Five weeks later

On 22 March (2017) I added a review of our Minute and Epistle from 2012 and said I would work through our existing articles, perhaps one every 6 days or so. Such is optimism. That was some 5 weeks ago (37 days precisely) so IF I continue at the same rate it might be 18 months, not three, to work through all the existing articles.

What is the point?  Well, I thought that reviewing our existing material might benefit me and at the same time draw in reflections and comments from others and give an appearance of something new every week (or every 5 weeks?) until something really ‘new’ was forthcoming from elsewhere.

Since that last ‘review’ there have been 4 posts, 4 comments and reports and minutes of the 2017 conference and AGM, and an April Newsletter with a report on the 2017 Conference added to the website. If you haven’t seen them yet, have a look now!

One of the posts was on a possible Facebook group and unless there are further responses, perhaps that will rest with the last comments there? Please do add your comments or replies here below or anywhere on the site that comments are allowed. If members of our Steering Group (or indeed any other members of NFN) would like to add comments, make Posts or otherwise contribute to the site, we would be pleased to see that happening.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here is a quick review of the next article up (see the Articles page from the bottom) contributed by Sarah Richards (now Siddle since her Quaker marriage a year or so ago), our Membership Secretary and Treasurer, on ‘Quaker Discernment: A non-theist view’, in May-June 2013.

Sarah, a mathematician,  makes a comparison between the reality or existence of God and that of ‘i, the square root of minus one’. Earlier in her article, Sarah says “I do not believe in any form of eternal entity which can, at will, cause unique violations of the laws of physics, chemistry and biology.”  But “I do have an open mind on whether there might be some kind of Entity of Ultimate Reality which is beyond both the space and time in which we live and our comprehension, but which might in some way provide a reason why anything exists at all: but that is another story.” (She does not believe such an entity would have any human characteristics.)

Her discussion is quite deep and considers Quaker Meeting for Worship for Business, the process of ‘discernment’, the will of God and leadings of the Spirit, concluding that ‘this confirms my suggestion of a ‘will of God’ which can exist without the need for a God to will it: a non-theist solution to the concept of Quaker Discernment.’

As I have not done justice to her discussion here, I hope you might read the original article. In general I have not put direct links to all the articles and posts referred to here, in the hope this will encourage readers to browse or search for them and thereby become more familiar with the website, the material it contains, and perhaps come across other items that interest them.

Once again, please do add your comments or replies or otherwise contribute to the site. (It just needs a small amount of effort to see how you can do that!)

Trevor Bending

Godless for God’s sake – reprint

As promised, a few words on the Godless for God’s Sake reprint, for the Newsletter and website.
David Boulton:

Godless for God’s Sake – ‘an invitation to conversation’
Godless for God’s Sake
has been credited with kick-starting the dialogue between nontheist and theist Friends when it was first published nine years ago in 2006. In fact, it brought into the open a subject that had been quietly making ripples for at least a couple of decades. Written by 27 Quaker nontheists from 13 Yearly Meetings in the USA, Britain, New Zealand and Australia, and addressed to ‘readers who seek a faith or world-view free of supernaturalism’, its first edition topped the list of best-selling books in both the London and the Philadelphia Quaker bookshops. Chuck Fager, editor of the American Quaker Theology, asked rhetorically: ‘What have we come to in Friends’ religious thought when the most exciting book of Quaker theology I’ve read in recent years is produced by a bunch of Quaker nontheists?’ An unapologetic theist himself, he added: ‘The proper response to the testimonies in these pages is not scorn or witchhunts but an invitation to further conversation’.

Godless had to be reprinted twice within 12 months, then several times on a print-on-demand basis, until stocks were exhausted. But publication of recent books both attacking and defending nontheism, coupled with concerns about how the controversy might affect plans for a revision of Quaker Faith and Practice, have prompted new demands for Godless, resulting in a fresh reprint, generously financed by the American-based nontheist Friends planning group.

Copies are available from the Quaker Centre Bookshop, telephone 020 7663 1030, price £9.50. All proceeds (after bookshop discounts) go to the Nontheist Friends Network. You read it when it first came out? Read it again with fresh eyes – or why not treat your meeting library to a copy?

David Boulton

(see also picture and extracts on Nontheism page)