Quakers–the nice guys in the back
Had dinner with some Quakers from Vermont today. Was suddenly reminded of encountering lots of Quakers in New England during my high school years, and of my impression then that it’s one of the nicest forms of Christianity out there. It draws many intelligent people to it because of its emphasis on being open, thinking, and figuring it all out for yourself, and generally believing that everyone has value. Of course, this takes a lot more work than going to a massive stadium and having someone else’s ideas and rules spoon-fed to you while they stroke your ego for being there and not being one of those dirty sinners outside. Quakers don’t tend to have megachurches. They also don’t go door-to-door harrassing people to join them, so the Jehovah’s Witnesses have them beat on the recruitment front as well. But for a reasonable, simple, thoughtful religion that is also considerate and respectful of other religions, I can’t think of a better option. Especially for these cross-and-crescent-waving times.
(quotes are from here)
“Friends generally believe that first-hand knowledge of God is only possible through that which is experienced, or inwardly revealed to the individual human being through the working of God’s quickening Spirit…the concept of the Inner Light is twofold. Firstly, the Inner Light discerns between good and evil. It reveals the presence of both in human beings, and through its guidance, offers the alternative of choice. Secondly, the Inner Light opens the unity of all human beings to our consciousness. Friends believe that the potential for good, as well as evil, are latent in everyone.”
They also don’t take the Bible literally, don’t argue over semantics, but rather think that your experience and sense of it is valid enough:
“Friends refuse to make the Bible the final test of right conduct and true doctrine. Divine revelation is not confined to the past. The same Holy Spirit which has inspired the scriptures in the past can inspire living believers centuries later. Indeed, for the right understanding of the past, the present insight from the same Spirit is essential. Friends believe that, by the Inner Light, God provides everyone with access to spiritual truth for today.”
They respect other religions:
“But all would agree that humans, as rational beings, must think about the nature of their religious experiences. Friends are encouraged to seek for truth in all the opportunities that life presents to them. They are further encouraged to seek new light from whatever source it may arise. Their questing and open attitude to life has certainly contributed to the tolerance with which Friends try to approach people and problems of faith and conduct.”
“Church” consists of people sitting quietly together, and anyone may speak and “minister” as they feel inspired to. All this in stark contrast to the “Please don’t go to hell believe in Jesus” t-shirt-wearing fanatics who scream and threaten on street corners:
Entry filed under: Religion.