50 episodes

"What do Quakers believe?" It's a hard question for a lot of Quakers to answer, but we're going to try. We'll talk about beliefs early Quakers took for granted and how modern Quakers unite with or deviate from them. Hopefully, listeners will learn to appreciate the variety found in Quakerism and the religious roots of so many of our "pecularities."

Quaker Faith & Podcast Quaker Faith & Podcast

    • Christianity

"What do Quakers believe?" It's a hard question for a lot of Quakers to answer, but we're going to try. We'll talk about beliefs early Quakers took for granted and how modern Quakers unite with or deviate from them. Hopefully, listeners will learn to appreciate the variety found in Quakerism and the religious roots of so many of our "pecularities."

    Death #50

    Death #50

    This time we’re talking about death and how Quakers handle it. We cover Quaker memorial services/meetings/funerals and burial practices. Also, trigger warning for anyone sensitive to discussion of suicide, toward the end we talk about death with dignity laws.

    Transcript

    Mackenzie: Hi, welcome back to Quaker Faith and Podcast. We are your hosts, Mackenzie and Micah. Today we’ve decided that we are going to talk about death. So just imagine me back in my high school goth phase.

    Micah: And just imagine me being completely as I always am.

    Micah: Before we got started recording, we were just talking about how we feel like Quakers have … particularly some kinds of Quakers … have particular ways of dealing with death, both in terms of how we think about what happens when you die, what’s the meaning of death, but also in terms of what’s the meaning of the body, what’s the body valued at, is it important to have the body for a funeral, or is it normal to cremate the body and have a memorial service later and all sorts of things.

    Micah: I feel like I’ve definitely noticed sort of Quaker traditions and folk ways around dealing with those sorts of things that may be different from other groups in the US.

    Mackenzie: I grew up Catholic, which has like a thing about having to have … Well, they now allow cremation, but it’s very much normal for Catholics that you’re going to have a body and you’re going to have a funeral within about a week of death, usually more like three or four days. The reason that they usually have the body and not cremation is because of believing in the physical resurrection of the dead at the end times. Although they do allow cremation now. So for me moving into Quakers, it’s been like, “Wait, you wait a month before you do something after someone dies?”

    Micah: Yeah. I always thought that whole being skittish about cremation because the resurrection was a little bit weird, because tons of people die in shipwrecks and airline accidents and all sorts of other ways where the body is like dissolved. Furthermore, when you bury someone, I mean give it a hundred years, that body is just dust.

    Mackenzie: [inaudible 00:02:21]

    Micah: I don’t see how it’s really different.

    Mackenzie: Skeletons marching down the street.

    Micah: I don’t know anything about this. Do you know how long a skeleton lasts?

    Mackenzie: They find ones from thousands of years ago, and certainly there are Catholic saint relics that are as old as Catholicism.

    Micah: Well that’s fair. But they embalm those suckers. We got like St Peter’s big toe embalmed in some kind of fluid or something, right?

    Mackenzie: In theory, the things that are relics are things that were miraculously preserved without embalming.

    Micah: Oh, right. Yeah. Because you got … the miracle proves it’s the real deal.

    Mackenzie: Right.

    Micah: Yeah. It would have been-

    Mackenzie: Bones are just calcium carbonate. So like …

    Micah: Right. It would’ve been good if I had done any research before this episode, because I don’t know the answer to basic questions. Like when you cremate someone, what happens to the bones?

    Mackenzie: They also get burned.

    Micah: They actually burn the bones or do they have to like crush them?

    Mackenzie: Kind of both.

    Micah: Yeah. That’s-

    Mackenzie: There are little bone bits in there. It’s gritty.

    Micah: That’s kind of disturbing.

    Micah: Another piece of research that proba...

    • 36 min
    Nontheist Quakers #49

    Nontheist Quakers #49

    Sam Barnett-Cormack calls in to talk about nontheist Quakers. Sam is one. This has been requested by a few listeners.

