Quakers and Worship, Nature, and Hunting
August 15, 2023
In this episode of Quakers Today we ask, What was a time when you rebelled and why?
Quaker Worship, Nature, and Hunting
The episode introduces Timothy Tarkelly, a Quaker in Chanute, Kansas with a deep love for nature. Tarkelly draws parallels between the stillness of Quaker worship and his experiences in the outdoors, emphasizing the power of silence and anticipation in both settings. He wrote the Friends Journal article, Allowable Diversions: A Friend Explores the Morality of Hunting.
Timothy published several books of poetry including On Slip Rigs and Spiritual Growth (OAC Books), Objects We Know We Don’t Deserve: Poems on Dutch Art (Alien Buddha Press), and Gently in Manner, Strongly in Deed: Poems on Eisenhower (Spartan Press). He recently collaborated with Elena Samarsky, a Ukrainian visual artist, on a work of paintings and poems entitled All Other Forms of Expression. When he’s not writing, he teaches English and Debate to students who, according to Timothy, are far more talented and interesting than he is.
LGBTQ Identity and Quakerism
Erin Wilson’s story shines a light on LGBTQ inclusion within Quakerism. She demonstrates how questioning and embracing equality are integral to both her Quaker faith and her journey of self-discovery. Wilson’s tale underscores the significance of creating space for diverse identities within the community. You can see Erin Wilson’s QuakerSpeak video and other QuakerSpeak videos at the QuakerSpeak YouTube Channel or at QuakerSpeak.com.
Navigating Christianity and Quakerism
Mark Russ‘s reflections on the intersection of Christianity and Quakerism offer insights into the complexities of his faith. Russ, who lives in Birmingham, United Kingdom, candidly shares his experience as a Christian within the Quaker community in the UK, exploring the struggle of reconciling his identity with the broader Quaker ethos. His queerness adds another layer to his journey of embracing his Christianity which he explores in his book Quaker-Shaped Christianity, How the Jesus Story and the Quaker Way Fit Together. Read William Shetter’s review of Quaker Shaped Christianity on Friends Journal online.
Mark Russ is a writer, theologian and teacher. Since 2013 Mark has written useful, Quaker-shaped Christian theology on his blog jollyquaker.com. From 2015 to 2022 he was a member of the Learning and Research Team at The Woodbrooke Centre, an international Quaker learning and research organization based in Britain. Before retraining as a theologian, Mark enjoyed a successful decade as a music teacher in London, and spent a year visiting and living in various faith-based intentional communities in the UK and USA. He is currently a full time PhD student at the University of Nottingham, researching liberal Quaker theology and whiteness. He lives with his husband in Birmingham, England.
You will find a complete transcript of this episode below after the show notes.
After the episode concludes we share voicemails from listeners who answered the question, What was a time when you rebelled and why?
Question for next month
Here is our question for you to consider. Who is someone who has inspired your faith or worldview?
Leave a voice memo with your name and the town where you live. The number to call is 317-QUAKERS, that’s 317-782-5377. +1 if calling from outside the U.S.
Season Two of Quakers Today is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee
Do you want to challenge unjust systems and promote lasting peace? The American Friends Service Committee, or AFSC works with communities worldwide to drive social change. Their website features meaningful steps you can take to make a difference. Through their Friends Liaison Program, you can connect your meeting or church with AFSC and their justice campaigns. Find out how you can become part of AFSC’s global community of change makers. Visit AFSC.org.
Feel free to send comments, questions, and requests for our new show. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music from this episode comes from Epidemic Sound. You heard Noche de Sueño by Lawd Ito, Against a Paler Sky by Hushed, Es Solo by Mimmi Bangoura, Keep Together by Indigo Days, Could Have Been Us, by Blue Topaz
Transcript for Quakers and “Questionable” Faith and Practice
Erin Wilson, James, Mark Russ, Timothy Tarkelly, John Craig, Peterson Toscano
Peterson Toscano 00:00
In this episode of Quakers Today we ask “What was a time when you rebelled and why?”
Peterson Toscano 00:06
We have three guests today. Some may think that at least one if not all three are being rebellious. They can definitely feel like outliers among certain Quakers. I’m curious about how you will receive them. I am Peterson Toscano. This is season two, episode three of Quakers Today podcast, a project of Friends Publishing Corporation. This season of Quakers Today is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.
Peterson Toscano 00:37
Timothy Tarkelly is an English teacher, a debate coach and a lover of the outdoors.
