Enchanted Quakerism (Part II)

Knitting Ourselves Back Together

Image result for 17th century medicinePart I of this discussion summarised Charles Taylor’s account of enchantment and attempted to relate it to the dynamics of early Quakerism. In an effort weaken the scholarly tendency to conflate Quaker spirituality with secular rationality, I attempted to retrieve some forgotten strands of our tradition which could be termed ‘enchanted’ or ‘magical’. Instead of a religion of sheer inwardness and a rejection of outward symbol, I introduced readers to a religiosity of witches, spirits and healing. Such a world as this assumes two guiding laws. The first is that subjective states always possess objective effects, and second, ordinary things of the world can signify ‘divine things’. In this second post, I want to consider what a move towards disenchantment means for the internal coherence of Quaker faith and practice in 21st century Britain. In doing so, I want to reflect keenly on those characteristics which encourage Liberal Quakerism toward a peculiar form of secularisation.   One of my key rubrics for understanding such  a process will be the theme of radical pluralism. By ‘pluralism’ I don’t mean the mere fact (some would rightly say the joy) of difference in a beloved community. Rather, I mean a form of difference which sets up exclusive and potentially damaging divergences of view at the level of group foundations. Once people begin to argue over the shape and reasons of communal practices, fundamental bonds of understanding begin to break down.Such pluralism becomes ‘radical’ when it undercuts the ability of people to understand one another, despite the fact that they use the same spiritual language. Here radicalism has the real potential to become purely sectarian, causing each subgroup to assert their identity, apart from what is shared. I suggest (perhaps controversially) that Liberal Quakerism in Britain in the United States is becoming increasingly sectarian in its internal grammar. While forms of latter-day hyphenated Quakerism and not without historical precedent, their current presence may be a sign that plurality is becoming something destructive to Quaker identity. My suggested antidote for these tensions is a careful reclaiming of an enchanted cosmos. By returning to the religion of Fox and Woolman (a world of dreams, angels and healing) Friends might find a strong basis for the renewal in Quaker reflection and practice. Before I dig down into this big trajectories, I set out what is at stake in the distinction between ‘enchanted’ and ‘Liberal’ Quakerism and how one emerged from the other.

George Fox: The Sacred Physic of Christianity

Image result for George FoxIn the previous post, I highlighted the diverse ways in which early Quakers were still invested in the older enchanted thinking of Christendom, despite being institutionally opposed to it. For Quakerism’s charismatic founder, George Fox, such a commitment was made manifest in what we might call his ‘biospirituality’. At the heart of the biospiritual model of life is the notion that the perpetuation or restoration of the body serves as a sign of the deep unity between the individual and the divine. Yet, such an orientation was not Fox’s own invention but rested on the tacit assumptions of a Biblical cosmology which Fox inherited and made his own.  This the unnerving terrain of Luke-Acts, where the Spirit works to free bodies of pain and anguish, where Apostles teleport from place to place, and where wholeness replaces brokenness. Thus, in manifold ways, those bodies who came into contact with the body of Jesus partook of the enigmatic presence of the Risen Christ, whose body will not be barred by locked doors (John 20:19) and yet is solid and wounded. In this mould, to be a Christian means in part, the affirmation that the normal courses of our bodily life, do not exhaust the meaning of the term ‘body’. In the ongoing life of Jesus in the life of the Church, we discover a force which wishes to mingle with all the bodies it encounters. It wishes to break the bonds which hold us fast to our balkanized and ‘hard’ identities, constrained by space and time. It desires to be all in all (Col 3:11). It through such a strange vision of the body that the daily incursion of miracles becomes comprehensible.  Yet in Fox’s time, it was no longer clear that Christ’s body had any effect on the present laws of the world. As that most gentle of Anglican sceptics, the English humanist, Thomas Browne wrote in 1642:

