Friday, November 21, 2008

What Does A "New Kind of Quaker" Look Like?

Since the weekend "New Kind of Quaker" conference in North Carolina (November 14-15), I have been giving some thought to the question, "Exactly what does a 'new kind of Quaker' look like?" Do they look like they always did but just behave differently? Do they wear different clothes? Worship differently? If they are 'new', what does 'old'? mean? I don't know if I can answer all of these - or even if they are the right questions. But, as I have tried to picture a "new kind of Quaker", this is what he/she might look like to me.

1) The old kind of Quaker relies on geographical locations and Yearly Meeting designations to inform their perception and understanding of another Quaker. (ie, "You're from Indiana, you must be an evanglical" or "You're from Baltimore, you must be liberal" or "You're a programmed Friend, you must be evangelical" or "You're an unprogrammed Friend, you must be liberal" )

The new kind of Quaker looks past the geographical locations and Yearly Meeting designations and seeks to truly understand and hear the story, spiritual journey, and heart of the other person. They don't put them in any kind of theological container or file. Rather, they seek to see and hear that of God in the other.


2) The old kind of Quaker is pretty sure that pastoral programmed evangelical Friends meetings focus on evangelism and non-pastoral unprogrammed liberal Friends meetings focus on issues of peace and social justice.

The new kind of Quaker doesnt see this as either/or but both/and. They see the need for a proclamation of the good news (evangelism) as well as a demonstration of the good news (issuesof peace and social justice). One is not more important the the other but both are necessary expressions of God active work.


3) The old kind of Quaker works very hard at making sure the institutional form of Quakerism keeps going and stays propped up because if the "central agencies" and "committee structures" and "central offices" cease to exist then Quakerism as we know it would cease to exist.

The new kind of Quaker is not as focused on the "institution of Quakerism" as they are the "spirit of Quakerism" and they realize that the Quaker vision and calling can be lived out whether or not you have buildings, committees, a central office, or even a menu or programs.


4) The old kind of Quaker tends to focus on the past and seeks to replicate the past as a way to bring life to the present and the future.

The new kind of Quaker appreciates the past but seeks to live in the present because the Living Christ is in the present and is providing leadings, direction, and guidance as to who we are to become in the future.


5) The old kind of Quaker feels that the future of Quakerism will look an awfully lot like the past of Quakerism. The only difference is that we will have somehow convinced more people to get involved and help in making sure this version of Quakerism survives.

The new kind of Quaker feels pretty sure that the future of Quakerism will not look anything like the past of Quakerism and is both scared but excited as to how the future will unfold for Quakers and what Quakers in the future will look like.


6) The old kind of Quaker wants to make sure we pass on buildings, property, and programs to the next generation.

The new kind of Quaker wants to make sure we pass on a living faith, a demonstration of faithfulness, and a heart of integrity to the next generation.


7) The old kind of Quaker secretly believes that their version of Quakerism is the true version and that all the others are not yet enlightened.

The new kind of Quaker believes that Quakerism cannot be contained within a methodology and that their is no one true version but that all "versions" have something to offer and gifts to share.


8) The old kind of Quaker believes that Quakerism can best be defined propositionally and relies on "belief statements" and "declarations of faith" to fully describe the living experience of Quakers.

The new kind of Quaker believes that a propositional faith is not adequate to sustain the Quaker experience and believes wholeheartedly that the world "relationship" best describes what it means to live as a Quaker - to be in relationship with God, Jesus, and one another.


9) The old kind of Quaker sees business meetings as a "necessary evil" and something that must be put up with until we get to the good stuff.

The new kind of Quaker seeks to see the Living Christ moving and leading amidst the business and truly sees it as a meeting for worship with the purpose of conducting business.


10) The old kind of Quaker gets ticked off when they see a list like this because they feel threatnend and live out of a spirituality of fear.

The new kind of Quaker chooses to not fear but chooses to love and live out a spirituality of love and is willing to hear what truth, if any, might reside in a list like this.

Blessings!

10 comments:

Deborah Suess said...

Great top ten - David Letterman here we come!
I would add that a new kind of Quakerism is less suspicious of hanging out ecumenically and more open to receiving the gifts from the wider body of Christ.

Scott Wagoner said...

Good addition Deborah...I like that...maybe we can make this a running list.

Martin Kelley said...

I'm happy to say I finished #9 and moved to #10 I wasn't ticked off. Great list! I think you hit a lot of these right on!

Stephanie said...

I liked this. I've been studying early Quakers recently, it seems to me that this 'new kind of Quaker' has more in common with the Quakers of Fox's day than the 'old kind of Quaker' has. While at the same time the 'new kind of Quaker' is clearly living in the present. I see signs here in Britain that Quakers are moving towards a 'new kind of Quaker' that looks something like what you are describing.

haven said...

Thank you for this Scott -- in putting this list in writing you have issued a challenge of sorts to us, to grow and expand beyond the limits of our comfortable faith, to a new and expanding experience of the Light that is within and around us all.

Paul said...

Thank you Friend Scott!
I particularly like numbers 3-4.
3) The old kind of Quaker works very hard at making sure the institutional form of Quakerism keeps going and stays propped up because if the "central agencies" and "committee structures" and "central offices" cease to exist then Quakerism as we know it would cease to exist.

The new kind of Quaker is not as focused on the "institution of Quakerism" as they are the "spirit of Quakerism" and they realize that the Quaker vision and calling can be lived out whether or not you have buildings, committees, a central office, or even a menu or programs.


4) The old kind of Quaker tends to focus on the past and seeks to replicate the past as a way to bring life to the present and the future.
The new kind of Quaker appreciates the past but seeks to live in the present because the Living Christ is in the present and is providing leadings, direction, and guidance as to who we are to become in the future.
"appreciates the past but seeks to live in the present because the Living Christ is in the present"
Amen Paul

Rich in Brooklyn said...

But I can't help thinking: "The old kind of Quaker always has to figure out what 'kind' of Quaker a Quaker is and the new kind of Quaker is not a 'kind' of Quaker, just a Quaker."

Or as another old paradox has it: there are two kinds of people in the world - those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't.

- - Rich Accetta-Evans

Stephanie said...

Yes Rich. So let's just be Quakers.

Unless that is dividing the world into Quakers and not Quakers. In which case let's just be people, let everybody be people.

Some people will be Quakers and be happy to be known as such, but won't be in a box labelled 'Quaker'. The aim being to see people as people (all of whom have 'that of God' within them), rather than seeing the 'boxes' they may or may not fit in.

Will T said...

I have a slightly different take on number 3. The old kind of Quaker works very hard to keep the institutions of Quakerism going as an end in itself. The new kind of Quaker sees Quaker institutions as vessels that help hold our communities while we are being transformed.

Attending monthly meetings and yearly meetings are important for a variety of reasons. One of them is that they are places where you will encounter people who have different views than you do and you cannot ignore them. Working on the FUM General Board is like that as well, but even more so. But working through conflicts provides all sorts of opportunities for God to get in past our defenses and start changing us.

Will T.

Daniel Patrick Woods said...

The old kind of Quaker believed he knew the truth, which is why he went out trying to convince others to become Quakers. The new kind of Quaker doesn't believe he knows the truth, which is why he is eager to commune with people whose beliefs conflict with his own.