Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hello all those British Quaker bloggers out there!

I've been talking to Jeremiah and Robin about what other British Quaker blogs exist and Robin suggested that I do a list. So, as a kind of addendum to Martin's list, here goes.

Martin mentions Simon's Under the Green Hill and Jez of The Friend's Quaker Street. I have a few more favourites including Jeremiah's Fire in the Bones , Heather's Still Life and Daniel's Sitting Down for Something.

More blogs I have just found, added to my Bloglines subscriptions [thanks for the tip Robin!] and am enjoying are A Tentative Quaker, Mister JTA's Electric Quaker II, Ray's Quaker-Buddhist Dharmakara's Prayer, Laura's Silentblog and M. Willis Monroe.

As Jeremiah notes quite a few British Quaker Meetings have blogs although most use them more as a kind of newsletter than in a personal, reflective way. Two exceptions to this rule which both have several contributors writing thoughtful and often challenging posts are Beeston Quakers and Sheffield Quakers.

So who have I missed? If you are a British Quaker and have a blog of any kind or if you would not give yourself the BQ label but still blog about British Quakerism or Quakers in general I would love to get in touch. Are there more of us out there and if not why not I wonder. Over to you!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More of the 5-thing

Just a note to mention a few more answers to this by Heather and Alivia

I'm just fascinated by all these links between us and if I find any more will post more links - and so on ad infinitum!

Please feel free to comment and let me know if I've missed any.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Joining in with memes

There have been quite a few memes on the blogs I usually read lately and I have really enjoyed reading them. I always like finding out about other people even in the rather shorthand way that memes provide.

When I had read a few I really wanted to join in but in general memes are spread around by tagging and it is against the rules to answer the questions if you haven't been tagged. I am not by nature a rule-breaker so I stayed quiet - but kept reading of course.

Eventually I began to feel like my much younger self, standing in the school playground waiting to be picked for a team, being left until last and too shy to put my hand up and say "Me me too". So I was really happy to come across Robin's Meme of fives which she was too tired to tag and so left open. I replied to it - although perhaps I should have put it here rather than in a comment - I'm new to all this!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Failing to turn inside out?

Once upon a time, well in 1994 actually, I set out on a journey round Britain Yearly Meeting as a Joseph Rowntree Fellow with a project called 'What canst thou say?' I was trying to reintroduce Friends and others to the tradition of spiritual autobiography, not just as an historical exercise but as a way of sharing our different spiritual journeys with one another.

Eventually I wrote a book about the fellowship called Turning inside out, a title that expressed what for me seemed the most important part of the exercise. I was trying to encourage Friends to look inside themselves and think about their spiritual journey, then to write about it and eventually to turn the inside out and share that spiritual autobiography with others in whatever way and at whatever time seemed right for them. I also stressed that it was equally important to listen to others' stories even if they were very different from our own.

When I started out I was reacting to what I saw as a sense of isolation among British Friends and a lack of opportunity to share our spiritual journeys with one another. More than one person told me that the only time they were given such an opportunity was when they were visited after they applied for membership!

I continued giving the workshops for nearly ten years after the fellowship ended but although what I had to say was generally well received I ended with a sense of failure. It seemed to me that people were happy with the first steps, looking at their spiritual autobiography and even writing it for themselves, but that turning inside out and sharing it with others, as well as listening to others' different experience was much more difficult.

Certainly over the years the practice of spiritual autobiography has become much more widespread, particularly in America and through blogging, but I still feel that there is a problem with British Friends. Perhaps we really are more reserved and uncomfortable with personal disclosure. Perhaps it is tied up with our increasing individualism and the idea that anything goes. If we are not looking for a way to draw together and discern a way forward as a group, if we are only looking for other like-minded people to feel comfortable with, then we do not have to acknowledge our differences and can dismiss the 'other'.

When I came across the convergent conversation in the blogosphere I felt an excitement and hope that I had not felt for some time. I thought that what I had tried to do before had failed but that now perhaps what I need to do is to ask the questions of British Friends again, to encourage them to make connections in love with the 'difficult' people and beliefs in their own yearly meeting and in the rest of the Quaker world.