Seeds of Silence
How Quakers live and think drawing on Silence: early Friends resonating with some modern philosophers.
R. Melvin Keiser delves into the depths of Quaker spirituality and their philosophy, showing us that we require silence to unlock our relationship with God. Seeds of Silence: Essays in Quaker Spirituality and Philosophical Theology questions the modern world's addiction to distractions and instant gratification, and leads us toward a semi-forgotten Christian tradition of contemplative thinking.
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In what is a must-read for today’s generation of heads down, eyes fixated on small, glowing screens humans, R. Melvin Keiser’s quite masterful, highly insightful and wholly direct Seeds of Silence: Essays in Quaker Spirituality and Philosophical Theology may well be imbedded in Quaker theology and spirituality, but at its heart it contains an imperative directive for us all to take on board and then spread the word of. For the uninitiated, Quakers practice a religion of experience, a contemporary, simple, and radical faith. Quakers are also called Friends and Quakers believe that every person is known by God and can know God in a direct relationship. The Quaker faith also has deep Christian roots. Many Quakers consider themselves Christians, and some do not. Many Quakers find meaning and value in the teachings of many faiths. Quakers also strive to live lives that are guided by a direct encounter with the Divine, more than by teachings about the Divine. Quaker terms for the Holy include God, the Seed, the Light Within, and the Inward Teacher, among others. Living through what are termed Testimonies, these are ways that Quakers have found to express their experience of the Divine in their lives. Furthermore, some of the best recognized testimonies include simplicity, integrity, equality, community, and peace. Formulated as a deep dive into the roots, coherence and originality of Quaker living, other knowledge we glean is that Quakers gather in the silence and wait expectantly to come into the presence of the Divine and to be guided by the still, small voice by which God speaks to them from within. During the silence anyone — child, woman, or man — may feel moved to offer a simple spoken message (vocal ministry) that is inspired by this holy encounter. Following the message, the silence resumes and a period of worship may include several messages or none. Thus, and as I’m sure you can already tell, Seeds of Silence: Essays in Quaker Spirituality and Philosophical Theology is written with an honest sense of directness and honesty, where author R. Melvin Keiser opens himself up to the experience of wonderment and puzzlement that made him ask these inner-bound questions to himself at one time. FULL REVIEW: https://annecarlini.com/ex_books.php?id=279 ~ Exclusive Magazine, Review
This book is destined to be a classic of Quaker theology and spirituality. A deep dive into the roots, coherence, and originality of Quaker living, this text is a stunning articulation of what and how Quakers believe. Keiser draws on recent philosophers and early Quaker authors to articulate the contemporary vitality of Quaker insights regarding issues such as equality, interrelation, and mending creation. However, the brilliance of the book is not ultimately educational but invitational. Every page emerges from the depths of Keiser’s own mature spirituality, shaped by a lifetime of Quaker commitment, experience, and practice. The reader is carried into a particularly Quaker way of being in the world. Like the works of Kelly or Thurman, the book leaves one both satisfied and longing, comforted and unsettled, encouraged and challenged to live more deeply in this strange and sacred world. Rev. Dr. Shannon Craigo-Snell Professor of Theology Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary author of Silence, Love, and Death: Saying Yes to God in the Theology of Karl Rahner ~ Rev. Dr. Shannon Craigo-Snell Professor of Theology Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary author of Silence, Love, and Death: Saying Yes to Go
This is the fruit of a life’s work reflecting on the basic questions of life and death. Such directness and honesty as we find here is not usual, even among philosophers and theologians. These basic questions are raw and imponderable. But Keiser is not trying to think his way through them, as many would expect a philosopher to, but is opening himself up to the experience of wonder and puzzlement that made him ask these questions in the first place. This leads into exploration of silence. This is not to say that he gives up thinking. Finding commonalities with the philosophies of Wittgenstein, Polanyi, and Merleau-Ponty, and the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens, Keiser discovers how attending to silence yields a sense of reality which opens the possibility of us moderns perceiving answers to questions that most concern us. Much of the book is devoted to recovering the vision of early Quakers who articulated this response to the mysteries of life. ~ Rex Ambler Senior Lecturer in Theology, Birmingham University author of The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery; Truth of the Heart: An Anthology of George Fox
Mel Keiser's work draws deeply on Quaker tradition and experience to bring fresh perspectives on contemporary philosophical, theological spiritual and ethical questions. His essays - accessible, scholarly and profound - reveal the richness of Quaker theology, and invite the reader into further dialogue and reflection. ~ Rachel Muers Professor of Theology School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science University of Leeds Leeds LS2 9JT U.K. author of Keeping
In this book Mel Keiser has gathered the distilled results of several decades of deep theological and philosophical study and probing reflection on some issues long held to be basic for Quaker religious thought and witness. For those with ears to hear, there is much to be gained from these pages. ~ Chuck Fager Quaker writer and retired activist; editor of the journal Quaker Theology; author of Indiana Trainwreck: the Schism in Indiana Yearly Meet
R. Melvin Keiser’s collection of essays on Quakerism are grounded in the perspectives of philosophical theology. Thus he brings familiar Quaker figures such as George Fox, Margaret Fell, Mary and Isaac Penington, and Robert Barclay into conversation with the thought of René Descartes, Michael Polanyi, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and H. Richard Niebuhr, among others. The results include an exploration of the philosophical implications of waiting in silence, and alternative proposal to the Cartesian dualisms of contemporary life, a metaphorical Christology, and a hermeneutics of inwardness. In short, this volume offers a Quaker theopoetics. ~ Michael Birkel, Professor of Christian Spirituality, Earlham School of Religion