Return to They asked me to write a letter (idea)

They sent an email to the whole Quaker community of my college actually, asking about student opinions of Quakerism. However, they sent it to me to which, considering my considerable dissatisfaction with my religion, inspired me to write this (yes i sent it back):

When I was about thirteen, I started to talk to my father, really talk to him, about Quakerism. We had been Quaker for maybe six or seven years by then and I knew the basic tenets of Quakerism and in a general way agreed with them, largely because my parents did. Then my father started to talk with me about George Fox, and the real basic tenets of Quakerism, and I began to see where the came from. It was then that I knew that I had been steered onto the right path.

I started going to Young Friends and I found peace there for a long time. There were people I could identify with, people to whom I could talk. Not only that, there I finally felt free after feeling caged in around my other friends for so long. And it was there that I first began to feel the presence of the Spirit and to feel the truth I had realized before.

I had found a faith in which I felt peace, something many people don't find in their lives at all, and I had found people to share it with. For a few brief moments I felt the world working in my direction.

But then, I began to notice other things about Quakerism, about the practice of the religion and the current state of affairs in the PYM world. It began slowly, but I was a witness to a situation in which the Quaker process hurt some people very dear to me, people who had put their faith and lives into the system only to have it pulled out from under them.

Quakerism as a concept is a beautiful thing but in practice it has grown dark; murky waters reflecting the light of Fox's vision. When I heard about the incident that happened at Friends Central (see The Education of America’s Children for details) last year, and the subsequent response of the Quaker community to that incident, I lost the faith I had in the Quaker establishment. How is it that the members of a religion devoted to tolerance and equality could be so reactive as to expel a child for making an offhanded and joking comment out of school time?

Quakerism is about that of God in all of us, about the fundamental revelation of the divine to each individual. It is about peace and nonviolence, about love and simplicity and of all of these things, but only because of the fundamental principal of the divinity of the individual; the concept of simplicity itself originated in Fox's unwillingness to have the rituals and objects of worship, these 'outward forms,' become the focus of one's faith over the concepts that they represent. I fear that this has now become the case as Quakers worry more about offending anyone than about those things that Quakerism started with; if Fox were a Quaker today, he would likely be thrown out of his meeting for rocking the boat.

I now attend meeting only intermittently, unable to stay away completely because of the comfort I feel there, but unable to go for any extended period of time because of the politics that come into play, the many Quakers who don't really know what Quakerism is anymore.

Quakerism is about love and peace, but it is a hard won love, full of troubles, and it is the peace that comes after a long day's work for a just cause. To me it will always be these things, and I hope I can one day attain them.

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