Articles & News

A Matter of Trust

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:45am

I’m an unabashed lover of magazines and a subscriber to many. So I’m used to a deluge of renewal notices that proliferate in my mailbox and seem to start right after I’ve subscribed. Like many people, I have the bad habit of ignoring most of them. Sometimes this leads me to miss issues of magazines I really love. (Or worse, magazines that my kids really love—heaven forbid I ever let Cricket or Ranger Rick lapse!) This renewal marketing practice has been standard in the magazine business for eons. As you probably know, we do it at Friends Journal, too. But this is changing.

Beginning in the first quarter of 2018, we will renew our subscribers’ magazine subscriptions as a courtesy rather than sending a series of early renewal reminder notices. We are implementing this change for several reasons. First and foremost, we want to ensure that your access to the print and digital versions of Friends Journal continues uninterrupted. Second, we want to conserve resources. By reducing the number of mailings we send, we will save on paper, printing, and postage. This will not only reduce the climate impact of our correspondence with you, it will allow us to put more of your subscription dollars and donations into producing the high-quality content that you deserve and rely upon. The most important reason has to do with relationship. We consider you to be our blessed, widely distributed, and diverse spiritual community. And we have to trust you. We Friends and seekers share an inclination toward deepening spiritual lives. We care about the stories of emerging Quaker faith and practice. We’re in it together.

So please watch your mailbox for the invoice we send when we renew your subscription as a courtesy. Don’t recycle it without reading! If you like, you can permit us to keep a credit or debit card number securely on file for future renewals. All of us at Friends Journal are grateful for the opportunity to be your magazine. Thanks for walking with us.

One more note. If you’re in the United States, you’ll notice that this issue arrives in your mailbox free of the plastic mailing sleeve we have used for some time. With the hope of ensuring the print magazine’s well-being in the mail in light of this, we’ve increased the weight of the cover. Please let me know what you think of the new look!

Californian Friend Don McCormick has contributed a piece in this issue with a provocative premise: “Can Quakerism Survive?” He’s right to ask, and as we readers unpack this question and sit with the concerns and love implicit in it, we find that we face a challenge together: to create a vision of a Religious Society of Friends that attracts and nourishes more and more of those people who are searching for life’s deeper meaning, hunting for a spiritual home, and determined to listen to that still, small voice that speaks from within us all. Friends Journal’s role in the Quaker ecosystem is to be a platform, a workshop, and a refinery for that vision. I hope you will be an active participant in that process with us for a long time.

 

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Categories: Articles & News

Forum, February 2018

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:40am
Defining creepy The resolution of the meeting’s long-standing conflict with “Q” in “Challenging Conflicts in Our Meeting” in the December 2017 issue illustrates a fundamental question about Quaker meetings: Are they for the one lost sheep or for the ninety and nine of us, safe and comfortable in our spiritual community? The resolution described in the article took care of the meeting but not of Q, who remains unable to express himself effectively and caught up in anger. The fear that Q’s angry words caused in Friends is also troubling, because a peacemaker who is🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

Viewpoint: Influencing People Who Shape Public Policy

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:38am
Making the media and the public aware of our public policy concerns can be important. Organizing a silent vigil or rally that gets media coverage can help raise public awareness of a cause. But if we want to have positive influence with the people who make the laws and shape policies, we need use truly effective methods of advocacy. When I served in the Massachusetts legislature (1983–1993), there were frequent demonstrations in front of the state house. Rarely did I have the time to go out to see what they were for or🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

An interview with David Harrington Watt

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:35am
© Patrick Montero/Haverford College. You’ve been recently named the Douglas and Dorothy Steere Professor of Quaker Studies at Haverford College. Beyond your usual teaching in the religion department, what does that entail? At Haverford, I’m a professor in Independent College Programs and a professor of Quaker Studies. Most of the courses I teach each year will🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

News February 2018

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:30am
Popular resistance by Ryan Rodrick Beiller/AFSC Statement from AFSC on being blacklisted from entry into Israel On January 7, 2018, Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs released a list of 20 organizations whose staff may be denied entry visas into Israel because of their support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

Living in Dark Times

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:25am
By Rex Ambler. Pendle Hill, 2017. 27 pages. $7/Pamphlet. Buy from QuakerBooks

Reading the title of this pamphlet calls up images of the challenges Rex Ambler intends to address. If we are paying attention to what is going on in the world these days, we are likely to feel overwhelmed, battered, knocked off center, and awash in disbelief and despair. Yet I didn’t expect Ambler’s response to be attention to the advice of early Friends. What could the seventeenth century offer the twenty-first? The answer turns out to be “quite a lot.”