That Miracles are ceased, I can neither prove, nor absolutely deny, much less define the time and period of their cessation. That they survived Christ, is manifest upon the Record of Scripture; that they out-lived the Apostles also, and were revived at the Conversion of Nations many years after, we cannot deny if we shall not question those Writers whose testimonies we do not controvert in points that make for our own opinions. Therefore, that may have some truth in it that is reported by the Jesuites of their Miracles in the Indies; I could wish it were true or had any other testimony than their own Pens…. Therefore, that Miracles have been, I do believe; that they may yet be wrought by the living, I do not deny; but have no confidence in those which are fathered on the dead. And this hath ever made me suspect the efficacy of reliques, to examine the bones, question the habits and appurtenances of Saints, and even of Christ Himself.[1]

At the core of this restless cast of mind is an inability to successfully ascertain the degree and extent of Christ’s ongoing power. Could seventeenth-century bodies behave like New Testament ones? Could Luke’s striking scenes of angelic visions happen in the England of Charles Stuart?  Browne’s open agnosticism on these questions spoke of an age when the reality of spiritual realities increased in remoteness. Bodies (or their remains) were no longer automatic loci of divine communication. Yet, if one could not be certain of the truth and extent of the miraculous in the processes of the body, how could one possess a living Christian faith?  This is the anxiety and inward motor behind George Fox’s conversion narrative, a fact sometimes missed by contemporary commentators. Fox seeks confirmation of the life of the Spirit in the tensions and boundedness of his own physical experience.  He took various treatments for his ailments of both mind and flesh (one physician recommended bloodletting, another recommended tobacco) yet healing, Apostolic or otherwise, seemed beyond his grasp. Christianity thus remained a hollow performance for Fox, the narrative of the Gospel sealed in the past.  The key to healing came to Fox, not in the form of a human doctor, but in the Light of Christ. It healed him of his afflictions, yet it also rendered him a medium of spiritual power and knowledge. As his Journal expresses it:

Now was I come up in spirit through the flaming sword into the paradise of God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness and innocency, and righteousness, being renewed up into the image of God by Jesus Christ so that I say I was come up to the state of Adam which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me, and it was showed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue.[2]

Image result for aDAM PARADISEWhat is Fox saying here? There was already an established tradition of seeing Adam as the possessor and guardian of a secret knowledge which had become lost to later ‘sinful generations’. An excellent example of this belief is preserved in Francesco Guazzo’s 1608 occult tract Compendium Maleficarum. Following the Hermetic Christianity of Paracelsus[3] this Ambrosian monk argued that ‘legitimate magic was, together with all other knowledge, a gift from God to Adam.’[4] According to this generous definition of the arcane arts, Adam’s wisdom encompassed ‘the courses and influence of the stars in the heavens and the sympathies and antipathies subsisting between separate things, compares one thing with another and so effects marvels which to the ignorant appear like miracles and illusions.’[5]  Among Adam’s many skills was a knowledge of medicine, including the healing powers of herbs and stones.[6] In accord with this intriguing Hermetic myth, Fox understands his own salvation in deeply Adamic terms. By submitting to the light of Christ within, Fox understood himself as uncovering the ancient wisdom of miracle-working, lost at man’s expulsion from Paradise. Yet, what should he do with his newfound power? During the course of his vision, he feels the urge to ‘practise physic (medicine) for the good of mankind’[7] yet as he ascends into ever more indescribable realms of mystical experience, he realises the reason why this knowledge was given to him. His task is not merely to be a physician, but to become a channel for the living Spirit of Jesus.He must restore the body of the Church to a living faith. Whatever else this mission involved, it went against a new theological tide which tended to speak of the Gospel’s power in far more abstract terms. Indeed, such was the anti-magical sentiment alive in seventeenth-century Protestantism that some in Fox’s England thought that the age of saints had passed. In the age of Calvin and Luther, one could no longer expect the living Christ among the faithful, only the inward faith that he would guarantee their salvation. Yet, Fox discovered a deeper and arguably more challenging religiosity.  On the threshold of vision, he realised that there was no difference between sacred past and the secular present. The cosmos, of which the New Testament is a textual memorial, is reinstated in and through his own body. This taught Fox a radical lesson he retained for the rest of his life. Christianity was not just true in an ethereal universal sense. It was true in the specifics- people could rise from the dead and Apostles of Christ “will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:18).  This is the radical theology made explicit in George Fox’s Book of Miracles.  Here God is not an abstract ‘force’ or a mere inward spirit, but a Person, active in the structure of external events.

