In Pendle Hill’s Upmeads library hangs a print of Edward Hicks’ The Peaceable Kingdom. Hicks (1780–1849) was a noted Quaker minister who lived in Newtown, Pennsylvania (about 45 miles northeast of Pendle Hill). He was also a painter at a time when Friends still shunned the arts. His great theme was the prophet Isaiah’s vision of the lamb and the wolf, the lion and the ox, the leopard and the goat living together in peace (Isaiah 11:6-9), an image of God’s realm on earth. . . .
Almost all [of the many] versions portray William Penn’s 1682 treaty and land purchase with the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) Indians in the background. Penn is seen standing between his fellow Quaker settlers and the Native American leaders beneath a large elm tree. With his right hand, he grasps the hand of the Indian chieftain over a sea chest full of goods in exchange for land. With his left, he points to the treaty of agreement. This scene is brought into relation to Isaiah’s vision by a child in the foreground who leads the animals with his left hand while holding an olive branch and pointing to the treaty site with his right. Hicks clearly viewed Penn’s treaty as a historic realization of Isaiah’s eschatological vision. Indeed, the early development of colonial Pennsylvania offers an inspiring exception to the generally unjust and violent relations between European settlers and Native Americans.
Hicks’ paintings are relevant to the story this book tells, a story of personality and place. From a sermon preached by Hicks in 1837, we know that he interpreted the different animals in Isaiah’s vision as various human personality types as they are realized and reconciled by the power of the light within. Thus, the peaceable kingdom is built upon the foundations of personal transformation in community. In the chapters that follow, we shall find that Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center near Philadelphia, was founded and sustained by a personalist philosophy, featuring a strong communitarian ethic.
Ten miles west of central Philadelphia, Pendle Hill persists today as a tiny residual enclave of Penn’s “Holy Experiment.” The venerable American beech behind Main House was a mere sapling when Penn received his colonial charter from Charles II in 1680, and in 1682 when the Quaker John Sharpless purchased the 1040-acre tract that includes the 23-acre Pendle Hill property. Today a scion of Penn’s Treaty Elm grows near that beech. With or without these historical and geographical reference points in mind, Pendle Hill is redolent with a sense of place. Stepping onto the grounds can feel like entering a force field that derives from several levels of community. A meditative walk around the perimeter path wends through a community of more than 150 species of trees. A community of worship is centered in the Barn, where Quaker meeting has taken place nearly every day for 80 years. The same room has been the site of an array of community meetings, classes, dramas, dances, musical performances, and lectures by speakers ranging from Jean Paul Sartre to Rabindranath Tagore and Dorothy Day. The Main House dining room is the site of endless rounds of shared community work and conversation. Nevertheless, the impinging presence of Interstate 476 and the desperate poverty of nearby Chester remind one that the peaceful place of Pendle Hill subsists within a larger socio-economic grid. Hence, the relentless processes of capitalist organization and differentiation of space will form the wider coordinates of Pendle Hill’s story.
Thus, Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom intimates a number of motifs that will be interwoven in the history that follows: Quaker-Christian faith and practice; personality in community; utopian social vision; nature mysticism; affinities with Native American and other earth-centered religious practices; spirituality and the arts; the search for racial justice and harmony; and the struggle to subsist and maintain a prophetic witness within a violent and corrosive economic system. This Introduction will establish the key coordinates of our study: personality and place within the historic conditions of modern capitalist society. . . .
Personalism, an all but forgotten stream of religious and political philosophy, was a generative force in several twentieth-century American, British and French movements. It has interacted with a variety of other philosophical streams, German idealism and existentialism in particular. Perhaps it is poorly remembered because it remained diffuse, or because the powerful forces of consumerism, the media, and technology have weakened the category of personality in our thought.
The Quaker poet Walt Whitman was the first self-described “personalist,” in 1868. But what is a person? A grotesque protuberance of nature (Rabelais)? A laboring appendage of capital (Marx)? A twitching node of the market? A cog in the bureaucratic apparatus (Weber)? An organic prosthesis of the machine? Against all such despairing estimations, personalists posit personhood as the starting point of all inquiry. The French personalist Emmanuel Mounier writes, “the person is not a cell, not even a social cell, but a summit from which all the highways of the world begin” (1962, p. 114). Gordon Parker Bowne, founder of American personalist philosophy, suggests that the person is ultimate reality, the only thing that cannot be explained by something else. Consciousness, he argues, cannot be accounted for on an impersonal basis, but everything else can be described from the reality of the person. One might easily assume personalism to be individualistic and subjective, but it is strongly communal and political. Mounier suggests, individualism is the very opposite of personalism and its dearest enemy.”
