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Friday, 15 April 2011

Quakers: Past, Present, and Future

Quakers1.doc:   Talk prepared for Mid-Northumberland-u3a, 13th April 2011, by Ian West

Quakers: past, present, and future

Introduction:

The intellectual turmoil out of which the Quakers emerged in 1652; the spark (Fox) meets the tinder (the seekers), the establishment of the sect in the 18th century as inward-looking and increasingly wealthy, leaders in education, prison reform, anti-slavery, etc., i.e. the closed period; the opening up following the repeal of the T&C acts; pacifism in the twentieth century. I shall then try to give an account of current Quakerism, and predict the future.

Past:

Quakerism rose out of the turmoil of the puritan revolution and the civil war. Charles the First and Archbishop Laud favoured top down government of both State and Church. That meant subordinating the clergy to the Bishops, and the Bishops to the Archbishop (and thus the King). The reforming clergy, driven abroad by Mary, had picked up a lot of Genevan Calvinism and brought it back as Presbyterianism. Basically, a fundamentalist theology based on Scripture (selected and interpreted), in a church governed by elders, covering essentially all of life, and therefore imbedded in a theocratic state run by the elders. This pitted divine right of Elders versus divine right of Kings.)
Under Elizabeth hostility to both Episcopy and Presbyterianism grew; separatist churches sprouted and grew (Baptist, 1549 and Independent 1581), where everyone was a king and a priest. The meddling of Charles I and Laud in Scottish Presbyterianism provoked an invasion by a Scottish army (1639). The Long Parliament, called in 1640 to provide the king with money, realized its power, promptly imprisoned Laud (and eventually beheaded him) and hung Strafford. In 1642 Parliament declared itself sovereign. The Civil War going badly at first gave the Scots the power to force on Parliament the Solemn League and Covenant which preserved Presbyterianism in Scotland and forced it on England. However, once Oliver Cromwell formed the New Model Army and ended the war (1645), he and the army favoured the Independents. From 1645 – 1654 the preponderance of power in England lay with the army and men of advanced religious view. In 1649 there was in England very considerable liberty of conscience de facto. On 15th Dec 1653 Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Realm by the Instrument of Government and enshrined religious liberty in statute — for any Christian sect except Roman Catholics and Episcopalians.
In this mlee, many (perhaps the majority) would argue for obedience to the church and state, as either expedient or right or both; many others, trying to be 'Good People', were put off and sought guidance elsewhere.
Anabaptists: A radical movement of the 16th-century Reformation that viewed baptism solely as an external witness to a believer's conscious profession of faith, rejected infant baptism, and believed in the separation of church from state, in the shunning of nonbelievers, and in simplicity of life. Includes the Mennonites (see below) an early but surviving pacifist branch; and modern Baptists.
Familists (Family of Love): Founded by Henry Nicholis (a prosperous Amsterdam merchant) in around 1540 he began preaching a quiet but radical message, based on a traditional mystic Christian idea derived from the writings of Paul, which said that a part of God is in every person. He told his followers they had so much of God's spirit in them that they were a part of the Godhead. This intoxicating message appealed to the well educated and creative elite, artists, musicians and scholars. They felt no need to spread the message and risk heresy - members were usually a part an otherwise established church, quietly remaining in the background, confident in their elite status as part of the Godhead. Nicholis's followers escaped the gallows and the stake, for they combined with some success the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. They would only discuss their doctrines with sympathizers; they showed every respect for authority, and considered outward conformity a duty. This quietist attitude, while it saved them from molestation, hampered propaganda. The outward trappings of his system were Anabaptist; his followers were accused of asserting that all things were ruled by nature and not directly by God, of denying the dogma of the Trinity, and repudiating infant baptism. They held that no man should be put to death for his opinions, and apparently, like the later Quakers, they objected to the carrying of arms and to anything like an oath; and they were quite impartial in their repudiation of all other churches and sects.
In the 1580s, it was discovered that some of the Yeomen of the Guard for Elizabeth I were Familists - the Queen did nothing about it.The biggest colony of Familists was in Balsham. His chief apostle in England was Christopher Vitell. The society lingered into the early years of the 18th century; the leading idea of its service of love was a reliance on sympathy and tenderness for the moral and spiritual edification of its members. Thus, in an age of strife and polemics, it seemed to afford a refuge for quiet, gentle spirits, and meditative temperaments. The Quakers, Baptists and Unitarians may have derived some of their ideas from the "Family" (Wikipedia)
Jacob Boehme: 1575 – 1624, Mystic; 'Fire', 'Light', and 'Spirit'; Christ as Light.
(Levellers: 1647, e.g. Lilburne and Rainsborough, purely political though radically left wing.)
Ranters: that God is essentially in every creature; Ranters therefore denied the authority of the Church, of scripture, of the current ministry, instead calling on men to hearken to Jesus within them. Claxton, who encountered and joined the Ranters in 1649, published in 1650 a tract called 'A Single Eye', arguing  "that a believer is free from all traditional restraints, that sin is a product only of the imagination, and that private ownership of property is wrong." Ranters had no test to distinguish God's will from their will.
Diggers: Gerrard Winstanley had a brief period (1649 – 52) of dangerous enthusiasm as "Digger" (Christian communism) digging up the commons, but by '54 he married a Quaker and became a Quaker and a conventional citizen and churchwarden.
Quaking Women: Secretary Nicholas (1647): "There are a sect of women lately come from foreign parts, and lodged in Southwark, called Quakers, who swell, shiver, and shake; and when they come to themselves (for in all the time of their fits Mahomet's holy ghost converses with them) they begin to preach what hath been delivered to them .... "
(Do not confuse Quakers with Shakers or Amish: Shakers originated as "Shaking Quakers" because of the ecstatic nature of their worship. Begun in 1747, an English sect founded by 2 Quakers,Jane and James Wardley, who taught that their shaking and trembling was caused by sin being purged from the body by the power of the Holy Spirit, purifying the worshiper. The members looked to women for leadership. Ann Lee joined them by 1758 and soon assumed leadership of the small community. She taught her followers that it is possible to attain perfect holiness only by giving up sexual relations. (Forced marriage and the loss of four children in infancy created great trauma for "Mother Ann" ). She claimed to have revelations regarding the fall of Adam and Eve and its relationship to sexual intercourse. Her followers gave up all personal property, and took up the cross of celibacy. After 10 years of persecution Ann emigrated to America (1774) with her small community which settled in New York State, and was soon known for its enthusiastic worship; singing and dancing, shaking and shouting, speaking with new tongues and prophesying, i.e. all those various gifts of the Holy Ghost known in the primitive church. The Shakers, as they were called, saw themselves as the avant garde of the kingdom of God. At is peak in 1840 6,000 full members, but as of December 2009 only three members left. Amish (a German sect) were completely unrelated to Quakers; except they also adopted the simple life and old-fashioned dress.)
Seekers: A considerable community of worshippers centered on Preston Patrick in Cumbria (a few miles south of Kendal) called themselves Seekers. They were not a movement, only a very loose association of like-minded worshippers, here and in neighbouring parts of West and North Yorkshire. Their leader Thomas Taylor (1616 - ?),  an Oxford graduate and licensed preacher. Seekers voluntarily supported other peripatetic preachers, including Howgill, Camm and Audland. Usually met out-doors or in barns. Held together only by the monthly "general" meeting at Preston Patrick. Taylor broke from C of E, to Independent, then Anabaptist, attempted to set up an Apostolic church as in the pre-Roman Christian church. But it was centered on scripture, and what they could make of it; Faith Hope & Charity; "only believe that Jesus died to redeem your sins, and they shall be redeemed".