Samuel Fisher: The Birth of Liberal Quakerism?

Image result for Samuel fisher quakerIf many early Friends contended that there was no separation between the secular present and the sacred past, their tendency to focus on the inward work of Christ generated an accompanying tendency to de-historicise and universalise their faith. This was picked up by opponents of Quakers early on. Some detractors argued that the Quaker emphasis upon the Inward Light caused Friends to negative the reality of Christ and the events recorded in the New Testament.[8]  Behind these judgements was the latent fear that the Quaker sense of deep inwardness was naturally scornful of the concrete demands of piety and obedience constitutive of the Scripture-shaped life. Simply put, opponents feared that Friends did not take the particularities of the Christian story seriously enough.  Maybe, thought Puritan observers, they preferred to tell their own stories instead. While some of these accusations are doubtless overblown by social prejudice, there is evidence that many Quakers were developing ways of thinking, which radically diminished the particularity of Christian revelation. One such Friend was Samuel Fisher (1605–1665), a former Baptist and alumni of Trinity College, Oxford. His legacies among early Friends were considerable. He was one of the earliest systematic proponents of Quaker/Jewish dialogue, he developed a positive account of the new sciences in an era of suspicion and advanced the discipline of Biblical criticism.  It is in the latter field that his work was most significant because it provides a formative link between early Friends and contemporary Liberal Quakerism.

One of the problems which most perplexed Fisher (and still perplexes many today) is the status of the Bible. Many in the 1640s declared that the Bible was ‘the Word of God’ and gave an exact guide for living, while Quakers contended that the ‘Word of God’ was not the Bible, but the Spirit of the Living Christ, as known and experienced among believers.[9] In an effort to put this primordial Quaker doctrine on firm foundations, Fisher undertook a careful analysis of the tensions and ambiguities within Biblical texts. This led him to question whether the Greek and Hebrew texts that have come down to us are accurate[10] and the degree to which contemporary believers should accept the canonicity of certain books.[11] At most, the Bible was a fallible and partial record of holy things and not a complete rule of religious conduct. Yet, if the Scriptures were ‘mere mouldering writings, external texts, and trifling transcripts’[12], where could one find a firm foundation? Fisher suggested that instead of fixating over crumbling paper, Christians should attend to the promptings of God in their own hearts. The Spirit, which has existed in all times and places, should inspire faith and worship, rather than the limited residue of Biblical witness.  For Fisher, this meant that even if every copy of the Bible were destroyed, the faithful could still count on the instruction of the Eternal Word which dwells in all true religious profession.

