Quakers and Decision Makers
July 11, 2023
Season 2, episode 2. In this episode of Quakers Today we ask, What Do You Desire?
- Linda Seger speaks about Circle Thinking. It is counter-cultural, highly effective, and something Quakers have been doing for a very long time. Her article, “Circle Thinking, A Quaker Model of Leadership” appears in the June/July 2023 issues of Friends Journal. Linda is the author of 34 books, including Beyond Linear Thinking: Changing the Way We Live and Work. Read Carl Blumenthal’s review of Linda’s book online FriendsJournal.org. Linda has been a Quaker for over 50 years. She has a ThD in Religion and the Arts and MA degrees in Feminist Theology, Religion and the Arts, Drama and Theology, and Drama. She has given seminars on writing in 33 countries around the world. She lives in Cascade, Colorado.
- Christopher Cuthrell is the new video producer of the QuakerSpeak Project. He tells us a little about himself and why he is excited about Season 10 of QuakerSpeak videos. Learn more about Christopher through Gail Whiffen’s Friends Journal interview with him. In it he talks about his film and animation work including the beautiful animated short film, The Boy and the Moon.
- Learn about the new book Susanna and Alice, Quaker Rebels: The Story of Susanna Parry and Her Cousin Alice Paul By Leslie Mulford Denis. This true story set 100 years ago brings to life the struggles, victories, and important relationships these two cousins experienced. Read Claire Salkowski’s review in the August 2023 issues of Friends Journal.
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 do you desire?
Question for next month
For the August episode of Quakers Today we ask the question, What was a time in your life when you rebelled and why?
Rebelling against society norms and breaking the rules may have gotten you in trouble. In the end you may have decided that it was totally worth it. Or you may have regretted the rebellion even if the cause seemed right.
What was a time in your life when you rebelled and why?
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.
Quakers Today is the companion podcast to Friends Journal and other Friends Publishing Corporation (FPC) content online.
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. To learn more, visit AFSC.org
Feel free to send comments, questions, and requests for our new show. Email us at email@example.com.
Music from this episode comes from Epidemic Sound. You heard Strapt and Alone in Swan Lake by Pandaraps, My Lifeline by Hector Gabriel, Stillness Within by Roots and Recognition, Morning Hike by Linsey Abraham, Morning Mist by Staffan Carlen,and El Que La Hace La Paga by Wendy Mancini.
Transcript for Quakers and Decision Makers
Peterson Toscano, Linda Seger, Christopher Cuthrell, Barbara Lukey, Terry Irish, Sunny Potchem
Peterson Toscano 00:03
In this episode of Quakers Today we ask, “What do you desire?” Linda Sager speaks about circle thinking. It is countercultural, highly effective and something Quakers have been doing for a very long time. Christopher Cuthrell is the new video producer of the QuakerSpeak project. He tells us a little about himself and why he is excited about season 10 of Quaker speak videos. Also, a new book about two Quaker rebels Susanna Parry and her cousin Alice Paul. I am Peterson Toscano. This is season two episode two of Quakers Today podcast, a project of Friends Publishing Corporation. This season of Quakers Today is sponsored by American Friends Service Committee.
Linda Seger 00:55
Quakers are one of the few religious groups that were not formed around the hierarchical patriarchal model, which is sometimes called linear thinking.
Peterson Toscano 01:06
That’s Linda Seger, reading from her article “Circle Thinking, a Quaker Model of Leadership.” Linda is the author of 34 books, including Beyond Linear Thinking, Changing the Way we Live and Work. In it, she reveals her underlying philosophical approach to personal, professional and spiritual fulfillment. As a script consultant for Hollywood films, Linda observed serious flaws in the decision making process. Turns out this same flawed model of leadership has permeated much of the corporate world and church history. Linda shares with us a model that may sound familiar to some Quakers. It is also a model that reflects the values of many young activists today,
Linda Seger 01:55
I was a script consultant in the industry for almost 40 years. I retired about three years ago. And the part of my career I keep going is writing books.
Linda Seger 02:06
(reading from article) In Christian hierarchical church models, God is at the top, then there are the angels, the authority figures, such as Archbishops, and bishops, then priests or preachers and then lay leaders. The rest of the congregation sits in the pews and receives the teaching and direction of those above them.
Linda Seger 02:29
I got an MA in feminist theology. And one of the things that I looked at in my career as a business owner and a script consultant was this whole hierarchy way of thinking, the patriarchy, the corporate ladder, who’s on top, who’s on the bottom, which we sometimes call linear thinking.
