A Lively Faith: Reflections on Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative)
By Callie Marsh. FGC QuakerPress, 2011. 102 pages. $14.95/paperback.
Reviewed by Marty Grundy
Conservative Friends in North America are the “other” branch that treasures expectant, waiting worship. They, too, gather in unprogrammed silence. A number of Friends, hungry for a deeper understanding of Quakerism, have visited one or more of the three Conservative Yearly Meetings. Friends are becoming increasingly aware of the treasure present in the sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). They demonstrate the best of our unprogrammed tradition: holding on to the process of being open to Divine Guidance, while being willing to accept the unfolding of an enlarging understanding of our faith and practice. Callie Marsh explains what is precious about IYM© and how its history has molded it.
We are treated to a succinct but nuanced history of the yearly meeting with its mix of Friends of varied backgrounds, especially Wilburite and Conservative. Their differences over atonement reverberated long after the initial disagreements. Marsh gently points out the too-frequent misinformation passed on by recent Quaker historians who tend to lump together the three yearly meetings that call themselves Conservative today. Ohio YM© was Wilburite, North Carolina YM© was Conservative, and Iowa YM© had one Wilburite Quarter while the rest was Conservative, and that has made quite a difference.
There are chapters on theology, Scripture, and same-gender marriage, among others. Part of the Conservative tradition is care with the use of words, using few, hoping that lives will speak sufficiently clearly. Although they rarely speak overtly of theology, Conservative Friends experiences, stories, and conversations teach an implicit theology. In the old days people learned how to be Friends by observing more experienced Friends. They learned over time, almost by osmosis.
Marsh describes what was learned, the hallmarks of the faith and practice—the culture—of Conservative Friends, with five phrases: discernment, teachability, care with words, corporate being, and recognition of spiritual gifts. The glue that holds it all together is a palpable love and tenderness for one another. Where there is sufficient love and care, differences can be accepted; paradoxes may be held in fruitful tension; and in time, unity will be experienced.
Questions remain. In today’s fast-paced, technological, consumerist world, is this precious tradition of few words capable of teaching a new generation? Are visitors willing to attend for years, quietly observing, in order to learn how to be a Conservative Quaker? The author asks:
How much of the world can we let into our lives and communities? Rigidity does not serve us well. God is not rigid, even as God is unchangeable. God knows there are many ways under the sun. What does not change is God’s love.
She concludes with a call for Friends to be willing to share more openly and deeply their own personal spiritual experiences, and to be teachable by God’s Spirit. We learn from and are strengthened by one another’s experiences of being taught by the Spirit. The seed of transformation is within each of us; the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand as well as in the future.
Marty Grundy is a member of Cleveland (Ohio) Meeting, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting and has spent time with all three of the Conservative yearly meetings.
To Be Broken and Tender: a Quaker Theology for Today
by Margery Post Abbott. Friends Bulletin Corporation, 2010. 242 pages. $20.00/paperback.
Reviewed by Brian Drayton
This is a book that Friends of all stripes can profit from. Abbott’s reflections on Quaker theology are informed both by her own inward searching and her experiences in the diverse Quaker world of the Pacific Northwest, where one can find Friends United Meeting, Evangelical Friends International, and Liberal Friends neighboring each other—both in the sense of living near each other and in the sense of mutual engagement, being neighbors.
The book’s arrangement is inviting. Sections named “Waiting and Attending,” “Encountering the Seed,” “Taking up the Cross,” “The New Creation,” “Retirement,” and “To Be Broken and Tender” each comprise several chapters. In each section, Abbott sets the stage with a brief statement, a sort of overture to the main problems of the section, then unfolds different aspects of the theme. Abbott blends her readings from early and more recent Friends, and her own life experiences both inward and outward. These reflections are in every case penetrating and self-revealing, as the author speaks frankly of the struggles she has encountered in relation to each topic.
For example, in the section “Encountering the Seed,” Abbott says:
Learning to recognize that Seed [of God in everyone] is part of our worship and daily practice. What is its taste and feel? Can I acknowledge that Seed within my own soul? These are essential questions of faith. Some of us may find them easy to answer; others are unsure or have few words to suffice. In the encounter with the Seed, the Light of God became alive to me and broke down the walls within my heart.
Abbott goes on to name an important tension or barrier that she encountered as she lived with the concern to “share as best I can how my spiritual ancestors knew this Seed and what they have taught me.” Our community extends not only across the landscape of our times but also embraces all the Friends of prior centuries, whose seeking to follow the Light created the Society in which we have found a spiritual home.
