said that folk are more interested in what people
affirm than in what they reject. One writer asked that following
its deliberations the Parliament make a statement about which
religion was the correct one. I suppose I would reply humorously,
and quite seriously: “All – or none of them!”
I mainly worked in a volunteering capacity during the
Parliament, and I had to miss the sessions of Laurence Freeman,
director of the comparatively recently established and delightfully
interfaith World Community for Christian Meditation. I
attended sessions that were solid and intelligent on the survival of
indigenous cultures and world view, Orthodoxy in Australia, and
proselytising and apostasy. I also attended a performance of the
music of Hildegard von Bingen. I was most pleased to be able to
witness one of the modern theological giants in the person of Hans
Kung, who has written extensively on faiths other than his own.
Associated with previous Parliaments, Kung was instrumental in
the drafting of Towards a Global Ethic, and in Melbourne he spoke
in flawless English with humanity and humour at a session entitled
“Towards a Global Business Ethic.” I spontaneously found myself
at an unforgettable performance art presentation by a Jamaican
Rastafarian, in which he said that he was proud to be the first rasta
to be invited to a modern Parliament. The nightly plenary sessions
were a balance of exquisite music, song, dance, ritual and spoken
presentation. (You may google the Melbourne PWR to view the
scope of the presentations.)
Four local Friends facilitated a session on Quakerism, involving
presentation, discussion and silence. At the PWR communities
night, many locals welcomed the local and international Quaker
delegates, including Anthony Manousos. The conversation that
night in our meetinghouse, where our devotional practice has
always been unprogrammed, was deafening!
Karen Armstrong is an historian of religions. She wrote
the book with the fabulous and accurate title, A History of God.
She regards the time in which we live as a vastly new “Axial
Age” – a pivotal period, with its roots in the Enlightenment. By
this she means a specific period in time around which spirituality
– and a whole lot more – is shaken up and evolves onwards in
a fresh way. She sees our time as crucial, as was the first Axial
Age, from approximately 800 BCE to 100 CE, when the great
prophets and sages appeared and ushered in the historic faiths
and Greek philosophy. People were – and most certainly are now
– rediscovering their inner life and re-forming the ways in which
they think about the world.
Every last one of us is a meaning-seeking creature. We are
driven to make sense of life. Religious boundaries are in fact
permeable in a host of ways. I am thrilled with the tangible
contributions of interfaith consciousness and initiatives in this
broken – and whole – world.
A Plea For Universal Interfaith Efforts
by Arvol Looking Horse
To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders,
Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and
their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come
together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.
We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for
the World. We are guided to speak from all the White Animals
showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray
for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to
you many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim,
those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations, eventually
all will be [affected by] the oil disaster in the Gulf.
The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit.
The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks
like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human
mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.
I ask, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in
prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern
is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect
that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.
I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our
united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long
overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves
and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the
many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth. As we honor
the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in
healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc I Maka).
We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop.
That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. Pray for the people
to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to
live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive
path we are on.
As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected.
And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.
So let us unite spiritually. All Nations. All Faiths. One
Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please
remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring
Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church,
a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for
all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children’s
future and well-being, and the generations to come.
Onipike (that we shall live)
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
1688: The First Modern Revolution
by Steven Pincus
Reviewed by Larry Spears
Steven Pincus has written an excellent book. It provides the
historical context for the struggle of all religious factions, including
Quakers, to recognize the merit of religious toleration – an insight
that was not easy in coming.
The title is somewhat misleading, for the book is about the
whole of the 17th century, not just 1688. In the revolution of 1688,
however, the author sees the monumental event of the century in
the departure of James II and the crowning of William III. Pincus
provides a new, broader continental and global perspective on that
event, which he considers the “first modern revolution.”
At the beginning of the 17th century in England the various
religious communities saw their future protection as win-lose in
the struggle of their particular truth over the error and evil of those
who differed with them theologically. During the 17th century,
Quakers, like Catholics, Anglicans and other Protestant sects,
came to recognize the need to separate sectarian commitments
from civil commitments. They came to recognize the benefit of
broad tolerance of religious diversity. Quaker leaders increasingly
recognized that “we are all in this together,” even though some
groups held religious convictions that they abhorred.
