by C. Wess Daniels who is the William R Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College. Writing here about Quaker faith, participatory culture and pedagogy, Quaker faith, Christianity in the West & sketchnoting.
This is the message I gave a few weeks back at George Fox Chapel. I’ve been meaning to post the manuscript but haven’t had a chance.
_Tradition is Dead, Tradition is Alive
I think I am an unlikely candidate for Quaker week. I am like the majority of you; I did not grow up a Quaker, I didnt grow up in a Quaker-mecca like Newberg and didnt become a Friend until my 20s. I had no idea who George Fox was, wasnt he that guy in the recent Wes Anderson film (fantastic mr. fox)? I didnt know anything about the awesome Quaker history of being involved in Native American rights, the underground railroad and movements like womens suffrage.
I grew up a nominal Catholic. I went to parochial schools (or as I usually say, I did my time there…) and visited mass only irregularly. Growing up I wasnt even really sure I knew what it meant to Catholic. Then through a complicated set mostly tragic events my family began attending a small, fairly conservative and charismatic, non-denominational church. This is where I began to learn to read the bible, and took part in more church-based activities. If at the Catholic church I was an observer, this new church is where I became more of an active participant. But the church was also one of those non-denominational churches that are fairly anti-denominational, but they do it in a kind of denominational way if you know what I mean? In other words, I had a major suspicions about words like denomination and tradition by the time I left home for college.
And isnt it the case that in an America influenced by creatives such as Steve Jobs we prize above everything innovation, newness, and individual expression? The thought that one of us might be seen with a Myspace page, let alone an first generation iPhone would be almost to much to bear (professors?!). In this ideology, old equals obsolete and tradition equals a liability. Continue reading Quakers, Tradition and the Resurrection Community (Acts 13:13-33)
This is a video I did awhile back at the request of my yearly meeting (NWYM). In it I tell a little of my own story and why I am a Quaker today. I would love it if we could get our Quaker communities doing something like this and posting it online. Letting everyone have a chance to tell their stories!
At Camas Friends Church, we’re reading through the journal of John Woolman, a Quaker minister and abolitionist from the 18th century. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the values we often unknowingly impress upon our children. Many of the activities we engage our children in have some kind of underlying “theology” or value-system they propose. By entering into these things, we enter into those narratives and are often shaped by them. We are not always aware of these invisible “forces,” that’s the nature of culture, nor would we necessarily be happy or ready to give them up if we realized this. Yet, many of these values and narratives we enter into are counter the narrative of the Gospels. Woolman found this to be true in his own time with the keeping of slaves. Many people engaged in these activities and practices without ever questioning the underlying stories were shaped by. Today I read through chapter four of his journal and was pleased to come across this letter he wrote to Quaker meetings in North Carolina, and his concern for the “dangerous snares” we often set for our children in this manner. Continue reading My dear friends, dwell in humility… (Woolman)
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at George Fox’s Chapel on my talk which was titled Tradition, Quakers and the Resurrection Community. I’ll post it here within the next day or so. In the talk I tell a little of my own story, discuss the idea of remix, and suggest that George Fox was a “DJ” in his own right, and that Quakers today might engage in a little resurrection remix of their own.
This is a snapshot of what I’ll be speaking about next Monday at George Fox University’s chapel.
You Israelites, and others who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it (Acts 13).
I did not grow up a Quaker. I grew up in a church that was non-denominational, but that translated into more of a feeling of anti-any tradition at all. Everything changed for me when I attended, unknown to me, a Friends college in the Midwest. In a critical moment for me I went from losing my way to finding myself a part of a much bigger story. The Quaker story is an alternative Christian story. When Quakers first hit the streets of England in the 17th century it was with a prophetic fire that has since turned the world upside down. The Quaker story is one that finds its roots in a different way of living and being in the world than I was used to and it was (and still is) compelling to me. Continue reading Quakers and The Resurrection Community (Acts 13:13-33)
About a month ago we began a Wednesday evening meeting at Camas Friends (the Quaker meeting I pastor). The goal of these meetings are to build our friendships with each other (so we eat together before the class begins), as well as add to our being a learning community. The first book we decided to work through is a book on discernment and is called, Practicing Discernment Together by Lon Fendell, Jan Wood and Bruce Bishop. The book was written by three Quakers here in the Northwest and is a really useful guide and introduction to learning about the practice of discernment. While the book draws heavily on the experience and wisdom of the Quaker tradition, it is not an overly Quaker book in the sense that it is not bogged down with jargon or insider-speak. It would be beneficial for anyone interested in learning more about this topic. And it does seem that there is a growing interest in the Quaker practice of discernment. I have had a lot of people interested in knowing more about the way Quakers make decisions together without voting. Continue reading Practicing Discernment Together as a Church
The other evening I was fortunate enough to join some of our local unprogrammed Quaker friends in a meeting for worship. I needed and really appreciated the worship in silence. It is nice to be a Quaker pastor, who can show up and worship in a space where I do not have to be the pastor, nor do I have to listen to others try to be the pastor, or pay attention to all the “programmed” elements that make up for worship. It other words, sometimes it’s just really nice to sit and be. The a friend stood up and recited some of this poem by Quaker poet John Greenlead Whitter. It is called Eternal Goodness and the lines bolded were what she shared. It’s still ringing within me.
O friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.
I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.
But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds;
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.