The Power of Being Quaker in Public

During a long Quaker business meeting, Laura Boles stood up and said, “I don’t want to hide behind Quaker process… I want to do something and I want to do something now.” And so she did.

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18 thoughts on “The Power of Being Quaker in Public

  1. I wonder what. it wold be like to have a Quaker presence, like Laura speaks of, at a Trump rally.
    Would it make a difference?

  2. This is an amazingly powerful message. Our birth as Friends of the Truth was as evangelicals. We have always waited on the Spirit and tested our leadings but in the end, it is OUR leading and hers speaks loudly to me. I unite with her and her message and actions.

  3. Thank you Allison B….the idea of bringing enlightenment to a Trump Rally is something to ponder.
    My guess would be to allert the Media…which would give some cover & protection to Friends.
    The most importatant issue, would be that no one becomes confrontational…no shouting, yelling etc.
    But have placards that can be easily seen by the cameras and the atendees.
    Sort of a silent & respectful demeanor.

  4. “Quaker” process is not something we “hide behind”. It is an essential element of our Experiential Faith. We do not do outreach and witness because we are “Quakers” but because we Experience the Eternal Divine Light and order our lives by that. Our task as Friends is not to point toward ourselves. It is and has always been to point toward the Light. Nothing else matters, and when our witness in the world begins with that understanding it will gain great power.

  5. Laura Boles has hit on something. For much of our history, to be a Quaker was to be very public and visibly distinctive. In those days, if a member of the Society of Friends walked down the street, everyone knew it. For these Quakers, simplicity included dressing plainly.

    Imagine a march or rally where all the Quakers dressed plainly: no colors, no accoutrements, black, white, Quaker Gray, bonnets and broad brimmed hats. This would say clearly who we are and what we stand for. That is, we are members of a historic Peace Church, bearing public testimony for Peace.
    Of course, early Friends did not just dress plainly on First-Day. Integrity requires that our simplicity not be just a thing for public gatherings. Adopting simple dress means putting on Quaker gray every day. This requires the courage to look peculiar all the time. But why not? We are ready to let the world know who we are with an abundance of bumper stickers. Why not let the world know who we are, why we are, every day with every person we meet?

    So, consult with thy Inner Guide. See if (for thee) walking cheerfully over the world also means walking plainly for all to see.

  6. Great video. It took my thoughts to what I understand to be the roots of the Society. Obviously Fox, Naylor and the other founding Quakers weren’t so silent and staid as many modern, shrinking Quaker meetings seem to be — or they couldn’t be quoted by everyone all the time! There was an urgency for their conviction to be outwardly present, to be seen, just as Laura Boles is seeking.

    I’m not sure I understand one of Don’s comments, though. There seem to be lots of “pointing to ourselves” throughout Quaker history. I’ve never counted how many times Fox uses the word I in his journals but it’s there. If the light is within everyone, then it seems pointing to the light can include pointing to one’s self if we truly believe we are letting that light shine through our acts, no?

    Would so many Quakers have been arrested throughout its history if people weren’t drawing attention to themselves and their identity as Quakers? Would the group have grown for so many early generations if it hadn’t worn an identifiable banner through its deeds and acts?

    Breaking old rules like not taking off hats were individual (or group) acts to provoke thought and change. They were preaching. They were saying “join us.” They were wearing their identities as “Quakers, ” just like Laura Boles is describing in this video.

    And a new thought for me on Quaker language: it is supposed to be a society of friends. Society seems bigger than attending a weekly silent meeting. Wasn’t one of the complaints raised by early Quakers and other Protestants that faith has been reduced to weekly rituals? It has to be bigger, broader, more encompassing of more of life, doesn’t it seem for the word society to still work? or does it need a called something like a collection, a smattering, a loose set?

    Are Friends not, to borrow Laura’s phrasing in the video, “hiding [that light and the belief in that light] behind” Quakers rules of decorum, process, arcane language and I dare add ritual, if Friends are not comfortably more outwardly expressive in their acts throughout more of society?

    For several years now Quakerspeak has been saying this same thing but often less directly: Quakers need to speak, and not just to themselves. Great video.

  7. You go, Quaker!

    A long time message I have shared with Friends is that too much energy is focused on the one hour when we are in Meeting for Worship and not enough on the rest of our week.

    Our Meeting has even tried to to reduce announcements after Meeting by distributing a printed sheet of those sent in early enough to be included. I miss hearing the power behind the words as well as the faces that are speaking Truth to Quakers.

  8. I was once accosted by a gentleman who had learnt I was a Quaker – and therefore a pacifist. He challenged me in the form of the query “How can you sleep at night knowing others are doing the work of protecting you?”

    That began a long discussion between us, whereby I reiterated many times (and in many ways) that the role and life and witness of a “pacifist” was NOT to “be passive”, but to be constantly active …
    for justice and actions to stop war or the preparation for war.

    I did not convince this gentleman to become a pacifist himself, however in the end, I did convince him that I slept well. And he gave me a line which I will happily take to the grave with me:
    “I suppose pacifists do add a certain leavening to society.”

    When I think about the difference between leavened and unleavened bread, and what a small addition to the baking mix a leavening agent usually is, I think it is a wonderful analogy. In this I was truly able to walk cheerfully and answer that of God in my disputer.

  9. Laura speaks to the tension between action and listening (contemplation) for how we are being led by the Divine, whether it is in a message or an action. I agree with Don. If we are truly listening to each other in meeting for worship with a concern for business, or a committee meeting, then we are not “hiding”. The discernment process about whether an action is divinely inspired and right order does take that deep listening that Laura spoke about. So, yes, let’s go out be bold about who we are and what we stand for but let’s not do the work of listening to how the Divine Spirit is working among us and through us.

  10. I love that this video has sparked a big discussion – back and forth. That it has given us each a chance to look at our own experience as a Quaker. What motivates us? What is our experience of being motivated by the Light? What are we called to do and become?
    I do find myself increasingly “outing” myself as a Quaker. Describing my actions as being motivated by my Quaker faith. Thanks for the rich discussion!

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