Quaker Universalist Conversations

Universalism among contermporary Friends, and in Gerard Manley Hopkins

Jenny Doughty cites a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins in response to Tony Lowe’s question, “Were Early Friends Universalists?“ 

“Fox found in all of the churches of his day a tendency to rely on the wisdom of the leadership, their traditions, or their own interpretations of the Scriptures rather than Christ himself.”

When I read these words by Tony Lowe, I can only find its echo in myself if the word ‘Christ’ is removed from the Jesus of the Bible and from notions of substitutionary atonement and understood in the sense of that universal light that is part of all humanity when people live in accordance with our Quaker testimonies, which are universal in the sense of allowing people to live in accord with each other, whatever the details of their religious beliefs.

Ironically, the words that speak most to my particular condition in understanding Christ as the universal light of God within all people are those of the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins:

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.


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