From A Quaker still to Tolerance and respect
A Quaker still
When I became a member of the Religious Society of Friends some twenty years ago, there were a number of changes I wished to see it make. I was a radical and lively mere fifty-year and three-quarters. There were lots of dinosaurs who refused to see things my way. ‘Never mind’, I thought. ‘Time will sort them out.’ As it did eventually. Now I find I am one of the dinosaurs. O tempora, o mores! (Note elitist and exclusionary Latin tag.)
So I’ll just sit here, where I’ve sat these twenty years. Mind the old dear, I can hear them think, she can’t help being stuck in a time warp. She thinks she is not racist because she seriously suspects everyone is unique, precious, a child of God, even Vladimir Putin. She thinks, ah bless, that sex is a matter of biology not of personal identification. She thinks gender is a matter for the individual, not for medicine and the law. She thinks that in these dark times of war, pestilence and climate catastrophe that pronouns are supremely unimportant. She may even believe in the existence of God! She lectures us on the importance of the Quaker business method as though it mattered in our little Meeting.
Bring her a nice cup of tea, they smile indulgently, and a biscuit. And mind her stick. We must bear her up with a tender hand.
So here I sit. A Quaker still.
I had a moment of joy when I heard that some Friends in Wales had suggested the use of ‘bugeiliaid’ (meaning shepherds) as a word to replace ‘overseer’. It seems a wonderful opportunity to honour another of the languages we use in Britain Yearly Meeting. Non-native speakers of Welsh may wish to be tutored in the pronunciation and use of this word. I feel we would all be the richer for its use.
I remember that Jesus of Nazareth used the analogy of shepherding as a way to describe his ministry, and a way of understanding God’s being with us. At funerals we are often comforted by Psalm 23 written by David the shepherd boy, later king. Overseers and elders could find this symbol very inspiring. I do hope the Religious Society of Friends will consider using bugeiliaid as the substitute we are looking for.
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