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.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


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


Friends might well re-consider use of voting in business sessions, particularly for routine items or matters of simple preference. When aesthetics only are involved, a vote may be more honest than the clerks guess. Voting is only an evil in those matters where consensus is important, where conciliation of opposing points of viewpoints is necessary to maintain love and unity. To have a vote, a member or the clerk could suggest that the item under discussion (a) is not related to our ancient testimonies, (b) needs an answer certain and clear, and (c) is a matter of creaturely convenience or preference, not principle. If the Meeting united with the Friend so characterizing the item, a vote would be taken and its result would be the decision of the Meeting. If Friends did not agree to the vote, our usual procedures would be used for the item. If only one Friend objected to voting, on the ground that the necessary decision was a matter of principle, he would be asked to decide the matter, and his decision would be the decision of the Meeting because he is the only Friends with light on the subject.

Polling the Meeting may be a technique where disunity is felt, but not expressed. A minority in the Meeting should not remain silent and subsequently disclaim involvement or responsibility for the Meeting‘s decision. If such a minority is sensed, the clerk should call on each Friend present to express opinion. But the Meeting using such a poll would have to accept the long search for unity which disclosed differences would demand. Our procedures should be able to bring us to unity in fact, not only in appearance.

(to be continued)


At 1:38 PM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

This is an interesting idea, but I think that if we had the kind of Quaker culture that would make it workable it would also be unnecessary. As it is now, the decision as to whether decide by vote or by sense of the meeting would itself lead to a long discussion and perhaps to acrimony.

Perhaps the backbenchers meant this as a "modest proposal" in the Johnathan Swift sense?
- - Rich


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