It was the Quaker founding time. Pincus has expanded
the stage and shows Quakers in the middle of the 17th-century
turmoil. Friends were not leaders in the development of the new
idea of religious toleration. In the evolution of the public thought
process, William Penn was among the last to support this broad
idea. Penn supported Catholic James II until William III triumphed
Steven Pincus is a professor of history at Yale University
and one of the new iconoclasts in English historiography. In this
book he takes on the traditional view, which blandly and smugly
called 1688 the “Glorious Revolution” and described the coming of
Mary II and William III as a moderate, conservative and peaceful
transition, a regime change with a velvet glove.
The book places England solidly in the context of events in
Europe and global history. It expands the range of major events
during the 1600s and places them in larger continental and world
settings. Local stories are turned into national stories. National
stories become regional stories. Regional stories become global
stories. The overall effect is to bring populations previously
assumed to have a sideline role into the center of history.
Everything is connected. The fringe is at the center. The pan-
European perspective is at the heart of the book.
There are nearly 500 pages of text, so the read is a long
one. Pincus extends the text beyond general reading necessity
because he is out to prove something. The endnotes consist of 130
pages for scholars. They reflect the author’s preoccupation with
documentation of his new interpretation, so there is substantial
repetition and some redundancy.
In chapter 1, he gives an overview of his thesis and how it
differs from former historical interpretations of England in the 17th
century. If you want to reflect on revolutions in general, of which
1688 is but one, start with Chapter 2. The overview narrative of
events of the 17th century is set out in Chapter 3.
The older, conventional view of 17th-century England is
simple and reflects 19th- century historical perspectives. In it
anti-papal Catholic James II, who inherited the crown in 1685, was
an aggressive Catholic, a tyrant and a judicial murderer following
suppression of the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion. James inserted
Catholics into all offices and institutions, imposed toleration for
Catholicism, and ignored Parliament. The distressed Protestant
establishment opposed this autocrat and invited Protestant Dutch
prince William III to England to restore traditional English liberties.
William III did so. He defeated James II in a small war and was
crowned king in 1689. William prevented the Catholic takeover
of England and allowed Protestant dissenters (including Quakers)
to worship freely in a bloodless, consensual, aristocratic, sensible
manner that was widely accepted by the population. This view,
familiar to all American history students, is a pleasing, agreeable,
kindly story of sensible people defending their liberties in the face
of Catholic evil in an essentially peaceful regime change, assuring
According to Pincus, earlier historians were too narrow in
framing the story in the reality of both geography and time, and
they failed to incorporate English social and economic life into their
historic picture. In the Pincus picture, the growth of commerce,
particularly Atlantic commerce and industry and new financial
institutions, was the engine in the new 17th-century prosperity.
The rapid and aggressive social and economic changes prior to the
1688 revolution transformed the political environment.
The fundamental, successful modernizing of the English
government under William III contrasted with James II’s efforts to
replicate the rationally centralized and bureaucratic state model of
Louis XIV in France. William III was broadly tolerant of religious
faiths within the Protestant tradition, respected constitutional
controls, established public works, supported industry and new
financial institutions over the landed aristocracy and supported
navies over armies.
However, this revolution was far from benign. It was full of
bloody conflict, changing factions, riots and property destruction
comparable to the terror in France in 1789. It was messy and
dangerous for all. The big picture was a new state-building program,
radical for its time, revolutionary and with huge consequences
for future centuries of English and American world dominance.
According to Pincus, old regimes fall not because they are incapable
of adjusting to changed circumstances, but because they commit
to modernization, and this modernization process creates conflict
between groups of modernizers.
Pincus does not describe an elevated or distinctive role
for Quakers in this revolutionary time. They are recognized as
only one of many dissenting sects that were groping for security
for themselves at the expense of others. Quakers and others
were slow to realize that toleration for all religious groups was
the best protection for themselves and that royal indulgence for
toleration is less secure for the long term than civil rights backed
by parliamentary law.
