Culture Articles

Good Ground Beneath My Feet: Poems from Iona, by Martin Hayden

25 February 2021 | by Jonathan Wooding

Detail of book cover from Good Ground Beneath My Feet: Poems from Iona, by Martin Hayden |

The Quaker poet Martin Hayden won’t mind me saying that he reminds me of the ‘old men’ in TS Eliot’s ‘East Coker’: ‘Old men ought to be explorers | Here or there does not matter | We must be still and still moving | Into another intensity’. He’s on the...

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Difficult Questions About Population, by Roger Plenty and other Quakers

18 February 2021 | by Margaret Matthews

Quaker Concern Over Population (QCOP) was formed in 2015 and granted Quaker Recognised Body status in 2018. Its aim is to remind Friends of the danger of population growth and to explore the means by which it can be addressed without coercion. The group hopes to encourage Friends to overcome their reticence...

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The Plots Against Hitler, by Danny Orbach

18 February 2021 | by Reg Naulty

'These attempts demonstrate that despite the great danger, there were people ready and willing to resist Hitler.' | Detail from book cover of The Plots Against Hitler, by Danny Orbach

When people learn that Quakers are pacifist, they commonly ask what we would have done about Adolf Hitler, by which they mean, how would we have resisted him? It is instructive therefore, to find out how people living in Hitler’s regime did it. Such a question is given additional...

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Animal Prayers, by Randel McCraw Helms

11 February 2021 | by Joanna Dales

'The poems radiate a sense of kinship with other species, along with sorrow for our trespasses against them.' | Detail from book cover of Animal Prayers, by Randel McCraw Helms

This little book will delight Friends of all stripes and is calculated to appeal especially to those who care about the relationship between humans and other animals. The poems radiate a sense of kinship with other species, along with sorrow for our trespasses against them. Some have an autobiographical flavour,...

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Covid Life

11 February 2021 | by Flo Jubb

'The world of worry. The bubble of belonging.' | Wesley McLachlan on Unsplash

The shed of shielding The igloo of isolation The desert of distance The street of space The sea of sorrow The lagoon of loneliness The world of worry The bubble of belonging The hill of hope The field of friendship

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The Godless Gospel: Was Jesus a great moral teacher?, by Julian Baggini

04 February 2021 | by John Lampen | 1 comment

‘Jesus understood that compassion drives personal and social change.’ | Sixth-century mosaic, Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano, Lazio, Italy (Ivan Vdovin/Alamy)

I found this a very stimulating book. It asks whether Jesus was ‘a great moral teacher’, as Richard Dawkins has called him, and whether his ethics are still valid for us if we remove all the divine and supernatural elements. You may think this is rather a narrow, even irrelevant,...

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Quakerism: The basics, by Margery Post Abbott and Carl Abbott

04 February 2021 | by Rhiannon Grant

Book cover of Quakerism: The basics, by Margery Post Abbott and Carl Abbott |

This is a considerable achievement: a book that balances size, scope, readability and rigour to produce something short, yet with a wide range of material. It is also easy to read while retaining accuracy and original sources. Published by Routledge as part of ‘The Basics’ series, it comes into a...

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The Scholar at Cuddesdon

04 February 2021 | by Jonathan Wooding | 1 comment

'God counting all my travails and troubles, storing them in some sort of jar...' |

I take God out of the dictionary and listen to G-d’s breathlessness. There are claims that God’s vocation is to tell of flittings.

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Samplers, Sewing & Simplicity in Quaker Ireland, by Clodagh Grubb

28 January 2021 | by Julianna Minihan

'There was no lack of colour, and no uniform style of dress among early Friends.' | Bookcover of Samplers, Sewing & Simplicity in Quaker Ireland, by Clodagh Grubb

This beautifully illustrated, A4-size book is packed with information. It relates to the story of Ireland, the development of education there, and Irish women’s history, together with expert and comprehensive chapters on clothing and costume, household linen and soft furnishing. But the main focus, and final chapter, is...

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Entangled Life by Melvin Sheldrake

28 January 2021 | by Melvin Sheldrake

Book cover of Entangled Life: How fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures, by Melvin Sheldrake |

In this book Merlin Sheldrake shows a fine writing style, making a complex area not only understandable, but life-changingly fascinating. Entangled Life – to whose, or maybe to which, life does he refer? You may not find many answers, but will almost certainly arrive at some intriguing questions. The book reaches...

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