Image result for Samuel fisher quakerWhat were the consequences of this direction of travel? In the first place, we should be attentive to the attractive positives of such proposals. One striking consequence of a post-scriptural Christianity is the entrenchment of the individual’s freedom of conscience and a corresponding generosity towards the religious claims of others. Once we break the fetish of Biblicism, we can have conversations, which include Jews, Muslims, and where they still exist, refined pagans. Here ‘the divine light’ of Christ’ functions very much like the liberal notion of ‘public reason- providing a common basis for peaceful co-existence. Yet, if Fisher’s approach encouraged a rich dialogical attitude to religious life, it also invited an accompanying temptation. A Quaker walking in Fisher’s footsteps could become so attentive to the universal ‘light within’ that they might forget to name that ‘light’.  Of course, Fisher would not have suggested the downgrading of Christian conviction in this way, but his arguments led invariably in this direction. What might this mean for the long-run coherence of such a community? Without a shared and particular narrative concerning, among other things, the shape of enchantment, such a religion is increasingly decoupled from the religious language which gave it birth. In the critical space left by Fisher, it was in principle possible to pick new stories, which did not depend specifically on the shape or inherent rules of the Christian story. Indeed, it was possible on this universalist basis to retreat, as Spinoza had done, from outward notions of divine presence altogether. In this new pluralistic space, neo-Platonic, Stoic or Humanistic principles, could as at least co-equal to the story of the Gospels. God could become something deeply individual and inner, without reference to one specific community in time. As Christopher Hill artfully summarises the consequences of these moves: ‘Fisher’s approach to the Bible, recollected in tranquillity, in apathy, inevitably led to scepticism. The appeal to the ‘light within’, a light which some even of the heathen philosophers had, then became very difficult to differentiate in practice from simple human reason.’[13]  In this reasonable scepticism, we meet again the ghost of Taylor’s notion of disenchantment. In place of a shared cosmology which makes sense of religious experience, each person in unceremoniously cast on the raft of conscience, to make her own way in the world of faith. Here is there is no immediate confirmation of Biblical time (as with Fox) but merely an autonomous chooser of personal religious convictions. Sounds familiar? It should because this is a dominant mood in Anglophone Quakerism after 1950. But there is a problem. If religious life becomes a mere contest of ‘inner lights’ (an exercise in personal choice only) radical diversity ensues. Radical because such a difference has the tendency to become self-contained and self-referential. Without a shared story to guide people claims and insights (an ‘inward light’ with a name and a story) it is hard to imagine a stable community, capable of articulating itself to itself.

The Path to Re-Enchantment

Image result for laying on of handsAttentive readers will probably guess where I have been going all this time. Much of what I have said here echoes to some extent the thoughts of Ben Pink Dandelion in his 2014 Swarthmore Lecture Open for Transformation. Throughout the lecture, Ben tries to level with us in ways not everyone has found comfortable. One of the key themes of the lecture is the perpetually thorny issue of a shared Quaker identity. According to Ben’s account, the meaning of Quaker worship and  witness are all fragmenting under the weight of pervasive forms of individualised patterns of thought. We are thinking and speaking more and more of diverse Quaker interpretations, rather than a shared British Quakerism. This profound sense of divergence is grounded in a multiplicity of justifications for basic Quaker words and practices. As Ben notes wryly of contemporary Quaker interpretations of the Peace Testimony: ‘[The] basis of our testimony is…more diffuse; that is our plural theology means we have plural understandings of what we do in the name of Quakerism. Are we committed to peace because of Mosaic law, the teaching of Jesus, because we believe that all life is sacred, or because of Buddhism or humanism?’[14] These questions open a veritable Pandora’s box of further queries, as Ben explores the radical nature of contemporary Quaker fragmentation. If British Quakers are increasingly aligning their spirituality to the needs and desires of the self (self-selecting approaches) what happens to the content and coherence of Quaker accounts of discernment? It is here that Ben evokes the language of secularity. Instead of holding to a mode of spirit-led practice, Meetings for Business increasingly imbibes a secular conception of consensus or democracy. Instead of trusting that the Spirit will give us a way forward, we worry whether the views of those present are ‘represented’. Indeed, as Ben notes: ‘[We] lose our trust in the business method when we ask ‘who was there?’ and assume that the decisions taken reflect the desires of the people present rather than the will of God.’

