Letters - 07 July 2017

From squeezing out the spirit to a magic money tree

Squeezing out the Spirit?

Thank you Stephen Feltham for your wonderful, brave article, ‘Squeezing out the Spirit?’ (30 June).

I read this just after having spent a dismaying hour absorbing the Events listing of this year’s British Yearly Meeting Gathering.

Naturally, one expects plenty of debate and practical action at a Gathering – we are Quakers after all – but this year it seems to offer a cacophony of every possible political cause you can think of and a professional politician giving the Swarthmore Lecture. There’s very little about Quaker history and zero about Quakers in the workplace or Quaker engagement with business. The spiritual bits seem almost squashed in around the noise of all the special interests.

‘Why has the Spirit been squeezed out of Quakers by social and political lobbying?’ asks Stephen Feltham. Perhaps the question should be: whom does it suit that the Gathering reads like a party conference programme?

Something’s going to have to change and soon, because if Stephen Feltham and Friends like him are ‘inexorably being driven to resigning altogether from Quakers’ – it really will be time to turn out the Light.

Antonia Swinson

Sources of the Light

Thank you Derrick Whitehouse (23 June) for starting a debate on what is implied by the frequently used Quaker version of ‘Light’. Such analysis is long overdue. Arrangement in three paragraphs of what amounts to ‘instinct’, ‘intellect’ and ‘spirituality’ is a great help in ordering.

Do you not agree, however, that ‘control’ is more basic than intellect? We are reminded of the instinctive natural rivalry and antagonism that exists between some species and human tribes, and the self-assertion and self-aggrandisement of the alpha male in many animals, including Homo sapiens. The intellectual light gives us possible discernment, particularly in dealing with new ideas and challenges of animal instinct.

Are God, Christ and the ‘mystery dimension’ mutually exclusive as sources for the spiritual light? A most exciting proposition from modern science is that there is, indeed, a further dimension to the physical world; what used to be called ‘the fifth dimension’. We have no structural or physical access to this dimension but we could be spiritually aware of it. Such a dimension could indeed house God, Christ or other beings of adoration and importance found in other faiths.

Peter Boyce

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