Enter George Fox (1624 - 1691)

Fox left home at 19 already a shoemaker by trade, to seek enlightenment, talking to all "professors" of religion. After much wandering, and fasting, and sleeping rough, and moping, aged 25 Fox joined some 'shattered Baptists' (Notts., 1649), taught them his discovery of the internal 'Light'; then led them as "Children of the Light"; the perception that had come to him and solved his own moral problems was: We have access in ourselves to the 'knowledge of good and evil', we all can see The Light, which is the spirit of Christ.
Fox was easily driven to fury at the thought of people paying tithes to a Priest, only to have him preach false doctrine back at him. Popery! Even a church spire drove Fox to fury. The church (as Fox understood Jesus) was the congregation not the building; the latter, Fox insisted on calling a "Steeple house". Popery and idolatry! It was accepted practice at that time for anyone to speak in church after service but (by a Law of Queen Mary) it was illegal to interrupt the service;  in Nottingham Fox escaped prison by a technicality [b52]; the judge left the court before Fox was called. [References: b=Braithwaite "The Beginnings of Quakerism", Cambridge, 1970; fj="The Journal of George Fox", Britain Yearly Meeting, 2005; QF&P= Quaker Faith & Practice, BYM, 2010.]
Blasphemy act of 1650 just passed, was used against Fox in Derby by Justice Bennett; Fox grilled for 8 hours, and then imprisoned for blasphemy, for a year till Oct 1651. (read fj51: I was moved of the Lord to go up to them, and when they had done, I spake to them what the Lord commanded me, "of the Truth, and the day of the Lord, and the light within them, and the spirit to teach and lead them to God;" and they were pretty quiet..(+8h) ..At last they asked me whether I was sanctified. I said 'Sanctified? Yes' for I was in the Paradise of God. They said, had I no sin? 'Sin?' I said, 'Christ my Saviour hath taken away my sin, and in him there is no sin.) Which was a foolish overstatement as Fox afterwards saw.
On release he went on travelling and preaching heading north (read fj90-1 And from thence I passed up in the country and had some service in the towns at night amongst people ant the next day Friends and  friendly people left me and I passed alone, and as I went I spoke to people in the fields, of the day of the Lord that was coming upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness and how that Christ was come to teach his people himself, and warning them to repent. And so I turned into a town towards night, called Patrington; and as I was going along the town, preaching and speaking, I warned the priest that was in the street and people to repent and turn to the Lord. Some heard and others said that I was mad, and it grew dark before I came to the end of the town..[Next morning,] when I was brought before him [a Justice] he bad me put off my hat, and I took it off in my hand, and said to him, 'Doth this trouble thee?' and I put it on again. And he said 'no, it was my principle'. So I warned him to repent and come to the light that Christ had enlightened him with aÉSo he set me at liberty.) Then west to Sedbergh.
13th June '52, Firbank fell; 1000 hearers; who maybe appreciated [a] the Lord IS here among us, [b] you do not need to pay tithes. (Fox's message is not millenian, it is not that Jesus waited 1600 yrs and then descended in middle England (!!), but that his spirit was in us ALL ALONG. The seekers were the tinder, Fox the spark that set them alight. Howgill, Camm and Audland all started to preach Fox's message.
Swarthmore: Margaret Fell wrote: 'And so he went on, and said, "That Christ was the Light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and that by this light they might be gathered to God," &c. I stood up in my pew, and wondered at his doctrine, for I had never heard such before. And then he went on, and opened the scriptures, and said, "The scriptures were the prophets' words, and Christ's and the apostles' words, and what, as they spoke, they enjoyed and possessed, and had it from the Lord": and said, "Then what had any to do with the scriptures, but as they came to the Spirit that gave them forth? You will say, 'Christ saith this, and the apostles say this;' but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?" &c. This opened me so, that it cut me to the heart; and then I saw clearly we were all wrong. So I sat down in my pew again, and cried bitterly: and I cried in my spirit to the Lord, "We are all thieves; we are all thieves; we have taken the scriptures in words, and know nothing of them in ourselves."
Fox's preaching and persecution continued most of his life. Quaint dress (leather breeks were 'lasty'); hat honour [19:40] [b47: When the Lord sent me forth into the world, He forbad me to put off my hat to any, high or  low, and I was required to Thee and Thou all men and women, without and respect to rich and poor, great or small. And, as I Travelled up and down, was not to bid people "Good morrow", or "Good evening", neither might I bow or scrape with my leg to any one, and this made the sects and professions to rage.], fiasco at Launceston [fj248/9 In court in Launceston finding that the false charges against Fox would not stick the Quakers were charged 20 marks a-piece for not putting off their hats and sent to prison till it was paid.]; Oaths [QF&P 19:38; fj244]; 'Thou' [QF&P 19:40].
The name "Quakers" was used disparagingly by Justice Bennett thinking of the trembling women, but thrown back at him by George Fox, and used quite soon by Quakers when wishing to identify themselves to the public. Internally, they called themselves "Friends of the Truth". 
Who joined Quakers, and why? Many 'ordinary' folk. Some 'well-placed'; the latter did themselves a disservice for as dissenters they could not go to university.  The susceptible were those who were concerned about being good people, and who could see past the strangeness and the excessive enthusiasm.
On several occasions GF met Cromwell who had a tenderness towards Quakers. [fj197; 265, 289]

James Nayler:

