Letters - 21 February 2020

From a happy reader to money talking

A happy reader

I have found recent articles in the Friend, including the book reviews (say the past four months or more), very intellectually and emotionally stimulating and informative – congrats to the new editor and his team.

I especially liked: the article on Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (24 January). I read it many years ago, but I needed reminding that though ‘life is suffering’, we are responsible for our reactions to the latter. I also liked: the piece on the origins of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (17 January); the one about the deathbed piety of early Friends (7 February); and, a bit longer ago, the sympathetic and comprehensive focus on domestic abuse in the UK (14 November) – showing not all women in Britain are empowered and privileged. And the news coverage and coverage of Meeting for Sufferings is getting more comprehensive and incisive all the time.

But I take issue with the claim in ‘Thought for the Week’ (7 February) – a feature I regularly enjoy – that ‘Language and words divide us… they “murder to dissect”’. As a former English literature professor and now independent scholar, I find this old cliché disturbing.

The articles I’ve praised are all powered by words, well chosen, and in many cases their analyses or ‘dissections’ reveal new insights and heighten our perceptions. And surely words used in magnificent prose like John Donne’s ‘no man is an island’ bring us together not the opposite.

Lois Chaber

Speak to my condition

I am concerned about the volume of email that clerks receive. We are bombarded with updates, requests for support and details of new projects. Unfortunately this is a tendency of all organisations that use new technology. Just because something can be done does not mean it is useful to do it.

If we are to have simpler and more vibrant Meetings I believe we need to have less input at national level. We respond to local resources and needs, and plan many of our own activities several months ahead. It would be helpful if the Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) website were better organised so that it was easier to find resources and activity calendars so that instead of sending things out to us, we could research what is happening and how we can find help as we need it. Local needs are a priority and may not coincide with the timing of national projects.

We live in a country that, thankfully, includes diversity. There are differences between regions. I find that many of the mailings I receive, or projects I read about, do not resonate with me at all.

Judith Nilsen

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