Letters - 17 August 2018

From declarations to biscuits

Declaration and principles

Inspired by the efforts of Kendal and Sedbergh Quakers (3 and 10 August), I looked at their ‘Quaker Declaration for Equality and the Common Good’; and was further inspired to look at Friends’ 2015 ‘Principles for a new economy’.

Both admirable and thought-provoking documents mention the now seriously questioned view that taxes redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.

If taxes really did do that, the Kendal and Sedbergh Quakers might not have felt the need to do all that cycling.

In my view, and those of a growing number of others, taxes simply remove money from the economic system and, at the same time, allow us to show our obligations to the state.

Point six in ‘Principles’ has it right in saying that, even today, ‘money… is created under democratic control’. The country elects a parliament from which a government is formed and it is that (sovereign) government that issues money.

Wouldn’t it be good if the Kendal and Sedbergh Quakers’ Declaration could be delivered to all political parties and not just the current incumbent of 10 Downing Street?

John Morris

Open minds

I read William Penn’s No Cross, No Crown forty years ago. One incident for me has been seminal. It was when William Penn, in America, travelled inland where he joined a group of Native Americans in their encampment. He did this to explore what they could tell him about their spiritual lives.

Why was this section of the book ring-fenced in my memory? He did not force the local folk to hear Christian dogma as the only truth, as many did. William Penn humbled himself, sat and listened. What could he learn from people who had not heard of Christ?

Like William Penn, we should always be open to new ideas, beliefs different to our own – perhaps widely different, like the esoteric beliefs of the ancient mystery cults at the time of Jesus.

Many scholars are of the opinion that Gospel writers were aware of the practices of those cults, particularly those of Mithras, worshipped in Paul’s home town of Tarsus.

In Mithraism, a penitent would be placed in an underground chamber with a ceiling grill. The blood of a slaughtered bull was poured over the person, giving them absolution from their sins.

Compare that with: ‘For if the blood of bulls and of goats… sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; How much more shall the blood of Christ… purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God’ (From Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 9:13-14 KJV).

Perhaps we should join William Penn in having an open mind looking for common ground and not join those who confront ‘their lies’ with our truths.

Peter Boyce

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