Friday, August 05, 2005

Whispers of Faith: Young Friends share their experiences of Quakerism

I am overdue for a blog announcement of this book, Whispers of Faith: Young Friends share their experiences of Quakerism, of which I am one of the five young Friend editors.

The book is composed of essays, stories, poetry, and art from young Friends of all Quaker colors (liberal unprogrammed all the way to evangelical), from all over the world (though mostly from North America and UK). If you click on the link for the book above you can find out more information about it, and also a link to Lucy Duncan's Book Musings where she speaks about the book and a little about the process in Oregon (she was there, of course). It was a pretty amazing experience being a part of that process.

In fact, as part of the process, we (the editorial board) flew out to Oregon at the end of a QUIP (Quakers United in Publications) conference back in April. It was there that we did most of the discerning about which submissions would go in, what the title would be, what all the chapters would be, who would write which preface/introduction or editorial note, what we still needed, new deadlines, and all sorts of other logistical things.

Actually, this experience was a rather significant turning point in my Quakerism. I came up with the idea of starting a blog solely for my thoughts, feelings, and leadings regarding Quakerism and spirituality. I wrote the essay, The Importance of Friendship between Young Friends and Adults, which was recently in FGConnections, and also appears in this book in a more developed form (it was edited again). Martin (who I'd just met in person in Oregon) found my blog within a couple days (he's good at these things) and wanted to feature the very rough draft of this essay (which I'd posted on my new blog) on Quaker Ranter, where it quickly made its debut in the wider realm of Friends (at this point it was in its baby form and has since undergone many edits before being officially published anywhere). Through Quaker Ranter, other blogging Friends found my blog, and I in turn discovered other blogging Friends. Connections have been made and they're incredible to have.

Also after this meeting in Oregon, I realized that I could, indeed, be active and involved in the life of my local meeting - before I'd hung on peripherally without making much effort, mainly because that's how it'd always been. I can't remember any specific thing that was said or event while in Oregon that caused me to come to this realization, but it the experience certainly sparked something deep within me. So, with one month left of high school and three months of summer, I began making myself a bit less peripheral. I spoke with Karen Stewart, and active Friend when it comes to youth ministries on a national level, who was very excited about my participation with QUIP, and also very excited about me getting more involved with DFM (Durham Friends Meeting).

My main focus of 'active' involvement with DFM pertains to youth ministries and First Day School. I stopped attending First Day School in January of my Junior year of high school, a year and a half ago; I had realized that it did not feel right for me, and began attending the full hour of Worship. Almost a year later, I began discovering a lot of things on my own through Quaker books, things that I now feel should be shared and communicated (or perhaps 'taught', but I'm not sure if I like that word in this context) in First Day School.

After attending a Pendle Hill clerking workshop led by Arthur Larrabee (excellent workshop!) in November (2004) with my fellow then-future co-clerks of 2005 FGC Gathering HS Program, I had discovered the world of Quaker books. I began reading books such as The Amazing Fact of Quaker Worship (George Gorman) and Encounter with Silence (John Punshon) that spoke of experiences of Meeting for Worship and inward listening. I read books such as The Quakers in America (Thomas Hamm) that discussed Quaker history and began to help me find similarities between liberal, unprogrammed Friends, conservative Friends, and more christ-centered or evangelical Friends. I read books of vocation, such as Let Your Life Speak (Parker Palmer). There were so many thoughts, ideas, experiences, and leadings in these books that I had never realized existed before!

Already in Durham Friends Meeting, even before I woke up and dove in, there were efforts to improve and change First Day School. Currently, I'm working on sharing my experiences with First Day School and my experiences with Quaker books; there are some wonderful ideas floating around regarding all of it, and I'm very excited about all of it. Though I no longer attend First Day School and will be going off to college VERY soon, I want to help improve things for those coming after me.

I continue reading books today. In fact, a couple months ago I posted a request for Quaker book recommendations, which is an excellent resource, even if I'm currently overwhelmed with books and pamphlets in my possession.

Another door that opened before me with this experience in Oregon for Whispers of Faith is the one of Quaker journalism and writing. I had a strong realization that I can, indeed, write and be published in the Quaker world, and that this is an excellent way of reaching out to other Friends and communicating. I feel now like I have one foot in the door of Quaker journalism, something which I hope to pursue and continue. It's a little odd to me, though, and perhaps counter-intuitive, as I am so passionately into science that in the past, writing and being published (other than scientific journal articles) was not even near my radar, and here I am, ready to dive in!

Woo, now that I've rambled at length about the cascade of insights and realizations that came from my experience working on this book, I shall bring this post to a close. The book is really amazing (I say from a rather biased standpoint), and I highly recommend it. I have yet to see a real, in-person copy of it (aside from pdfs of final drafts and such), and will get to when I go home at some point tomorrow. I'm quite excited!

Love and Light,


Blogger QiN-Hombre said...

Hi Claire,
I wonder if you've seen my blog, Quakers in the News?

I also send an email once per week which
puts the weekly stories from around the world in categorical order. If you'd like to get the email, just let me know.

8/8/05 9:43 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I just started *The Quakers in America* by Thomas Hamm and find it to be a really interesting account of present day Quaker issues. I agree with your recommendation.

While I'm not at all familiar with the Quaker publications in the US, here in the UK, there are weekly, monthly and quarterly publications of varying quality. I think their biggest weakness is that it's not always clear who the writer is writing for: her/himself, the reader, or God. What is your impression of American Quaker publications? Is there one that you think is worth subscribing to?

10/8/05 10:29 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

Glenn - Thanks for dropping by my blog! I believe I saw an article in Friends Journal about your Quakers in the News searches (unless someone else is doing that too?). Thanks also for alerting me about your blog - I'll be sure to stop in from time to time.

Rob - You ask, What is your impression of American Quaker publications?

I have no idea how to answer that! I've been reading a ton of Quaker books - mostly from the US, I presume - but I'm not sure if I've read enough (or processed what I've read enough) to have an overall impression of American Quaker publications in general. It's hard for me to think about who the writer is writing for when I've been reading mostly for myself and focusing on taking what I read in an inward manner. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't feel I'm in a place where I can give any sort of answer to that.

An American Quaker publication that I think is worth subscribing to: Friends Journal, of course. I'd probably have more than just that one to suggest, but I'm still exploring the world of Quaker periodicals.

Thank you, too, for dropping by my blog! :)

Love and Light,

12/8/05 1:00 AM  
Blogger QiN-Hombre said...

Hi Claire,
can you delete my email address and replace it with

11/7/06 8:22 PM  

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