New personalist politics blossomed in postwar America, energized by figures such as Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and A. J. Muste. It found powerful expression in organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Students for a Democratic Society, the Free Speech Movement, and the Catholic Worker Movement. The anti-war, feminist, gay rights, and environmental movements were further outworkings of personalist politics. But as personalism expanded to become a counterculture, it was neutralized by the consumerist impulses of a burgeoning American economy. It sometimes turned toward a faith in childhood (beginning with flower children in the latter 1960s) emphasizing original innocence over the hard-won dignity of personhood, sometimes reducing accountable persons to helpless victims.
This study will reveal personalism to be the guiding vision in Pendle Hill’s founding and first 40 years. In particular, we will discover the personalist thought and intentions of key figures such as Rufus Jones, Henry Hodgkin, Howard Brinton, Dan Wilson and Maurice Friedman. We will chart the decline of personalist vision over the second 40 years, but we will also recognize its continuing, unconscious influence in Pendle Hill’s institutional logic and community life.
Personalism and Quakerism appear to have peculiar affinity: the traditional Quaker emphasis upon “that of God in every one” impels Friends to search for and engage the divine presence in the uniqueness of each individual, and to seek the will of God through communal processes of discernment. Whitman’s Quaker background may have inspired his impromptu use of the term “personalist.”
As postmodernist theologian Mark C. Taylor (1982, p. 89) has observed, once modernism had proclaimed the death of God, the postmodernist death of the centered self soon followed. (The humorist Wally Shawn quipped, “You ask me if I believe in God? Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘me.’”) The story of Pendle Hill offers a narrative microcosm of the larger struggle to reclaim and sustain personhood.
Marxist geographer David Harvey (1996) has given considerable attention to place and the growing literature on the subject in recent decades. Like space and time, we construe place socially. Social entities achieve relative stability through boundaries and internal ordering, for a time. Such relative stability defines a “place.” Thus, “Pendle Hill” can be located on a spatial grid of latitude and longitude. It can be located in terms of state, county, and township. It can be temporally specified by more than 80 years of duration thus far. But it is a place because various stories can be told about it.
Places are constructed within the flux and flow of capital circulation and expansion. They arise within territorial networks and divisions of labor. Concentrations of labor and capital produce differentiation, otherness, segregation, social tensions, and class struggle across space. Financial speculation pits capital factions against each other and generates competition between places, producing winners and losers. Thus, affluent Wallingford, Pennsylvania (Pendle Hill’s geographical location) is situated less than five miles from poverty-stricken Chester, with the de facto racial segregation that typically accompanies class division in the United States. So, while the sense of place is powerful in Pendle Hill’s internal story, we must keep referencing it to this larger story on the larger grid.
Joseph Schumpeter characterized capitalism as “creative destruction.” Old Places are devalued and destroyed, and new ones are created in the same space. Since 1970, the rates of creative destruction and of competition between places have intensified 1n response to highly mobile multinational capital. . . . We shall follow the fortunes of Chester as a loser in this competition among places, alongside Pendle Hill’s efforts to maintain itself as a nonprofit place within a capitalist system–an increasingly acute struggle after 1970.
SHIFTS IN THE HISTORY OF CAPITALISM
Marx teaches that capitalism alienates human consciousness. The commodification of nature into marketable objects for consumption and the commodification of human activity into marketable labor distorts our awareness of ourselves, one another, and the natura1 world. Therefore, macroeconomic shifts in the structures of capitalist formation can be expected to exert tidal effects upon the consciousness of whole societies. They also dictate the changing strategies employed by communities of prophetic resistance and revolutionary transformation. This study contemplates how shifts in capitalist society have affected the founding and development of Pendle Hill.
The work of Giovanni Arrighi (1994) highlights a particular shift found in the various cycles of capitalist accumulation, ranging from the Italian cityཔstates of the fifteenth century through the Dutch, British and American cycles down to the present. In each cycle, capital interests find partnership with a particular military-territorial entity (state) that protects and furthers those interests. Marx notes a pattern in which phases of capital accumulation, which stimulate production and trade, alternate with phases of financial expansion and speculation. The shift from commodity production and trade to financial speculation and expansion marks the signal crisis of a particular cycle of capital accumulation. A belle epoque of dramatic wealth generation (particularly at the territorial centers of that cycle) accompanies the intense financialization of capital, to the neglect of productive forces at the center. That leads to a terminal crisis in which the particular symbiosis of capital interests and military-territorial power breaks down. Capital formation shifts toward a new cycle with a new territorial center (Arrighi, p. 1-8).
