Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why a Quaker?

It's busy here with the hundreds of details pursuant to the move ... boxes around for Saturday's yard sale, plans for our first foray into e-Bay ... end of the school year and the consequent flood of paper coming home ... yard work to do ... etc. etc. You get the picture. The boys today are on the celebratory eighth-grade pre-graduation cruise around the Baltimore harbor on the Bay Lady. Sophie is taking SATs.

So back to Martin's question from yesterday:

"Why do so many people want to call themselves Quakers when they can't stand basic Quaker theology?"

Let's unpack this a little. Are there many Quakers who can't stand the basic Quaker theology? What is the basic Quaker theology? Christianity? Belief in a God who is active and accessible? The testimonies? All of the above? And if there are Quakers who don't like this theology, then what about Martin's question: Why are they Quakers? I have to say I have long been perplexed by people who don't believe in God taking on a ... religion, and a Christ-based one at that, with all the baggage that entails. Yet I've seen it, and I certainly welcome people who are on a spiritual journey.

Of course, all of this is speculative ... but let's take a turn at it. What do you think? Why do people who appear to reject the theology join Quakerism? More importantly, why are you a Quaker? Or not?


Anonymous said...

I am not learned enough to really comment on Quaker theology, although I will say that one of the things that draws me to the Friends is the absence of a creed and clergy.

Several years ago I took a "Quaker 101" class a Homewood Meeting in Baltimore(it was during the Gulf War so it was quite a few years ago) anyway...one of the topics that came up was, "Is there a Christian foundation to Quakerism?" and after much back and forth it was almost *shamefacedly* admitted that, yes, the Quakers were founded in a "Christian tradition". Some people were actually upset and embarassed to associated with anything "Christian". This depressed my husband and me to no end, and it was a long time before we returned to a Quaker Meeting.

Anonymous said...

Wow, "shamefacedly" is a pretty telling word. I think it's great that folks from all different faith traditions are drawn to Friends. I think the "shame" is in letting the evangelicals monopolize the word "christian". There is nothing shameful in choosing to follow Christ; one of the most valuable things about Friends worship are the ways people of other faiths help add to our collective understanding of Christ's teachings.