Timothy Tarkelly 00:44
I spend as much time outside as possible, when I’m feeling really wound up from having like a couple of days where I’m just not my brains not clicking right, I’m feeling agitated. I’ll sometimes take stock and realize, you know, I’ve been really busy lately, I haven’t been outside and over a week. And sometimes that means I just need to go and walk and go count the birds or go fishing or whatever.
Peterson Toscano 01:04
He’s also a Quaker.
Timothy Tarkelly 01:05
What I’m looking for in religious community is silent worship. When you get a group of people in a room who are genuinely spiritually vulnerable, and spiritually supportive, amazing things can happen. I’m a spiritual guy. I grew up in a very religious family, I’ve communed with lots of friends who have different faith traditions than I do, I can connect with a lot of it. But for me, the most profound experiences I’ve had not just like personal revelation, or anything but feeling connected to others in worship have been in unprogrammed worship.
Peterson Toscano 01:43
Timothy finds that time in Quaker worship is similar to the time he spends in nature.
Timothy Tarkelly 01:49
There is something powerful about silence, but I don’t think that it’s just silence. I think that it’s anticipation in the silence. In a meeting, you’re not just sitting there silently. You’re sitting there, collectively, you’re waiting, and maybe something comes and maybe something doesn’t. That’s also not the point either. Regardless of if you went through an hour in silence, or if you went through an hour where people had things to share, you got to the end of that hour together. The nature it’s the same way it is silence. It is seclusion, but you’re alert, you’re focused, you’re waiting for this interaction to happen.
Peterson Toscano 02:33
In a recent article for Friends Journal, Timothy writes about nature, ecology and the impacts humans have had on the natural world.
Timothy Tarkelly 02:42
(reading from article) Sound stewardship is a clear expectation of God’s people. The stewardship, however, isn’t to be overly idealized, to take care of the earth means to participate in it cycles. While the cycles may seem ruthless and cruel, they are in fact natural realities. Especially as humans continue to grow as a species, we need to acknowledge the effect we have on the ecosystem and the role we are forced to play in it. Expansion leads to the termination or dislocation of predator species. This is one of the reasons deer populations and Midwest North America have exploded, leading to an increase in automotive accidents, crop damage, and disease transmission, among other concerns.
Peterson Toscano 03:23
So far, you may be thinking that you and Timothy have a lot in common, especially if you too love being in nature. But some Quakers feel strongly that what Timothy does in nature is not at all quick, really. Timothy is a hunter,
Timothy Tarkelly 03:41
Just like anything else in Quakerism, it’s hard to find two Quakers that agree on everything. And I got a lot of like, “Oh, you know, I could see why you hunt. That’s fine. Whatever you feel like you need to do this is you know, who am I to say?” And the other reaction I got was, “Absolutely not, there’s no way that you could hunt and be a Quaker!”
Timothy Tarkelly 04:01
I did talk to a couple people who were like, you know, I also go hunting, but I just don’t tell anybody that or I also eat meat. I just don’t ever mention that to my Quaker friends. My initial reaction is maybe I don’t belong in this community. If something that is important to me violates really commonly held beliefs. I don’t want to be that guy. But the more I thought about it, I was just like, it’s not that I wanted to prove people wrong or change their minds or enlist anyone to like become a hunter. I just felt there are certain aspects of the conversation that weren’t really being discussed. You know, it was if you do this, you are this or as a Quaker, we can’t do blank. When it comes to really deeply held ideologies that we can sometimes forget to think about reality. We don’t live in a vacuum. It’s not that this is the way things should be done, that there’s bigger things at stake
Peterson Toscano 04:58
in his article “Allowable Diversions, a Friend Explores the Morality of Hunting.” Timothy writes about his experiences. In the article and in our conversation, he strongly defends hunting.
Timothy Tarkelly 05:12
(Reading from article) According to wildlife biologist Christopher Noah, who is a professor at North Carolina State’s College of Natural Resources, hunters do more to help wildlife than any other group in America. As quoted in an article for CRN news, this may seem like a contradictory statement, but the truth is that wildlife conservation largely relies on the shoulders of hunters, they fund privately publicly and voluntarily, the majority of conservation efforts. While it is a common misconception that government conservation programs are tax funded. In reality, they’re mostly funded by hunters through the purchase of stamps, licenses and permits for hunters and anglers.