[b252] James Nayler was the most charismatic and gifted speaker of the "valiant 60" who went out from Kendal with the new message. In Sept 1656 Fox was released from Launceston prison and visited Nayler in Exeter prison where Nayler was fasting. Some women were kneeling before him bowing and singing "Holy, holy, holy". Fox rebuked Nayler for allowing that. But Nayler thought it concordant with the Quaker message that "Christ was come to teach his people himself, and was revealed in his Saints"; and that the women should do what they were moved to do. A month later, when Nayler was released, on 24th Oct 1656 a little troop entered Bristol city up a muddy lane, Nayler on a horse, 2 men following, 2 women (Martha and Hannah) in front up to their ankles in mud singing "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Israel", and laying garments on the ground, into the city and to an inn owned by a Quaker (of which there were some 1000 in Bristol at that time). People thronged around, the magistrates came and threw them into prison. On consideration, they felt the matter too deep and sent Nayler up to London to be tried by Parliament.
Parliament, the second set up by Oliver Cromwell under the Instrument of Governance (1653) had in any case had 30% of its members excluded by Oliver Cromwell in a rough-handed means of getting a Parliament that would serve his purpose. They set up a committee of 55 to examine Nayler and report back. Under cross-examination Nayler said that the worship given to him was given to God-in-him. That if it pleased the Lord to make the women salute the presence of God in him, he would not judge them for it. The committee reported back to Parliament and the full house debated the matter for 9 days. Some urged restraint, others wrath. It was concluded that Nayler had committed 'horrid blasphemy' and that he was a grand imposter and seducer of people. But what punishment should they prescribe? Remember that Oliver Cromwell was called the Protector, and by virtue of clause 37 of the Instrument, gave protection to any Christian sect save Popery and Prelacy; but this was set aside. The legalists pointed out that there was no law against blasphemy, and that 6 months for creating disturbance was all that could legally be handed down. That also was brushed aside, and it was declared that Parliament could make law. Strictly, that was the prerogative of the Upper House, but that had been abolished and it was claimed that its powers therefore devolved on the Commons. But that route was dropped also, as new law required the consent of Oliver Cromwell who was known to be soft on Quakers. The old testament was much quoted as though Leviticus and Deuteronomy were part of the English Statute Book. The death penalty was defeated by a whisker (96:82). Nayler was condemned to the pillory, whipping through the city, the boring of his tongue with a hot iron, humiliation in Bristol then indefinite prison at the will of parliament. Shortly before Cromwell's death in 1658 he sent his secretary to visit Nayler, but he found him sullen. In all he was imprisoned nigh 3 years, and released 8th Sept 1659.  His biggest grief was the loss of respect from Fox. He was completely humbled, convinced of his error, and deeply ashamed at the hurt he had wrought the Quakers. He was finally reconciled with Fox in January 1660, and died that October while walking back to his wife and family at Wakefield. ("There is a spiritÉ" b275; quoted later.)

Travelling:

While Fox was a prisoner in Launceston prison in 1656 Ann Downer walked from London the 200 miles to Launceston (66 hours walking according to Google maps, or 4 hours by car), in order to help Fox. He asked her to take down a letter. (QF&P 19:32) . "Friends, In the power of life and wisdom, and dread of the Lord God of life, and heaven, and earth, dwell; that in the wisdom of God over all ye may be preserved, and be a terror to all the adversaries of God, and a dread, answering that of God in them all, spreading the Truth abroad, awakening the witness, confounding deceit, gathering up out of transgression into the life, the covenant of light and peace with God.
Let all nations hear the word by sound or writing. Spare no place, spare not tongue nor pen, but be obedient to the Lord God and go through the world and be valiant for the Truth upon earth; tread and trample all that is contrary under.
Keep in the wisdom of God that spreads over all the earth, the wisdom of the creation, that is pure. Live in it; that is the word of the Lord God to you all, do not abuse it; and keep down and low; and take heed of false joys that will change.
Bring all into the worship of God. Plough up the fallow ground... And none are ploughed up but he who comes to the principle of God in him which he hath transgressed. Then he doth service to God; then the planting and the watering and the increase from God cometh. So the ministers of the Spirit must minister to the Spirit that is transgressed and in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one; whereby with the same Spirit people must be led out of captivity up to God, the Father of spirits, and do service to him and have unity with him, with the Scriptures and with one another. And this is the word of the Lord God to you all, and a charge to you all in the presence of the living God: be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one. "
Fox and his followers carried his practical message far and wide, soon abroad to America and Ireland. Tradesmen left their workbenches, farmers their ploughs, men and women their wives and husbands. One wife left behind to run the farm and support the family, wrote to her husband: "Oh, how I am refreshed to hear from you, to hear of thy faithfulness and boldness in the work of the Lord. Oh, dear heart, go on, conquering and to conquer".
Mary Fisher (ca. 1623 – 1698) A remarkable Quaker woman, Mary Fisher (born 1623 in Selby), was so convinced of the truth of FoxÕs testimony, and the clarity of that truth, that in 1656 she felt called on to tell it personally, first to the colonists in Boston who were famously intolerant, and then in 1658 to the Grand Turk. Travelling to Turkey would be a considerable adventure for an unaccompanied, unmarried, woman in 1658, the year after the annihilation by the Ottomans of the Venetian fleet. Arriving in Smyrna, she asked the English Consul how to contact the Sultan of Turkey, the Grand Turk. He tried to put Mary off her mission, and onto a ship for Venice. But on her way back along the coast she jumped ship, and set off alone and on foot to walk 700 kilometres to the SultanÕs court in Adrianople. The Sultan at that time was the young 17 year old Mehmed IV. (It is fortunate that Mary Fisher did not make the trip 10 years earlier, for Mehmed's father (Ibrahim I ) was a particularly violent man; in a fit of jealous rage he killed by drowning some 200 members of his harem, tying them in sacks and throwing them in the Bosphorus.) However, at Adrianople Mary Fisher was well received. She persuaded the Grand Vizier to arrange a meeting with the Sultan as she had a message for him from God. She was admitted to the Sultan as an ambassador, and listened to with courtesy. They then asked her if she had heard the teachings of the prophet Mahomet, which she said she had not. She returned to England and felt bound to testify that the Turks did "dread the name of God" and were "more near Truth than many nations". 
She wrote : Now returned into England ... have I borne my testimony for the Lord before the king unto whom I was sent, and he was very noble unto me and so were all that were about him ... they do dread the name of God, many of them... Though they be called Turks, the seed of them is near unto God, and their kindness hath in some measure been shown towards his servants. [QF&P 19:38?]

Mary Dyer Mary Dyer was a follower of the New England preacher Anne Hutchinson, who taught that the Holy Spirit dwelt in a justified person. In the 1650s the Dyers accompanied Roger Williams and John Clarke to England to seek a reprieve of the excessive powers of the Governor, where Mary Dyer became a Quaker, influenced by George Fox. Returning to Boston, she was arrested and expelled under a new law outlawing Quakers. (Her husband, who had not become a Quaker, was not arrested.) Mary Dyer was arrested a year later for preaching Quakerism in New Haven. She returned to Massachusetts to visit two English Quakers held in the jail, and was arrested there. Banished, she returned with other Quakers to defy the law, and was arrested. Two of her comrades were hanged, but she received a last-minute reprieve. She returned to Rhode Island, then traveled to Long Island, but finally in 1660 returned to Massachusetts to again defy the anti-Quaker law. This time, her sentence was carried out the day after her conviction, and on June 1, 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged — for being a Quaker in Massachusetts.

