Category Archives: Quaker Theology

Book Review: Doug Gwyn’s Startling New Look At Liberal Quakerism

Book Review: Doug Gwyn’s Startling New Look At Liberal Quakerism

Personality and Place, the Life & Times of Pendle Hill. Douglas Gwyn., Plain Press, 500 pages, Paperback. $20.00. Available online here.

Reviewed by Chuck Fager

Sometimes I look around and think, Pendle Hill is God’s little joke on the Society of Friends.”       
– Janet Shepherd, former Dean

 Gwyn-Cover-better[NOTE: From one perspective, it’s a conflict of interest for me to review this book. After all, I’m described in it, because I was on staff at Pendle Hill for three years (1994-1997); more recently I spent nine months in residence there as a research scholar. Furthermore, the author is a friend of mine.

But having disclosed these items, there’s a problem with this otherwise quite proper standard. Continue reading Book Review: Doug Gwyn’s Startling New Look At Liberal Quakerism

Review: “A Convergent Model of Renewal” (for Quakers)

Review: A Convergent Model of Renewal

By C. Wess Daniels. Wipf & Stock. Reviewed by Chuck Fager

A Convergent Model of Renewal: Remixing the Quaker Tradition in a Participatory Culture. C. Wess Daniels. Pickwick/Wipf & Stock Publishers. 224 pages. Paper, $21.60.

There’s more than little déjà vu about Wess Daniels’ book project. Quakerism, his book argues, will be renewed by the coming together of Friends from the fringes of the various branches, particularly younger members and seekers. Or as he puts it: “It could be said that convergent Friends signal the emergence of a new Quakerism that transgresses the boundaries of any one Quaker group.” (D 16f)

Daniels-CVR-3B

Why déjà vu? Such a sentence could have been written in the 1920s, either for young Friends in the Northeast, or the “All-Friends Conference” of 1928. Then again in the late 1940s through the 1950s for gatherings of Young Friends of North America (YFNA). Or in 1977 for the all-branch Friends gathering in Wichita. Or in 1985 and 2005, for the two World Gatherings of Young Friends, in Greensboro, North Carolina and Lancaster, England. Nor let us forget the YouthQuakes of the ’80s & ’90s. (And there were more.) Continue reading Review: “A Convergent Model of Renewal” (for Quakers)

New Report: “Quaker Thunder In Carolina”

A Preview of the forthcoming issue of “Quaker Theology is now online
It features “Thunder In Carolina,” a major report on the situation in NCYM-FUM, in which an evangelical faction is attempting to force a purge of “liberal/universalist” meetings, and a showdown is imminent. The report was written by Chuck Fager, Editor of the journal “Quaker Theology.”
This journal has been reporting on various controversies in Friends yearly meetings almost imagesince its inception in 1999.

Continue reading New Report: “Quaker Thunder In Carolina”

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!

Littleboy-Appeal-of-Quakerism-to-the-Non-Mystic

Is A Baptist Style Bust-Up Coming to North Carolina Quakerism?

I’m reading a history of Baptists in Alabama, and it’s tough going. After several days, I’m only as far as 1850. Yet the book is well-written, the story often absorbing; so what’s the trouble?

This: almost every paragraph evokes parallels to current events in North Carolina Yearly Meeting of pastoral Quakers.

Continue reading Is A Baptist Style Bust-Up Coming to North Carolina Quakerism?

Alone Together: Living With & Writing About Progressive Friends

Grave_Buffum_ChaceResearching and writing about Progressive Friends took up most of my time from the autumn of 2013 through the spring of 2014. Often this was a paradoxical experience: from one angle, it was a very solitary effort: from another, very crowded.

I did this research at Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania, as the Cadbury research scholar in Quaker History. Most of my time at Pendle Hill was spent solo: in the Friends Historical Library at nearby Swarthmore College, poring over old letters, minutes, pamphlets and books; in my room, reading more old documents; then lots of staring into my computer screen, at the ever-growing store of texts available there.

Continue reading Alone Together: Living With & Writing About Progressive Friends

An Indomitable Woman Friend: Five Dead Babies, Spiritualism & Reform

Adapted from the book, Remaking Friends: How Progressive Friends Changed Quakerism & Helped Save America

Elizabeth Buffum Chace, born in 1806, was a striking example of the Progressive Friends movement. Raised a Rhode Island Quaker, she imbibed the refining spirit from her Quaker forebears, especially a sense of mission to help abolish slavery. But this zeal soon put her at odds with the New England Quaker Establishment. While officially against slavery, the leading Friends, mostly persons of wealth, staunchly opposed the “modern” reformist movements, not only abolitionism, but temperance and women’s advancement as well.

Chase had watched in growing dismay as many abolition-oriented New England Friends were expelled or exiled by this powerful, anti-reform inner circle, and meetinghouses were ordered to exclude any abolitionist-oriented meetings and speakers.

Progressive Friends -- A Continuing Series

By late 1843, she had had enough. The letter she sent in Eleventh Month (November) to Providence, Rhode Island Meeting is still compelling.  It also capsulizes the personal pilgrimage of many other Friends who became part of the Progressive movement. A few excerpts: Continue reading An Indomitable Woman Friend: Five Dead Babies, Spiritualism & Reform

A Progressive Quaker Sermon – By Lucretia Mott

NOTE: 

Lucretia Mott, considered at the time of her death in 1880 to be the “greatest American woman of the nineteenth century” by many of her contemporaries, was a Quaker abolitionist, women’s rights activist and social reformer. She was a key figure in an insurgent movement of Progressive Friends. Her messages and actions are  very pertinent today – and laid much of the foundation for the current women’s movement.

On Sunday March 5, 2017, at 1 PM, Chuck Fager, will give a presentation on “Lucretia Mott: What Would She Say If She Were Here Today? HINT: She’d tell us we’re in deep trouble and should get up and get busy. (She’d say it very nicely, but urgently).”

The talk will be at the Orange County NC Main Library, 137 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough NC.  The talk will focus on Lucretia’s wide range of activism on many concerns, her pioneering & unforgettable voice for women, and radical views on numerous other public matters. Free & open to the public.

Y’all come! Continue reading A Progressive Quaker Sermon – By Lucretia Mott