Timothy Tarkelly 05:53
I mean, this is not exclusive to the Quaker community, but you do hear from people like why should we hunt, you can just go to a grocery store to get me. There are just a lot of stereotypes around if you enjoy hunting, you must be blank. There’s lots of caricatures of hunters, you know, Elmer Fudd, and people who were like trucker hats and they just want to go into the woods and drink beer and shoot their guns. The reality is that a hunters care about the environment because we want to go hunting. If every time we went to the river, we left a bunch of beer cans and dumped our tackle boxes in the water and left the place a mess. It wouldn’t be long before we didn’t have a place to do that anymore. But more importantly, I don’t really know anyone who goes hunting because they want to kill animals. I don’t really know where that notion comes from. I honestly have been hunting and at times have felt regretful i there has been times where I have not pulled the trigger, because I just didn’t feel like shooting an animal that day.
Peterson Toscano 06:53
And there are times when after sitting in quiet, still anticipation. Timothy sees the animal, and he shoots.
Timothy Tarkelly 07:03
I most recently went squirrel hunting. I’m mostly a small game hunter. I went squirrel hunting and I made a squirrel quiche. That is a favorite of mine. And it’s it’s a party favorite. We had a board game night and that’s the food that I brought was squirrel quiche.
Peterson Toscano 07:20
Timothy Tarkelly’s article “Allowable Diversions, a Friend Explores the Morality of Hunting appears in the August edition of Friends Journal. You can also find it at Friendsjournal.org in the show notes I have links to Timothy’s books of poetry and other writing. I will also post his squirrel quiche recipe.
Erin Wilson 07:42
Being able to question things which I think is important, as part of Quaker faith anyway, was very helpful for me to figure out that I’m not who I thought I was, and that’s okay. My name is Erin Wilson. I use she her pronouns. I live in Tualatin, Oregon, and I am a direct member of Sierra Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Erin Wilson 08:04
There was a lot of tension within Northwestern Yearly Meeting, which is the you’re the meeting that Sierra Cascades split off of I think there was a lot more going on. But the issue that they pinpointed it on was LGBTQ inclusion. It was through all of that. But I came out to myself. I grew up in Evangelical culture, where a woman is assumed straight and will end up married to a man through all of the things going on with the split and the church that I was a part of at the time.
Erin Wilson 08:35
And all of the conversations happening, I realized that I was getting very defensive about the way that LGBTQ folks were being treated. It took several months for me to figure out oh, it’s because I’m not straight. It also became clear that when I really deconstructed my concept of sexuality and who I could or couldn’t marry, there was no reason that I saw for me not to marry a woman. Other than that I just hadn’t been in a relationship with a woman. And I had not been in a relationship with a man. So the possibilities were open. I’ve chosen the label bisexual. I’m still figuring out what exactly that means.
Erin Wilson 09:19
Being able to use Quaker values to help me process that it was important to me, I think of the testimony of equality. That was something that was important to me with the whole experience of the conversation happening in northwesterly meeting that led to the split and then see our cascades formation. Just knowing that if we’re all equal, why does one aspect of our identity matter? Being able to question things which I think is important, as part of Quaker faith anyway, was very helpful for me to figure out that I’m not who I thought I was, and that’s okay.
Peterson Toscano 10:01
That was Erin Wilson from the QuakerSpeak video entitled Coming Out to Myself in Quaker community. You will find this QuakerSpeak video and the QuakerSpeak channel on YouTube or just visit Quakerspeak.com.
Peterson Toscano 10:16
William Shetter reviewed the book Quaker shaped Christianity, How the Jesus Story and the Quaker Way Fit Together, it’s written by Mark Russ. William wonders if Mark is being unnecessarily defensive. I contacted Mark Russ to ask why he wrote the book and what he hopes Quakers in the UK and North America will take away from it.
Mark Russ 10:37
My book is called Quaker Shaped Christianity. It’s sort of like a theological biography. There’s a lot about my journey into Quakers into and into Christianity in it. It’s the product of lots of conversations I’ve had with Quakers over the last 20 years, both with me discovering Christianity because I didn’t grow up as a Christian or a Quaker, me finding Christianity and then having to explain it to other Quakers, either Quakers who don’t really know much about Christianity, or Quakers have had negative experiences of Christianity, being a Christian within Quakers in Britain can often feel quite lonely.
Mark Russ 11:18
Either I express myself using the language I want to use. Maybe when I’m getting ministry, in worship, or into talking to Quakers outside of worship, I use the language that feels right for me, which is very much rooted in Christianity in the in the Jesus story in Christian theology, and often be met with incomprehension, or even having to sort of justify myself and often feeling just incomprehensible like I’m not understood. Or I sort of censor myself, and Quakerfy, my language in terms of taking out lots of the explicit Christian stuff, or using a friend of mine calls the list sort of God, the Light Spirits, or whatever you call it, reading off a list of things to try and include everybody. But then I don’t really feel like I’m being true to my experience.
