From Outreach to Let our lives speak
I hope that Geoffrey Durham’s article in the Friend dated 11 June will be given the serious attention it deserves. In reminding us that Quakers in 1680 were a far higher proportion of the British population than now, it challenges us to consider why this is so.
One likely reason was that the butchery of the civil war was still well remembered: blood had been shed three decades earlier within communities and even families. The horrors of two world wars in the twentieth century, and the holocaust, are remembered but are ‘history’ for most people. Our pacifism is seen as unwarranted by most people: an attitude fit for the priesthood – but not lay people.
So we need to be able to justify our pacifism as valid for lay people. In doing this we can turn to Quaker faith & practice and the section on ‘The dilemmas of the pacifist stand’ (24.26). We can remember also the message of Jesus in Luke 22.36: ‘He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one’. The dilemma is not a new one, and awareness of it does not preclude joining Quakers: it is a matter of conscience.
Our pacifism is, of course, only part of the message in outreach. Others include the friendship in our communities, the experience of shared silent worship, and an absence of dogma apart from loving your neighbour as yourself. Even non-theism is widely seen as acceptable.
Maggie Allder writes we should fearlessly examine our class prejudices (18 June). How l agree.
Yet there must be a number of Friends of a certain age who were working-class children like myself who by virtue of university opportunities became middle class. Many of us have spent the last fifty years with a feeling of not quite fitting in…
Perhaps a conversation about class could start with us.
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