Ambler focuses particularly on William Penn. Penn suggests that if we look straight at our own condition, we will see ourselves more clearly; if we shift that perspective a little, we will be able to see the world in a new light. The important issues of life are not solely out there as matters of fact that can be investigated, known, and acted upon; they are within us as well. “Looking into our own spirit and meditating thereupon,” says Penn, “you will have a deep and strong judgment of men and things.” In their experience of God’s light, early Friends discovered that they were not what they thought they were. By accepting what they saw—both the darkness they had chosen to avoid, and the light they had never imagined—they were transformed. Then, by turning the “glass of truth” slightly, they could see the world as it really was.

To access this truth in the present, says Ambler, we have to relinquish our preconceptions. We have to let go of our egos and our need for control. We have to let go of the images and stories, both about the world and ourselves, that make things feel more manageable and reassuring.

This means looking at the darkness, into the darkness, and through the darkness. We have to face the reality that we are not separate; we cannot influence the world from the outside. We are not good people seeking to change bad people; we and the world are all askew together. We have the choice of realizing this oneness or resisting it. Thus, the struggle in these dark times is, as early Friends said, to “mind the oneness.”

With this perspective and sense of connection, we can see how anxious attempts to put things right are rooted in the fear and vulnerability that come from separation. We can cherish and love this remarkable creation, of which we are a part, that has lost its sense of itself. The good news is that living in response to the world as we experience it, rather than to our ideas about it, allows us to bear witness more powerfully.

I am reminded of Danier Snyder’s suggestion, in his pamphlet Quaker Witness as Sacrament, that we “cultivate inward activism and outward prayer,” and I am grateful to Rex Ambler for this brief and simply written framework for living courageously in dark times.

 

 

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Categories: Articles & News

The Call to Radical Faithfulness: Covenant in Quaker Experience

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:20am
By Douglas Gwyn. Plain Press, 2017, 104 pages. $10/Paperback; $5/eBook. Buy from QuakerBooks

In this inspired collection of short essays, sermons, and half-hour talks on the Bible, Quaker pastor and historian Doug Gwyn highlights an important truth about Liberal Quakerism today. According to Gwyn, our current status as a tiny, theologically jumbled, post-Christian, religious sect that hopes against hope for peace is a far cry from what we used to be: a rapidly growing, revolutionary, spiritual movement of friends and followers of Jesus who threatened to turn the world upside down with a powerful vision of radical faithfulness.

In The Call To Radical Faithfulness, Gwyn offers us a glimpse into this very different Quaker world by boiling down his many scholarly books on the “radical Christian faith of early Friends” to 104 pages of accessible stories and inspired ministry about both famous early Quakers, like George Fox and Margaret Fell, and lesser-known early Friends, such as James Parnell and Sarah Blackborrow. Each of these stories shines a light on the depth of the early Friends’ mystical and life-changing encounter with the Spirit of God, the very Spirit they believed inspired the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as “the prophets and apostles of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.” The early Friends, according to Gwyn, “began living the biblical stories as their own story.”

This is a rarity among Liberal Friends today, and may be why much of modern Quakerism seems so muted and tame. Many Liberal Friends are disinterested or ignorant of the Bible and see the main characteristic of modern Quakerism as a mysticism cut-off from the collective responsibilities and historic mission of the prophetic religious tradition. As Gwyn notes, from the perspective of early Friends and the most faithful Friends today:

Quaker faith and practice is a prophetic spirituality…. Like mysticism, it is grounded in firsthand experience. But that experience leads us to speak and act in the world, not simply to enjoy a sense of oneness with God and everything.