Linda Seger 02:51
(reading from article) This model ranks people by who is on top of the ladder, and who are the underlings. It divides people and determines who is important, and who is less important.
Linda Seger 03:07
In my graduate work, one of the things my teacher said is, you know, what do we call it if we move off that model. So I got to thinking about the circle, what I call circle thinking, which is about teamwork. And people being acknowledged for different gifts within the circle. Quakerism is built on that model, we sit in a circle, we don’t have that authority as the head, we are supposed to listen to each other, and to recognize each other’s gifts, and we form committees. So my book, Beyond Linear Thinking, looks at what linear thinking is, what circle thinking is what spiral thinking is, and then the web, because the web is the circle that keeps expanding outwards. And in many ways, Quakers really are web thinkers, you know, you think we’re associated with the American Friends Service Committee and the National Committee and Quakers Friends Legislation, and we move into the globe. It’s not just our monthly meetings, it’s our regional, it’s our yearly, it’s our global outreach. It’s not just about our little meetings, it’s about reaching out like peace and justice groups and other organizations. And we keep expanding and connecting.
Linda Seger 04:30
Linear thinking holds information; it holds it at the top and it doesn’t share, which is hard to do now with the internet and information being so accessible. But circle thinking shares information. Whoever you are, if you have a need to know, you should know. You know, it’s always good to question authority. I think some of the younger people do that more than some of the older people that fall in line and want that authority figure so that they can say, well, he said I am to do this, or this is what he said and not thinking through.
Linda Seger 05:08
One of the things I like, have like so much real Quakers and I’ve been a Quaker for over 50 years, that sense of reflection and pondering to say you don’t just swallow it whole, you don’t line up behind a guru. And you certainly can respect authority, but you filter authority, you think it through for yourself, and you apply it for yourself, and you try to keep working on your inner self. Sometimes Quakers use the word now finding unity, but consensus is now being used in some businesses. We’ve moved our thinking in a lot of ways to collaboration, rather than just okay, whatever, whatever you say. Now, I’m not around young folk, a whole lot. But I would say generally, I think with a lot of people there is this movement toward you want to take in other people’s opinions. Definitely with Quakers, the best of Quakers, they listen, they take it in, they weigh at the group makes the decision. It works best when everyone takes responsibility that everyone is engaged. In healthy meetings, people listen, they engage, they move inward. If there’s conflict or anything like that, you move into it and engage with it and move through it rather than back off. I have so much respect and trust in Quaker processes; it’s just sometimes they’re not used. You’ll say you got a lot of you got a lot of tools here as a Quaker to work and in a move through conflict or disagreements or anything and certainly meetings have that.
Peterson Toscano 07:06
That was Linda Seger. Learn more about her and her many books at Linda sager.com And in the June/July issue of Friends Journal, you can read her article “Circle Thinking, a Quaker Model of Leadership” is also available at FriendsJournal.org.
Christopher Cuthrell 07:33
My name is Christopher Cuthrell. Coming into this new season of QuakerSpeak, and taking up the reigns of my predecessors, Rebecca and Jon has been a very intimidating process. But it’s also been a very eye opening experience to meet so many new people, to hear so many stories and to experience so much of the world that I hadn’t before.
Christopher Cuthrell 08:04
I primarily focus on filmmaking, whether it’s filled with a camera or with animation, but all the storytelling that I love to do typically comes down to just making videos. I have identity as an activist as well, specifically in being an advocate for people of color, and wanting to convey that through a lot of the storytelling that I do.
Christopher Cuthrell 08:31
I went to a Quaker school two Quaker schools for most of my life growing up from kindergarten to eighth grade, as well as going to a Quaker summer camp. For most of my life, I had understood Quakerism in the context of those schools and that count, and the way that Quakerism was portrayed was vastly different from what my understanding of Quakerism is now. The concepts and the theology of Quakerism were condensed down to very basic ideas that was far removed from the community of Quakerism. Experiencing that community now through Friends Journal and the world that that has opened up, I found Quakerism to be a much more open and accepting and loving community than I could have ever anticipated.
Christopher Cuthrell 09:29
When we talk about Quakerism in non-Quaker communities, there’s always somebody who is surprised and there and they say like, “Wait, Quakers still exist. I thought that was just something far removed in the past.” And it’s always a shock to people that the Quaker community is still a large and thriving and growing community. In the same way that Quakerism has survived into modernity, the experiences, the stories, the ideologies and the wisdom of people continue to grow and continue to change. And we have so many new stories to tell and so many new experiences to learn about.
