Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quakers and Shakers

A message I gave on April 1, 2011:

The stories we tell are important.  Lately, I have been hearing a lot about Shakers.  I always thought that the Shakers died out because they were celibate.  That is the story we tell about them.  It is a comforting story for us as Friends, because we are not celibate (most of us, anyway), so we think we are not making the same mistake the Shakers did.

A few years ago, I learned that the story I had heard about the Shakers wasn't true.  Their celibacy may have contributed to their religion dying out, but really, they died because the story they told themselves did not match their reality.  They believed that the kingdom of God had come and was here on earth, and they could not survive the disappointment when they found that it was not fully realized.

What stories do we tell about ourselves as Friends?  What do we put our faith in?  Will we be able to survive if we are disappointed?  What stories should we be telling?

1 comment:

  1. I have not heard that story either and am somewhat skeptical regarding the extent of its validity. I do understand that their concept of community as the kingdom of God on earth led to an exclusiveness that played against growth. I believe that their recognition that the kingdom was not fully realized on earth was seen not so much as a failure on their part but in the "human condition."

    If your hypothesis is correct, then maybe that is one of the reasons that so many branches of Quakers have developed and left behind, in my opinion, the "story" that early Friends told themselves: That indeed Christ IS come in all his offices and the kingdom of God IS on earth as we DO God's will.


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