Another difference between then and now is that early Friends embraced social conflict, instead of fearing it and hoping it would go away. As Gwyn points out, they fought to win what they called “the Lamb’s War” for the Peaceable Kingdom. In this struggle, they used the nonviolent revolutionary means of protest, noncooperation, and disruptive interventions in social life. While they refused to wage the Lamb’s War through the use of carnal weapons; violent conspiracies; or even dishonest, behind-the-scenes parliamentary maneuvering, they were not quietist, “nice,” or hesitant to challenge authority or take sides in a social conflict between the oppressed and the powerful. That cultural shift among Friends came later.

Early Friends were much more radical and rebellious than most of us are today: both in their social vision of the Peaceable Kingdom and in their chosen means of fostering their social revolution. Gwyn actually finds it ironic that most Quakers in the twentieth century had to learn about nonviolent direct action for social justice from Gandhi and King, when it was a central part of the faith and practice of early Friends in the mid-1600s.

In drawing lessons for today, Gwyn is wise not to say that deepening radical faithfulness will require us simply to rekindle the visionary and nonviolent revolutionary fighting spirit of early Friends. While this is true, he suggests we also need to avoid reproducing how early Friends misread the signs of their times and held fevered delusions of achieving a quick and total victory in the Lamb’s War. This delusion led many early Friends to give up their spiritual vocation as nonviolent revolutionaries in despair and settle instead for a quietist “hedge against the world” approach to spiritual life, if only the government would grant them religious toleration and end its violent repression of them.

I do have one disagreement with Gwyn. In this book, Gwyn agrees with James Nayler, one of the most revolutionary of early Friends, who said we should not know what we are going to do on any given day and we should not “compass a kingdom to power over sin.” By this, Nayler (and Gwyn) means that if we are to “live faithfully,” we should not seek to be strategic: carefully building coalitions with our neighbors or setting our objectives thoughtfully. This is the one off-note in this otherwise profound and wise book.

Given the failures of early Friends as faith-based, nonviolent revolutionaries, it might be wise to learn as well from more strategic, prophetic revolutionaries like Gandhi, King, and Doloros Huerta.

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Categories: Articles & News

An Early Assessment: U.S. Quakerism in the 20th Century: Papers from the Quaker History Roundtable, June 8–11, 2017

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:15am
Edited by Chuck Fager. Kimo Press, 2017. 235 pages. $11.95/Paperback.

In the interest of full disclosure, this reviewer spent several hours negotiating with editor Chuck Fager over a submission to this volume—one covering the intersection between Gay and Quaker history during the twentieth century. Negotiations broke down, however, when I could not convince Chuck that the piece he envisioned would require vastly too much research and too many pages. Thus, the book’s claim that “no proposals were sent in…none,” in regard to LGBTQ history is a bit misleading.

I tell this story in order to confess that during my talks with Chuck, I naively asked him how evangelical/programmed Quakers—the Friends Church movement—see themselves as Quakers. Have they not embraced, at one time or another, many of the religious trappings which George Fox deliberately discarded in founding Quakerism? I’m speaking of professional ministers, creeds, sacraments, and hymns…not to mention old-fashioned sexual views. Chuck declined to answer. I wonder if he suspected that I might find my answer once I read this book.

This collection’s inspiring biography of Friends United Meeting minister Willie Frye, written by his daughter, Kathy Adams, served as the best possible answer to my question. Had Chuck’s latest book been composed of nothing else, this story alone would have made it abundantly worthwhile. In the history of this passionate, articulate, loving, and courageous man, it became clear to me that he embodied everything I value most about the Quaker Way. Quibbles over creeds and sacraments fell away–counted for nothing–in the commitment to peace, dignity, and justice, to healing the world, that Friend Willie exemplified. If readers pick up this book and thumb through it too casually, there is a danger that these histories will appear dry and academic; not so, if they dive into Kathy Adams’s well-crafted memoir first.

Other stories that stick with the reader include Guy Aiken’s tale of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) worker Luella Jones, who was faced with heartbreaking ethical dilemmas during a very bitter and bloody strike by West Virginia coal miners in 1922. “Jones had discovered,” writes Aiken, “that relief and justice were incompatible.”