    Micah is currently moving cross-country to be co-pastor (with his wife) at Berkeley Friends Church, so everybody wish him well. He’ll be back when things settle a little.

    Transcript

    Mackenzie: Hi. Welcome back to Quaker Faith and Podcast. This is Mackenzie, your host. Micah is not with us right now. He has just accepted a new post as a co-pastor at Berkeley Friends Church in California so he is in the middle of a cross country move.

    Mackenzie: And we have a guest today of Sam Barnett-Cormack … I hope I said that correctly … from the UK.

    Sam: Hi, yep, yep. You got that right. Hello, everyone.

    Mackenzie: We’ve been asked several times to have an episode about specifically about nontheist friends because we mention them from time to time but neither Micah nor I is one anymore. And Sam is a very vocal nontheist friend online so I asked him to join us.

    Sam: Glad to be here.

    Mackenzie: So, I guess we’ll just start with how do you define nontheism?

    Sam: Well, there’s two ways for me to answer that. One is the really broad way that I see it as an analytical category and the other is to talk about what I actually feel or believe or however you want to phrase it. Obviously, that fits into the analytical category I would use. And I say analytical category because I don’t ever want to tell someone what label they should be using.

    Mackenzie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Sam: But sometimes it’s useful when you’re looking at the huge range of beliefs among friends to be able to categorize just for that purpose of looking at the differences. So, in the broad sense, it comes down to how I learnt from a rather eccentric religious education teacher the idea of what theism is. And there are a few different definitions out there. But I’ve always stuck with the one that I learned at school because it makes sense to me and seems quite useful.

    Sam: And it’s the idea that being a theistic God or Gods, and a God is theistic if they have identity. They are a being. They have preferences, wants, desires. And they are willing and able to act directly in our world. So, I would categorize a view of God or whatever label you want to use as non-theistic if it doesn’t meet all of those criteria.

    Mackenzie: I know this has been a point where we have discovered that we label things differently. I used to call myself pantheist and I know that you would say that that is a nontheist way of thinking and I would think of it pantheist one.

    Sam: I’ve spoken to pantheist friends who I would categorize their belief as nontheistic and also I would categorize as theistic. So, you know, pantheism is this idea that everything is God, to put it simply. And then, the question there just becomes whether this Geshtalt entity of everything has a personality of its own that we can only, as the parts of that great thing, see part of.

    Sam: So, for me, a theistic pantheist would believe that this universe God has a personality of its own independent of any of us and has things it wants to see happen and is able to affect things within itself. Whereas, a nontheist pantheist would see there being no independent personality of the Geshtalt might see it as a completely impersonal being that incorporates everything.

    Sam: And there’s a lot of fuzzy edges here and it can be very hard to talk about some things without, especially in Quaker experience, without ascribing the idea of will to the divine.

    Mackenzie: Especially when we get into things like business method.

    Sam: Absolutely. Absolutely.

    • 44 min
    Missionaries #48

    Missionaries #48

    This time we’re talking about a recent incident. A man named John Chau went to North Sentinel. He intended to talk to people whose language he didn’t know in order to bring them to Christ. He ended up dead. This is bringing up all sorts of ethical questions about missionaries working overseas.

    We talk about how Robert Barclay’s theological assertion about universal redemption fits in.

    God, in and by this light and seed, invites, calls, exhorts, and strives with every man, in order to save him. If this light is received and not resisted, it works the salvation of all, even of those who are ignorant of the death and sufferings of Christ, and of Adam’s fall.

    When you believe a person is doomed to Hell for not hearing about Jesus, you end up with a different take on this than someone who thinks knowing Jesus’ story isn’t strictly necessary. We talked more about this in our episode on the Church visible and invisible.

    Another topic we touch on is where missionary energy should be directed. This guy was focused on people who’d had no contact with Christianity before. How does that compare to focusing on people who are lapsed?