At the “commanding heights” of economic life, capital has an important “power of breeding”(Marx). But particularly in its financializing phases, it adopts a parasitic relationship to the everyday workings of the market (i.e., the conflict between “Wall Street” and “Main Street” in today’s parlance). Arrighi goes so far as to describe financial capitalist activity as an “anti-market.” It is important to make this distinction. Certainly, the market itself has morally ambiguous and socially decadent effects. But the most violent and oppressive potentials of capitalism reside at these highest “anti-market” levels.
This study of Pendle Hill will find three crises to be of particular importance. First, the signal crisis of the British cycle in the latter nineteenth century led to enormous expansions of wealth and global reach in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. An ideological concomitant of this period for Anglo-American Friends was the flowering of liberal Quakerism, which framed Quaker faith and practice in new ways and began resisting more actively the rapid expansion of military-industrial complexes in Europe and America. This first crisis was foundational to the spiritual, moral, and social vision of Pendle Hill. The terminal crisis of the British cycle took place in the aftermath of World War I and the Great Depression. The American cycle of capitalist accumulation, already far advanced, becomes dominant from that point.
A second crisis of note is the signal crisis of the American cycle, the chaotic period 1968-73. This shift has been most trenchantly analyzed by Fredric Jameson (1991) as the birth of postmodernity, triggered by decolonialization and the neocolonial power of multinational corporations (global capitalism). We will note profound shifts in American culture, radical politics, and liberal Quakerism at this juncture. For example, an earlier, Eurocentric contemplation of world religions and cultures matured but also inverted into a more truly multicultural perspective and interreligious dialogue. The civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights movements of this period added to a multi-perspectival rethinking of liberal Quakerism generally, and Pendle Hill’s programs and literature in particular.
Third is the terminal crisis of the American cycle over the past decade, which Arrighi predicted in 1994. The events culminating in 2008 appear to confirm the pattern of uncontrolled financial speculation, neglect of production, collapse, and a shifting of center (towards East Asia in general and China in particular). Hardt and Negri (2009) suggest however that the dynamics of empire established by the United States in recent decades augur for a multi-centered constellation of capital and military-territorial power.
In terms of Pendle Hill’s history, we shall find the terminal crisis of the American cycle anticipated in a nonprofit setting in 2003-05, when the institution’s venture into a highly speculative phase was undone by bursting financial bubbles in the stock market. Pendle Hill continues to struggle for viability at the time of this writing, during its ninth decade of existence. In examining Pendle Hill’s current situation, we will consider the example of Woodbrooke, the British Quaker study center that has survived a similar crisis.
In the history of Pendle Hill. . . (c)ertain individuals may be more articulate or organizationally adept than others. But more than that, the group recognizes the exemplary integrity of particular personalities and the contributions they make to the meeting or the wider social order. Such personalities attain a certain substance–or “weight” in traditional Quaker vocabulary–that the group depends upon in its worship and decision-making life. We turn now to a few of the personalities that shone with particular brilliance at Pendle Hill in the Brinton years.
Born in 1909, Teresina Rowell grew up, like Richard Gregg, the child of a Congregationalist minister. She studied Buddhist scriptures at the College of International Studies in London, completed a doctorate in comparative religion at Yale in 1933, and became an outstanding scholar of eastern religions. After teaching at Carlton College for three years, Rowell spent several months with the Itto-en (“The Brotherhood of the Single Light”) movement in Japan, 1936-37. There she worked with the movement’s founder, Nishida Tenko, who blended Buddhist and Christian teachings with his own insights. His practices of voluntary poverty had inspired a network of several hundred men, women, and children living in communities around Japan and Manchuria. Members volunteered to clean houses, public toilets, and streets, singing ancient songs as they worked. Tenko advocated a life of absolute repentance as antidote to Japanese culture’s codes of revenge and honor. Never judge others; just go on with your own work and prayer. Itto-en does not denounce wealth but sets a counterexample. Through renunciation of property and service to others, one dies to self. Life is no longer enclosed in the body or the duration of a lifetime but joins the absolute reality, which is eternal. One enters the “World of Light.”
Rowell visited Pendle Hill for the first time late in 1937. She stayed in the Brinton home, Upmeads. When the Brintons came downstairs for breakfast the next morning, they found Teresina scrubbing the baseboards (she had risen at 4:00 am). On New Year’s Eve she set out on the four-mile walk to Chester taking no money. She found a broken broom along the way and began sweeping the streets when she reached Chester. This was the Itto-en method to make contacts and explore avenues of service and community building. People who passed by assumed she was drunk and left her alone. Eventually a man kindly asked her to come in from the cold and “it soon became clear to him that she was not drunk but only religious. So was he. His name was Moody Maguire, and he took her into the house to meet his family. … They talked into the late hours, and she spent the night.”
