New Treats from English Friends
from Jerimy Pedersen
A few months ago Lucy Duncan introduced me as a new voice in the Book Musings newsletter. Now it is my pleasure to introduce my colleague, Jerimy Pedersen. Jerimy is a longtime staff of QuakerBooks. Among the many amazing things Jerimy does is drive the huge truck to the FGC Gathering every year bringing not only all the contents of the Gathering Store, but everything else needed to run this enormous event. He serves on the Friends General Conference staff diversity committee, helping us work toward clearer awareness and understanding of race issues. And he is the go-to person in our offices when what you need is a friendly face. He is also quite a reader and I very much trust his thoughtful recommendations! I hope you will enjoy his musings as much as I expect to! -- Chel
Hi, I’m Jerimy the second member of the new Book Musings team of Chel and Jerimy. As I begin, I’d like to remember Lucy Duncan, our onetime manager and now Friends Liaison for AFSC. I’m sure you are familiar with Lucy as Book Musings’ progenitor. I’d also like to appreciate Laird Holby, our eminent bookstore clerk, whose retirement is imminent. Both Lucy and Laird have given many years and much effort to QuakerBooks, and is each responsible to a great degree for its transformation from a sleepy, casual concern to a vigorous and relevant ministry. They are both dedicated and energetic Friends, and intelligent and sensitive people. We will miss these beautiful friends.
So enough about us! I want to tell you about two new books I’ve been reading. Both are just received from our friends at Quaker Books of London.
Geoffrey Durham was idled by London traffic when a Quaker peace banner caught his attention. He was interested enough to look up Friends in the phone book and to stop by the bookshop at the Friends Center. Perhaps he was even served by Graham Garner, our own QuakerBooks manager extraordinaire, who was working there at the time! He left with three publications and spent the afternoon reading in a nearby café. Among them was the Advices and Queries of Britain Yearly Meeting, which caught his attention with the exhortation, “Attend to what love requires of you.” This phrase became a touchstone of his experience over seventeen subsequent years among Friends. It is also the theme of his new short book, Being a Quaker: A Guide for Newcomers.
This is one of the most personable and readable introductions to Friends that I’ve seen. It is neither prescriptive nor pushy, but practical, humble, and full of friendly encouragement, intertwined with the author’s own narrative of how he came to a deep and challenging commitment to his meeting. Periodically the viewpoints of other Friends are included, offering a variety of voices to describe perceptions and experiences of Friends. The book is a publication of British Quaker Quest, an outreach program. At the start, the author makes something of a big deal about the book being about British Friends and British Friends only, but coming from the liberal unprogrammed tradition in the U.S., I found very little alien, other than some of the ordinary British perversions of our language.
I’m someone who until recently has given earth concerns only an indirect and tentative glance, not because I consider them unimportant or am suspicious of the science behind them, but because I’m afraid I may be unable to make a difference, I’m afraid our demise is a fait accompli and that we’re dragging the rest of creation with us, and I’m afraid of being overwhelmed and paralyzed by a sense of doom. So it was with foreboding that I began the 2011 Swarthmore Lecture Costing Not Less than Everything: Sustainability and Spirituality in Challenging Times by Pam Lunn. My tensions were relieved at the start of Chapter One by a reproduction of a NASA photograph showing the Earth rising over the moon. Hovering over the horizon of a solid, monochrome, and barren moon, the Earth seems so meek and lovely and vulnerable and tender with its colors and activity that whatever caring instincts I have were aroused and my heart softened. An intimacy is established. The author contends that we are already in crisis concerning the Earth and her resources. She wastes no time treating climate change as anything other than a fact, and begins quickly on what our role should be as a religious society and responsible citizens to intervene between our wasteful and destructive society and our Mother Earth. She recommends lifestyle options, political actions, and movements to support that relate to our testimonies in various ways. Particularly invigorating for me was a metaphor she draws on from a Marshall McLuhan quote, “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew". The reader is henceforth addressed as “crew” and it is all hands on deck. This she joins nicely with the belief held by most Friends that there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular, and that as Friends we have abolished the laity, not the priesthood. She is prescriptive and practical, and in the end hopeful and sure of us as a religious society and of our ability to answer these environmental, societal, and spiritual crises creatively and with integrity.
A Sustainable Life
God And The Gay Christian