Essential Quaker Reading
Quaker reader spotlight on Rhiannon Grant, author of Quaker Quicks - Hearing the Light
Rhiannon Grant teaches for Woodbrooke, where her areas of interest include Quaker uses of religious language, changing Quaker practices, feminist and Wittgensteinian understandings of religion, and multiple religious belonging. She writes about Quakers for general and academic audiences, and also writes fiction (her first novel, Between Boat and Shore, was published in 2019) and poetry (her poems have appeared in Blue Mountain Review, A New Ulster, Poethead, and other places).
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Quakers Do What! Why? is an introduction to Quaker oddities. Based on a question and answer format, it is for anyone who has learned a fact about Quakers - perhaps only that Quakers exist - and wants to know more.
Structured around questions which non-Quakers often ask, this book explores Quaker practices, explaining them in the context of Quaker theology and present-day diversity. It describes how Quakers make decisions and why they have preferred this method, as well as looking at the Quaker rejection of common Christian practices like baptism. Each short chapter gives an answer, considers why that is so, describes some of the diversity within Quaker groups, and points to other resources which could be used to find out more.
Telling the truth about God without excluding anyone is a challenge to the Quaker community.
Drawing on the author’s academic research into Quaker uses of religious language and her teaching to Quaker and academic groups, Rhiannon Grant aims to make accessible some key theological and philosophical insights. She explains that Quakers might sound vague but are actually making clear and creative theological claims. Theology isn't just for wordy people or intellectuals, it's for everyone. And that's important because our religious language is related to, not separate from, our religious experience. It also becomes clear that denying other people's claims often leads to making your own and that even apparently negative positions can also be making positive statements.
How do Quakers tell the truth about God? This book explores this key theological process through fourteen short chapters. As Quakers, we say that we know some things, but not very much, about God, and that we are in a constant process of trying to improve our ways of saying what we do know.
Quakers say that we understand God when we listen or pay attention to the Divine Light which is within everyone.
Quaker Quicks - Hearing the Light begins with the foundations of Quaker theology, which is based in the Quaker method of unprogrammed, silent worship. This act of gathering as a community to wait and listen to God is at the heart of Quakerism and essential to understanding Quaker theology, which is embedded in the practice as well as explained by it. Rhiannon Grant shows how Central Quaker theological claims, such as that everyone has that of God within them, that God offers support and guidance to all who choose to listen, and that Quakers as a community are led by God to treat everyone equally, resist war, and live simply, can be understood through a consideration of this distinctive worship practice.
Rhiannon Grant also explores what it means to say that this form of theology is liberal - although many Quakers are politically liberal, they have also been called "conservative radicals" (Kenneth Boulding), and the liberalism involved is not mainly political but an attitude towards diversity of thought, opinion, and especially religious belief. While united by the practice of unprogrammed worship, Quakers have no written creed and no specific beliefs are required of members. Instead, there is a prevailing attitude of continued searching, an acceptance that new evidence may appear, and a willingness to learn from others, including members of other faith communities. At a time of great religious and political division, this radical approach to faith and learning that Grant sheds light upon, has never been more prescient
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An invitation to learn from the Quakers about being “angelic troublemakers” in these difficult times!
This book invites all people of faith to consider how our personal and communal faith practices in growing deeper spirituality should bring us to a fresh engagement with the needs of this world. This includes being active in promoting those values which align with our understanding of the gospel and standing against injustice, oppression, and evil inflicted on any of God’s children. Such activism, rooted in deep spirituality, may include being what Quaker civil rights activist Bayard Rustin called “angelic troublemakers.”
What’s different? Christian Alternative is looking for a genuinely liberal and provocative approach to faith, ethics and institutional religion. We want to understand why, despite the Enlightenment and secularization, Christian writers and preachers often cling to pre-modern theological ideas. Why is talk of radical orthodoxy usually more orthodox than radical?
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