Closed: and "Quietist", 18th ©.

Many in Britain were convinced of the truth of Fox's message and stuck to it in spite of persecution and imprisonment (for not paying tithes, and for meeting); 4200 in prision simultaneously in 1661; many others emigrated to New England.
Persecution could not eradicate Quakerism which was clearly both extremely peaceable, and extremely stubborn. Eventually persecution could only be seen as vindictive; after 30 years it was dropped.
No more evangelizing, no new leaders emerged, members held on stubbornly to what they regarded at "The Truth"
Barclay and Quaker Theology: Quakers were not interested in theology but viewed themselves as 'at least' as correct theologically as the other sects in Christendom at the time (Roman, English, Lutheran, Calvinist, )  Preferred Augustine/Calvin to Pelagius—man must sin.
Plain Dress became something of a uniform. Margaret Fell unsuccessfully protested it as "a silly, poor gospel." But it was popular among Quakers. While we may see this Quietist Century as one of rigidity, and self-satisfied priggishness, we must also realize that the discipline upheld high standards of moral behaviour and protected their basic Christian principles against undue compromise. While it made Quakers a "peculiar people," their strict integrity and high ethical standards also helped them prosper. Quaker businesses were popular because people knew they could count on being treated fairly, and that the word of Friends was dependable.

Wealth

Since only Anglicans were allowed to study at university in the UK, or hold public office, many Quakers went into business; with a strong work ethic, with a mutually supportive 'brotherhood', and with the explicit objective of 'bettering the lives of their customers, and employees as well as of themselves, Capital began to accumulate, and was readily lent, first to Quakers, then to others.
Lloyds, Gillett's, Gurney and Barclay are all Quaker banks, Coleman's of Norfolk, who make the mustard, also Isaac Reckitt (1792–1862) of Humberside, Huntley and Palmers, & Foxes who make biscuits, Bryant and May making matches, Clark shoes, Wedgwood pottery, Waterford crystal; the chocolatiers Cadbury, Fry, & Rowntree were all Quaker. (The Cadbury family, founded the Bourneville Village as an attempt to improve workers' conditions.)
But there are also less-remembered names.  Abraham Darby was an innovative genius in the early 18th century, whose metal working companies were instrumental in starting the Industrial Revolution. The Pease family of Darlington started and ran the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, originally set up to transport coal from their mines but later introducing the worldÕs first passenger train.  Quaker enterprises formed the basis of Unilever, ICI, British Steel,  British Rail (e.g. John Edward Ellis, a Liberal MP and Quaker, from Leicestershire, was the grandson of John Ellis MP, Chairman of the Midland Railway). The London Lead Company (i.e. 'The company for smelting down lead with pit-coal.') Tyneside shipbuilders:- John Wigham Richardson (1837 – 1908) was a leading shipbuilder on Tyneside; not to be confused with his cousin John Richardson Wigham (1829 - 1906) who was one of the greatest figures in lighthouse engineering; George Beigh Richardson director of Swan/Hunter/Wigham/Richardson; Mertz (of Mertz-McClellan, alternating current grid; electric trains).
Some prominent scientists have been Quakers: Robert Dunkin of Penzance (who was Humphrey Davies' teacher), John Dalton (chemist). Nearer our own day Arthur Stanley Eddington FRS (1882-1934), an astronomer, Jocelyn Bell Burnell discoverer of pulsars (1943-), Kathleen Lonsdale FRS, crystallographer(1903-1971). Arthur Eddington felt that scientists and Quakers had something important in common. [In 1930 he wrote, "I think that the spirit of seeking is still the prevailing one in our faith, which for that reason is not embodied in any creed or formula. The finding of one generation will not serve the next. It tarnishes rapidly except it be preserved with an ever-renewed spirit of seeking. I think it may be said that Quakerism, in dispensing with creeds, holds out a hand to the scientistÉ. The spirit of seeking which animates us refuses to regard any kind of creed as its goal. Rejection of a creed is not inconsistent with being possessed by a living belief. We have no creed in science, but we are not lukewarm in our beliefs. If our so-called facts are changing shadows, they are shadows cast by the light of constant truth."]

American Quakerism:

In early 18th ©, Quakerism was the dominant sect in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

Schisms:

Crewdson, expelled 1836, died at Bowness on 8 May 1844, and was buried at Rusholme Road cemetery, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester.[6] His followers, who called themselves Evangelical Friends and were called Beaconites, drifted away and many became Plymouth Brethren.
Gurneyite–Wilburite split, between Joseph John Gurney of England and John Wilbur of Rhode Island. Gurney emphasized scriptural authority and favoured working closely with other Christian groups. Wilbur, defended the authority of the Holy Spirit as primary, and worked to prevent what he saw as the dilution of the Friends' tradition of Spirit-led ministry. Wilbur was expelled in 1842; but I think he has won the argument.

Opening up:

Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 9 May 1828 — Religious groups including Unitarians, Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists and the Society of Friends campaigned for a change in the law. In 1828 both the Corporation and Test Acts were repealed by Parliament. (Roman Catholics were prevented from holding public office until the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. Jewish emancipation took longer and was not fully achieved until 1890.)
Between 1828 and 1885 Quakers progressively entered mainstream cultural life. First MP in 1833.

Manchester conference 1885

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) said to a group of Quakers in 1885, "I don't know what religion is. I only know what work is, and that is all I can speak on, this side of Jordan." When asked in an interview in 1896 "Do you pray?", she answered, "I pray every single second of my life; not on my knees, but with my work. My prayer is to lift women to equality with men. Work and worship are one with me. I know there is no God of the universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and calling him 'great'." In 1897 she wrote,
"(I)t does not matter whether it is Calvinism, Unitarianism, Spiritualism, Christian Science, or Theosophy, they are all speculations". Women could be members of Sufferings only since 1886.

