Re: MD quality religion

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Mon Mar 29 2004 - 14:29:39 BST

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    Hi Wim,

    Never mind DMB's congenital negativism. Your post describing the
    "Religious Society of Friends" was a beautiful description of a beautiful
    religion. It's so close to my own idea of religion as to be almost
    indistinguishable. While you regularly gather with others in meetings to
    seek and experience God, I intermittently gather with others in concert
    halls, museums and the great outdoors to seek and experience DQ. While you
    remain silent until you and others are moved to speak, I remain silent to
    let the music, artwork or natural scene speak. But, these are mere

    Thanks much for taking the time and trouble to explain what Quakers are
    all about. If I weren't an atheist, I'd probably be a Quaker, too. :-)


    > Dear (potential) fans of at least one religion (-: ,
    > High time to present as my favourite religion: Quakers alias the 'Religious
    > Society of Friends', or rather the European variant, which I know best.
    > Platt explained 17 Mar 2004 07:38:22 -0500 the difference between his
    > religion of 'pursuing Dynamic Quality by creating and contemplating art as
    > well as by pursuing beauty in all my endeavors' and 'other religious
    > activity' with: 'No need for intermediaries (church, rituals, priests,
    > gurus) to experience DQ.'
    > If you substitute 'God' for 'DQ' this was the exact starting point of
    > Quakerism in 17th century England. And to cut a long (hi)story short: every
    > Quaker I know would probably agree with Platt's statement after some
    > explanation of the role of Dynamic Quality in the MoQ.
    > In 1643 19 year old George Fox was shocked by the failure of alleged
    > Christians to live up to their Christian standards and (as he describes in
    > his 'Journal', which we might now call 'memoirs') was 'called' to leave
    > home and search spiritual help. Consulting without success priests, vicars,
    > dissenting preachers, so-called experienced people and everyone else he
    > could find, he at last (in 1647) 'heard a voice' which said: "There is one,
    > even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition". He became an itinerant
    > preacher himself. He met people and religious groups with comparable
    > experiences and spoke in services of more established churches, sharing
    > essentially this message of the possibility of unmediated inspiration.
    > This message became a unifying force for a growing group of people.
    > Consequences drawn were a refusal to take oaths, refusal to pay 'hat-honor'
    > (taking your hat off for a 'superior'), refusal to pay church taxes for the
    > upkeep of a 'hireling' clergy, equality of status between members of the
    > movement, refusal of state authority over religious life, 'thee' and 'thou'
    > language etc. etc.. In this time of civil war there was some political
    > space in England for the emergence of Quakers and other dissenting groups,
    > but they nevertheless faced persecution from the side of political and
    > religious authorities feeling (rightly) threatened. (A lot of them
    > emigrated to America, where now live larger numbers than in the whole of
    > Europe.)
    > The form Quaker 'meetings for worship' took derived mainly from the groups
    > and individuals called 'Seekers', who joined Quakers in large numbers.
    > Being disappointed in existing churches and human endeavours to reform
    > them, they already had developed a discipline of waiting in silence, alone
    > or together, for some sort of 'Holy Spirit' experience, like -according to
    > the New Testament- in the early Christian church.
    > The organization of this movement under persecution can be credited to
    > Margaret Fell, the (younger) wife of an elderly judge (who after his death
    > in 1658 married George Fox). She organized the writing of letters, keeping
    > track of people 'travelling in the ministry' and supporting Quakers in
    > prison. Local 'meetings for worship' organized themselves in regional
    > 'monthly meetings' where decisions on mutual support could be made and sent
    > representatives to a London-based 'meeting for sufferings' (referring to
    > inprisonments and other persecution).
    > George Fox and his contemporary Quakers spoke traditional Christian
    > language and did agree on what contemporary Christians considered essential
    > Christian doctrines: the Unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Divinity
    > and Humanity of Christ, the reality of Sin and then need for Salvation, the
    > resurrection of Christ and his redemption of Sin, the Bible being divinely
