Showing 49–55 of 55 results

    Quaker Relief Work and the Brynmawr Experiment

    Author: Pamela Manasseh

    Document Code: WJ07

    Description: I am fascinated by Quaker history in the first thirty years of the twentieth century. Brian Philips has cast the period 1895-1910 as the Quaker renaissance, the period during which Friends saw themselves as ‘the nonconformists of the nonconformists’ and as ‘the civilising influence in the world’, alongside the British Empire. Such arrogant worldliness could only last a brief honeymoon following the marriage of full citizenship in 1870 and the victory of the Liberal theological project after 1895. Rocked first by the deaths of J.W. Rowntree in 1905 and then of ‘blessed Edward the peacemaker’ (Edward VII) in 1910, Friends had further to face anarcho-syndicalist union unrest, the possibility of Irish Home Rule, the Suffragette movement, and then the ‘Great War’. Each challenge brought an ambiguous response, with Friends both for and against. One third of eligible Quaker men joined up in the Great War; but the advent of conscription in 1916 brought about a less permissive attitude to the politics of the State. Quakers pushed for the right to conscientious objection.

    Thomas Kennedy reports that those who resisted the war effort the most were given the greatest weight within inter-war British Quakerism. But it was still a time of uncertainty within the movement. In 1918, London Yearly Meeting adopted the nine points of social order akin to a socialist manifesto; but in 1926, the Yearly Meeting looked to ameliorate the effects of the General Strike and the conditions that had led to it, instead of maintaining the clear line of 1918. Indeed, writers such as H.G. Wood declared in the Friends Quarterly Examiner that 1918’s nine points were perhaps over-hasty and ill-conceived. In general, leading Friends pushed for a softer line which gave them fewer personal difficulties.

    The story Pamela Manasseh tells here follows that moment exactly with Friends of different political persuasions joining together in their efforts at relief. Some of those political differences were to re-emerge over time. But unity was sustained for projects such as the Bryn Mawr experiment by a coterie of dedicated Friends, often serving together on different committees at the same time. This is part of larger research conducted by Pamela and feeds into her current work on the particular story of Paul Matt and the furniture-making in Wales. It is all worthy of our attention and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Pam when she was Eva Koch Fellow here in 1999, on a subject she had obviously researched so thoroughly.

    The Quakers and Gandhi – The Start of a Dialogue and an Uncompleted Journey

    Author: Vasant Kumar Bawa

    Document Code: WJ15

    Description: Vasant Bawa was an Eva Koch Scholar at Woodbrooke in 2003. He wanted to spend time in the Quaker library so that he could find out more about Quaker thinkers associated with India from the early twentieth century including Horace Alexander, Jack Hoyland and Marjorie Sykes. He was already working on a longer study of the relations between Gandhi and peace movements in Europe since the First World War.

    I am pleased that Vasant Bawa was able to spend some time here at Woodbrooke and research the particular contribution Quakers made to the events that led up to the independence of India in 1947. This part of his research can now be published in this edition of the Woodbrooke Journal and adds another chapter to the record of Gandhi’s links with Woodbrooke. It is the view of an Indian, non Quaker and therefore provides a different perspective.

    Vasant is looking for connections between Gandhians and Quakers in many areas including pacifism and spirituality. He examines the peace testimony of the Quakers as it developed after the First World War and considers the links with pacifism. At the same time he contrasts this with the approach of Gandhi’s movement with their non-violent protests and the question of a just war. Should pacifists oppose all wars or those which are unjust? With spirituality, however, he does find more similarities between George Fox’s search for the inner light and Gandhi’s search for truth. Gandhi held regular prayer meetings with people of different faiths and in this sharing of one another’s scriptures he shared in a common quest for the divine.

    In his conclusion Vasant is seeking to extend the teaching of Gandhi into the twenty first century and the world of South Asia. He points out that the issues addressed at the World Pacifist Conference in 1948 in Shantiniketan and Sevagram are still on the world’s agenda today.

    Judith Jenner

    Tutor in Quaker Studies

    The Economic Crisis – a Quaker response

    Author: Tony Weekes

    Document Code: ISSN 1368-9614

    Description: I am pleased to introduce Tony Weekes who has completed his work at Woodbrooke as the Ferguson Fellow. One of the results of his research is this short paper The economic crisis - a Quaker response which we are able to publish in the Spring issue of the Journal. In it he focuses on economics as the fundamental nut to crack when considering how we can create a convivial and sustainable society in our life time. He identifies change to the current economic order as core when he struggles with the relationship between faith and practice. For him it is this change that will bring social justice, sensitivity to others’ needs and reduce wasteful consumption of the world’s non-renewable resources.

    Before he describes the possibilities he begins by explaining the nineteenth century neo classical paradigm from which our understanding of economics has grown and shaped the way we view the way the world works today. He includes substantial sections exploring both money and work as the two key components of the current economic system and seeks alternative ways of viewing both. He introduces the notion of a citizens basic income for all that is distinct from selling their labour. This is one of many proposals Tony puts forward as he seeks a different approach to work arising out of the conservationist economy.

    The article covers a broad sweep responding to many questions that are raised when seeking this new paradigm. There are many useful references to current work on various websites that can be explored, depending on particular interests.

