Over the next little while, I want to reflect in short statements about what is often called, Quaker Values or testimonies. I prefer the singular “testimony,” but that is for another day. For today, here is a brief though on integrity.
The practice of Integrity is about both self-awareness and wholeness. It is born out of a community of practice committed to living integrated lives. Practices and language develop out of that commitment that gives tools for understanding the self, my relationship to God and other people, the natural world, and material objects. A practice of integrity provides a kind of self-reflective mirror upon which I am invited to look at myself and my community and reflect upon whether my “Yes is yes,” and my “No is no.” A practice of Integrity requires me to participate in honest assessment of all areas of life consistent with our practice of worship and understanding of what God calls us to. This consistency is about having the inside and outside line up. I do not believe that we should use integrity as a claim upon another human being if I am not in constant practice of investigating my own life under the same searching light. To do otherwise would itself lack integrity. Integrity is about truthfulness. It is something we constantly strive for and yet never fully arrive at. Thus, I believe that to strive for wholeness is to be vulnerable; there is a confessional quality to integrity. I claim my own integrity with great trepidation as I recognize that there is often a gap between my reality and that which I strive for but if I undertake it within a caring community, I can trust that together we shall be under this work of love together.
Earlier this week there was a conversation on Twitter that pointed out two realities that we are seeing a lot within Western (and often more “liberal-Liberal”) Quakerism: a) that Quakerism is viewed primarily in the secular West as non-religious; and b) that even within Quaker meetings there is so little religious education that many do not get anything to help in framing the Quaker tradition differently Quakerism in any way other than a morally-based, secular practice.
As someone said on Twitter today, they always thought of it less as a religion and more of a flavor. This is not an uncommon view among many Quakers. I have witnessed the latter problem within Programmed and Evangelical Quaker meetings as well: the lack of Religious education – as it pertains to understanding and framing the Quaker tradition (history, theology and practice) both as it was understood and how it is made manifest within Quaker meetings today, worldwide.
Therefore, I wanted to offer a short reading list with some basic background to the Quaker tradition here in hopes of helping those who are getting started out and want to know more about the history, beliefs, and practice of the Religious Society of Friends. I hope that this list can be of use in folks’ quest to make their understanding and practice of Quakerism more rich, more full, and more critical. I believe that there is a push to make us lose our robust religious language in favor of a very safe religious language that will not challenge the imperial powers, that will not challenge the ego of self, that will not lay us open before Love or call truth to power. We have much to learn from and grow into. I hope what is offered can help give you but a taste.
Continue reading “Quakerism 101: A Very Basic Introduction with Suggested Readings”