Category Archives: Stories-Quaker

Two More Quaker Pre-Holiday Stories!

Want to hear the Christmas story told from a non-supernatural, anti-colonial perspective? Here it is, by Friend Helena Cobban, from Charlottesville VA, and her justworld educational site.

Then to follow up is another one, from me. It happened in Brooklyn New York, in 1967. I call it, How I Got So Lucky.

Previous pre-holiday stories:

A Hospice for Hope

Playing the Lottery

More to Follow; watch this space.

Quaker Book Review: “The Living Remnant” Rides Again


The Living Remnant & Other Quaker Tales. By “KKK,” (Edith Florence O’Brien.) Published by Headley Brothers in UK, 1900.

A Friend came across this book and passed along a link. It’s a series of four related stories about a tightly-knit (i. e., very insular) British Quaker meeting community, in about 1875. The “tales” portray, in sequence: an old-fashioned courtship; the subsequent wedding; the final dissolution of a stubbornly backward-looking Quaker faction, fixated on a version of the faith that time has quietly but remorselessly passed by; and then closes with the prospect of possible renewal as well as change.

Continue reading Quaker Book Review: “The Living Remnant” Rides Again

Renegade Quaker Theology: My Breaking Point – Summer 2011

 September 7, 2011: Cheering for God in the Reagan Library

In my last paid job, at a Quaker peace project next to an enormous military base during the height (or better, the depths) of the Iraq-Afghan wars, I spent a lot of time looking for spiritual resources for that work, and the life that went with the job. For a long time it seemed pretty hard to find any. I read a lot of academic theology and other “spiritual” works. With a few notable exceptions (to be dealt with in future posts), for a long time it seemed pretty hard to find more than an occasional nugget; too much was weak tea or thin gruel.

But then, in early September 2011, after watching a televised Republican presidential candidates’ debate, hosted by the Ronald Reagan Library in California, I abruptly realized that in fact I had found some, and they had crystallized into convictions.

Continue reading Renegade Quaker Theology: My Breaking Point – Summer 2011

Quaker Humor, Allegedly


Come to the Sunny Side

Daniel Trotter was a weighty Friend of his day, who often observed solemnly that “There is nothing but trouble this side of the grave.” 

One day at a Friend’s funeral, he stood to speak by the freshly dug mound, just as a curious sailor poked his head into the Quaker burial ground to see what was going on. Trotter was gazing down into the pit and said, characteristically, “There is nothing but trouble this side of the grave.”

“Well in that case,” called the sailor helpfully, “come on over to this side, there’s no trouble over here.”

Putting A President In His Place

The story goes that Herbert Hoover could be rather gruff in manner when he felt irritated.  At one private White House dinner he became piqued when one of his guests, a Quaker minister, responded to his request for a blessing by praying in a very low tone.

The exasperated president finally interrupted the prayer with a curt, “Louder, Fred–I can’t hear!”

Without looking up, the minister paused, then said, distinctly: “Herbert Hoover, I was not talking to thee.”

Preaching the Word

Our British correspondent Ben Vincent recalls an incident from his youth, in the early years of the last century. In his meeting it was then customary, when a Friend was exercised in vocal prayer, for the rest of the congregation to rise.

One First Day morning, a family coachman came in after meeting had started, sat down unnoticed on the back bench, and soon fell asleep. While dozing he began to slide off the bench, finally slipping right off and onto his knees with a bump, whereupon he was heard to exclaim, “Oh, Christ!”

At this, the entire meeting stood up.

Fortunately, the coachman was a well-versed Anglican, and after gathering his wits about him, he proceeded to recite one of the Collects from the Book of Common Prayer. His message impressed most Friends greatly, as they had never heard it before.

Pass the Seasoning

Upper Creek Monthly Meeting was once visited by a new young elder from Philadelphia.  The visitor preached eloquently at First Day worship–so eloquently that Lucretia, Upper Creek’s senior minister, suspected him of being infatuated with city notions and affectations, and in need of seasoning.

Her suspicions deepened when she heard the young elder declaiming after meeting to some of the male elders.

“Friends,” he asserted, “the truly wise are always in doubt. Only the foolish are sure of their case.”

Lucretia spoke up quietly. “Is thee sure of that?”

The young elder did not hesitate. “Yes,” he answered. “Absolutely.”

“That’s what I was afraid of,” Lucretia murmured.

—- From the collection, Quakers Are Funny, by Chuck Fager



Another Quaker Holiday Story: Playing the Lottery

Playing the Lottery

Winter 1969, Boston. I was driving a cab at night, while attending Harvard Divinity School. I had run through some scholarship and loan money, and needed cash; Christmas and all that. But I also thought it would be a “good experience” for a wannabe writer.

When I turned my cab onto St. James Street downtown and saw the kid in front of the Greyhound Bus depot signaling for a taxi, I knew my time had come. Continue reading Another Quaker Holiday Story: Playing the Lottery