I wanted to share some more thoughts and impressions from my recent trip to Woodbrooke and the conferences.
First of all, we were sad that Richard M could not attend the FAHE conference this year. We missed him. The Quaker Philosophers did gather again for the second year in a row to talk about the intersection of our lives as Quakers and our lives as Philosophers. It was good to share further thoughts about this.
For myself, I am really happy to have connected Quakerism and philosophy explicitly in my research now. The more I work on this, the happier I become. And I was delighted to find that so many others are interested in my project. I'm hoping to finish an article by the end of the summer to send out for publication.
I also spent a lot of time thinking about Quakerism, worrying about the declining numbers of Quakers, and wondering what kind of renewal is needed. I am encouraged by the signs of renewal in the Quaker blogging world, and the Convergent Friends discussions. But what I was wondering specifically, due to the nature of the conferences I was attending, was whether Quaker researchers have a special role in the renewal of Quakerism.
A theme that came up a lot in the second conference (the joint conference of the Quaker Studies Research Association and the Quaker Historians and Archivists) was whether it is time to write a new comprehensive history of Quakerism, in the spirit of the "Rowntree" Quaker History Series. That series was written at a particular time, and had its own purpose. So why now is there talk about writing a new and updated history? What is it about this time that prompts this question now? What would be the purpose for doing this now?
It is not surprising to me that we Friends do want to take stock of our history in a comprehensive way again now. I myself can think of several answers to the above questions, but I think it may be more interesting to leave them as questions -- or queries perhaps.
There are other disciplines involved in Quaker Studies as well, besides history: sociology, theology, economics, philosophy. And of course the interdisciplinary field of Peace Studies intersects with Quaker Studies too. What role could these fields play in the renewal of Quakerism?
Another question/query I've been thinking about is whether Quaker scholars have a responsibility to write more about Quakerism for a wider audience. A lot of our writing is and needs to be for each other. When we write for wider audiences, we tend to keep our Quakerism in the background, and often don't mention it at all. Probably some of this writing has to be this way. But, all of this leaves a gap. Should more of us be writing about Quakerism for a wider audience?
5 years ago