Likewise, there is Stephen McNeil’s account of AFSC assisting West Coast Japanese Americans as they were leaving their homes for the wartime concentration camps. Gracia Booth recalls how she encountered a young mother alone on some stone steps, too shocked and anguished even to attend to her own small daughter. The woman shrank in fear as Gracia sat down beside her, but the baby, who had been trying to get comfort from her mother, climbed into Gracia’s lap and, exhausted, promptly fell asleep. Soon thereafter, the grieving mother laid her head on Gracia’s shoulder, “sobbing gently as if in relief.” And then her small brown hand cupped Gracia’s own, atop the baby’s head. “We were both mothers,” concluded Gracia. “That was enough.”

Chuck’s introduction amply emphasizes the need for historians to catch up with the long twentieth century, considering that the vast bulk of research to date has been directed at previous eras. The resulting anthology is a bit like a history of pop music on a single album: the greatest hits by renowned contributors. Followers of American Quaker history are bound to recognize Betsy Cazden, Thomas Hamm, Stephen Angell, Emma Lapsansky, Doug Gwyn, and Larry Ingle. Not only are the histories by these familiar authors worthy and enlightening; the same can be said of pieces by authors I have not previously encountered: archivists Gwen Gosney Erikson and Mary Craudereuff, and historians Guy Aiken, Lonnie Valentine, Greg Hinshaw, and Isaac May.

The pieces by Erickson, Craudereuff, and Lapsansky are not so much histories as probing examinations of how Quaker history is conducted, and they offer manifestoes on ways our history can better be recorded in the future. For example, Craudereuff articulates the growing awareness that the neglected histories of marginalized groups demand a more generous commitment and dedication.

In the more focused histories, one theme occurs time and again:  the tension between “evangelicalism” and “modernism.” Modernism, writes Betsy Cazden, was defined by William R. Hutchinson in 1976 as “a project to redefine Christianity to meet the spiritual needs of modern culture.” These essays chart a struggle between the two impulses, often manifested as controversies internal to the Friends Church movement: over peace; race relations; gay rights; and over the essential question of whether a church exists to save sinners or to serve the  Social Gospel of reform activism. Gregory P. Hinshaw dedicates an entire essay to how these matters played out for the Five Years Meeting Friends, evangelical Quakers in the Midwest whose membership once entirely overwhelmed other branches of the Society.

Obviously, the checkered history of attempts to unify Friends Church with Friends meetings throughout the twentieth century exhibits the same sort of struggle, but only because both camps really wanted unification. Careful papers by Thomas Hamm and Stephen Angell address the thorny barriers encountered by reunification movements in the United States and Canada, respectively.

Lonnie Valentine offers compelling insights into how our time-honored peace testimony has played out—or failed to play out—in regards to war taxes. Isaac Barnes May contributes a fascinatingly ironic study of how Quakers actively, and not always ethically, jockeyed to get “their” candidate, Herbert Hoover, into the White House. Finally, one of the benefits of reading this book was to be introduced to an author I haven’t previously followed: Doug Gwyn. I found myself identifying more closely with the philosophical mannerisms of his mind than with any other author, and hope to read more of his work.

None of the admiration expressed here should be construed as suggesting this volume is remotely suitable for a comprehensive twentieth-century history, and of course it makes no claims to be one. Indeed, it shares the same grave defect found in Chuck’s other two histories, Angels of Progress and Remaking Friends: there are only a few words given to Quaker women’s issues. The irony is that the most spectacular Quaker success in the twentieth century was the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the national right to vote. This is because a Quaker, Alice Paul, effectively took the baton of suffragist leadership from the late Susan B. Anthony.

Having richly benefited from Chuck Fager’s unique investigation into the neglected history of the Progressive Friends movement and its evolution towards today’s Friends General Conference (see reviews of Fager’s Angels of Progress and Remaking Friends in the August 2014 and February 2015 issues of Friends Journal), Friends are once again much beholden to him for commissioning new studies of our neglected twentieth century. I want to emphasize that not only did Chuck administrate this historical conference, he also provided funding for it. Furthermore, he showed the courage and initiative to publish it himself. For me, the only remaining question is whether Friends—occupied as we are with the quality of worship, the practical needs of running a meetinghouse, mutual obligations to one another, and so on—can rise to the challenge of appreciating serious history as serious ministry. I hope that this account of my own enlightenment as a result of reading An Early Assessment will convince Friends of the essentially valid nature of this claim.

