Sunday, October 12, 2014

On Progressive Friends

 :: Quaker Elder with Reflective Ministry ::

Having recently viewed the Ken Burns documentary series on Prohibition, I was interested to learn Chuck's take on the Quaker position, which position, not surprisingly was almost entirely pro Prohibition. So how can Quakers boast of their "cutting edge" track record, i.e being on the right side of history, when so clearly they favored retrograde policies? Even the so-called progressives did.

Refreshingly, Chuck is not some apologist or "lawyer for Quakers" and lets the past be what it is.  The truth is more interesting than our myths.  As my mom put it on the way to meeting this morning, "Quakers weren't even allowed to have pianos" i.e. "Fox was a Puritan, maybe not of the usual kind, but a Puritan nonetheless."

I was thinking on the way home, "gee, I hope it wasn't the influx of Quakers to Richmond, IN that spoiled that town's fledgling piano industry".  I'd hate having to live down such a killjoy reputation.  Anyway, I have no evidence to support such a story (yet).  Quakers certainly did not kill off beer as Richmond has a fine micro-brewery of Quaker lineage, which I visited a couple times on my last sojourn in Richmond (Ohio Yearly Meeting was gathering and I joined their concluding worship).

So yes, Quakerism was significantly diluted by Puritanism right from the get go.  With advancing age, however, I'd say many branches of Quakerism have shed this heritage, like an old snake skin, outgrown.  Likewise, Islam in North America has shed much of the misogynistic heritage it picked up in the Abrahamic tradition (or wherever that comes from) and is currently thriving as a more or less feminist institution in towns like Lake Oswego.  Women own their own travel agencies, drive fancy cars and have the latest smartphones, thanks to Islam