Monday, July 30, 2012

Quakerism for Beginners - I’m only telling you this because I think you might be interested…

This is what I did yesterday morning: I went to Quaker Meeting and helped Rachel and Josh, the two children who were there, (and their parents) build a tent out of newspaper.

r and j and s in tent

They do really interesting things in the Childrens’ Meeting – swimming, cooking a lunch for everyone to share, and they think and talk about the things that concern adult Quakers, such as how to live a good life and be helpful to other people. And they do activities which lead to their thinking about  social issues, such as global warming and sustainable living, world poverty, and peace.

As I sometimes mention Quaker Meeting on my blog, I thought I’d tell you a bit about Quakerism – just because I think you might be interested, not for any other reason.

I find Quakerism liberating because there are no creeds. If you are a Quaker you are free to believe what you want. I am in constant discussion with the family member who declines to be named as to whether you even need to be a “Christian” in order to be a Quaker. I don’t think you do.

I believe that if you are a Quaker, it is your attitude to other people, and the way that you live your life, that matters. The nearest Quakers come to a core belief is to say that we believe that there is that of God in every person. But then what/who do Quakers believe God is? Each will have a different answer.

The belief that there is something sacred or good in every person demonstrates that Quakers are positive, life-affirming people, and that they have a default position of accepting everyone. A Bob Dylan song springs to mind here…

I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you,

Beat or cheat or mistreat you,

Simplify you, classify you,

Deny, defy or crucify you.

All I really want to do

Is Baby, be friends with you.

Quakers may not have a creed, but they do have testimonies which they strive to live by – ideals to guide their lives – simplicity, integrity, equality, peace and social justice.

The heart of Quakerism is the Meeting for Worship where we gather together in silent waiting, seeking after spiritual sustenance and truth. We are all channels for this, and we don’t have a minister, so it is each Friend’s responsibility to minister to the Meeting. i.e. get up and speak if they feel led to do so.  It is also each Friend’s responsibility to serve the Meeting in practical ways. There are a lot of responsibilities to being a Quaker, and although I’ve been one for a lot of my life, I still feel like a beginner.

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