The post An Early Assessment: U.S. Quakerism in the 20th Century: Papers from the Quaker History Roundtable, June 8–11, 2017 appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman: The Journal of Phebe Orvis, 1820–1830

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:10am
By Susan M. Ouellette. State University of New York Press, 2017. 380 pages. $29.95/paperback; $29.95/eBook.

For ten years, 1820 through 1830, and again briefly in the 1850s, Phebe Orvis maintained an almost daily journal. The 1820 through 1830 segment covers the years when Orvis, a young Quaker woman, entered adulthood, left the family and the meetings she had grown up among in central Vermont, and migrated to the comparatively roughshod frontier of northern New York’s St. Lawrence Valley. It was here that she “married out of meeting” (there not being a meeting in her new environment); fulfilled the traditional roles of a pioneer farm wife; raised 11 children; and, under duress, left Quakerism, at least outwardly.

Phebe’s diary was lost for more than a century, turning up at an estate auction in the 1960s. Fortunately, it eventually made its way into the hands of someone who recognized its value. Susan Ouelette is a professor of history and American studies at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, and it is she who has brought Phebe’s diary to the public.

The diary constitutes the second half of the volume, reproduced nearly verbatim; to her credit, Ouelette edits only when absolutely necessary for comprehension. She devotes the first half of the book to several chapters that set the scene of Phebe’s writing and provide both historical and cultural context for it.

True to Quaker practice, Phebe wrote plainly and forthrightly. Almost daily comments on the weather are eloquent in their simplicity: “Pleasant” or (frequently, given the wintry climate into which she moved) “Some snow.” She also spoke her mind: “Oh how blind are those who won’t see and how deaf are those that won’t hear, and to what length will prejudice carry a person.”

Phebe migrated to live with relatives, marrying only after she’d settled into her new environment. Her marriage sorely tested her Quaker faith: her husband, Samuel Eastman, came under the influence of the Second Great Awakening, and relentlessly berated Phebe for not having been baptized in the traditional Protestant manner. She finally gave in to his pressure and, in order to keep peace in the family, was baptized and joined the local Baptist Church, where she was considered a member in good standing for the rest of her life. (She died in 1868 at age 67.)

The language and tone of her journal, though, reveal that she never surrendered her Quaker beliefs and principles. For instance, she remained sympathetic to the cause of abolition, noting in the latter segment of her journal—long after she had officially become a Baptist—that while traveling she attended meeting with the Keese/Smith family at the Quaker Union near Peru, New York, where there had been collaboration in the Underground Railroad. Some of the Keese/Smith family members were agents in the movement (and coincidentally, my direct ancestors).

Phebe’s journal recounts a difficult life: endless farm and family chores, from butter-churning to sewing; continual pregnancies; loneliness; fatigue; one child’s death. Why she stopped keeping her journal in 1830, before returning to it briefly 25 years later, she does not say. Ouelette speculates, reasonably, that the burdens of a growing family, work, and advancing years may have taken their toll on her time and energy.

Ouelette does a good job of letting Phebe tell her own story in her own voice. The explanatory chapters fill out her history without intruding upon it. My one objection to her narrative is that she refers throughout to the diarist and her husband as “Orvis” and “Eastman,” not “Phebe” and “Samuel.” This may be in keeping with scholarly custom, but not only does it violate the marriage codes of the time, it also dehumanizes the pair.

That complaint aside, contemporary Quakers will find the book interesting, perhaps even compelling, as it shows us the life of an early nineteenth-century Quaker teenage girl who leaves her familiar surroundings, marries and starts a family, works her fingers to the bone on a frontier farm, and is worn down by challenges to the religion of her upbringing. Perhaps we don’t relocate to such harsh conditions today, but how many among us can still relate to Phebe, her physical and spiritual travails, and her faith?

 

Correction: the print version of this incorrectly stated that the reviewer was a descendant of Phebe Orvis; it has been corrected here that he descends from the Keese/Smith family.

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Categories: Articles & News

Being Quaker…Where you are: A Journey Among Isolated Friends in the Northwest

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:05am
By Sakre Kennington Edson. Western Friend, 2017. 244 pages. $20/paperback; $9/eBook.