Quakers were split in their loyalties. William Penn was on
the side of Catholic James II. He was grateful for James’s royal
indulgence to stop the oppressive harassment of Quaker meetings,
even if it meant reduced civil liberties and government control
of free speech. He collaborated with James, but most other
Quaker leaders sided with William III, whom Penn was late in
The 17th century was a time of major change and the rapid
growth of a universal standard of religious toleration. Through
the events following the Cromwell revolution of 1640-60 and
the subsequent persecutions of all dissenters toward the 1688
revolution, Quaker religious ideas changed, as did the Quaker
view of the scope of those to be protected. This book is a good
and sobering read for Quakers about the important idea and public
policy of religious tolerance to the benefit of us all.
Confession of a Buddhist Atheist
by Stephen Batchelor (2010)
Reviewed by Rhoda Gilman
The title of this book carries a certain shock value in a Judeo-
Christian culture that is not the same among those who have
studied or tried to practice Buddhism. The Buddha deliberately
avoided any statements about a supreme being or the origin of
the universe. He was a nontheist, or, in the literal meaning of the
word, an atheist. He preached only a way of life and an attitude
toward what we experience as reality, although later elaborations
and interpretations of his teaching have produced a vast complex
of beliefs, rituals, and doctrines adapted to a variety of cultures.
The new version that has evolved in the West during the past half
century has shown a strong tendency to return to the simplicity of
the original teachings, much as 17th-century Quakers sought the
simplicity of early Christianity.
In this book the British scholar and author Stephen Batchelor
follows up on his earlier work in Buddhism Without Beliefs (1997).
We learn that his own spiritual journey led him through seven years
as a monk in the Tibetan tradition, a crisis of faith, and three years
as a Zen monk in Korea. Since the end of that time he has rejected
both the Tibetan beliefs in reincarnation and karma and the Zen
concept of a sudden nonrational enlightenment as to the final
nature of existence. He recalls that “the worm of doubt” came to
life inside him during a brief, almost accidental course in Vipassana
(mindfulness) meditation offered to Tibetan novices by the Indian
teacher S. N. Goenka. “Without relying on any deities, mantras, or
mandalas, without having to master the intricacies of any doctrine
or philosophy, I vividly understood what it meant to be a fragile,
impermanent creature in a fragile, impermanent world.”
The atheism to which Batchelor lays claim in the book’s title
is not that of modern materialism or secular scientism, which he
thinks might better be called “anti-theism.” His own stand more
closely resembles what he calls “deep agnosticism,” which is “the
willingness to embrace the fundamental bewilderment of a finite,
fallible creature as the basis for leading a life that no longer clings
to the superficial consolations of certainty.” He sees this humble
acceptance of unknowing amid the contingency of all things as
fundamental to the way of the Buddha.
Bachelor goes on to place the Buddha within the context of
time and history, which is itself a deeply Western concept. Like
Christian scholars associated with the Jesus Seminar, he sifts the
sketchy evidence of tradition, ancient documents, and archaeology
for clues to the life, times, and actual teachings of a man who has
become a myth with the stature of a God. The task highlights
similarities between East and West. Both Jesus of Nazareth and
Siddhatha Gotama began their teaching at about the age of thirty,
and little or nothing is known of their lives before that time. Yet
it appears that they somehow acquired world views that differed
in crucial ways from the traditional milieu into which they were
born. Both lived in times of unsettling social change and new lines
of communication between distant cultures. Both were regarded
with alarm and suspicion by the religious authorities of their time,
although Gotama had protection by secular rulers that allowed
him to survive as a teacher for fifty years. Jesus was quickly put
to death, but his teachings were not so easily killed. They rose
from the grave.
The many Quaker universalists who have been drawn to
Buddhist philosophy and practice will find Stephen Batchelor a bit
of a kindred soul. “Buddhism,” he says, “is like a living organism.