    We also talk about the dangers outsiders pose. Despite media coverage saying the island is “uncontacted,” they have had some contact. The first known contact was really traumatic and during the lives of the current inhabitants’ grandparents. More recent contact has been by anthropologists, and they gave opinions on how to form relationships rather than just charging in. It builds up to language acquisition (though some of us do believe the Holy Spirit can miraculously provide language skills when needed).

    And then a detour onto climate change. We need to figure out what guest we want for that.

    References



    * Johan Maurer’s blog post

    * New York Times coverage

    * Bartolomé de las Casas

    * Twitter thread on the history of North Sentinel

    * Romans 10:14–18

    * The Nativity Story

    * The Passion of the Christ (…made by an antisemite, so this is not an endorsement)

    * Dogma

    * Luke 17:21

    * Chabad



    Transcript

    Speaker 1: Welcome to Quaker Faith and Podcast where we will explore traditional Quaker beliefs and variety of Quaker beliefs found today.

    Mackenzie: Welcome back to Quaker Faith and Podcast with your hosts, Mackenzie and Micah. This time we’re going to be talking about a recent news story, or we’re inspired by a recent news story of a guy named John, went to an island in the Indian Ocean and attempted to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. He did not survive this encounter and there’s a little bit of history regarding this island and outsiders, which probably plays it well, surely plays into this, but it has resulted in a whole bunch of sort of moral debates.

    Micah: Yeah. I mean, there are several questions that I think people of a variety of religious and cultural and philosophical backgrounds can have. It was illegal for this man to go to this island because the Indian government had cordoned it off to preserve them from contact. Was it wrong to break Indian law to go to this islan...

    • 38 min
    Prayer #47

    Prayer #47

    This is another guest episode. When Hye Sung was on the show talking about charismatic gifts, we mentioned our good friend Elijah a few times. Elijah is a student at the same Quaker seminary Micah attended: Earlham School of Religion. Through Quaker Voluntary Service, he was a pastoral intern at West Hills Friends Church a couple years ago. Now, he’s working on starting a new LGBTQ+ affirming Friends church in his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas: Solomon’s Porch. Last time, talking with Micah about centering, Mackenzie said she uses intercessory prayer to center. With Hye Sung, we also touched on intercessory prayer in terms of miraculous healing. Mackenzie has come across someone saying “Quakers don’t pray,” so, this time, we’re going to look at different types of prayer.

    Holding in the Light

    A common phrase used especially by Liberal Quakers (but also sometimes others) is “holding you in the Light.” (Or holding someone else in the Light.) Some people really like this phrase because it doesn’t imply that there’s a God. Others use it as simply Quaker-ese for “I’m praying for you.” Some people aren’t a fan of it for strictly theological reasons. Others aren’t fans because so much religious language says or implies “light is good, and dark is bad” and what that can say about race.

    Some people hold in the Light by visualizing a glow around a person. Others use words.

    Loud or quiet?

    Praying out loud seems to be really uncommon for Liberal Quakers. Programmed Friends aren’t strangers to praying out loud. Conservative unprogrammed Friends aren’t either. They have a tradition of kneeling (and men removing hats) when praying during meeting for worship. Elijah is one of Mackenzie’s dearest friends, and she can barely bring herself to say a few sentences of out-loud prayer in front of him. We talk about the upsides of praying aloud in a group.

    Prayer theory

    Elijah gave us fancy seminary vocabulary words. Cataphatic prayer has words or pictures or sounds or feelings. When you envision someone illuminated by the Light, that’s cataphatic. When you pray “God, please take care of my friend,” that’s cataphatic. On the other hand, apophatic prayer is self-emptying. It’s an empty space for God to fill. We think meeting for worship is a type of apophatic prayer.

    We discuss the idea that a major effect of prayer is changing the person who’s praying. Kierkegaard said it as “prayer does not change God, but changes him who prays.” The Epistles of James says you have to do the work to help a person when you pray for them. By praying for someone else, we become less self-centered. Elijah talks about praying vulnerably and being able to be more vulnerable with a friend.