In the middle of an overly full week, I promised to read this book for Friends Journal. The rash promise turned out to yield an unexpected gift, and I encourage you to open this book for yourself and pass it around your meeting.

Sakre Edson, who worships with a few others in Florence, Ore., felt a leading to visit and listen to Friends listed as “isolated Friends” by North Pacific Yearly Meeting. Her travels began in 2008 and extended over several years. She asked each isolated Friend, “What is it like for you, being an isolated Friend?” Her leading was to hear what they said about their spiritual circumstance and personal experience. She asked how they sustained their spirituality on a daily basis, and if they still felt like Quakers and a part of the larger community of Friends.

The book consists of the answers she recorded from 58 Friends in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Each is prefaced with description of the setting where the Friend is located, and something about each participant’s life and occupation.

We are privileged to hear 58 different voices, talking about 58 different ways to “be Quaker here.” Some of these Friends are still in lively touch with some Quaker group, even if distance keeps the contact rare. Some started out as Friends in a welcoming meeting in some more populated area and since then, have been largely on their own (or with a partner), renewing, replacing, or finding a spiritual language and practice that feels alive and meaningful.

Several of these Friends follow some Buddhist practice; some often worship with non-Quaker denominations in between rare Quaker events. Some no longer practice anything as part of a community but draw their spiritual nourishment from nature, from their work, or from art.

Some yearn for more contact with Friends, for whom Sakre Edson’s visit was a great refreshment. “Being isolated is fairly difficult. If I could just import half a dozen Quakers up here, [this place] would be just wonderful for me!” Others, equally welcoming to their visitor, have found themselves arriving at some critical distance from Friends—either Friends in general or Friends in the region: “I never realized how angry Friends can become until I moved to the Northwest where they are angry about Christianity!” “I don’t mean to be critical, but most meetings are like intellectual Quaker clubs…I feel like I have watched Quakers fail.”

Isolation from a Quaker community means that these isolated Friends need to explore their daily spiritual routines. There is a challenge here, the challenge of time unstructured by others, by ritual and rhythm: “Sometimes I miss having a Sunday spiritual practice. I almost have too much freedom.” Each of these Friends has done some authentic exploration of questions like prayer, faith, belief, belonging, the nature of God, and (of course) the place of humans in the world. “As for prayer, I always know, without a doubt, that there are spiritual forces just waiting for me to call on them…I have faith, not in some kind of abstract believing, but I actually feel the support. I believe we are here to grow and improve. I believe the universe has ways of sticking us in difficult situations, and then helping us see a way through them.”

This book is a garden of souls. The “motion of love” that led Sakre Edson to travel, and then to bring the travel to all of us through this book, is one that has come to many Friends over the centuries. Though at times the nourishing, refreshing circulation of living epistles has been weak and almost stopped, it never has completely, for which God be thanked. Maybe this book will comfort you and yet make you aware of a nudge to, in love, also visit Friends!

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Categories: Articles & News

Becoming Curious: A Spiritual Practice of Asking Questions

Friends Journal - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:00am
By Casey Tygrett. IVP Books, 2017. 192 pages. $16/paperback; $15.99/eBook.

Got faith? Then why question?

Now there’s a question, and one that Quakers may be more at home responding to than would some others. We Friends riddle our Faith and Practice with questions, elevating them to a religious art form: the query. How does Truth prosper among you? From the earliest days, we’ve acknowledged that at the core of our faith lies—not answers—but questions.

Becoming Curious is a book that welcomes questions and questioners. Casey Tygrett is a pastor and adjunct professor at Lincoln Christian University and Seminary. As you might expect, he is writing from a biblical perspective to a bible-based audience. As you might not expect, he sees Jesus as the master of questions, not a purveyor of easy answers.

Christian faith, for Tygrett, is a call to curiosity. “The curious tension of Jesus is that he shows us a God who wants to be known, not memorized.” It’s not about sitting in a classroom learning the catechism but walking back roads with Jesus, asking questions.

