That’s right, I said it. You are not a Quaker.
Hey, how can you tell me I’m not a Quaker? According to what definition?
Good question. There are good arguments for why no one can make such a claim. I’ve been a part of these conversations since attending the World Gathering of Young Friends in 2005, where Friends from all across the world and from every branch came together to share about our particular pieces, learn about the others, and ultimately try to resolve what was the unifying factor. Later I was part of this discussion in a major way in a Quaker Beliefs course, again full of different kinds of Quakers studying the branches’ theologies and practices and wondering, ‘is one branch more Quaker than the others?’ ‘What ties us together?’
Things I learned: None of us are practicing anything like original Friends although Conservative Quakers come closest with their combination of silent worship and biblical grounding.
However, silent worship isn’t what makes defines Quakers (no, we can’t cut off the Pastoral Branches).
Nor is a Biblical grounding or a strong Christian theology (that’s right, you also can’t do away with us filthy Liberals).
Likewise, connection to Quaker history and tradition does not make one a Quaker (yep, many authentic Quakers in the world have not even heard of George Fox).
And finally, being an active member of the Quaker community DOES NOT MAKE YOU A QUAKER.
The good news is that I figured out what defines a Quaker and so we can finally have a conversation about why you do not qualify and should stop calling yourself such. Here it is: all real Friends everywhere, throughout our entire history and in every branch, no matter what their theology or worship practices, are committed to one shared thing; GETTING NAKED.
(This is ultimately why this ministry exists– it goes to the root of our religion, which most of us who call ourselves Quakers are totally ignorant of.)
What the hell are you talking about Maggie?! This is an appalling marketing ploy that I don’t appreciate.
Now bear with me! Nakedness is about stripping away all of that which is not righteous, which is not eternal, which came into being not through obedience to Spirit/ Love/ God/ Christ/ Righteousness/ Wholeness/ Etc, but through human disobedience, brokenness, and distance from the Divine. Quakerism is a movement of people, or Friends of God, who engage in the process of inviting the Search Light (aka God) to shine upon all of our coverings (all that is unholy in our lives), so that we can identify them and work to remove them, with the help of God’s grace.
Quakerism is a group of people who are committed to this transformation, and believe TRULY that is it possible and available right now, through our direct connection to the spirit of Wholeness and Righteousness. It doesn’t matter what we call it: Jesus, Light, God, Christ, the Universe, Spirit, He, She, It, etc.
It doesn’t matter if we do it solely through silent meditation or through listening to a pastor or reading spiritual texts or Scripture.
It doesn’t matter if we do it in community or on our own (although history shows that it tends to go better if we’re doing it with the support of others).
The only thing that truly defines Friends as a distinct group and not just a bunch of Unitarians or Christians or a secular social club is that all True Quakers are committed to the process of gettin’ naked as a step in the longer path of being clothed in righteousness, which means a return to right order, or the Gospel Order, or the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Garden or Eden, or total Liberation, or WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT.
To be fair, “True Quakers” also include those of us who don’t know anything about how to do this but WANT this transformation.
So, if you attend meeting because it’s nice, or because you enjoy having a group of liberal friends to talk with about politics, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH TO CALL YOURSELF QUAKER.
If you call yourself Quaker because you like the social messages and the fact that we’re ‘so accepting’ or that we’re not going to stuff religion down your throat, that’s all fine and good, I feel the same BUT THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TO CALL YOURSELF A QUAKER.
If you attend Friends Church so that you can feel connected to God/Christ and do the things a good Christian would do, THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TO CALL YOURSELF A QUAKER.
If you call yourself a Quaker because you went to a Friends School and now work at a nonprofit and always compost your banana peels, THAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU A QUAKER.
Are you all getting my point?
Please stop diluting our movement and muddying the waters with your wishy-washy comfort-driven engagement with this group that you think is cool or enjoy ‘meditating’ with. You are not Quaker. Go join some other group that’s not going to tell you what to do and will accept your lack of interest in real radical transformation. That’s not what we’re about. And yes, we ARE about something. Don’t you dare imply otherwise and I’m sorry if we mislead you by acting like anything goes because we don’t believe in anything specific or challenging. IT DOESN’T. PLEASE LEAVE.