Letters - 6 November 2020

From Becoming a Quaker to Three sentences

Becoming a Quaker

I was about seventy when I discovered Quakers. 

When I was a child I didn’t go to Sunday school as my sensitive sister had been told the bad bits (hellfire and damnation). There was no way my mother would risk inflicting that on my brother and me. A good friend at school welcomed us to his wedding to a Quaker some years later. Alas for both him and her, music is more important than quiet sitting. They left Quakerism to join the church of England.

When I married, my partner was Catholic so I had to agree that I would not prevent my children, if we had any, from going to church. The reality was that our two girls preferred to play football on Sundays.

I went to Jesus Lane Meeting House in Cambridge for the University of the Third Age music club. I wondered about the Quaker ideas. I like new ideas.

I started to attend and to learn about Quaker thoughts and found it quiet, common sense.

Having got this far, I applied to become a member. Pat from Jesus Lane and a man from Hartington Grove came to meet me at my home. We exchanged many views and were very positive. Off they went to make my case at the Area Meeting after which I heard nothing, and I wondered.

I thought maybe I’d said something wrong. A couple of weeks later, I approached Pat and asked her what was wrong with my application.

She questioned: ‘What was wrong? Didn’t you get the email welcoming you in?’ She was very apologetic. It seems that confusion had given the clerk the wrong email address.

A discovery I have made in recent years is that I believe I am autistic in a very positive way. I also believe that my father was autistic in the same special way. However, in those days they didn’t know about it.

I have been able to see ‘outside the box’ in many ways which has made me a very comfortable seventy-five-year-old.
An interesting talk on autism can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000m5lh.

The happy ending to this story is that I am a very contented Quaker thinking outside the box.

Glyn Phillips

Not costing the earth

Thank you, George Penaluna (23 October), for reminding us about the power in our pockets.

We can all use our money, whether we have a little or a lot, to promote our commitment to equality and to peace, and to care for God’s continuing creation.

In our day-to-day spending, we can choose shops and products that align with our testimonies. There are lots of helpful resources. The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility programme ‘Money Makes Change’ offers sessions for Friends and their Meetings.

Many of us contribute to pensions. Do we know where the funds are invested? We can ask our pension trustees, and perhaps support the film-maker Richard Curtis’ campaign ‘Make My Money Matter’. More and more funds are avoiding fossil fuels, for example. In our pensions and our investments we can choose a positive selection of funds which match our interests and concerns. Again, ethical investment managers advertise in the Friend.

Last week was ‘Good Money Week’ – let’s try to have a good money lifetime.

Peter Speirs

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