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Brenda, are you taking the class? Do you know anything about the instructor?
Ellis yes, and know just a little about Ben Dandilion apart that he is from the Liberal side. That is okay as I can learn from anyone.
That's Ben Pink Dandelion, gave the BYM Swarthmore Lecture in 2014 (or 2015?)
Ben Pink Dandelion is one of the few voices among Liberal Quakers who is both discerning and well-regarded. His online course, which I took a couple of years ago, was geared to those who were unfamiliar with original Quaker faith and history, but did have some material I'd not read before. His Swarthmore lecture is from 2014, and the following paragraph is the response I had after listening to it a couple of times:
I've listened to the lecture a couple of times and thought Ben's analysis was sound. The tradition has been recast according to secular individualism, and as a result the theology that has undergirded our core insights has been "unpicked" and the insights lost. The modern Liberal values of diversity and uncertainty of belief, coupled with an unfamiliarity and lack of understanding of the tradition, weaken the Society to where it no longer can hold up the standard of Truth to a suffering and chaotic world. It is, as Ben said, a "world not attuned to the life of spirit, and runs on different rules and different values." Sadly, that worldliness has made inroads into our Society. Ben's referring members back to the Book of Discipline is a step in the right direction, I think, but recovering the power of the original Society would require - on a wide scale - an inward deepening and refining of spiritual discernment that can't be prescribed by another but must originate in the conscience out of sense of necessity for truth.
Thanks Trevor and Patricia.
Your analysis is very interesting. I agree with this "an inward deepening and refining of spiritual discernment that can't be prescribed by another but must originate in the conscience out of sense of necessity for truth."
I would add to it, a personal awakening to ones lost and helpless state due to an encounter with the Spirit of not just truth, but also of holiness.
One of the very great benefits for me on the course is the chance to discuss things with the academic side, who I have found are much more open to discussion despite differences as they have a willingness to learn that I do not find so much in non academic circles.
I did gain knowledge from the course, and get to hear the opinions of others. It has greatly inspired me to return to my studies in Quaker history and visit Woodbrooke this summer as l now feel there might be a place for me in Quakerism whereas before, l felt there wasn't one.
Brenda, What did you gain from this course. Yes, you state, "I did gain knowledge," but can you be more specific. Would you recommend this course and why? How do you rate the instructor?
Thanks for sharing your analysis of your experience.
The instructors were excellent imo. Ben Pink Dandelion is very good at communicating on the videos. I would thoroughly recommend the course for those who do not have a great deal of knowledge about how Quakers started off with the added bonus that it is free. Quite a few said they wanted to continue their studies, not knowing much about Quakerism at he start. I gained a great from learning about Margaret Fell as I did not know that much about her beforehand. She is very inspiring and reminded me of Catherine Booth, wife of General William Booth of the Salvation Army, another holiness movement though following the Wesleyan interpretation which is inferior to the Quaker one. George Fox was granted more light than Wesley although along the same theme. I want to read more of Margaret Fell's writings. Also someone quoted Carole Dale Spencer's book on holiness to me, which I read years ago and that inspired me to look at it again.
At the same time I was dismayed at how many non theists there were. A number of people found the early Quaker claim to having the truth, objectional.
This putative 'non-theist' hopes that early Friends did 'have the truth'. The question remains 'what is the Truth?'.
Early Friends did not claim that they were right and everyone else was wrong. (Though they may have claimed that the established churches and the Puritans were wrong). Witness William Penn in Britain Yearly Meeting's Quaker Faith and Practice 19.28. More 'theistic' or 'traditional' Friends might prefer Isaac Pennington in the same section of QF&P (Openings) at 19.30.
@Trevor, "The question remains 'what is the truth?' The only ground I have for answering that question is Jesus' statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." For Fox, this "truth" was something you were to walk in, for walking in the truth was to walk in life. Walking in the truth was the avenue for reaching the good in others. Walking in the truth we are, with loving kindness, drawn into the Father. Truth is not something that we are to comprehend, but something that is to comprehend us and to order and guide us. (See volumes 7 & 8 of Fox's Works. A comment is too short to give full quotes and citations.) The older I get, the more I appreciate the subtle (or not so subtle) differences between "Do I have the truth?" and "Does the truth have me?" Our behaviour (i.e. conversation in 17th century English) is quite different depending upon which question we are wrestling with.