Image result for Liberal QuakerismIf British Quakers are increasingly aligning their spirituality to the needs and desires of the self, what happens to the content and coherence of Quaker accounts of Worship and discernment? It is here that Ben evokes the language of secularity. Instead of holding to a mode of spirit-led practice, Meetings for Business increasingly imbibes a secular conception of consensus or democracy. Instead of trusting that the Spirit will give us a way forward, we worry whether the views of those present are ‘represented’. Indeed, as Ben notes: ‘[We] lose our trust in the business method when we ask ‘who was there?’ and assume that the decisions taken reflect the desires of the people present rather than the will of God.’[15] Yet, such a posture is completely understandable, if as Taylor suggests, we now live after a sacred cosmos. ‘Heeding the will of God’ only make sense if we view the world as a cluster of signs which can communicate divine intent.  How can we make such words make sense again? Ben’s lecture has many valuable suggestions. We need to reclaim teaching ministry, be attentive to our Book of Disciple, but above all, says Ben, ‘feel God’s transformative role in our lives’.[16] But if we are to make the latter real, we need to punch through the patterns of disenchantment which make us behave in secular ways, even in the midst of worship. Part of this process of re-enchantment involves breaking down an atheist/secular embargo on the arcane, the strange and the miraculous. According to the anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann (see her recent study When God Talks Back) despite living in a society which frequently marginalises such experiences, they continue to be surprisingly common. As Luhrmann reflects on her own American context:

According to a Gallup poll, roughly 95 per cent of Americans say believe in the existence of “God or a higher power”, a percentage that has remained steady since Gallup started polling on the eve of the Second World War. In 2008 the Pew Research Centre conducted a quite extensive representative survey. In a sample, two-thirds of Americans completely or mostly agreed that angels and demons are active in the world, and nearly one-fifth said they had received a direct answer to a specific prayer request at least once a week.[17]

While the survey picture is not as clear-cut in Britain, the widespread belief in spiritual healing, clairvoyance and angels, suggests that many of us are living in enchanted ways although within highly disenchanted settings. Yet, as Luhrmann goes on to show, some churches are better than others at helping people understand and integrate these enchanted postures into a coherent religious life. Among the Vineyard charismatic evangelicals she studied, congregants were given resources to experience a God who was always close to them and involved in their lives. This attitude is powerfully illustrated, thinks Luhrmann in the role of dreams and visions in such evangelical communities:

Congregants…said that God speaks to them in their dreams…Sometimes these are “prophetic” dreams where the dream foretells what will happen. Sometimes dreams are treated as an instruction to pray…. In evangelical circles, as in societies around the world where the supernatural is thought to enter into the everyday, dreams are vehicles.[18]

Underlying these visitations is what Luhrmann calls a ‘Christian theory of mind.’ Instead of viewing the mind and the world as radically separate domains, congregants are encouraged to treat these realms as radically ‘porous’[19] so that thoughts are treated as means of perceiving spiritual realities.[20] We Quakers are familiar with this approach to the world through our practice of silent waiting on the Light. By sitting in worship, we assume that our thoughts and intentions can bring something of God into our daily experience. The mind is a screen or conduit for divine communication, which extends outward to include the world around us.  Yet, given this enchanted starting-point, it is remarkable how little our Meetings explore issues of prophetic dreams, visions or experiences of holy presence. Indeed, when these topics arise, many Friends are surprisingly agnostic. It is doubtful whether many contemporary British Friends have the confidence to speak in a ‘Quakerly way’ about angels or spirits, in the way we talk about our attitudes to Fairtrade coffee or the environment.We have lost the habit of speaking about the ethereal, leaving our Quaker-talk about issues of life and death deeply impoverished. Despite the work of groups like the Quaker Fellowship for Healing and Quaker Fellowship for Afterlife Studies, many of us are reticent to talk about these aspects of our lives, fearing that we might be deemed ‘weird’ or ‘eccentric’. Sensing this reticence, some Friends will seek forms of enchanted religion from elsewhere to supplement the experiences they are having at Meeting. Yet, the question must be asked why these experiences can be brought under the roof of a holistic Quaker life? Why do people need to go elsewhere to find the guidance and depth that our Worship together should provide? What’s missing?

