the friend online
23 February 2007

Worship or communion
In regard to 'worship', L. Violet Hodgkin reminds us in her 1919 Swarthmore Lecture, Silent Worship, that one meaning for 'worship' is'to love with wonder'. I remember thinking how absolutely lovely that was because I, too, had a problem with 'worship'. It embarrassed me, frankly, and I couldn't help picturing scenes from those dreadful 1950s Hollywood movies where the hero bows before 'false' gods. Yuk!

After reading the Lecture I began making a concerted effort in seeing 'worship' in the same light as Violet. In doing so she helped me appreciate my fellow worshippers much more. I mean, not merely through a form of communion – one valid understanding of Meeting for Worship certainly – but by seeing something other in everyone present, a deeper, inner and mysterious reality, something beautifully poetic in fact, that made us 'one of each other'. That, truly, was something to wonder at. And for me it opened new ways of understanding our life together as Friends.

I'm still wondering!
Gerard Guiton

I cannot help wondering if Clive Ellis wrote with tongue in cheek in his letter (9 February). We are told that the Society of Friends should not be left behind in the movement of the Spirit but that we must move with the spirit of change. Change, though, should be for a good purpose and not be for change's sake.

As for 'Meeting for Communion' replacing Meeting for Worship because it would cover 'larger areas for Friends of different views', the Religious Society of Friends still has many people who hold spiritual convictions which are much more profound than ideas and of those there are many who are Christian.

It is right to remember that early Quakers became so by convincement and many of them suffered imprisonment and persecution.

Twenty years ago a member of my Meeting in Birmingham who was of a long-standing family of Quakers became very concerned because the Society of Friends was trying to be all things to all people and consequently was beginning to have nothing of substance to say.

In the same issue of The Friend (9 February) is an excellent review of a book An Authority on Early Quakers, which should be read by Quakers of all ages. It will clearly provide a better understanding of early Quakers, which appears to be lacking these days.
Rachel Darlington

Acting under concerns
At the end of Simon Risley's very interesting article about the Orkney 'Satanic Abuse' affair – I did not know about Friends' action – he questions whether he is right to believe that his action was laid upon him by God. He can easily imagine that people who do things he disagrees with entirely, for instance suicide bombers, also believe they are acting according to God's will.

It doesn't seem enough to say that because he tested his concern within his Monthly Meeting he had some kind of guarantee that it wasn't just a personal concern that was misguided. Suicide bombers are supported in their action by fellow religionists too.

What it comes down to in the end is what set of values one chooses to espouse, what kind of world one wants, and what kind of behaviour one thinks is likely to help sustain that kind of world. Personal experience, the culture we've grown up in, and the ways in which we think about ideas in my opinion all influence the kind of God in which a person believes.

Does this mean that one person's God is as good as another's? I'm prepared to say that the kind of God Simon Risley believes in is highly preferable to the vengeful variety. That is what it seems to me is implied by 'taking heed of love and truth'. But I can't prove it. It's a question of 'here I stand'.
Janet Toye

May God bless us
Further to Eye (9 February), my beautiful cat, Cassie, was put to sleep in January this year, aged nearly 20 years. I brought her home as a kitten from the very spiritual island of Iona in Scotland to live with me here in Birmingham. It is no coincidence that at the same time I began to go to the local Quaker meeting and I have been attending regularly ever since. Cassie brought with her the spirit of Iona, a spirit which I find reflected in Quaker values and a way of living I aspire to, even If I don't always quite manage to live up to! I have reached out to others in my grief and they in return have reached back to me with many tangible expressions of love. So Cassie continues to bring me many blessings. May God bless my cat – and indeed all of us.
Val Hill

Trident: more ways to act
I recently found the 10 Downing Street site on which one can post petitions and sign up to others. I was one of 110 people to sign a petition asking the government to allow a free vote on the Trident debate. As a signatory to the petition, I received the government's reponse to it.

In short, the government has made its mind up that Trident is a good thing as expressed in its White Paper which came out in December.

'...given that the policy set out in the White Paper is fully consistent with the Labour Party's manifesto at the 2005 General Election, it is unlikely to be appropriate for there to be a free vote.'

Friends may wish to discuss this issue with their MPs.
Harriet Martin

I'm delighted to see the amount of interest being shown by Friends in the issue of 'No Replacement for Trident', and the support for the Faslane 365 Campaign. In fact, the Quaker gang going on 4 and 5 March won't be the next Quaker outing to Faslane – Diana and I are going on Tuesday, 27 February! We don't expect to be lonely, as there will be plenty of police there, and support from the permanent Peace Camp, but we'd welcome being joined by any other folk – a blockade by two probably won't be that effective! We expect to be there from noon as we have to travel up in the morning.

