Culture Articles

Stories We Tell Ourselves: Making meaning in a meaningless universe, by Richard Holloway

23 June 2022 | by Nick Wilde

‘The author calls himself a Christian even though he might not believe in God.’ | Bookcover and detail of Stories We Tell Ourselves: Making meaning in a meaningless universe, by Richard Holloway

In A Little History of Religion, Richard Holloway, a retired bishop of Edinburgh, devoted a whole chapter to Quakerism. Much of what he writes here will also be welcome to Friends, especially those of us who are more non-theist than theist. The author calls himself a Christian even though he...

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Letter from Leningrad

23 June 2022 | by Roger Iredale

'I hardly write through hollow blackened fingers here between the blizzards and those guns, eternal casual guns we live to hate.' | by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

Liebschen, forgive me one last letter out of lands bereft of God. Such frost, such cold, I hardly write through hollow blackened fingers here between the blizzards and those guns, eternal casual guns we live to hate. Eyes iced with bitterness that twists and locks each bone

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A ragged doll

16 June 2022 | by Harvey Gillman

'I kept the doll for many years until like me it fell apart among the rage and strife of a later war.' | Kevin Charit on Unsplash

(A recreation from an incident in Sergei Nikitin’s How Quakers saved Russia.) They came from a far away country. I don’t know how. They did not speak our language. A few words perhaps. Kwakera or something. I remember that now. Foreigners are rare these days. Strange faces but...

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Quaker Shaped Christianity: How the Jesus story and the Quaker way fit together, by Mark Russ

16 June 2022 | by Tim Gee

'This is a book to be conversed with and about.' | Bookcover of Quaker Shaped Christianity: How the Jesus story and the Quaker way fit together, by Mark Russ

The Woodbrooke tutor Mark Russ is known for encouraging Quakers to engage with radical theology. In Quaker Shaped Christianity we learn something more of his journey: first rethinking the Christianity he encountered as a child, then discovering more inclusive spaces like Greenbelt and the Society of Friends.

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The Shell Seven, by Margaret Heffernan, for BBC Radio 4

26 May 2022 | by Rebecca Hardy

‘We hope you will agree. We acted carefully and consciously with love and with grief.’ | Six of of the Shell seven (Courtesy Simon Pizzey/XR)

Just over twelve months ago, a group of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors made headlines when they were acquitted for criminal damages to Shell’s headquarters, despite having no defence in law, and being indisputably guilty of the charges.

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Peace

12 May 2022 | by Voirrey Faragher

'The peace lily in my bathroom has one white flower: it bows down like a white flag.' |

The peace lily in my bathroom has one white flower:           it bows down like a white flag. We have not known peace,             do not know its contours, its colours, whether it is shaped like the earth, like the sky...

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The Gospels: A new translation, by Sarah Ruden

05 May 2022 | by Jonathan Wooding

'Jesus arrives in our imaginations via the word. Our imagination shapes such characters mysteriously and, we find, mysteriously they shape us.' | Book cover of The Gospels: A new translation, by Sarah Ruden

Like Scrooge, Elizabeth Bennett and Sherlock Holmes, Jesus arrives in our imaginations via the word. Our imagination shapes such characters mysteriously and, we find, mysteriously they shape us. They may not have a life without us, but equally we would not be who we are without them.

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Muting for worship, a Shakespearean sonnet from the pandemic

05 May 2022 | by Glenn Oldham | 1 comment

'Yet though that assured silence is thus freeing, We seek a larger, deeper, vital one.' |

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought, By host assigned, I join the breakout room; My sighs and teacup’s clinks make others fraught, If I neglect to mute myself on Zoom.

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Strange meeting (after Wilfred Owen)

28 April 2022 | by Roger Iredale

'...the shattered trees, broken farmhouse, mounting death of comrades and uneasy brooding peace.' | by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

And suddenly we came upon fellow men, sipping tea in a basket of darkness underneath a hollowed gentle moon. Their voices overcame the stillness of the silvered glade, the whereabouts of mystery

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Dowlais Educational Settlement and the Quaker John Dennithorne, by Christine Trevett

28 April 2022 | by David Harries | 1 comment

'It appeals to locals because of its wealth of history; it appeals to Friends as it shows what can be done to relieve distress.' | Book cover (and detail) of Dowlais Educational Settlement and the Quaker John Dennithorne, by Christine Trevett

Merthyr Tydfil has a long, colourful history. The valley is made up of many distinctive communities, including Treharris (with its Fox, Fell and Penn Streets), through Quakers Yard (with Friends’ burial ground), and on to Aberfan and Dowlais. The area was once famous for iron works and coal mines, but...

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