Mark Russ 12:09
Being gay really helps in being a Christian in Quakers in Britain, because for people who have negative understandings of Christianity who see Christianity as a sort of religion of empire, or religion, that’s anti women or anti queer, the fact that I’m queer, already raises some question marks, it sort of opens a door. So he’s gay, why would he be a Christian? I find it really, really helped. In the book, I talk a lot about my own queerness. And being Christian from a queer perspective, that opens up a very exciting doorway into it. For people who are a bit nervous about Christianity, it helps them to feel a bit safer in exploring it. My experience has been of, oh, it’s really bad to enter this Christianity, we need to sort of edge into the sidelines. I think the US context is probably very different. And maybe the queer content of the book might be more useful or more attractive about the book to readers in the States, but certainly within the queer community in Britain, we struggle with talking about these things.
Peterson Toscano 13:17
That was Mark Russ, author of the book Quaker Shaped Christianity, How the Jesus Story and the Quaker Way Tit Together. You can read William Shetter’s review of the book and the August 2023 issue of Friends Journal. You can also read it at friendsjournal.org
Peterson Toscano 13:35
Thank you for joining me for this episode of Quakers Today. Season Two of Quakers Today is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee.
Peterson Toscano 13:43
Do you want to challenge unjust systems and promote lasting peace? The American Friends Service Committee or AFSC works with communities worldwide to drive social change. Their website features meaningful steps you can take to make a difference through their friends liaison program, you can connect your meeting or church with AFSC and their justice campaigns. Find out how you can become part of AFS C’s global community of changemakers visit afsc.org That’s a fsc.org.
Peterson Toscano 14:20
Visit Quakers today.org To see our show notes and a full transcript of this episode. And if you stick around after the closing, you will hear listeners responses to the question. What was a time when you rebelled? And why? Thank you, friend. I look forward to spending more time with you soon.
Peterson Toscano 15:00
In a moment, you will hear listeners voicemails and answer to the question what was the time when you rebelled and why. But first, let me share with you next month’s question, who is someone who has inspired your faith or worldview? Who is someone who has inspired your faith or your worldview? Leave a voice memo with your name and the town where you live. The number to call is 317 Quakers. That’s 3177825377317 Quakers plus one, if you’re calling from outside the USA, you can also send an email. I have these contact details in our show notes over at Quakers today.org. Now we hear your answers to the question, what was the time when you rebelled? And why?
John Craig 15:51
Yes, hi, my name is John Craig. I work with AFC and Des Moines, Iowa. I’m thinking of a time in 1985 when a friend of mine and I just out of college, visited Guatemalan refugees in camps along the Mexico Guatemalan border that was against the law to do that, to visit those camps. And I’m very glad that we disobey that law. And instead, when I visited those folks, it was pivotal in terms of me later than working with Quakers and AFSC for peace and justice in Central America and, and around the world. So thank you. Bye, bye.
Only three minutes. Okay, my full name is James Bennett Rutledge in Centennial, Colorado. I’m not sure I’m going to be providing the kind of an answer you want. Because you do seem to be interested in rebelling against society. But I want to do go on the record as a time when I was rebelling against God. It was in my 30s. I was sifting through the Bible, what it actually said versus what various preachers said it said, and I was caught on a verse that said that in the New Jerusalem, everything from before will have been forgotten. I was comparing it with the notion of human beings as the larval stage of what are to become saints. Realize that, even among butterflies, the larva does keep its first six legs. But if everything is changed, we have new bodies, we have new natures, we have no memories of everything that’s gone before. What does it mean that Jesus saved me? I mean, it’s gonna be great for this critter that finally emerges. But how? In what sense? can that possibly be me? That got me in a lather? For several years, and I would only go to church on Palm Sunday, where they went through the part of the Gospel where punch Pilate goes for the people and who shall I release? In celebration of this Passover season? Jesus are adults or the other Jesus. I got to yell out at the top of my lungs, Give us Barabbas. And to the question, What should we do with this other Jesus, then I got to at the top of my lungs, Crucify Him. And I stayed that way for several years, until I finally circled back to my philosophy slash mathematics training, to where I had to confront that I can’t even prove I exist now. I have to settle for, depending on the context, close enough for engineering or A likely story. And of course, that upset my old theology. And I think at that point, I was working on the 34th Reformed Church of the creator of that Rutledge have settled down to as far as protesting and acting out against society to considering myself the loyal opposition of a government that is defying the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Colorado, the Homeworld Charter, the city of Centennial. Anyway, empty been busy and trying to Keep the City Council on the straight and narrow we’ll see what happens God help us all Amen bye