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Among Friends

We are not all the same

If every Quaker’s experience was the same, there wouldn’t be any need for what we do. We could stop the presses; sell the computers, the desks, and chairs; give everyone a refund on their subscriptions; turn out the lights, and go home.

If every Quaker’s experience was the same, you wouldn’t need us, because you wouldn’t need to learn about what other Friends were doing and feeling. You’d need to look no further than the mirror and your own diary to know all there was to know. (You wouldn’t need a community of Friends anymore, for that matter. Who wants to be around people exactly like themselves?)

We are not all exactly the same, but the truth is that you, and I, and all of our thousands of readers are the same in some important ways. Maybe it’s that we feel the possibility of an individual, personal connection with the ultimate. Maybe it’s that we have heard fundamental and life‐changing insights spoken to us through the mouths of others. Maybe it’s because we believe very strongly in the power of listening. It could be all of those things, and probably some more. I know from my travels among Friends and Journal readers that we are more diverse—politically, socially, racially, vocationally, you name it—than I ever imagined.

People like you and me, Friends Journal readers in all their glorious diversity, have in Friends Journal something to rally around. Meeting for worship is how we practice our faith, how we commune together. But Friends Journal is how we communicate our experience in a way that broadens and opens all of our minds. Not just the folks in meeting that day but a growing community of thousands upon thousands: a community that has no walls, only windows and doors (and comfortable places for reading, I hope—this, our annual Books issue, will be reading time well‐spent).

Friends Journal’s only mission (this is what makes us unique) is to share the stories Friends tell, because it matters that a lot of people hear, read, and watch these stories. It matters that the stories are told well and presented beautifully. Our strength as Quakers comes from our very diversity, the different ways in which that life‐giving, loving Spirit—however you define it—speaks through us and our lives. We are different, and isn’t it wonderful? You’ll keep reading about it in Friends Journal. I hope you’ll find ways to share the Journal, or our website or YouTube videos or Facebook posts, with the people you care about. If you’re the generous type, please include Friends Journal in your generous giving so that we can make more stories sing in more ways.

Gabriel Ehri is Executive Director of Friends Journal.

Posted in: Among Friends, November 2014: Books and Writing

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