Pacifism (1550 - 1947 )

Pacifism: "An unconditional rejection of all forms of warfare"
Beginning in the 15th century, the Protestant Reformation gave rise to a variety of new Christian sects, including the historic peace churches. The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons (1496 – 1561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighbouring states where ruling families were tolerant of their radical belief in adult baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic "peace churches" because of their commitment to nonviolence. (There are about 1.5 million Mennonites worldwide as of 2006. Mennonite congregations worldwide encompas the full range of Mennonite practice from "plain people" to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. The largest populations of Mennonites are in Canada. Early Mennonites in Europe were good farmers and were invited to take over poor soils and enrich them through hard work and good sense. Often the governing bodies would take back the land and force the Mennonites to move on since they would offer no resistance. So the migration to America started, and they were welcomed by the Colonists.). Other prominent "peace" sects include Quakers, Amish, and Church of the Brethren ("Schwarzenau New Baptists") organized in 1708 by eight persons led by Alexander Mack, in Schwarzenau, Bad Berleburg, Germany.). After its founding by William Penn, Quaker-controlled colony of Pennsylvania followed an 'anti-militarist' public policy. Unlike residents of many of the colonies, Quakers chose to trade peacefully with the Indians, including for land. For 75 years (from 1681 to 1756), Pennsylvania was essentially unarmed and experienced little or no warfare in that period.
Leo Tolstoy was another fervent advocate of pacifism. In one of his latter works "The Kingdom of God is Within You", Tolstoy provides a detailed history, account and defence of pacifism. The book was a major early influence on Gandhi (1869–1948).
In 1651 Fox told [the Commonwealth Commissioners] "I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars and I knew from whence all wars did rise, from the lustÉ."
Margaret Fell - The best-known statement the Quaker position on pacifism was a declaration to King Charles II of England in 1660 by Margaret Fell, following George Fox's imprisonment after an armed revolt by religious radicals in London in January; its issuance at this particular time was as much to remove any suspicion that Friends might have been involved as a desire to make their position clear. This excerpt is commonly cited:
"A declaration from the harmless and innocent people of God, called Quakers, London: 1660. All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world. That spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight any war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world." [5]
Some Quakers initially opposed this statement because it did not deny use of the sword to the magistrate or ruler of the state. It also contained no prohibition against paying taxes for purposes of war, something continues to trouble Friends today.

Nobel Peace Prize

The Religious Society of Friends was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, for Friends' work to relieve suffering and feed many millions of starving people during and after both world wars. The Nobel prize was accepted by the American Friends Service Committee, along with the UK's Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers.

Kindertransport: Oxfam: Greenpeace:

are all Quaker-instigate organizations.

Present:

Numbers:

15,000 in the UK; total number around 360,000 worldwide.
Members vs attenders.
The Church is the people not the building. Quakers meet in Meeting Houses, other faiths in chapels or "Steeple houses".

Quaker Faith and Practice:

Some aspects of church government resemble that of the Presbyterians: The congregation that meets together each Sunday is called the Local Meeting (thus Allendale, Hexham, Monkseaton, Alnwick, etc.). Elders are appointed to guide and support the inward or 'spiritual' life of the Meeting, Overseers to guide and support the Meeting in outward matters (health, financial hardship, etc). Once a month, representatives from Local Meeting gather for a monthly Area Meeting (thus Northumbria Area extends from Durham, west to Allendale and north to Berwick). Once a year representatives meet at a national level constituting Britain Yearly Meeting — the Governing Body of British Quakers. (As some business cannot wait 12 months, a smaller gathering is held monthly in London and called Meeting for Sufferings.)

Meetings for business:

 or Church Affairs are presided over by a Clerk, whether at Local, Area or National level. There are no votes; it is doctrine that Meeting seeks "the will of God"; that after due consideration a right path will emerge. The Clerk will prepare a draft minute and read it to the meeting. If approved it remains the final minute; if there is further discussion the Clerk will alter his minute appropriately until there is unanimity. Surprizingly, it does work.
Currently, in Britain, meetings are generally unscripted, and basically silent; there are no designated Ministers; words may be spoken during meeting for worship by anybody present, and the duty lies on all. All sit in silence seeking the "will of God" and sharing their perceptions.

Marriage:

God marries and Meeting does but witness the same. All sign the certificate. Deemed valid in British law without the civil registrar playing any part.

Theology:

Generally, Quakerism has had no creed (no required belief system), but has always had doctrines. George Fox dismissed theologians as "notionists" but accepted Robert Barclay's "Confession of Faith". Most Quakers today are little concerned with theology and are more focused on acting in accordance with the leading of the Spirit. God may be a person, or a spirit in a person, or may be everything, or nothing; but that does not matter; for we all know (it is contended) right from wrong, especially if we open ourselves to quiet reflection and share our understanding one with another.

Future:

Numbers:

Numbers of Quakers in Britain have declined steadily since 1700; from some 50,000 to 15,000 in 2010. Some have extrapolated to the extinction of Quakers by 2050. I think and hope not, as I think Quakers can fulfil a role others religions cannot.

Non-Christian and non-theist Quakers:

At regular intervals there is discussion among Friends about whether you have to be a Christian to be a Quaker, but as yet no division. The basis for including non Christians often serves to include nontheists as well.
Quakerism has been changing ever since George Fox had his first 'opening' on Pendle Hill; Nontheists are part of this evolving tradition.
It seems (to me) an absolutely crucial point that the truth of a moral proposition is assessed moment by moment by all people. Maybe Truth is eternal, but our understanding of it evolves. Quakers can more easily evolve than some scripture-based religions.

Try the following as possible guiding principles:

