Am I Good Enough to Be a Quaker?

“What does it mean to me to be a bad Quaker?” Mary Linda McKinney asks. Behind that, though, is another question: what does it mean to be a good Quaker? “I think there are two answers: one is cultural and one is spiritual, and I’m bad at being a cultural Quaker. I think I’m good at being a spiritual Quaker.”

“I always march to my own drummer and my drummer doesn’t play the type of music that anybody around me ever wants to hear,” Mary Linda admits. “I’m pretty much a misfit in any community that I’m around, and that includes Quakers… But spiritually to be a good Quaker is to seek the will of God as an individual and corporally with others, and from that perspective I feel like I’m a good Quaker because I do want to live my life letting God’s will flow through me and I want to do that in community with others.”

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8 thoughts on “Am I Good Enough to Be a Quaker?

    1. Hi Dana,
      When Rebecca, the QuakerSpeak video producer, looked at my website, she saw something in it that made her want to use this theme for the interview. I agreed in large part, because I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about how they are present with the Divine and among Friends. If you’d like to have a conversation about this, you’re welcome to email me at friendmarylinda at gmail.
      Mary Linda

  1. Mary Linda,
    I found a Quaker soul mate in you. I thought I was the only one who didn’t fit into the good Quaker mold. After seven years I realize that despite anything, it’s the simplicity, the Quaker ideals, and values that continually draw me in.
    I go to Meeting for Worship every week.

    1. Hi Ray,
      Misfits in good company! I’m glad that what we experience in worship make our square-peg/round-hole-ness in Quaker community worth it. Feel free to email me if you want to talk more about your experiences. friendmarylinda at gmail.
      Mary Linda

  2. This is a wonderful explanation. I am a birthright Quaker, but I identify with this. I have to say, however, that there have been very few times that I haven’t felt comfortable in meeting for worship and have “gotten much” out of it. Merely slowing down and opening one’s mind is therapeutic. I miss worship when I am unable to attend.

  3. Oh Mary Linda, you are in such good company….of those marching to their own drum, being on the outside looking in.
    Buddha, Baha u llah, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Mary Baker Eddy…they all “stepped to a different dance.”
    Bravo Mary Linda, you’ve given this old duffer inspiration and hope!

  4. As an isolated Quaker, I suspected that being a Quaker kept me from community. I find that is not true. I work harder to live and learn how to live my life with God. The pandemic has been great for me because so much is available on Zoom. I do miss the physical presence of Friends, the hugs, the physical presence!

  5. Friend speaks my mind, exactly….and I am so grateful for your honesty. Our Meeting lost a member a few years ago because he told me he didn’t feel he was good enough to be a Quaker. In the past year, I have felt increasingly unable to connect and feel different and out of sync, impatient and I have been a member since 1992. I am prompted by your sharing to continue to reflect on the nature of my worship, connection to community and my spirit guides.

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