Christopher Cuthrell 10:12
Something that we’re covering in this season that hasn’t been covered much is people who are differently abled, especially with the pandemic, creating more access to meeting for worship through Zoom meetings. It’s something that wasn’t really considered before but is now at the center of our conversation, despite differently abled people being a large part of the Quaker community. Even though there have been nine other seasons, everything coming in this season will be new stories, new experiences that will continue to open up different aspects of the Quaker community to everybody.
Peterson Toscano 10:55
That was Christopher Cuthrell, the video producer of the QuakerSpeak project, Christopher just premiered season 10 of QuakerSpeak videos, he will release a new video every other Thursday. To watch season 10 videos and the previous nine seasons, go to the QuakerSpeak channel on YouTube, or visit QuakerSpeak.com. Visit friendsjournal.org to read Gail Whiffen’s interview with Christopher. Christopher talks about his film and animation work including the beautiful animated short, The boy and the Moon.
Peterson Toscano 11:32
In the August 2023 issue of Friends Journal, Claire Salkowski reviews Lesley Munford, Denis’ book about Susan Parry, and Alice Paul. This true story, set 100 years ago, brings to life the struggles, victories and important relationships these two cousins experienced, “One who sacrificed dearly and had an enduring impact on women everywhere, and one who lived a quiet life hemmed in by dictates of her conservative Quaker family in Riverton, New Jersey. The story follows these revolutionary yet privileged new women of the 20th century. Alice Paul and Susanna Parry, cousins who were undoubtedly fond of each other and came of age at the turn of the century.” The book’s author, Leslie Mulford Denis is a descendent of the cousins. Much of the content comes from a box of letters discovered in the attic of another relative.
Peterson Toscano 12:35
In her review, Claire Salkowski writes, “Through the echo of a time long ago, the story of Susanna and her family, along with the exploits of her infamous cousin Alice, are revealed in the writings beginning in the early 1900s, when both cousins began their college careers. The author describes in illuminating detail the life and history of that time while weaving in the story of Susanna’s has and Alice’s life journey, which overlap through their family ties, whose trajectories take off in very different directions.” The review mentions a forbidden love affair, private and public challenges to overcome and victories to celebrate. The book is Susanna and Alice Quaker Rebels, the story of Susanna Parry and her cousin Alice Paul, it’s by Lesley Mulford Denis’ it was published by Oxford Southern. You could read more of Claire Salkowski’ review, along with reviews of other fine books in the August 2023 issue of Friends Journal, or at Friendsjournal.org.
Peterson Toscano 13:51
Thank you for joining me for this episode of Quakers Today. Visit QuakersToday.org to see our show notes and a full transcript of this episode. 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 changemakers visit afsc.org If you have a comment, suggestion or just want to say hi, you can email me podcast@friends journal.org TThank you friend. I look forward to spending more time with you soon.
Peterson Toscano 15:32
In a moment you will hear voicemails from listeners who answered the question, “What do you desire?” But first, I want to share with you next month’s question. Here it is. “What was a time in your life when you rebelled and why?: Rebelling against society norms and breaking the rules may have gotten you into trouble. In the end, you may have decided that it was totally worth it. Or you may have regretted the rebellion, even if the cause was right. “What was the time in your life when you rebelled and why?” Leave a voicemail with your name and the town where you live? The number to call is 317 Quakers. That’s 317.7825.377, plus one if calling from outside the USA. You can also send an email. I have these contact details in our show notes over at QuakersToday.org. Now we hear answers to the question. “What do you desire?”
Barbara Lukey 16:37
Hello, my name is Barbara Lukey. I’m a Quaker author at this stage in my life 73. I’m especially desiring of Quaker perspective on death and dying. This weekend, I’m going to the funeral of a very good friend. And lots of life’s questions are rising in my morning worship time. I would be interested in hearing on a podcast from various friends of their viewpoint on this important topic.
Terry Irish 17:16
Thank you. Well, this is Terry Irish calling from St. Paul, Minnesota. I hope for all of us that we can have a world where our generation as well as future generations can thrive without fear of the planet growing up. It’s quite a fear right now. I have three great nephews that are small yet and I fear for their future. Thank you
Hi I’m Sunny Potchem from Mastodon. I’m in Virginia and you asked about our desires. My desire is for peace. Not just the absence of war, which would be a great place to start, but we need to remove the causes of war. And that’s what stated in the Quaker testimony on. Peace. It’s hard work. It takes constant work, and the only work that we can do as individuals is to be at peace and share peace in our interactions with one another and with everyone with whom we come in contact. Thanks. Be at peace.