    > inspired etc.. George Fox was said to know the bible almost by heart and
    > quoted it often. They refused to hold each other to the words in which they
    > were expressed though. In the words of George Fox as quoted by Margaret
    > Fell in her description of her convincement experience: 'He is not a Jew
    > that is one outward, neither is that circumcision which is outward, but he
    > is a Jew that is one inward, and that is circumcision which is of the
    > heart. ... 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. 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
    > Light and hast walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly
    > from God?'
    > The religious practice Quakers (or 'Friends' as we call each other)
    > developed was one without ordained ministers, without the 'outward' kind of
    > 'holy' rituals called 'sacraments' in other churches (baptism, mass,
    > eucharist and so on), without 'confession of faith' as requirement for
    > membership, but with a strong sense of being able to experience God
    > directly and intimately and to get guidance from that experience for
    > everything from everyday behaviour, via special tasks (called 'concerns')
    > you find on your path, to the general direction of one's life. 'Bring the
    > whole of your life under the ordering of the spirit of Christ ' as an
    > advice from 'Quaker faith & practice, the book of Christian discipline of
    > the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in
    > Britain' still reads. The main collective religious practices are 'meetings
    > for worship' (silent, usually sitting in a circle, in which anyone can rise
    > to share a limited amount of words when feeling 'called' to do so) and
    > monthly (regional), yearly (roughly national) etc. 'meetings for business'
    > (interspersed with silence when necessary, guided by a sense of seeking
    > together for 'God's will for the meeting', open to all members and usually
    > attenders of the 'meetings for worship' in that area). They can be seen as
    > methods to practise this 'getting guidance'. 'Meetings for business' are
    > also used to test individual guidance against collective guidance
    > (including tradition and written sources of accepted wisdom) and vice
    > versa.
    > Accepted language in Quakers meetings is much more diverse now than it was
    > in the 17th century. I know of no real limits. You can combine being Quaker
    > with being Buddhist or Universalist (recognizing what David B. called 27
    > Mar 2004 18:14:46 -0700 'the values that are common to all religions or the
    > mystical core of all religions') or even agnostic as far as the existence
    > of 'God' is concerned. Personal experience and practical application is
    > preferred over theology however. The defining characteristics of Quakers
    > are more in the (extreme simplicity and practicality of worshipping and
    > decision-making) methods than in any content, except for that original idea
    > -worded in very diverse ways, however- of the accessibility for all of
    > direct Guidance.
    > Despite Platt's objections (13 Mar 2004 08:59:41 -0500) Quakerism IS based
    > on 'faith', but only in 3 out of the 4 senses identified by Steve Peterson
    > and Sam (21 Mar 2004 17:12:43 -0500 resp. 22 Mar 2004 07:16:59 -0000):
    > trust (in Guidance), loyalty (to Quaker methods of ascertaining Guidance)
    > and conviction (the decision to live by it), but not factual belief
    > (willingness to believe ideas that cannot be proved).
    > Despite Platt's objections Quaker morality IS based on continuing 'divine'
    > revelation. It is also given an intellectual basis in lots of contemporary
    > writings of Quakers, however, which have equal status as the Bible (and
    > when applicability counts even more). These are loosely latched in
    > anthologies of quotes and guidelines (like the above-mentioned 'Quaker
    > Faith & Practice' of British Friends) that are revised roughly once in
    > every generation.
    > A life devoted to pursuing Dynamic Quality through art (Platt's religion)
    > would certainly fit a modern Quaker. Quaker religious practices can add (to
    > that religion) the opportunity to share with others what you find in an
    > environment that is sympathetic to any 'seeker' or 'student of religion'
    > and skeptical of anyone who pretends that religion (that re-connects us
    > with our source, DQ/God) can be a simple practising of existing methods
    > that 'reliably precipitate a mystical experience'. Quakerism is BOTH
    > profoundly mystical, experience-based, AND practical, bent on 'letting your
    > life speak'.
    > Let me know if you have any questions.
    > With f&Friendly greetings,
    > Wim
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