One does not have to travel far in time to realize that from the beginning, the full meaning of the Light, and Seed, is rooted in the experience of Christ. Abbott is frank in admitting that this has been a major area of struggle and learning for her, but she now can say (and makes a strong case for her position), “My experience holds in tension the awareness that it is Christ who speaks to our condition, and that this same Spirit, present before the universe was, is available to all people in all times and places.”
Abbott also emphasizes throughout the book that it is the encounter with the Power and Life, however named, that is the mainspring of our yearning for, and growth towards, spiritual maturity. And as Hannah Whitall Smith said, “I am wide, wider, widest!” Under the teachings of that power, we are made open in love to more and more of the world. Abbott writes “As this tenderness grows, being present to others is an increasingly joy-filled dimension of life.”
Many Friends are uncomfortable with ideas like the atonement, with its focus on the power and reality of sin, and the theology of the Cross, with its emphasis on suffering, submission, and miraculous renewal. The book builds effectively from the inward encounter with the reality of God to a recasting of these ideas and to a reconciliation of our modern selves with these ancient and often painful notions. Abbott is forthright, yet subtle and compassionate, in her exposition of these difficult topics and then shows how they lead organically to a deep compassion and active involvement in the work for peace and justice in the world.
After her discussion of the new creation, she moves back to the sources of continued refreshment and power in retirement—the nature and practice of solitude and prayer both alone and in community. She pulls the whole book together in the final section, in which “being broken and tender” is revisited, and amplified by a frank discussion of mortality and its implications for a life lived fully emancipated. The book is completed by a very full, chapter-by-chapter study guide.
It is interesting to place this lovely book alongside another recent restatement of Quaker theology, Ben Richmond’s Signs of Salvation. Abbott speaks first to Friends and draws from the deepest wells of Quaker writing—Penington, Penn, Nayler, and others. Richmond aims his book at non-Friends and builds his exposition on Scripture. They represent two authentic but very different approaches to Quakerism, and now that Abbott’s book is out, I can see that the two complement each other in ways that can enrich the search of any Friend. Neither is a complete and systematic account, yet grappling with them one by one could go far to enhance the theological knowledge of a meeting or study group. Such readers would find that their witness and their prayer lives would gain power, even as these books raised new questions and new horizons for community dialogue.
Brian Drayton, a recorded minister, is a member of Weare (N.H.) Meeting.
Have Salt in Yourselves: A Book of QuakerPsalms
Compiled and arranged with an introduction by T.H.S. Wallace. Foundation Publications, 2010. 104 pages. $10.00/paperback.
Reviewed by C. Wess Daniels
Have Salt In Yourselves: A Book of QuakerPsalms is a collection of excerpts of George Fox’s writings from a variety of sources. T.H.S. Wallace draws the title for this collection of “Quaker Psalms” from one of Fox’s epistles which starts, “Have salt in yourselves and be low in heart. The light is low in you. It will teach you to be low, teach you to learn that lesson of Jesus Christ.” This imagery of salt in ourselves is meant to frame this collection in terms of the humility of the Spirit, one in which we are called to bear with one another, love one another, and labor with one another as the people of God.
While it is small in size and subtle in its approach—each entry structured like a poem—it is not subtle in its content. The QuakerPsalms are rooted in the radical leanings of early Quakerism, which is evident in the section titles taken from Fox’s writings, such as: “The Right Course of Nature,” “Stand Fast in the Faith of Which Christ Jesus is the Author,” and “Forsake Not The Assembling of Yourselves Together.” This is a provocative and fiery collection of Fox’s writings. It will surely stimulate and inspire you to consider not only your own spiritual condition but the deep convictions of early Friends.
Each entry is best read slowly and contemplatively. I’ve offered them as prayers in meeting for worship and in my own prayer time. What is written here draws on some of the best spirituality of our Quaker tradition. For instance, consider “In His Wisdom and Life Keep”:
The light is precious to him that believes / in it and walks according to its leading,
for the Light and the Truth were before / darkness and deceit were.
So, while you have the light, / walk in the light and live in the light –
Christ the Truth – that you may, / through obedience to it,
be the children of the light and of the day.
Here is the psalm called “The Original of All Language”:
The Word of God is the original, / which fulfills the scriptures.