If it is to flourish outside self-enclosed ghettos of believers, it will
have to meet the challenge of understanding, interacting with,
and adapting to an environment that is strikingly different from
those in which it has evolved.” The same can be said of Quakerism
and its 17th-century roots. If the Society of Friends is to fulfill its
destiny of uniting rather than dividing humankind at this moment
in history, it will have to speak with the spirit of George Fox, not
Publications Also Noted
Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy
edited by Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver, with Keith Helmuth, Robert Howell, and Steve Szeghi (2009)
This book is the first publication of the Moral Economy
Project, which was launched in 2005 by the Quaker Institute for
the Future. As the title implies, it expands on the MEP vision of
“right relationship with the commonwealth of life.” The principal
authors are both Canadian, and the publisher, Berrett-Koehler, is
a San Francisco firm dedicated to a mission of “Creating a World
that Works for All.” The main message of the book is the intimate
connection between destruction of the environment and the
workings of our world economy. Like many recent works, including
those of David Korten and others, it “bears witness to a right way
of living on our finite, life-giving planet.”
Living from the Center: Mindfulness Meditation and Centering
by Valerie Brown (2010)
This brief little work is number 407 in the ongoing Pendle Hill
Pamphlet series. The author is a Quaker-Buddhist who has taught
a number of meditation courses at Pendle Hill and elsewhere. With
rare sensitivity, she unfolds the meanings of the word “centering”
in Quaker, Buddhist, and Catholic usage, finding more similarities
than differences. She shows that mindfulness meditation, which
has been widely accepted in medical and other secular circles, and
which is derived from the Buddhist Vipassana tradition, can be a
powerful supplement to Quaker worship.
Universalist (#85, June, 2010)
This issue of the journal of the Quaker Universalist Group
reflects the growing cooperation between our two organizations.
Like the present issue of Universalist Friends, it includes a memorial
to John Linton. It also carries a reprint for British readers of
Sallie King’s article, “East-West Puzzlements,” which appeared
in Universalist Friends last winter. We look forward to more
interchange in future.
Mapping the Quaker Presence
Under the imprint of Troll Press, Sally Rickerman, whose
long-time service in various capacities with the QUF is widely
known, has produced a set of maps to illustrate the location of
unprogrammed Friends meetings throughout the United States
and the geographic areas served by yearly meetings associated with
the four branches of US Quakerism. The two maps are printed in
color on high quality paper and are suitable for posters or even for
framing. They are accompanied by a flyer that briefly describes the
four branches and gives contact information for major organizations
identified with each one.
The set provides information that is current as of 2010 and
not widely available. It will be especially useful to meetings,
schools, and other Friends organizations that attract newcomers
who are curious about the history and distribution of the different
kinds of Quakers they have encountered. For prices, ordering,
and other questions, contact Troll Press at 121 Watson Mill Road,
Landenberg, PA 19350.
The work of the Quaker Universalist Fellowship expresses Friends’ belief that there is a spirit of universal love in every person, and that a compassion-centered life is therefore available to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Through publications, lectures, and conferences the Quaker Universalist Fellowship seeks to encourage appreciation of the diverse paths to that spirit available in humankind’s various spiritual cultures, to overcome discord, and to foster openness and listening among people of different religious faiths. In carrying out this work we cooperate with Friends from every branch of Quakerism.
We seek, or create, opportunities for all Friends to engage in constructive dialogue among Quakers and with representatives of other spiritual traditions, in the hope that religious faith, although diverse, will become a force which unites rather than divides the human family. We seek to nurture that unity through lives of simplicity, humility, justice, mercy, and peace so that it becomes a beacon drawing together the human family in love and service to all earthly life.
QUF Steering Committee, October 2009
We are seeking articles from 500 to 3,000 words. These may be essays on personal experience of arrival or maturation in Quaker universalism or of worship or they may be scholarly works focused on Quaker universalism, history, biography, sociology, scripture, and theology, both Christian and non-Christian. We also welcome book reviews, poetry, personal essays, and letters. Use inclusive language. Please send your submissions by U.S. mail on diskette or CD in WORD to Rhoda Gilman, 513 Superior St., St. Paul, MN 55102 or as WORD attachments to email to email@example.com. Please put UF in the subject line. We do not accept anonymous submissions without very good reason. Deadline for next issue: December 15.