Writing Opportunity: Language of Faith

Fast Facts:

Our December 2021 issue will look at “Language of Faith.” How do a people most renowned for our silence actually go about talking about spiritual insights?
Some ideas we’re considering:

  • We’ve accumulated a lot of peculiar Quaker jargon over the years. When is it helpful to have our own language to discuss process and organization, and when is it just confusing to potential newcomers? When might a fluency in Quaker lingo simply mark insiders vs. outsiders and limit the sharing of important spiritual truths?
  • Many North American Friends have advanced educations, and our language and vocabulary often reflect that. When is it important to simplify language, i.e., to attempt to reach a wider audience by writing for, say, someone with an eighth-grade education? What spiritual truths are unveiled when we simplify language? Which ones might be oversimplified or obscured?
  • How has our language changed over time? A typical page of a classic Quaker journal might have half a dozen biblical references, while today we use “the Light” and “the Spirit” (or lately just “Spirit” without a definite article) to do a lot of heavy lifting. When are particular metaphors helpful, and when might they be obscure, or even off putting?
  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity in language. This could include subjects such as gendered language and the sharing of pronouns; the avoidance of metaphors arising from disabilities, such as “blind”; evolving language that has taken on different meanings from those we intended, such as the use of “overseer” as a role in meeting. An article could also touch on linguistic prejudice, the use of non-standard English in writing, or accents in spoken words.
  • We can look at the literal languages of our faith: an English religious tradition is now practiced in many non-English-speaking areas. How does our Quaker language flex across different spoken languages? (Note: we had an issue on Quakers in Translation a year ago.)

Submit: Language of Faith

Other upcoming issues:

  • Quaker Heros (Jan. 2022, due Oct. 18, 2021)
  • Unthemed (Feb. 2022, due Nov. 15, 2021)
  • Safety in Meetings (March 2022, due Dec. 20, 2021)

Learn more general information at Friendsjournal.org/submissions.