<![if !supportLists]>á             <![endif]>"There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil,..." (QF&P 19:12)
<![if !supportLists]>á             <![endif]>"Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one." (QF&P 19:32)
<![if !supportLists]>á             <![endif]>"Remember that Christianity is not a notion but a way. (QF&P 1:02#02)
<![if !supportLists]>á             <![endif]>".. the apostles say this;' but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of the Light, and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest, is it inwardly from God?" (QF&P 19:07)
<![if !supportLists]>á             <![endif]>"Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, .."(Isaac Pennington, 1667) (QF&P 10:01)
++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++++++++++
American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace and social justice organization founded in 1917.
Amnesty International, human rights organization; Eric Baker was a founding partner.
Albright and Wilson, Manufacturing chemists.
Barclays Bank, finance.
Bethlehem Steel, founded by Quaker entrepreneur Joseph Wharton.
Bradshaw's, Victorian and Edwardian publisher of the most widely used railway timetables in Britain, Europe and India, founded by Quaker George Bradshaw.
Bryant and May, former match manufacturing company, founded by two Quakers, Francis May and William Bryant.
Cadbury plc, chocolate and drinks manufacturer, was founded by Quaker John Cadbury, and expanded by Quaker sons Richard and George
Carr's, UK biscuit manufacturer.
CHUM Limited, a major Canadian media company, which was founded by Ted Rogers, Sr, a former caretaker of Pickering College who invented the radio tube.[5]
Clarks, shoe manufacturer.
Coalbrookdale Company, iron manufacturer.
Cornell University, Ivy league educational institution in Ithaca, New York, US.
Crosfield's, a British chemicals company founded in 1814 by Quaker Joseph Crosfield, now a subsidiary of Ineos.
Cully&Sully, Irish food producer, famous for its award-winning pies.
Duane Morris, now one of the 100 largest law firms in the US, and still committed to Quaker values.[6]
ExelTech Aerospace, Canadian aircraft maintenance and repair company.
Friends Provident, life assurance company, was founded by Quakers Samuel Tuke and Joseph Rowntree.
J. S. Fry & Sons, chocolate manufacturer.
Greenpeace, campaigning environment organization — founding member Irving Stowe.
Hilton, Anderson, Brooks, & Co, a Victorian cement producer that became the largest employer in Essex, England, founded by Quaker Edmund Wright Brooks.
Humane Resources Ltd, a UK business claiming to provide ethically sound, practical and affordable advice and support with employment disputes;
Huntley and Palmers biscuits, manufacturer in Reading, Berkshire.
Huntsman, steel manufacturer.
Hussey Seating Co., a North Berwick, Maine manufacturer of stadium and gymnasium seating systems, founded by the Hussey family in 1835. [8]
The Inman Line, a Victorian passenger shipping line on the North Atlantic, founded in 1850 by Irish Quaker industrialist John Grubb Richardson and Englishman William Inman.
Lloyds Bank (now Lloyds TSB), finance.[9]
Marigold Health Food, a London-based health food distributor founded in 1975 by Quaker entrepreneur David Swinstead.[10]
Miami Beach Improvement Company, the first land developer in Miami Beach, was founded in 1911 by Quaker John S. Collins.
Mount of Olives, an Irish company founded by Richard Kimbell, imports and distributes olives from Jenin in the West Bank and distributes all profits to youth projects and schools.
Neptune Works, also known as Wigham Richardson, a British shipbuilder founded in 1860 by John Wigham Richardson that pioneered steel construction for ships; it later merged with Swan Hunter to become the largest shipbuilder of its day.
Oxfam, charity.[11]
Quakers & Business, charity
Queen City Oil Company, headquartered in Toronto, was founded by Samuel and Elias Rogers and evolved into Imperial Oil, which is now the Canadian subsidiary of Exxon.
RenovarŽ, an interfaith group founded by Richard J. Foster.
Rowntree's (now Rowntree Mackintosh, owned by NestlŽ), chocolate manufacturer was founded by Quaker Joseph Rowntree
Sandy Hill Bank, founded in 1868 by Quaker farmers, is now the largest bank in the state of Maryland, USA.
Scott Bader Commonwealth, a British manufacturer of advanced resins and composites, founded by Ernest Bader in 1951.
Strawbridge and Clothier, (now part of Macy's) department store chain, USA (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware).
Sony (formerly Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo); TTK's founding board chair was Tamon Maeda, a Japanese Quaker.
Stockton and Darlington Railway, established in 1825 by Quaker Edward Pease, operated the world's first permanent steam locomotive-hauled railway line.
Terry's, UK chocolate manufacturer.[12]
Waterford Wedgwood, an Irish publicly-traded luxury goods company created in 1987 through the merger of Waterford Crystal and Wedgwood, both founded by Quakers.
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Famous Quakers (or ex-Q )
David Lean - film director (Lawrence of Arabia; Doctor Zhivago)
James Dean - American actor; pop icon
Judi Dench - British actress "M" in James Bond movies since 1995
Ben Kingsley - actor, received Best Actor Academy Award for Gandhi (1982)
Paul Eddington (1927-1995) - British film and television actor "Yes, Prime Minister".
Joan Baez - singer and activist (lapsed)
+++++++++++++++++++++
Businesses with no Quaker connection:-
Quaker Oats Company, food manufacturer.
Quaker Funds, an investment firm.[13]
Quaker State, motor oil brand.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Experiencing God II

(For previous sections see below)

Title

         God II: a God for atheists

6. Experiencing God II

Brian Davies in his "An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion" has a chapter 7 titled "Experience and God". In it he ruminates on the proposition that direct experience of God can teach us about God and can provide grounds for a belief in the existence of God by a route other than reason. Davies is largely concerned with the rather rare but very striking occurrences, what we might call "burning bush" or "Joan of Arc" experiences, anecdotes essentially, because rare. But he wisely admits that some of these "experiences" could be cases of mistaken identity; hallucinations, or even fibs. He goes on to ponder how an enquirer could know that he is experiencing God if he does not already "know God"; the feeling of certainty is clearly not enough.

I wish to turn the whole discussion round and approach it from the other end. Suppose we wonder whether we should be honest or dishonest (speak the truth or tell lies), whether we should help our neighbours or hinder them, share (at least part of) our possessions with less fortunate individuals or take from others without asking, indulge or abstain. Suppose we discuss our feelings with others and find that they have similar thoughts, and similar dilemmas. I believe that such discussions would show a consensus. More than that, I believe that they do show a consensus. Indeed, I think I can truthfully go further still and say that I know they show a consensus, at least within certain groups.

What I am talking about here is not philosophers discussing general propositions but each individual experiencing hundreds, maybe thousands of particular little instances of a dilemma. How many times have I found something that does not belong to me? Should I keep it or hand it in? Will the proper owner ever recover it? It may be impossible to generalize, for each case is different and must be judged afresh. With the current world population there are potentially 6.8 billion individuals each involved in making a myriad similar judgements. Complicate that further by letting the 6.8 billion individuals discuss each case with a dozen 'friends'. The moral conscience of the human species is highly diffuse, but it is not nebulous. It would be hard to determine the complete answer to the question "Is it wrong to kill your unborn offspring?" But there is an answer. And there is a perfectly straightforward way in which we can approach an estimate of the answer.

There are religions where it is taught that morality derives from 'God'. Breaking God's law is called 'Sin'. The sinner is banished from God's presence (i.e. heaven), unless he seeks, and is granted, forgiveness. This is an old tradition. It is therefore by no means twisting words to conclude that 'God', as the moral conscience of mankind, is located in the collective mind of mankind. We find that the judgements of good and evil, the condemning and the forgiving of sinners is indeed done by 'God' — what I have called God II. I think an extension of this train of though will show that other judgements are similarly located, questions of human worth, and 'the purpose of life'.

It is not everyone that ponders and discusses questions of right and wrong. Some people have a clear 'inner voice' on such matters, but others do not, and may be content to rely on the consciences of their neighbours. It greatly simplifies matters for the lazy or insecure if codes of practice are produced, and books written, and a sort of 'case law' established whereby individuals do not need to access their own feelings but can rely on clear-cut rules. Some individuals are seen to speak with a clarity that their neighbours recognize and support. Others speak with an inner confidence but fail to convince their neighbours. However, just as it is important in a democracy for the citizen to vote, so in questions of morality and on questions of human value it is important for everyone to take part, to ponder and discuss. It is far too easy for single individuals to miss the faint promptings of conscience and to be distracted by worldly and material things. See how the Popes got distracted from the care of Christendom into murder, indulgence and deceit. See how the vicars of the established church in England grew progressively richer and fatter and gave progressively fewer sermons while their curates scurried around doing the vicar's duties for him. Seeking the 'will of God' is a human duty. Where it is neglected, or too much delegated, humanity dwindles.