    Tony admits that his paper cannot offer a complete blueprint for how to proceed but recognises that it takes individual and community and government effort to work for a better world. He is seeking an alternative, evidence based paradigm for a better world. Towards the end of the article he is able to set out some of the requirements for an ecological economy which challenge our current western way of life.

    Judith Jenner

    Why making friends with God may not be the best idea

    Author: Ben Pink Dandelion

    Description: Preparing and delivering a lecture could be considered a very different exercise to writing an article to be published. The reception of the first will depend on the physical setting, the audience and maybe even the time of day. It is set within a specific time frame, and although carefully researched it is of a more temporary nature. What listeners take from it depends on the personality and skill of the presenter as much as the argument.

    I am, therefore, very pleased that Ben Pink Dandelion readily agreed to my request to publish the 2004 Ellen French Lecture. I was intrigued by the title and wondered why ‘making friends with God may not be the best idea’. Having introduced the notion of friendship being the most subversive form of relationship on the first page what follows is an account of how the idea of God has changed since Fox’s realisation in 1647 that ‘humanity can be spoken to, directly and without mediation of text and priest’. After setting out the early history and the significance of the direct experience and spiritual intimacy Ben is able to compare this with the twentieth century movement away from an interventionist God to one who did not act in the world and ‘who in humanised form was only equal to their own sense of potential, or no God at all.’

    It is uncomfortable reading and does bring into question for me personally what have the forty years since John Robinson’s Honest to God, and all that followed, resulted in? In the final section Ben addresses the question of what this has meant for the Religious Society of Friends in the twentieth century. A God who has become so humanised has severe limitations and can easily lead to the loss of hope within society, it also diminishes the mystery of God. This is a thought provoking article and I recommend it warmly.

    Judith Jenner

    Tutor in Quaker Studies

    Truth, Listening, Caring

    Author: Anne Hosking

    Document Code: ISSN 1368-9614

    Description: For over 2000 years what constitutes ‘truth’ has been a contested matter; Pontius Pilate, when Governor of Roman Palestine, is famously purported to have said ‘what is truth?’ when Jesus was brought before him. Today truth or Truth as an ideal remains an important part of Quaker testimony and witness. We are said as a religious community to be ‘Friends of the Truth’; but what does this mean, particularly as we live in an era when meaning is slippery and words can be provisional and partial?

    Anne Hosking’s work on truth as part of her Eva Koch scholarship points us in some useful directions for consideration. Truth may be a re-membering, a putting back together of our own self. It may be listening to and witnessing a story that needs telling even if we might only partially hear or understand. It may be an ongoing active process that integrates new occurrences and interpretations. ‘Truthing’ as Anne describes it requires something more than the traditional definition where we are exhorted to tell the whole truth and nothing but. It asks of us nothing less than that our whole being is engaged with and alive to possibility within and beyond ourselves.

    Tradition and Transition: opening to the Sacred yesterday and today

    Author: Alex Wildwood

    Document Code: WJ09

    Description: I am delighted to recommend to you this new essay by Alex Wildwood. Normally, our two issues of Woodbrooke Journal per year are devoted to the fresh research of our Eva Koch Fellows at Woodbrooke. But because of a gap in the ‘pipeline’, we were able to consider another submission. The work that Alex and Tim Peat are doing (see Alex’s ‘Acknowledgements’) with ‘Rooted in Christianity, Open to New Light’ has struck a chord with Friends around Britain Yearly Meeting in recent months. For those who have not had an opportunity to participate in one of their events, Alex’s essay here is a vital statement of the ‘Open to New Light’ side of that conversation — yet clearly engaged faithfully with the ‘Rooted in Christianity’ position that Tim upholds.

    In my own research into the beginnings of Quakerism among Seekers of the 1650s, I have learned that Friends have always been engaged in this conversation. Some seek to dig deeper into the richness of the existing Christian tradition (albeit in a particular, Spirit-led vein), while others see new ‘dispensations’, ‘paradigms’ or ‘ages’ beginning to unfold and changing everything radically. At its best, this is a fruitful dialogue of faith that continues to renew Quakerism. I happily pass on to you this most recent installment in that conversation.

    Doug Gwyn

    Quaker Studies Tutor

    They Too Are Quakers: A survery of 199 Nontheist Friends

    Author: David Rush

    Document Code: WJ11

    Description: Following Peggy Heeks issue last summer, ‘British Quakers and the Bible Today’ (Issue No. 10), we continue with fresh research of contemporary Quaker attitudes. Along with Peggy, David Rush was an Eva Koch Fellow here in 2001. His work on nontheism among Friends covers both Britain and the United States. It is an important piece of fresh research on a growing phenomenon in the liberal branch of Quakerism over the past several years. As with Peggy’s excellent work, the opportunity to hear Quaker voices speaking their experiences and convictions adds an important qualitative dimension to the quantitative sifting David has done from his survey. So, generous quotation, along with a number of helpful graphs, give us a helpful portrait. Certainly, this essay adds to the path-breaking research of Ben Pink Dandelion (cited by Rush) and hopefully will lead on to future work. I happily commend it to readers — nontheist and theist.

    Douglas Gwyn

    Quaker Studies Tutor