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Twelve Quakers and Faith

I am currently reading “Twelve Quakers and Faith”. I like it and want to read more in the series.

Apparently it is Pamphlet 8, makes it sound like some arcane government document from the 1950’s.  Pamphlet is good, pamphlet means short, it is only 36 pages long.  This means it was cheap (£2.50 plus £1 postatage from the Quaker bookshop) and it is easy to read if you have kids running around.

Having said it is short and easy to read is perhaps doing it a disservice. Many of the ideas take time to digest and I rather think the point is to read and consider each point of view rather than race to the end like an express train.

I read it in a oner and raced to the end like an express train. Oh well.

When reading about other peoples personal experiences, I find I am always comparing them to mine, do I agree with their views? Is their world viewpoint the same as mine?  Do they use language I like or does it turn me off? I’m not necessarily sure this is a good thing, but it is what I do.

Personally I find too much mention of God, Jesus and long quotes from the bible just don’t do it for me. I turn off. I feel like I am being preached at.

So as always I found myself comparing my views to those in the book and unusually, I found myself agreeing with  “1”.

“so much of my belief was cultural as much as theological; implicit in it was church architecture, music and literature.”

This is true for me, I was brought up in the Church of Scotland. I love church music, the architecture. When I first heard of Quakers, I dismissed them out of hand as there was “no music”.

I now realise that I can enjoy religious music in all it’s forms but this does not have to be an integral part of meeting for worship. Anyway the whole Quaker idea is that your whole life speaks, not just the bit you do in church, so I can still enjoy religious music.  All this is a wordy way of saying is that my early belief was as much cultural as it was religious.

It was a great relief to become a Quaker and not have to say things like “he descended into hell…”

I agree. How can you recite the Apostles Creed if you don’t believe in it? Surely that is the worst form of hypocrisy? I have never taken Communion as I do not believe I am eating the body of Christ. I also fail to see how doing so would make me a better person.

I was a regular attender at a meeting in England. One week, a lady explained how she had been at a Church of England church. They were having communion and she had not taken part. She had been encouraged to go forward to the altar for a blessing. Again she had refused. I felt such relief when I heard this.  Here was a woman who I admired and seemed to share my same uneasiness at taking part in communion. Maybe my views aren’t so heretical after all.

In meeting, not all vocal ministry is directed specifically at me. So when someone speaks and it doesn’t hold any meaning for me, I remember the relief I felt when, one sunday the ministry did speak to me and I hope that someone else in the meeting is gaining the same benefit from the ministry that had no meaning for me. For me, that is the essence of how a Quaker meeting works.

Anyway, I have enjoyed reading this booklet and I will probably consider some of the other views in more depth. After all, how else do you learn?

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