+++++++++++++++++++

Is God II something objective and outside ourselves? — yes.

Does God II exist as a real object? — no; rather as a spirit or idea or set of ideas.

Is the God II of Moses the same as God II today? — in large part yes.

Is God II aware of each and every one of us? — yes.

Does God II care for us as individuals? — yes.

Does the Bible and the Koran represent the 'word of God II' ? — in part yes.

+++++++++++++++++++

 

 

 

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Morality

(For previous sections see below)

Title

              God II: a God for atheists

5.  Morality and the 'Will of God'

Dawkins, in chapter 6 of 'The God Delusion', questioned the root of morality, asking 'Why are we good?' He pointed out that atheists scored as well as theists on simple mathematical tests of morality, like 'under what circumstance might you kill one person to save five?'. He argued (as have others) that altruism can have Darwinian survival value in several social contexts, making it credible that altruism has indeed evolved in social animals by natural selection, thus dispensing with the need to base morality in God. He anticipated the protest that some altruistic actions, like feeding other people's babies, have no survival value for the selfish genes that code such actions, by calling such actions 'misfirings' of the altruistic gene. The gene evolved (he would argue) in the context of an inbred clan in which a hungry baby was likely to be related to the altruistic feeder. So, to the question "Is it a supernatural God that makes us moral?" he answers "No! It is natural selection".  

I offer the following rephrasing:
"Is it a supernatural God that makes us moral? No. It is natural morality that makes us moral, but many people call it God."

I do this not simply to annoy R. Dawkins, but because I think this is a correct analysis of a very large part of religion as it has developed over the last 2000 years. The word God is composite; it contains a great number of different meanings, but in particular two meanings, which I have labelled God I and God II. To believe in a supernatural God may be a mistake; but to dismiss God as a delusion is equally a mistake. The supernatural, pre-scientific, Stone Age God (God I) may be a mistake, but there remains the concept (God II) that lies behind the moral teachings of Jesus, and innumerable other saints, and sinners, who have used the word 'God' to enshrine their concept of right and wrong. This is a humane God; and indeed a human one. To the extent that God is supposed to have a personality, is supposed to love, praise, blame, etc., in-so-far-as God talks to mankind, bids us do this or not do that, to precisely that extent God is clearly a human construct. As the word 'moral' seems to go along with words like, civilized, decent, honest, kind, true, the atheist might well hope that he can be called moral. The Dawkins-type atheist does not deny morality; he merely wishes to say it is natural, not supernatural. That position seems sound enough because it seems tautological (given that 'natural' includes 'that which is', and excludes only 'that which is not').

I doubt whether anyone can love his neighbour simply because told to do so, by Jesus or anyone else. But to be encouraged to do so may tip the balance between co-operating and competing, loving and hating. The moral atheist may feel prompted (by simple physiological mechanisms) to love his neighbour, quite as much as a Christian does. The value of the teaching "Love thy neighbour as thy self" is a subtle question of reinforcing, and bundling. It probably makes little difference to the crude impulse, that it be enjoined on us by Jesus, but it does make us aware of a tingly extra quality of goodness; it puts neighbourliness in a category with charity, self abnegation etc. Morality seems to be a diffuse bundle of feelings and teachings, which has been spoken of, by some, as the 'will of God'. To dismiss God as a delusion should never make us dismiss the diffuse bundle. It remains as important for us as when it was described as the will of God. Which is why I think it worthwhile to write this.

Life-after-death? (Heaven II and Hell II)

The immediate rewards of virtue are at best insubstantial. Virtue often goes unrewarded, and in many cases the path of virtue is extremely unpleasant. Similarly, the discomforts of a guilty conscious, though acute for a small minority, are for most people mild and can be overridden, while for a sturdy minority the discomfort seems entirely absent. Traditional Abrahamic religions have clearly realized the weakness of these internal moral forces, and have developed doctrines that seem designed to strengthen them. Thus it is a core contention of both Islam and Christianity that, after death, eventual bliss will be enjoyed by the righteous; and torments suffered by sinners.

The idea of 'life after death' seems an odd concept now-a-days, with our growing understanding of biology; no brain, no thoughts, no memories, no sensations, no pain; in other words, 'no life'. But it clearly caught the popular imagination in the Stone Age, and it is still cherished in some quarters today. It is easy to see why both reward and punishment were said to be delayed till after death. Punishment of the guilty clearly does not happen in this life with sufficient rigour to imply a just God. So, we were told to believe in delayed justice (as preferable to a patchy or whimsical justice). Furthermore, the 'after death' contention was impossible to disprove. The subsequent invention of purgatory brought the Medieval Church in Western Europe enormous wealth, playing (cynically?) upon the anxieties of sinners. Yet, even with all the hope and fear drummed into an ignorant laity, the Church found itself unable to guide the masses into the path of virtue (or obedience); so it introduced the inquisition, with its very real tortures and horrific bonfires! And still the people could not be brought to obedience. It is not my purpose, here, to criticise the priests of those dark times, who doubtless thought they were doing the sensible thing, even if they could not think it the right thing. I am simply wondering how much attention will be paid to a morality that does not teach life after death, with at least the possibility of eternal bliss or eternal pain as consequences of 'good' and 'bad' actions.

I agree with the atheists that mankind should give up the notion of a supernatural God (God I) altogether; and similarly give up the notion of life-after-death. The issues are entirely separate, for the God I concept does not imply 'life after death', and vice versa. However, the arguments are the same: "Do not try to believe the impossible", and "Do not believe (much less teach) what you do not know to be the case, merely because it appeals to you (or your listeners)". In place of God I, I am urging instead the concept of a completely different God-concept, which I am calling God II. And in place of 'life after death' with its attendant heaven and hell, I would suggest a metaphorical heaven and hell very much in this life. If to dwell in heaven is to live in the presence of God then to dwell in this 'type II Heaven' is to live in the presence of this God II. Similarly, type II Hell would be to live excluded from that presence.

How does God II reinforce morals?

One might well ask, if God II does not punish sinners and reward the virtuous after death, as is claimed of God I, will anyone pay any attention to this attenuated and rational morality? People brought up to believe in an existent God with a real physical presence (albeit supernatural) and an actual reunion after death (albeit incredible), may well find God II (and Heaven II) pointless concepts. However, I think God II, properly understood, can be an effective route to virtue; and a very much more effective support than a discredited religion. My postulated reader, who thinks he retains morals while dismissing God, will be thinking as he reads all this: "Surely I am wasting my time here!". I would reply that a morality (or a religion) that is dismissed as delusional will be far less use than this one that painstakingly searches for its own moral perceptions and also for those of fellow human beings; one that shares, and incorporates the accrued perceptions of generations of moral predecessors. Further than that, I would suggest that it is a sine qua non of a moral life to make this painstaking investigation, to do this sharing, and to respect the accretion that results.

