Category Archives: Cross-Generational Conversation: YAFS & OFFs

Quaker Talk: Should Messages In Meeting Be (Very) Brief?

Quaker Talk: Only Brief Messages In Meeting??

Elias Hicks (1748-1830). His preaching drew large crowds, and deeply impressed a young Walt Whitman. It also stirred up lots of trouble among Quakers of his day.

In the “olden days,” Quaker ministers often preached long & hard. A healthy sampling thereof was taken down, and can be retrieved if one looks hard enough for them. I’m grateful for this mostly neglected lore, as a means of reaching across time, and past the notions cast over the gap by historians (of which I’ve been one.) I think they’ve much to teach us.

Here’s one example, of Friends perhaps not at their best: Elias Hicks preaching, then being answered (rebutted, really) by some others, with confusion ensuing. A “Silent meeting”?? Not very. Read it if thee dare, here.  And then, there’s a bunch more here. 

I’m referring to Quaker preachers in the traditional mode, like Lucretia Mott, who never, ever “prepared” a sermon. There is, however, a book of many of her messages, all of which were taken down by stenographers. Some were thus recorded as tributes, others gathered to use as ammunition against her suspected “heresies.” Whatever, without them we’d have hardly a clue to what she had to say, and thus little chance to find out if it has anything for us now. So I’m grateful for them. (Here’s one in full, from 1860, posted by one of her definite NON-admirers.)

Lucretia Mott, with her abiding motto: “Truth for authority, not authority for truth.”


As for sitting in meeting & listening to them — one’s mileage might vary. Read aloud from the pages, many of the talks take up most of an hour; and in a number of them, she mentions that other Friends had spoken before she did, and likely not epigrammatically. So it appears that in her day, meeting was as much for preaching and listening to same, as for focusing on silence in the current mode.

This throwback style is not mentioned as a norm or ideal, but to point out that even “silent” worship has evolved, and might evolve again . . .


The Appeal of Quakerism to The Non-Mystic

The Appeal of Quakerism to the Non-Mystic

Can you be a Quaker in  the 21st century (especially a Liberal one), and not be a mystic?

Yes. And that’s been true for a LONG time. A century ago, in 1916, a noted British Friend made this case (but he was not the first or the last) in a striking pamphlet that unfortunately is little-known today.

To help relieve this work’s obscurity, we present it here; just click on the title below.

Take it away, William!


Are Friends Tired? More Conversation With YAFS

If you’ve stopped by this blog in the past ten days or so, you may have seen my lament about being invaded by Zombie posts that refused to die, or be deleted.

Here they Come! AArrgghh!

A few days ago, when I got some expert help to examine why, it turned out there was some very bad code hacked onto the site, which we hope is now rooted out. A salutary reminder that it’s an internet jungle out there, and hacking our way out was a tough fight. But at the moment, this blog seems to be Zombie and virus-free. (Cross fingers.)

Continue reading Are Friends Tired? More Conversation With YAFS

The Gospel According to YAFS: Are Friends “Tired”?? Plus: Fix It With “The Seven UPs”

I’m going to take up the invitation offered by young Friend Paul Christiansen, in a comment to his article in the Western Friend, “Younger Blood, Older Eyes.”


The article opens well:

Western Quakers seem tired to me.
Those of us on committees feel it most clearly, I think, especially people on Nominating like me: a sense of how important our Society’s work is, and a sense of the limited energy we have for it. There are fewer of us to carry on larger tasks; our strongest and wisest have been carrying us for a long time, and when they lay down their burdens, the work is not taken up again with such vigor or skill. Some have life left, but it seems that many feel stretched, weary. Not enough coffee and too many cups.

Continue reading The Gospel According to YAFS: Are Friends “Tired”?? Plus: Fix It With “The Seven UPs”

“Spirit Rising”: A Review In Installments — Part 1

Spirit Rising book

“Spirit Rising”: A Review in Installments — Part 1

356 pages, $17. 50. Published by Quaker Press.

Part One

“If we have done our job,” write the ten Young Adult Friends (YAFs) who edited this new book of writings by their Quaker peers, “. . . some pieces may surprise, confuse, alarm or even offend you.”

Continue reading “Spirit Rising”: A Review In Installments — Part 1