The Magic of Quakerism

Image result for ben pink dandelionThese questions lead us back to the text of Open for Transformation. One of Ben’s biggest fears is that we are descending into an individualistic, balkanised Quakerism. Our exaggerated recourse to personal preferences as Friends is rendering us a loose collection of interest groups rather than a beloved community.  Is there a way of knitting us back together again? I think there is. Alongside Ben’s recommendations, might there be space to recapture a sense of a sacred cosmos? Could we re-learn a common view of the world, where subject and object mix and mingle? It seems to me that this kind of first order stuff is really important. We can have as much teaching and learning as we like, but unless we can develop a shared understanding of the world through Quaker eyes, a lot of our energy will be in vain. It is useless to condemn how secular British Quakerism has become unless we put time and energy in imagining a faith beyond the secular. Granted for some of us, this is hard to imagine. Most of us are wedded to images of ourselves as sensible, rational, enlightened people. The same people who turn up on a Sunday morning to hear God in the silence readily take advantage of Wi-Fi, microwave ovens and modern medicine. Can we really be asked to ‘regress’ into an enchanted mode of thinking? Don’t we just know too much to be beguiled by the ‘magical’ language of past centuries?  But dig under the surface, and most will find parts of our experience that do not fit this modernist picture. By acknowledging dynamics of enchantment in ourselves, we are not so much regressing, but rather being honest about the experience of being human.

Most people will have encountered moments of synchronicity, meaningful dreaming or premonition in the course of lives. Many of us have experienced visions or voices without source and the low-level telepathy generated by a ‘gathering Meeting for Worship’. But how can we use these experiences as a means of reworking and re-charging our Quakerism? The first step in this process involves simply opening up about the times we have felt taken out of the ordinary. Have we ever felt the presence of those distant to us, felt guided in a dream or answered in the midst of prayer? Okay then, let’s talk about these events in Meeting, and like our Quaker ancestors, let’s get into the habit again of praying over them and recording them.  Why not return to old Quaker texts and see whether we can spot how early Friends read and interpreted their dreams and premonitions. Some valuable work has already been done in this direction with Rex Ambler’s Experiment with Light Groups. Slowly but surely we are beginning to assemble the tools for living out a sacred cosmology. Yet, the process will by no means by easy. For some Friends decoupling themselves from secularity might mean going on fact-finding missions for themselves and their Meetings; seeking out living models of enchantment. Are there any techniques which could be reworked in accord with our Quaker discipline? Neo-Shamanic groups may provide one unconventional source of useful vocabularies and models. With their emphasis upon the direct apprehension of Spirit and the all-encompassing nature of divine presence (animism) Neo-shamans may help some of us find our way back towards the depth and ‘magic’ of Quaker worship. The key thing is to get us back to something like the mindset of early Friends; a world where subjectivity had objective effects. If we need to mine some unfamiliar traditions to get there, I think it might be worth the trouble.  A similar chest of riches can be uncovered in Pentecostal and revivalist Christian traditions. With their focus on God’s imminence in the everyday world and their degree of comfort with dreams,  visions and healing, spiritually-hungry might find powerful tools for reassembling our own Quaker way of speaking about the sacred.

