Editor’s Introduction, #16

This issue marks the tenth anniversary of Quaker Theology. It was in the autumn of 1999 when Ann Riggs and I set out on this continuing journey.

The math of our venture, however, is out of whack. The plan was to publish two issues per year. We kept to it tolerably well for the first few annums, and there was no lack of material.

So for the librarians and mathematicians among our readers: you’re right that two issues per year x 10 years should make this Issue #20.

But it’s not. Life got in the way. You know the drill: war, the economy; more war, more economy; rinse and repeat.

So we’ve fallen behind. My academic friends tell me this is not unknown in the world of small journals, put out by volunteer effort. Still, my apologies for the delays.

Paid subscribers need not be dismayed by this erratic record, however: subscriptions are for a year and two issues; the subscription continues until you receive the two issues, however long that takes.

And this Issue #16 is one worth waiting for. It’s packed with potent contributions to thoughtful Quaker discourse and seeking.

It begins with an exclusive excerpt from Philip Gulley’s forthcoming book, which will extend the author’s reputation for raising provocative issues for church folks, this time about the “Christian” church itself. Plus an update on the efforts to deprive him of his ministerial credentials in Western Yearly Meeting of Indiana.

This is followed by a literary exploration into the use of metaphors for Light and Seed, especially in early Quaker expression. Their use was pervasive, and often hazardous. Jnana Hodson believes that metaphor and theology inter-relate to the point that the connection deserves to be teased out.

Next we have an international contribution to our “Narrative Theology” series, by Jeanne Henriette Louis, the Clerk of France Yearly Meeting. French Quakerism is a small band, but it has an intriguing 200-year history that has largely gone untold. Let’s hope this piece can be a beginning of that telling, en anglais.

Steve Angell’s description of Howard Thurman’s long history with Friends is particularly timely here, not only for its intrinsic interest, but also as a case study of the more-mixed-than-we’d-like-to-admit record of Friends when it comes to race, which is addressed elsewhere in this issue.

At the heart of the issue is a multi-faceted consideration of one of the more talked-about scholarly Quaker books of the past few years, Holiness, the Soul of Quakerism by Carole Dale Spencer. First up is a head-to-head exchange involving Spencer and historian Thomas Hamm. Hamm’s book The Transformation of American Quakerism is extensively discussed by Spencer, and this is the first time they have “met” to dialogue about her analysis.

A review of Spencer’s work by your Editor follows, examining several other aspects of her thesis.

The issue concludes with one more review of a widely-noted new study, the book Fit for Freedom, Not For friendship, which lifts the curtain on the relationship of the Society of Friends in the United states and black Americans, and exposes, in the words of the subtitle, “the myth of racial justice.”

All in all a very substantive collection; enjoy, and let us hear from you.

– Chuck Fager, Editor

PS. Our Co-Editor Ann Riggs is “on leave” for awhile, as she has taken up the position of Acting Head of the Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya. Keep her in your prayers in this critical assignment.

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