Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Speech and Speakers

Quakerism: a view from the back benches
Copyright 1966 The Back Benches

Speech and Speakers

A business session must always be a matter of balance. Discussion cannot be programmed and openness to enlightenment from all sources must be cherished.. But business sessions can be incredibly dull and boring when irrelevant pettiness is given time and consideration. Freedom and openness are not ends in themselves, and the religious ends they are designed to serve are subverted when niggling displaces sober seeking. A taut distinction between the important and the unimportant must be maintained. Therefore Friends must consider their speaking in meeting for business with seriousness. We have a duty to make known our conclusions, to at least nod agreement or disagreement for the clerks guidance, but speech should be brief and to the point. Longwinded and thoughtless discourse should not be accorded weight just because of the speaker’s seniority or status in the Meeting or in the community.

“Weight” in decision making should come from an individual’s knowledge and action and spiritual guidance in the area of decision. A deep sensibility and insight should receive more attention than a creaturely or worldly facility or familiarity with the object of discussion. “Weight” of individuals should shift within the Meeting with the subject matter. Mechanical consideration of persons is offensive to the theory of our procedure.

Humor and wit may have a role in our sessions to restore proportion and ease. Anger and indignation may be appropriate to give force and emphasis to a concern, but humor and anger, as expressions of personality, should be used with care and restraint, for the spirit, not the person or personality, should govern.

(to be continued)


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