Name: Paul Sheldon
Meeting: Lansdowne, PYM
Branch: Liberal Quaker
At one time I considered going to Quaker plain dress or partial Quaker dress. You mention Max Carter, whom I remember in that regard from when he was in this area. Gave that a fair bit of thought and decided that it might distract as much as it helped re delivering my Quaker message. I’m sure there can be similar considerations re nakedness also. Will the symbolic or the literal action be what dominates the conversation?
Anyhow, my attitude toward clothing is sort of “who cares.” As far as I’m concerned, I’d be just as happy if everyone went naked. Would love to get rid of the status that relates to clothing. I do require clothing or a blanket or two for warmth, but may skip clothes in the house when it gets very hot.
Personal background in this regard: I was fortunate to be brought up in a loving and educated family that was more than typically liberal, while still being rooted in the culture of the times (aren’t we all). Clothing was strictly functional and neat and appropriate – hand-me-downs were fine. This was New England – it gets cold there. Naked was generally not healthy. I know friends in New Orleans who always went naked. Very understandable there.
More to your point. I said earlier “who cares” about clothes, but then what are the appropriate opportunities to go without? It didn’t always work for early Quakers, as I understand it. Couple of months ago Fran and I hiked to the White House for GMO labeling right-to-know. We had Dr. Bronner’s fire truck accompanying the group to provide showers for hot and tired hikers. No one bothered with clothing and no one cared a hoot. One night this was on a public street in Tacoma Park. Ho hum. But I think everyone understood that this group was focused on protecting the natural world, and that we (as physical bodies) were a part of that natural world. So it was all very natural and fitting. One must acknowledge that there can be a sexual issue with nudity, but one gets over it. One doesn’t get over sex (we’re in our 60s and not over it yet, thank God), but with time one gets over the automatic connection of nudity and sexuality that predominates in this country.
But be realistic – not everyone is at that place at any particular time. In fact, most are not. I have Muslim friends who would be very offended by this. One can always look at a naked woman lustfully. But then, one can always look lustfully at a clothed person. This testimony requires appropriate consideration, as does any testimony in my experience.