Image result for Liberal QuakerismWhat might be the results of these endeavours? Principally, they should address head on, many of the burning concerns expressed in the 2014 Swarthmore Lecture. In a disenchanted cosmos, each person is forced back on the deep inwardness of the self. Without the outward guide of symbols or providence, they must retreat into the power of the will, which summons meaning and purpose into existence. This process of ‘willing’ is at the heart of many of Ben’s concerns. Instead of receiving from the world and each other, we are forcibly constructing it, without reference to any ‘spiritual depth or ‘other’. As Ben suggests: ’There is some evidence that we feel we have become our own individual authorities, that we have adopted a form of ‘sacro-egoism’. When operating from that place, we no longer seek the authority of God or our meetings, as discerning God’s will, but do what we want to, believing that we can be equally right.’[21]  Yet, if Taylor is right about the structure of modernity, what more can we expect? Sacro-egoism (the retreat of the holy into the self) is the logical consequence of losing a shared cosmology. We look to ourselves because we no longer expect the world to speak in the language of symbols. Once ‘magic’ or a sense of ‘charge’ goes out of the world, religious structures soon wither on the vine. In its most extreme form, such disenchantment means that each of us is profoundly alone in the universe, choosing to shelter for a while in a contemporary shack. Yet in the enchanted world, we are always forced beyond ourselves, to live in interlocking communities of the ethereal, the living and the dead. In the enchanted world, even an empty room is fall of life with angels and dead Friends whispering in the walls. In the medieval world, this reality of community was expressed through the idea of the ‘communion of the saints’, that invisible eternal family, to which all the faithful belong. For early Quakers, the world is equally charged with invisible communities. When Fox ascended Pendle Hill, to see ‘a great people gathered’, he came into contact with a timeless community of soul which existed beneath the skin of the world. Here the future and the past is harmonised in a joyous and eternal present. Fox understood, as did Woolman, that sacred time and ordinary time were really one. Thus, according to Quaker cosmology, our world is not just ‘stuff’ which occasionally collides with Spirit. Each created thing has a ‘virtue’ and a ‘secret name’ which we discover through prayer and worship. Once we accustom ourselves to this way of seeing, we come to understand that meaning is not something we impose from within, but something generated by the world around us- world always infused with divine presence.

[1] Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, p. 32

[2] George Fox, The Journal of George Fox, trans. John L. Nickalls, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), p. 27

[3] John S. Mebane, Renaissance Magic and the Return of the Golden Age: The Occult Tradition and Marlowe, Jonson & Shakespeare, (London: University of Nebraska, 1992), p. 94.

[4] Francesco Guazzo, Compendium Maleficarum, trans. E.A. Ashwin, (New York: Dover, 1998), p. 3.  

[5] Guazzo, Compendium Maleficarum, trans. E.A. Ashwin, (New York: Dover, 1998), p. 4.

[6] See Henry Morley, Cornelius Agrippa: The Life of Henry Cornelius Agrippa, Volume 1, (London: Chapman & Hall, 1856), p. 69

[7] Fox, The Journal of George Fox, trans. John L. Nickalls, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), p. 27

[8] Perhaps they thought Friends used Christ figuratively for their wills or consciences (as some Liberal Quakers do today).

[9] Travis L. Frampton, Spinoza and the Rise of Historical Criticism of the Bible, (London: T&T Clarke, 2006), p. 219

[10] Grantley McDonald, Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 145

[11] Richard H. Popkin, ‘Spinoza: Critical Assessments’, ed. Genevieve Lloyd, in Spinoza: Context, sources, and the early writings, (London: Francis & Taylor, 2001), p. 48

[12] Samuel Fisher, quoted in Early Friends and Dr Ash; Or, An Exhibition of Their Principles in Reply to His Work, (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co, 1837), p. 21

[13] Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas in the English Revolution, (London: Penguin, 1972), p.  268

[14] Ben Pink Dandelion, Open for Transformation: Being Quaker, (London: Quaker Books, 2014), p. 54

[15] Pink Dandelion, Open for Transformation: Being Quaker, (London: Quaker Books, 2014), p. 46

[16] Dandelion, Open for Transformation: Being Quaker, p. 91.

[17] T.M. Luhrmann, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, (New York: Vintage Book, 2012), p. xi

[18] Luhrmann, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, (New York: Vintage Book, 2012), p. 59

[19] Luhrmann, When God Talks Back, p. 40

[20] Luhrmann, When God Talks Back, p. 41

[21] Dandelion, Open for Transformation, p. 57


4 thoughts on “Enchanted Quakerism (Part II)

  1. Not so much that “subjectivity has objective effects” — but that many of the phenomena people imagine to be purely subjective, accessable only to our own minds, influencing only us and whomever we interact with by physical, emotional, intellectual means — are elements of a less limited world than people of recent times have been willing to consider possible.

    The particular ways we each conceive and interpret such phenomena may well be ‘subjective’, but their reality is not ‘merely in’ anybody’s head.

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