The Word is it which makes divine, / is called a hammer, / but it is a living hammer;
a sword and fire, / but it is a living sword / and a living fire, –
a hammer, sword, and fire / to hammer, and cut down, and burn up
that which separated and kept man from God.
I recommend this book to anyone who, like me, enjoys using poetry and prayers for reflection and meditation. What better way to reflect on Quaker spirituality than with such an accessible collection of Quaker psalms?
C. Wess Daniels loves being a Quaker pastor and has enjoyed pastoring Camas Friends Church since 2009. He is a father of two (with one on the way), husband, and a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary. He continues to learn about the depth of God’s love from the people in his meeting, the importance of the Quaker tradition, and what it means to be rooted in a place. Visit him at gatheringinlight.com.
Seeking Inner Peace: Presence, Pain and Wholeness
By Elizabeth De Sa. Pendle Hill Publications, 2011, (Pamphlet #414). 34 pages. $6.50/pamphlet.
Reviewed by Karie Firoozmand
In Seeking Inner Peace: Presence, Pain and Wholeness, Elizabeth De Sa shares her story of intense work on how to live authentically, with integrity, and finding one’s way to ever closer alignment of the inner and outer selves and to union with the love of Godde. De Sa is very clear about the presence of pain in life. In the pamphlet’s title, she refers to our own need to be present with pain, to acknowledge it, and to treat ourselves with compassion. We can learn to accept woundedness and its shadows, not as faults in ourselves but simply as pain.
This is a pamphlet about healing, but it is not about how to resolve and be free of all pain. Rather, De Sa’s courage is in accepting pain, even permanent pain, as the woundedness we get from living on earth among imperfect humans and unjust, humanly created systems and institutions, such as racism and sexism. Yet her ministry is to share her own story, under guidance that it will be a force for healing.
In the narrative of her search to live authentically and to be guided by the Divine Spirit, De Sa’s voice is steady and sure, a tone that comes from experience. She shares the steps of her journey, including those that did not work or served only to keep her moving and seeking experiences that would lead to greater awareness, acceptance, and compassion. She tells the story of coming to use her own life to speak, and her message is about the sacred process of healing and the union with Godde (and with others) that comes with it.
Living with integrity doesn’t require us to be completely healed; rather, it requires us to be present in every situation to what is alive—our own feelings and an awareness of their effect upon our perceptions of reality. In this way, we gain access to compassion; our hearts are opened, and we’re given the power to see ourselves and others as wounded and searching for healing, often in community.
De Sa’s words recall George Fox’s oft-repeated advice to stand still in that which is pure, and allow the Light to reveal everything, even that which hurts. And then, strength, power, and mercy come in. De Sa’s story, shared with a strong voice, tells us the same thing.
Karie Firoozmand is a member of Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, Md., and the book review editor of Friends Journal.
The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John
By Paul N. Anderson. Fortress Press, 2011. 288 pages. $22.00/paperback.
Reviewed by Susan Jeffers
I read this new book by Paul Anderson looking for ways it might enrich Friends study of the Bible. The author is an Evangelical Friend, professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, and prominent New Testament scholar. He writes from a scholarly perspective but reminds us that John’s Gospel “invites people into a transformative encounter with the love of God.” The cover depicts Nicodemus speaking with Jesus, and Anderson uses Nicodemus’ growth in relationship to Jesus (John: 3, 7, 19) as a metaphor for the way people can take tentative first steps and be drawn ever more deeply into the story.
Riddles of the Fourth Gospel comprises three parts: “Outlining the Riddles,” “Addressing the Riddles,” and “Interpreting the Riddles.” The riddles are questions that have long puzzled both scholars and ordinary readers of the Bible. Anderson names three categories of riddles: theological, historical, and literary; many result from differences between John and the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
In recent years, many Friends have become interested in Jesus studies or the historic Jesus. This area of scholarly endeavor attempts to reconstruct an objective, historical picture of Jesus, using primarily the Synoptics along with evidence from archaeology and extra-biblical ancient texts. John’s Gospel has been mostly excluded from Jesus studies on the theory that it was written later and is more concerned with theology (or spirituality) than with history.
Anderson argues that John is valuable as an independent historic witness. He proposes a Bi-Optic Hypothesis, encouraging the reader to engage both John and the Synoptics, for history as well as other areas of interest. Anderson’s approach throughout the book promotes holding multiple perspectives in tension. He presents ideas as both-and or on the one hand and on the other hand. Occasionally he discloses his own preference among competing theories, but he also articulates the alternatives; the book is full of lists of strengths and weaknesses of various scholarly analyses.