Jesus spends a lot of time in the gospels being asked and asking questions. He often responds to questions with questions, or with stories that raise yet more questions. In fact, Jesus encourages his closest followers to become like little children. What do little children do? They ask lots of questions. Tygrett hopes that his books will give us the permission to be as curious as a child. We get to live in the tension of doubt and wonder but also in the peace that Jesus promises to those that follow his way.

“I have found Jesus to be far less spectacular than he is kind and common,” writes Tygrett. Instead of fireworks, Jesus’s most profound moments are often meals with friends. And each miraculous healing, as Tygrett reminds us, leaves someone behind who is now, suddenly, ordinary. Being saved and restored turns out to look a lot like living our life, earning our loaves and fishes and paying our bills, only wildly curious about what just happened and continues to happen all around us.

Tygrett is particularly good at illuminating the tension between the ordinary and the divine, the Law and faith, ritual and freedom. He sounds like a Quaker when he asks us to ask ourselves: “What am I missing in my life that I’ve replaced with a…ritual?” But rituals are also beautiful and formative. Baking a birthday cake means nothing, except that it embodies the creative joy of a loving relationship.

Our discipline and practice are empty forms except when they express our relationship with the questions we can never fully answer. How do we love our enemy? How do we forgive one another? For Tygrett, it’s like preparing to run a marathon: “We can’t simply do it. We have to become the kind of person who does it.” Jesus’s answer to “Who is my neighbor?” is not a list of names but a way of being. His answer to “How often should I forgive?” is not really a number but a call to forgiving as a way of life.

Tygrett’s own questions at the end of each chapter can be penetrating. For example, when Jesus asks Bartimaeus: “What do you want me to do for you?” Tygrett turns to us and asks: “What would you say if Jesus asked you this question?” When Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Tygrett asks you to ask yourself: “Who do people say that you are? And if Jesus interrupted your answer to give you a new name, as he does with Peter, what would that name be?” Some of Tygrett’s questions probe deep into memory, identity, life, and loss. Give this book plenty of time for journaling and reflection. It’s a book of spiritual formation for both Quakers and non-Quakers willing to walk the roads, asking and being asked the questions that matter.

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Categories: Articles & News

Sandra L. Smith Stoltz

Friends Journal - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:30pm
Stoltz—Sandra L. Smith Stoltz, 63, on March 29, 2017, in York County, Pa. Sandy was born in York County on July 7, 1953, to Beatrice Franklin and Howard F. Smith Jr. She graduated from West York High School and worked for several local manufacturers as she raised her children. Sandy and her family joined York Meeting in the 1980s. They were instrumental in the restoration and modernization that brought the old meetinghouse into the twentieth century. Sandy served as clerk in the late 1990s and was active in the affairs🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Thurston Corder Hughes

Friends Journal - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:25pm
Hughes—Thurston Corder Hughes, 87, on November 20, 2016. Thurston was born in 1928 in Germany under a different name, which he described later as something nationalistic. He participated in the Hitler Youth Program and was conscripted late in the war to be an anti-aircraft gunner while still underage. His reluctance to join the SS led to their accusing him of cowardice, to which he answered that history would show who the real cowards were. For this insubordination, he was immediately sent to the front lines and soon captured by the Russians. On the🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Warren Francis Riner

Friends Journal - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:20pm
Riner— Warren Francis Riner, 96, on September 16, 2017, in Claremont, Calif. Warren was born on April 3, 1921, on a farm near Clearwater, Kans. Oldest of eight children, he worked on the farm before earning master’s and doctorate degrees in education. While attending Friends University in Wichita, Kans., he became friends with writer Cecil Hinshaw, who was a professor there. He fought fires as a conscientious objector during the Second World War. After the war, he worked with American Friends Service Committee in Norway, helping to rebuild houses and farms destroyed by the🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Herbert Ward Fraser

Friends Journal - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:15pm
Fraser—Herbert Ward Fraser, 96, on May 2, 2017, in Richmond, Ind. Herb was born on February 23, 1921, in Andover, Mass., to Mabel Heald Ward and Herbert Freeman Fraser. He graduated in 1939 from George School and earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Swarthmore College in 1943. From 1944 to 1946 he served as a U.S. Navy pilot, flying F6F fighter planes on missions off the carrier USS Hancock in the South Pacific. He earned a master’s in economics from Princeton University in 1949 and taught🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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