    If there is anything you would like us to pray for for you, please let us know in the comments.

    References



    * Isabel Penraeth’s entry on “holding you in the Light”

    * James 2



    Transcript

    Mackenzie: Welcome to Quaker Faith & Podcast, where we will explore traditional Quaker beliefs, and the variety of Quaker beliefs found today.

    Welcome back to Quaker Faith & Podcast. Today, I’m here. I’m Mackenzie. I am here with a guest, my friend Elijah. Say hello.

    Elijah: Hey, friends.

    • 28 min
    Centering #46

    Centering #46

    This time we’re talking about centering. Last time, Christy mentioned centering prayer as a Buddhist/Catholic practice with Quaker overlap.

    Transcript

    Speaker 1: Welcome to Quaker Faith and Podcast where we will explore traditional Quaker beliefs and the variety of Quaker beliefs found today.

    Mackenzie: Welcome back to Quaker Faith and Podcast with Mackenzie and Micah. This time we’ve decided that we want to talk about centering, how we get centered when we’re sitting in unprogrammed worship.

    Micah: I got to say, I’m ready for this episode because I haven’t felt centered in many a day, so maybe I need this more than anybody.

    Mackenzie: I think lots of people have different techniques that they come up with for how to get centered and so we’ll just talk about ones that we’re aware of and then, hopefully, listeners, you can pop up in the comments on our website and let us know other techniques you use for getting centered.

    Micah: Before we go down that road, maybe could we talk a little bit about what getting centered is because I’m not sure that’s self-explanatory?

    Mackenzie: Right. We talk about in unprogrammed worship that we are listening for messages from the Divine or from God. It’s getting into that mindset to listen. For some people that means trying to clear all the thoughts out to their head like with meditation, but I think there are other ways people think about it.

    Micah: Yeah, so I guess one of the questions would be centering on what? For example, Mackenzie and I both work in software development and I think we probably both have the experience of, probably recently, of we’re working on solving some problem and we just get totally immersed in the problem. An hour can go by and it’s as if it’s been a few minutes.

    In a way, you could say that we were centered in that moment, we were centered on the problem. We were united with it and that was like the axis upon which we were revolving. Maybe centering is a broader phenomenon, but I think, as Mackenzie said, we’re specifically talking about centering on God’s presence and centering on an awareness of God’s presence and our receptiveness to being changed and moved and directed by that presence.

    Mackenzie: Although, I know saying God’s presence might feel very uncomfortable for a lot of people. When I first started coming to meeting, saying the Inner Light would have been a lot more comfortable for me.

    Micah: Yeah. Yeah, for me it’s all Jesus. For me, talking about God is pretty neutral space.

    Mackenzie: I’ve finally gotten more used to you doing that over the almost two years we’ve been doing this.

    All right, before we started recording, I said that the way that I tend to center now is that I pray silently. I’ll often be doing praying for my friends and that sort of thing until I run out of words. I think that that running out of words might be also what people think of for when their holding in the Light, but I think we want to do a separate episode on that topic in particular.

    Micah: No, that’s super interesting too because obviously, it’s going to depend on personality. For me, it’s often the opposite of this. It’s only when I get centered that I feel like I can speak properly. The words come after the centering, in general, for me so that’s really interesting.

    Mackenzie: Okay, yeah. For me, I will, anytime I have a quiet moment, I will silently say a prayer for whoever in my life needs that. It’s when I run out of anything more to say, it’s just I hit the point of what God’s...

    • 21 min
    Quaker Hybrids #45

    Quaker Hybrids #45

    This time, Quaker academic Christy Randazzo joins us as a guest. They’ve studied all sorts of aspects of Quakerism, and this time we’re dealing with Quaker hybrids. Especially in the liberal Quaker world, you’ll find all sorts of Quaker hybrids. Some have cute names, like Quaker Pagans calling themselves “Quagans” and Quaker Catholics being “Quatholics.”