It appears to me that academic study of the Bible is trending away from the mode of picking the Bible apart into separate strands, and toward a more holistic view, looking at Scripture from the standpoint of literary unity and the ways a passage or book speaks to the reader/hearer. The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel provides a useful bridge from historical-critical approaches, as well as the Jesus studies’ focus on teasing out bits deemed authentic from the Synoptics. Rather than leading the reader to a specific destination on the other side, Anderson invites us to an inclusive and dialogical engagement not only with John’s Gospel but with the entire Bible.
I have one caution: this book is not a commentary on the book of John in the usual sense of that term. It does not go through the Gospel of John passage by passage explaining historical context, highlighting literary features, and pointing the reader to other related Bible passages. For example, if one is studying the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 2:1–11), and consults the index of Bible passages, one finds ten references, each of which uses the story as an example of some point Anderson is discussing; nowhere is there a discussion of the passage itself. Fortunately, commentaries abound.
The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel is a book for serious students of John, particularly those interested in scholarly approaches. If a Friends meeting Bible study group or adult religious education class embarks on a detailed study of John’s Gospel, this book would be an excellent choice for one or two members of the group to read and share. One of its most important lessons, enacted on many levels, is the simple and powerful paradox that John is full of questions with both-and answers. Read through John first, and then give Riddles a chance to explain itself. John’s Gospel is a great treasure, and Anderson’s book a wonderful companion to its exploration, whether one is a newcomer or a long-time Bible reader. And if you are a Friend who has accepted the Synoptic-based historic Jesus as the whole story, by all means give Paul Anderson a chance to persuade you of the value of adding the independent perspective of John.
Susan Jeffers is a member of Ann Arbor (Mich.) Meeting and a graduate of the Earlham School of Religion. She teaches online Bible courses, including introductory biblical Greek. She loves the fourth Gospel, riddles and all.
By Eric Newcastle. Createspace, 2012. 342 pages. $15.95/paperback.
Reviewed by Tockhwock (Geoffrey Kaiser)
One of the first things the reader will notice is the beautiful artwork on the cover. Internationally known artist Raphael Perez was well chosen to represent this work. The painting of a teenage boy has an edge to it that foreshadows the drama about to be told.
To Pacific Yearly Meeting Friends, Eric Newcastle is known by his birth name, Rick Troth. His pen name, chosen many years ago, is less about privacy than inhabiting a persona that frees him to breathe life into his characters. It became apparent to me after reading Newcastle’s first novel that he was under the weight of a leading, one that has been with him for nearly a decade. Family Values spoke to me, and I believe it will speak to others.
Family Values is set in rural Sonoma County, California. It is “a compelling tale about a gay teenager who is found brutally assaulted and left for dead,” to quote the author. Really it is more than this. Family Values offers insight into Quaker faith and practice that is both a love story and a critique. Most of the main characters are traditional Conservative Quakers. It could be argued that the portrayal of Friends in this novel is idealized and perpetuates the stereotype of plain dress and plain speech. There are few Friends of this ilk alive today, and certainly not here in Sonoma County. Nevertheless, the archetype works in that it shows that we still are a “peculiar people” in many ways. Though the setting is the Quaker community and most of the characters are Friends, the story’s appeal is universal.
While Family Values concentrates on the life of two teenage boys, it includes three generations. Karen Naylor, the Bible-quoting paternal grandmother, is straight from the Iowa Conservative tradition; she is no prude but rather conservative for well-thought-out reasons, not just heritage. Her daughter-in-law, Esther Naylor, is like her biblical counterpart—a woman of courage fighting for her family. The pairing of a naïve Patrick Naylor and a street smart Robert Torrie was no accident. Both boys are drawn to each other as inevitable halves of one whole. The sexuality and violence may be disturbing to some Friends, but the author makes no apologies, preferring to tell the story in all its raw truth.
How does the Naylor family handle an act of senseless violence? In dealing with it, Karen serves as mother to both Patrick and Robert as the family moves through various reactions. They, and we, come to see that in the end, it is only through forgiveness that peace can be found. It is a story about what the power of love can do.