Virtue has been said to be its own reward; said so often, indeed, that we do not pause to think what it means. The phrase is often used to explain the scant thanks with which kindness is often greeted, but there is more truth in the saying than this sardonic usage. For there is indeed a reward experienced in yielding to a generous impulse; and a ten-fold greater pleasure in being the witness of another's kindness. That latter pleasure is equivalent to type II bliss; the parallel is exact; you would be living in the presence of goodness.

Sartre suggested, in his play "Huis clos", that "Hell is other people". He may be right, but then (according to me) so is Heaven.

 

 

 

 


Monday, 9 March 2009

Techniques

(For previous sections see below)

Title

         God II: a God for atheists

4.  Techniques for the study of God II

Study God II! Yes, 'study'. (To say 'worship' would send our atheist friends into a panic; it would be like saying 'levitation' to a physicist or 'snake-oil' to a pharmacologist. And indeed, worship would be entirely the wrong word at this stage. We might end up by 'loving God with all our heart'.' but that would be a long way down the line, for at this stage we have no clear image of what we are talking about.)

The scientific atheist is quite sure in his own mind that GodI did not create Adam and Eve in his own image and instruct them and their progeny on the rules for virtuous living. Man seems to be clearly related to the rest of animal creation, while altruism is easily seen as an evolutionary feature that has arisen because it has survival value in a social animal like man. However, from one point of view it does not matter at all why we have morals; what matters is how we live. How do we find out the rules for virtuous living? And to what extent should we struggle to be virtuous. Do we follow our instincts, or do we read the Bible and go to church? It seems that the churches have lost a lot of their authority in the hundred years since the publication of 'The Origin of Species'. It is hard to take any instruction from a church that outwardly supports a creed that swerves between the impossible, the improbable, and the repugnant. On the other hand instinct, though it may well be the ultimate source of man's moral sense, seems too weak a guide most of the time. It might indeed occur to one in the autumn of his days that he made mistakes, but too late.

For that reason alone is seems important to have a technique for determining and studying morals. There is another point to make here; the value of tradition. It may be readily accepted that representative government in a parliamentary democracy is the best method yet devised for governing complex societies. Imagine collecting a few million teenagers together on an island and waiting till they re-invented parliamentary democracy! It is a ludicrous idea. It is clear that it has taken at least 1000 years to evolve our system, by trial and error, and the best efforts of the best men of our race. The idea that we can each elaborate for ourselves our own a moral code is equally ludicrous. We need not only a method for testing and establishing truths in the field of moral values, but we also need a method for sharing these and passing the accrued wisdom down the generations. A replacement for type I religion is necessary; a type II religion.

If our instinct is the ultimate source of the information we seek, then our method will ultimately require introspection. A Buddhist meditates, and a Quaker sits in silent contemplation. Perhaps they are both doing the same thing; perhaps each is seeking to know more about God's will. I think not. Let us consider Buddhist meditation first.

The Buddhist is not normally thought of as seeking God, but as seeking tranquillity and insight. The two 'outer' aspects of Buddhist practice are perhaps the best known, but in this context the least important: meditation pursued for physical or mental health. There are three successively deeper aspects of the insight sought by the Buddhist: the pursuit of self-liberation or nirvana, of a sense of the unity of all things, and ultimately the sense of becoming one with all things. The pursuit is clearly rewarding, for the persistent devotee, and the goals even seem attractive to the man in the street. Anxieties about the emptiness of life, the awfulness of death, the pains of animal existence all drop away as the Buddhist goals are reached, and even the puzzle over the existence of matter may appear solved in the late stages of Buddhahood. These goals, however, are very different from the goals of western religion. It would seem that the Buddhist seeks to become less and less concerned with the practicalities of everyday life, and hence with other people. There is no point in denigrating Buddhism, which is after all one of the worlds great religions, except to point out that God does not enter into it, neither God I nor God II. God, as the concept has developed during the last two millennia in the Middle East and in the West, has a most decided personality (For an excellent survey see 'A History of God' by Karen Armstrong). He has many human attributes: he speaks to his people, feels concern, anger, pride, mercy, love; he punishes, and he forgives. None of that troubles the Bodhisattva.

The Quaker, by contrast, is encouraged to respond to 'that of God in everyman'. The practice of waiting in silence for guidance 'from God' seems to have been introduced by George Fox in his charismatic preaching tours of the early sixteen fifties. His audience hoped he would speak to them, but Fox characteristically waited (often for more than an hour) for 'inspiration' to come to him. Since then the practice has grown up amongst Quakers of waiting till ideas form themselves in the mind that are recognized as 'of God'.  That ideas come, is not a theory but an experience. That ideas come in distinctive colours, is also an experience, and not a theory. You might be sitting there in a quite room with other Quakers and, quite unbidden, an idea comes into your head, a new use for a detergent perhaps, or a way of outsmarting the taxman. These ideas are dismissed. Or you might find yourself wondering about the happiness of the person sitting opposite, or the motives behind a retort you recently made. These ideas are given space. It is quite easy to distinguish the ideas that tend to depress or contaminate, from the ideas that lift and cleanse. But if your own judgement falters in that task you can look across the room at Friends you know well and whom you love and respect, and in your imagination lay your thoughts before the judgement of your fellow Quakers. This also is quite easy, and the results can be quite clear-cut; 'I know full well what X would say of that'. Because you can get to know each other in discussion, over the space of months or years, discussing these very things; not the detergent or the tax evasion, but human frailties, the retort and its motive.

If we are content to call this awareness of morality, of good versus bad, an awareness of God, or God's will, we have established the beginnings of a method for the Study of God.

However, you might say that Morality would be the better word; that we have suggested a method for the study of Morality, and that to call it God is confusing, even if we distinguish God II from God I. Here are two types of justification for bringing in the concept God II. [a] There is a bundle of notions besides those of a narrow moral code that are legitimately considered in a Quaker meeting including kindness, fairness, love, forgiveness, purpose and value. (Eventually we might find we could include most of what has traditionally been regarded as religion, but that is a matter for a later discussion.) So, if the term God II, a deliberate neologism, is still unspoken for, I suggest it can be used here. [b] Over the centuries there have been many things said of God. In a Pragmatic sense the meaning of any term is defined by how it is used. If, as atheists, we admit that we do not know what God is, that we do not know the 'substance' of God, nor the referent of the word 'God', we can hardly object when someone says 'God is Love'.  It is plain silly to retort that 'I don't know what you mean because I don't know the meaning of one of your terms.' It is silly because this IS the definition; or at least a part of it. If the term God is used by Quakers, and understood, then we can legitimately ask what is the pragmatic meaning of the term. We can then legitimately use the term.