Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Quaker and Unitarian Overlap and Difference

Try as I might, I just cannot enter comments with Google Account or any other method to blogs when set up as Suem's at Significant Truths. Erika says to me she can do it, but it won't accept her Google Account. Perhaps it is the Firefox Browser. Yet Suem's is a blogspot blog, and I cannot get into any of them set up that way, but I have no problem with mine or Lesley's and these are blogspot blogs...

Suem is thinking of joining the Quakers, and I'd encourage that. I wanted to make this comment:

The Quakers are a good crowd, but it does involve a culture shift into silence and also a focus on a number of strong ethical issues (which might be a good thing). Unitarians might be more familiar in appearance, at least for Protestants or Reformed (Free Catholicism never got off the ground), but it is more risky in terms of really having to work out your own individual path. The core of belief is your own; this is an approach to religion rather than a religion.

You do not have to ally yourself with a faith package, and can make your own based on resources handed down, insights from the past, holy books and non-holy books (but they become holy!). You can focus upon Jesus and Gandhi or both or neither, and have the freedom to say one or both or many were wrong.

Would the Quakers agree that the Unitarians are more risky, when after all they cover the same ground (the theists, non-theists; modernists and postmodernists)? I suggest even they might because the Quakers have a stronger collective identity. If you are not heavily into peace and resistance (many Unitarians are, by the way, but they are into a variety of causes) then the Quakers might be a difficult group to join. Also Quakers have a stronger sense of joining and personal discipline, whereas the Unitarians are a lighter touch.

The other aspect is that Unitarians mainly have a trained, pastoral ministry and thus use the title 'reverend', although it carries no exclusive roles. Yes, Quakers have elders and organise all these matters. But Unitarians speak and sing more, often led by a reverend or similar, so the issue is whether it is a good thing or not to handle diversity through silence or have structured services within which you can worship and disagree with a theme and/ or its content and discuss. I suggest that it is quite difficult to discuss a Quaker worship session because they are pretty much the one thing every time, interspersed with a reading or comment only as a person may stand to speak.

The more I look at it, the more Anglicans seem to be stuck on issues. It will matter whether this Anglican Communion Covenant is passed or not. If not there will be room to breathe, but if it does go through the Church of England General Synod then conformity based on excluding a particular group of people will have won the day. It is ethically outrageous and a religious bureaucracy valued over the people it is supposed to serve.


Suem said...

Don't know how I managed to miss this blog post! I have been busy these last few months, but I do read your blog even if I don't comment much. I wonder why you can't post comments on my blog? I had someone who found it hard, but it did work after a few attempts - I guess you've tried that though.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I can via Internet Explorer, but not Firefox. You have to set the comments so the thing pops up. Then it is easy.