Letters - 12 January 2018

From Quaker faith in action to Marcus Borg

Quaker faith in action

I was delighted to see the subject matter of the Friend’s 15 December edition and to read the interview with Judith Moran, the article about ‘Down to Earth’ and the piece commemorating the end of the celebrations of 150 years of Quaker Social Action (QSA), with the daunting conclusion noted in the celebratory material – celebration is a difficult word to use when the human misery continues.

At a recent meeting of QSA trustees, where I had the ‘pleasure’ of acting as clerk, I was thanked and I commented that Quakers do not thank each other or applaud, which bemused our new non-Quaker trustees. However, there are some people Friends should thank and applaud and Judith Moran is one of them. In the last few months she has won the Charity Times Outstanding Individual Achievement Award and was highly commended in the Third Sector Chief Executive of the Year awards. She has enabled the launching of a daring new project, Move On Up.

Even though QSA is not part of Britain Yearly Meeting it is one of the very public faces of Quakers in Britain, and Friends everywhere can thank Judith for enabling so many people to see Quaker faith in action and so many people to benefit through the work of QSA. Thank you Judith.

Peter Rivers
Assistant clerk of QSA

Peace and divine defence

In his ‘Thought for the Week’ (1 December) Roger Hill writes of often wondering if his pacifism is solidly 100 per cent and asks: ‘Wouldn’t I defend my family by whatever means were at hand?’

The answer can only depend on the precise emergency and the questioner’s traits. In my view the question has nothing to do with pacifism, which renounces war as being secular states’ and groups’ resort to anarchic violence and fraud in pursuit of their policies and desires.

In a notable twentieth century novel the heroine is saved from the local ‘ripper’ by the unexpected appearance of an acquaintance, who arrives just in time to grab a club from a hat stand and stun him.

It is eighteen centuries since Tertullian said of the scene at Jesus’ arrest that in disarming Peter he disarmed all Christians.

It is one century since Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, the Anglican priest and poet, claimed that the sword – in other words aggressive weaponry – is useless for God’s work and that national armaments need to be supplanted by international services for law and justice. His arsenal is listed at Ephesians 6:11.

The cosmos is permeated by spiritual ‘Powers of Good, Powers of ill, Strewing balm, or shedding Poison in the fountains of the Will’ (Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall - Sixty Years After).

So, prayer for peace and divine defence is vital, however evil has come to be.

Frank McManus

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