Quaker Religious Thought



There are moments of change and turbulence and anxiety and outrage that punctuate our lives, whether anticipated or not. There are also times when we, as a human community, are confronted on a corporate level with shared experiences of anxiety and ambiguity, anger and angst. As I think back on what has transpired since I wrote the editorial for the Spring issue of QRT in February, I am struck by how quickly our lives can change and how suddenly we as a society may be called to adapt to new realities, like wearing a face mask, and to no longer abet old realities, like systemic racism. The pandemics of COVID-19, racism, and poverty have exposed the social capacity to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. I hope that you all are safe and healthy and that your interest in Friends’ theology expresses itself in a witness to the Light of Christ, which shall not be overcome. I am pleased that even when the public discourse is characterized by strife, Friends can have powerful discussions across Quaker traditions. Since 1959, these discussions have been featured in the pages of this journal as a witness to mutual love despite difference, and peace through a uniting love for Truth. The scholarship presented here has spoken of our desire to be more just and more faithful. I hope the content of this issue is an encouragement in uncertain times and a challenge to continue the work of radical love we are called to pursue. This issue features Mark Bredin’s exploration of Lucretia Mott’s use of scripture, a fitting follow up to Michael Birkel’s article on Margaret Fell in issue #134. Bredin explains how Mott was active and constructive in her biblical exegesis. David H. Watt then explains a lesser known and controversial part of Rufus Jones’ thought: his encounters with eugenicists, those who held the belief that people from so-called noble “stock” should flourish and those from supposedly lesser “stock” should be discouraged from reproduction. This article provides new insight into Jones, liberal Protestantism of the early twentieth century, and a “Quaker subculture” that was fascinated by eugenics. The final two articles of the issue originated at the 2019 Quaker Theological Discussion Group Sessions in San Diego. The session was based on a report by a team from George Fox University’s Portland Seminary, which created a youth summer learning experience based on Quaker testimonies, called “Theologia”. The article presented here discusses their findings. The final article of the issue is Britain Yearly Meeting’s Nim Njuguna’s response and theological elaboration on Theologia’s experience. Nim helpfully explores the radical implications of theological reflection, which should be employed to challenge preconceptions and ethnocentrisms. These insights are prescient. We wrap up this issue with two book reviews. Jon R. Kershner reviews “Ben” Pink Dandelion’s new book, The Cultivation of Conformity: Towards a General Theory of Internal Secularisation. Jessica Kershner, my patient and encouraging spouse, concludes this issue with a review of George Fox University Professor of English Melanie Springer Mock’s Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else. We also have three new members of the QRT advisory council to introduce: Oscar Lagusa Malande of Vihiga Yearly Meeting in Kenya, Derek Brown of Mid-America Yearly Meeting, and Eileen Kinch of Keystone Fellowship Friends Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Oscar, Derek, and Eileen bring extensive Quaker experience as theologians, writers, and practitioners to our editorial committee and I am grateful they have agree to serve. I would also like to announce that David Johns has resigned from his appointment to the advisory council. Johns has decades of experience as a leading Quaker theologian and has contributed many articles to QRT over the years. He currently serves as President of Ferrum College. We wish David the best in his work! If you like our work, please take a moment to like the Quaker Religious Thought Facebook page and visit the website. We have been working diligently to both keep our subscription rates very low and make the act of subscribing more accessible. Please visit qtdg.org to renew, subscribe, and find more information about our work. Please enjoy this issue! — Jon R. Kershner Editor



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