By the way, logging on to the Faslane 365 website provides a calendar showing who's doing what and when.
Nick Francis

I applaud the fact that our clerk to Meeting for Sufferings has written to our prime minister concerning the proposal to replace Trident, and the advice in this week's Friend to urge us all to write to our own MPs in an individual way. However, am I the only Friend to be surprised at the use of the title 'Rt Hon' preceding the Prime Minister's name? What has happened to our Testimony to Equality in the decision to address the prime minister in this way?
Allan Roberts

Quaker bricks and mortar and VAT – correction
Apologies, the author quoted the fax number and not the telephone number, which is 08453 02 02 03

Friend in Cuba
I write about a Cuban Friend, Kirenia Criado, whose social and spiritual work has always impressed me. I first met Kirenia in 2000 when researching the history of Cuban Quakerism for my PhD at the University of Southampton. Kirenia has nurtured a group of Quakers in Havana that is now recognised as a Monthly Meeting by Cuba Yearly Meeting. She also runs charitable projects for Cuban children. She prioritises social work over evangelical work and her main line of work at the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King Jr. (CMMLK) supports these efforts.

The CMMLK was founded to provide training in Martin Luther King's philosophy of nonviolence for Cuban religious and community leadership. The centre works to promote the interaction between young Cuban and US leaders training them in 'Kingian' nonviolence to improve relations between people in both countries. The CMMLK has relied to a great extent on donations from US churches. Over the last year, it has seen its funds reduced drastically due to tightening of the US embargo. This has led to the CMMLK no longer being able to fund Kirenia's accommodation in Havana. There is a house near the Centre that she could buy for $5000 to enable her to continue to work there. She has about CUC$1,300 (approx. £720) left to raise. This purchase would aid both the CMMLK and Havana Quakers. If you feel you can help in any way, please get in touch with me after 25 February.
Karen Leimdorfer



I am wondering if the discussion about the above subject reflects a lack of a shared understanding amongst us about the nature of Meeting for Worship.

A description of Quaker Worship at its best can be found in Quaker Faith and Practice at paragraph 2.47. This reads (in part);

" A gathered Quaker meeting is something more than a number of individuals sitting together but meditating individually. The goal of a truly gathered meeting is to become fused into something bigger than the sum of the parts...

As a meeting gathers, as each individual "centres down", there gradually develops a feeling of belonging to a group who are together seeking a sense of the Presence. The "I" in us begins to feel like "we". At some point we suddenley feel a sense of unity, a sense of togtherness with one another and with something outside ourselves that we call God".

The corporate nature of Quaker Worship is emphasised throughout Quaker Faith and Practice because Quakerism is based on the understanding that the Light is one in all.

I am not clear why the experience of the gathered meeting , as described above, should not be thought of as a form of worship.



This week's .pdf
In this week's online edition... rss edition

No charges pending in Quaker college brawl
Simon Risley
News round-up
No opt-out for justice
Stephen Cox
Judy Kirby & Kate Bellwood
Tom Fox, Friends’ ecclesiology and the ‘Quaker wide web’
Chuck Fager
Finding Friend
Laurie Kruczek
The internet for very beginners
Clare-Marie White
Feeding the curious
Richard Hilken

Things to do, where to stay, people to see etc...

download this issue

save this page

most recent comments:
Letters, Ala
Quaker approach to business under the spotlight, David Hitchin
Tackling the pay gap from both ends, anonymous poster
Some more equal than others?, anonymous poster
Climate Camp experience, Frances Laing
Climate Camp experience, Frances Laing
The centrality of worship, Andrew Hatton, Maldon LM, Essex
In the care of the Meeting?, chrissie hinde
Lockerbie grief and justice, Jennifer Barraclough
The centrality of worship, Peter Arnold
The top ten reasons (plus three) why bottled water is a blessing, Fee Berry
Letters, David Hitchin
Marriage and committed relationships, Fee Berry
George Fox and same gender partnership, Chris Bagley
Marriage and committed relationships, Chris Bagley
Meeting for meditation?, Barry
Meeting for ‘weorthscipe’?, Gerard Guiton
Report shows that all is not well in multicultural Britain, chrissie hinde
Johann Sebastian Bach and the Jews, Peter Arnold
Prisons: our growth industry, Peer Arnold

Save on your phone bills with:
the phone co-op - your voice counts