In reading Family Values, I was reminded of Jessamyn West’s The Friendly Persuasion, except that this story could never have been told in the 1950s. Both novels could be criticized as simplistic in their portrayal of Friends, yet the plots work equally well in both. Family Values will draw you in. When I started reading I couldn’t help but continue, and when the story was over I longed for more.
Tockhwock (a.k.a. Geoffrey Kaiser) is a member of Apple Seed Meeting in Sebastopol, Calif.
Wobbling Home: A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s
By Jim Atwell. Square Circle Press, 2010. 192 pages. $17.95/paperback
Reviewed by Judith Favor
Quakerism is a way of life for Jim Atwell, as illustrated in the award-winning, weekly columns he has published in The Cooperstown Crier since 1993. I’m glad that he gathered 54 insightful stories on faith, friendship, and illness into Wobbling Home: A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s. Atwell is a very engaging writer. A former Christian Brothers monk, he has spiritually developed over the past 40 years into a practicing Friend and a recorded minister.
Should New York Yearly Meeting ever recruit Atwell to help revise its Faith and Practice, I want a copy. Faith and Practice tells the testimonies; Wobbling Home shows them. For example, he writes of Integrity in “Parkinson’s Progress”: it’s “a brain breakdown, the failure of my original, factory-installed equipment, with really nobody and nothing outside me to blame.” Take simplicity: “Yep, that’s what spatters the soup on the tablecloth, splashes coffee and causes the stumbling walk.” Take equality: “I try to report to you every time I make a fool of myself,” he writes in “Put in My Place.” Unity is touchingly told in “Yoked as One,” as he describes life with “my Anne.” The Testimony of Community undergirds many of Jim’s stories. In “Quiet Celebration,” he describes the Friends of Clinton (N.Y.) Meeting celebrating their 300 years as “undramatic, matter-of-fact mystics who work for peace, the poor, the imprisoned, and those savaged by war.”
For those like me, whose circle includes a few “Parkies,” Atwell’s reflections are both informative and assuring. He sees the disease as emanating from the same loving Source that gives us life, a Source that also manipulates his brain in mysterious ways and moves his body at random times. But don’t let Parkinson’s in the title deter you from buying a copy for yourself, one for your meeting or church library, and another for someone who’s aging or undergoing bodily changes. His writing is personal and universal, interspersing tender examples of human frailty and spiritual strength with poignant tales of everyday personal relationships. Atwell’s literary grace reminds me of Phillip Simmons, progressively disabled with Lou Gehrig’s disease, whom I once heard at Sandwich (N.H.) Meeting (in 2000 Simmons published Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life).
Amidst increasing tremors and stumbles, Atwell reports that he continues to write, reflecting on God, Christ, and prayer from the perspective of a person whose soul journey has taken him beyond traditional religion. Parkinson’s is taking its toll on his creative writing. Sometimes “my mind seizes up. Then I just have to sit back in my chair and wait for my brain to reboot itself.” But he hasn’t given up. “I see that drive as a leading; an urge by the Spirit that a particular job is one’s to do. This one’s mine, and I’ve got to get cracking.” I pray that the author is granted strength and focus to finish his next book because I want more Atwell stories to re-read, savor, and quote to Friends.
Judith Favor is a convinced Friend, member of Claremont (Calif.) Meeting.
Friends for a Lifetime: The Saga of a Sixty-Three Year Quaker Love Affair
By Don and Lois Laughlin. Springdale Press, 2011. 221 pages. $10.80/paperback, $6.95 Kindle.
Reviewed by William Shetter
It is not often that we are so insightfully given the chance to hear the joys, sorrows, and steady growth of a long marriage, some years of it spent with six children and managing a farm at Scattergood School in Iowa. The two voices of Lois Wood and Don Laughlin alternate throughout the book, each in its own clearly distinct tone. While this may imply a dialog, the book instead consists of extensive excerpts from Lois’s private journal, interspersed with historical notes and personal comments by Don.
Lois’s journal forms the core of the book. During her entire adult life up to her death in 2008, Lois recorded her inmost thoughts: her lifelong struggle to understand herself and come to terms with her frustrating insecurity and depression, her attitudes—not evading the exasperated ones—toward husband and family, and the impact on family life from the loss of two daughters. Her questioning of the roots of her insecurity and what Don once called her “insatiable bent for order,” in daily conflict with the disorder of ordinary family life, are themes in her journal.
