From becoming a Quaker to 'all about land'
I am grateful to Antonia Swinson for her article on how a Catholic mass made her a Quaker (25 January 2019). I write as an ex-Salvationist, ex-Anglican who rejoiced the first time she received communion from a female vicar.
I came into membership last year after some seven or eight years as an attender. If asked, I would now describe myself as Christian with a small ‘c’. Advices & queries 4 and my Christian ‘heritage’ are important to me, but my firm belief in that of God in everyone somehow trumps that.
Before I became a Quaker, I had often thought how nice it would be to take communion at the same time as my (now) wife with our relationship acknowledged and celebrated. When she invited me to attend her church for the Christmas midnight service she asked if I would take communion. I replied: ‘Let’s see how I feel when the moment comes.’ When the moment came it felt right to stay in my seat.
I am grateful to Antonia because she explains more eloquently than I could that it’s not just that I now see Jesus as an important prophet, from whom I can learn very much, who was a son (not The Only Son) of God, and that I don’t now buy into all the Christmas story in the way I once did, and that it’s about integrity (all of which my wife, Leigh, understands). It’s about more than that.
The most fundamental of early Quaker insights was that no person or group has a greater claim to the truth than any other. I have found this to be the case, whether people are rich or poor, urban or rural, old or young. I would go further and say that even education seldom does other than reinforce existing prejudices and perspectives.
When confronted with a view which is different from mine, rather than seeking to dismiss its origins as ignorance, prejudice or ‘hostility to the other’, I should be asking what this person has seen or experienced that I have not seen or experienced.
I do not pretend this is easy when we think we have the better view, but in no other way can we tackle our own ignorance and come to live in the Quaker spirit that avoids conflict and division.
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