    We talk about various Quaker hybrids we’ve heard of. Mostly Christy talks. They talk about how Quakerism is really flexible, and people can easily bring in bits of whatever their previous tradition was. Three particular Catholic practices that show up are mentioned. Except, well, one of those Catholic practices is actually Buddhist. And we hear about Ham Seok-heon, a Korean Quaker who found the overlaps in Quakerism, Buddhism, and other ideas brought by Japanese colonists in Japan. From this, he created a Korean version of Quakerism.

    We also ponder (a little) what practices or beliefs in other religions could be incompatible with liberal Quakerism.

    References



    * Face to Face by T Vail Palmer Jr

    * Lectio Divina

    * Ignatian Contemplation (or “imaginative prayer”)

    * Ham Seok-heon



    Transcript

    Speaker 2: Welcome to Quaker Faith and Podcast, where we will explore traditional Quaker beliefs and a variety of Quaker beliefs found today.

    Mackenzie: Welcome back to Quaker Faith and Podcast. This time it’s me, Mackenzie, and I’ve got a guest, Christy Randazzo. Christy is someone who I met through Micah and friends with Jesus. They were in Philadelphia, and it turns out that they are also a nerd about Quaker stuff.

    Christy: Well, I guess you could say nerd. That seems to be putting it a bit boldly. I’m an academic, I guess, by training. I was a youth minister for a long time in the Episcopal church, and then I got the Quaker bug and was convinced. By that point I decided I wanted to get involved in studying theology more seriously, I guess.

    Christy: I got a master’s in Theology, then I got a masters in Reconciliation and Peace Theology. And then I just finished up my doctorate from the University of Birmingham in Quaker Theology and wrote my dissertation and have published in, I don’t know, anything that anybody wants me to publish in I’ve been like, sure, why not? I’ll write on that topic. There just aren’t that many academically trained Quaker Theologians out there. We are the few the proud and you know, the active, shall we speak, because someone’s got to write this stuff. So. Yeah.

    Mackenzie: And I still haven’t actually gotten a chance to read your whole thesis, although you did let me see one chapter. Well, edit one chapter. So we talked about this time we wanted to chat about hybrid Quaker stuff, or hyphenated Quakers, although I think we were also giggling about the creative names that exist instead of using hyphens like Quackens.

    Christy: Yes. Quaker pagans. There’s also Quathiests, for Quaker atheists or non theists. Let’s see, I’ve heard, Quatholics, for Quaker Catholics, Quanglicans for Quaker Anglicans, there are a great number of those of which I guess I would kind of suit one of them. At that point you sort of reach the level of the ridiculous. There isn’t really one for Quaker Jewish because Quwish doesn’t really sound good. Quaker Buddhist, Quaddhist doesn’t really work so it sort of falls apart after a while.

    Mackenzie: So,

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

NorthDakotaTeen ,

My Midwestern Methodist endorsement

I’ve been looking for a while to learn about Friends as they exist today in all their diversity. This podcast filled an empty spot in the podcast universe and has a great format!

Izreal ,

Pretty Good

🙏🏼

Benjy Bear ,

History, not contemporary Quakerism

This podcast is a (frequently hair-splitting) discussion of topics that are often only of historical interest; it's not a good introduction to Quakerism as it's practiced day to day in the US or Britain today.

I'm afraid I lost the will to live, or anyhow to listen, when the discussion plunged into Old Testament agreements between God and humanity and hair coverings for women, because for the vast, vast majority of Quakers worldwide such things are utterly irrelevant.

(The practice of hair coverings for women actually feels more like creative anachronism than Quaker practice; Quaker women today do not, overwhelmingly, feel the need to wear little caps, just as Quakers today do not use "thee" and "thou". Most Quakers today feel that these kinds of antiquated outward practices do far more to separate Quakers from other people and alienate outsiders than they do to bespeak important matters of faith.) This is, in short, frequently a backward-looking podcast; there are others that are fine introductions to what modern Quakers care about, believe, and discuss.

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