Lois was a private person and thought of her journal that way too. The reader quickly becomes aware of an ongoing conflict with her dream of becoming a published writer. She wondered whether her journal was a mere private outlet for thoughts and feelings or whether it possibly had a literary aspect. She once wrote, “the thought came that this is what I might write about—family relationships in the raw of a very ordinary family.” An occasional remark, such as “I’m always aware … that I may be writing for future readers,” reveals that she aspired to produce a publication but never succeeded in overcoming her self-doubt to do that. So we might ask: In the light of her strong sense of privacy, is Don’s posthumous publication of these extensive excerpts in some sense a violation? Readers likely will end up agreeing with him that this publication of journal entries fulfills her lifelong dream.
We find many insightful thoughts about the ups and downs of a Quaker marriage and family life, supplemented by Don’s extensive clarifications and reflections—concluding with his moving account of how she and her family lived the last months leading up to her death. At a more fundamental level, we meet someone engaged in an unsparing quest for self-knowledge, and it is this that gives her voice its authentic ring. The journal entries we are privileged to read reveal a person striving to understand herself and struggling to find the roots of her individual self in the relationships she so intensely entered into, with her husband, her children, and the world. The title and subtitle chosen for this book are certainly appropriate as far as they go, but they do not quite suggest the book’s underlying message. Don, however, did perceive this core when he chose the book’s opening quote from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
William Shetter is a member of Bloomington (Ind.) Meeting. Two of the founders of the meeting in 1950 were Lois’s cousin Faye Wood and her husband Keogh Rash.
Missions by the Spirit: Learning from Quaker Examples
By Ron Stansell. Barclay Press, 2009. 280 pages. $24.00/paperback.
Reviewed by Rosalie Dance
Missions by the Spirit documents the experiences of four twentieth-century Evangelical Friends missionaries to Kenya and Burundi, Guatemala, India, and Bolivia. All four were trained within the Holiness Movement, which arose out of Wesleyan Methodism. The Holiness Movement can be characterized as having these beliefs: that God changes hearts and lifestyles, that women are equal to men, and that human potential is found in all cultures. Joseph John Gurney was a key figure in connecting Friends to the Holiness Movement, as were Walter and Emma Malone, who directed the Cleveland Bible Training School, now Malone University. The Pentecostal church in the United States grew out of the Holiness Movement, as did the Pilgrim Holiness Church.
Stansell’s writing informs those who feel called to cross-cultural, Christian mission work in the twenty-first century. He notes that we are now in an age when (once again) the majority of Christians are in the Global South and the East, and he endeavors to enable missionaries from these regions, as well as from the West, to build upon the work of these four twentieth-century missionaries: to learn what they did well and to avoid their errors. Readers will also be interested in reading how Friends churches were established in the countries where the missionaries, their families, and their colleagues worked.
Arthur Chilson’s missions (1902–1939) successfully paired what we might now think of as development work with evangelistic preaching. Chilson’s diaries, amply quoted by Stansell, reveal a severe lack of understanding and respect for the local culture, in spite of a deep love for the people within it. His diary also shows that he worked hard at manual labor, in coöperation with equally hard-working local workers in his industrial development mission.
In Guatemala, Ruth Esther Smith, a superb administrator and a loving and motherly presence, led a mission dominated by women from 1906 until her death in 1947. In Guatemala, nursing and schools went hand in hand with evangelism, prayer, and a revival spirit. This connection was typical in the missions, as was the equal status of women and men.
Everett and Catherine Cattell went to India in 1936 to convert Hindus to Christianity while Mahatma Gandhi was working to bring Hindus and Muslims together in a nationalist movement of resistance to British rule. Jack and Geraldine Willcutts went to Bolivia in 1947 where they trained new pastors and demonstrated better farming methods; they appear to have been the most effective in their effort to live within the local culture and share their lives with the local people (the Aymaras). Turning the work of the mission church over to the local people was a stated goal of all four missions and was achieved in varying degrees.
Missions by the Spirit can teach us twenty-first century Friends, with all our varied practices and understandings, much about early twentieth-century American Friends missionaries and their influence on those with whom they worked. Friends will be interested to note that we learn surprisingly little about the local cultures, perhaps because (with the apparent exception of the Willcutts in Bolivia) the missionaries worked to change those cultures rather than to find that of God within them.
Rosalie Dance is a member of Adelphi (Md.) Meeting, sojourner at Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, Md., member of the African Great Lakes Initiative Working Group, sometime “mathematics traveler” to Africa, including a six year sojourn in Tanzania in the 1960s.