Rowell left Pendle Hill for three years of teaching at Beloit and Smith Colleges. But her New Year’s Eve adventure eventually led to the formation of Pendle Hill’s “Chester Unit” in August 1942, in which Rowell was joined by three former Pendle Hill students: John McCandless, Dorothy Mahle (later McCandless), and Kathleen Laubach. Haines Turner (see below) also helped. In the abandoned Friends meetinghouse on Market Street, in the poor and congested riverside area of Chester, they established a combination retreat center, playground, children’s library, and settlement house offering nutrition classes and other services. The Chester Unit forged a link between the serene suburban setting of Pendle Hill and the tough urban conditions of Chester. Rowell also taught world religions at Pendle Hill, but kept that identity apart from her ministry of presence and participation in Chester:
Once she was sitting with a group who were deploring the limitations of their education. The confessional moved about the circle, one complaining that she had only reached the tenth grade, another the ninth, and so forth. Poor Terry waited in anguish. Would she have to admit to a doctorate from Yale and a berth on the Smith College faculty? How strange, even treasonable it would seem to themཀ So keen was her distress that it showed in her face. Presently a kind hand touched her arm. “Never mind, dearie,” whispered the woman next to her, “I couldn’t get through high school either.”
Mather tells how Rowell had learned to participate–not reform–in a rural mining community in the Midwest in the 1920s:
The key to her participation lay in a blue silk dress. It was not her own, her wardrobe then consisting largely of seersucker — a sturdy, no-iron fabric which she wore on every occasion, including attendance at church. This was too much for the miners’ wives who, no matter how poor, always wore silk on Sunday. When one woman offered her a blue silk dress, saying she “might feel more comfortable in it,” Terry got the message. Seersucker did not show sufficient respect. Though a silk dress was not her own way of showing respect she saw that it was theirs. So she took the proffered garment and wore it. (Mather, p. 41)
Teresina Rowell described the Chester project in Building Tomorrow: Some Quaker Explorations, a booklet published in 1943 by the Social Order Committee and Committee on Economic Problems of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox). Chapters were written by various authors associated with Pendle Hill at that time, including William Simkin on industrial democracy, Bayard Rustin on racial reconciliation, Wilmer and Mildred Young on participation in rural life, Bernard Walton on Quaker meeting life, Bernard Waring on private business, and Teresina Rowell on community with city workers.
Rowell begins with an epigraph from Nishida Tenko suggesting that all we can do to end the world’s struggles for more is to repent from our own material possessions. After describing her life among shipbuilders and other working families in Chester, she offers a query: how do we overcome class barriers? We can begin now, she answers, by renouncing our own privilege and living more cooperatively in community. This “socializes” our property, time, and training. Rowell explains how the group living together in Chester pooled their small incomes, drawing out for modest personal expenses, but consulting with the group on larger ones. They considered neither money nor time as their own to spend. They all worked part-time, some in their old professions, others taking on manual labor, others using their earlier training to help working families. At the time of her writing, no group projects had developed so far, except to help an African-American Boy Scout troop clear a playground for use. Most of their time was spent in employment and housework. They began to understand why workers did not feel like coming to meetings in the eveningཀ
They entertained drop-ins from the neighborhood, discussed local politics, and borrowed things from one another. Friends from Pendle Hill also visited and participated, seeing firsthand the harm that mechanized civilization inflicts upon working people in the form of low wages and dangerous working conditions. Their children grow up without religious or cultural influences, which creates further social problems. Our continued acquiescence to these inequities will frustrate all attempts to build a more brotherly society after the war. Religiously-concerned citizens are needed to tackle these problems firstཔ hand. “Trying to bridge the gap between racial and economic groups, which now look at each other through prejudiced stereotypes, seems to us a muchཔneeded function, particularly for Friends to perform.”
Chester was growing rapidly in the war years. Shipbuilding and other defense-related industries in Chester drew large numbers of workers. The African-American population expanded to one-third of the city’s total population by the late 1940s. Their community experienced especial tension with new Eastern European arrivals, who competed for the same jobs and absorbed the racial prejudices of the wider American culture. Despite their comprising a sizable portion of the local population, Chester’s black citizens were hedged in by an oligarchic political machine. But starting on V-J Day, black parents launched an attack on Chester’s segregated and unequal school system, and soon won a desegregation decision in court–ten years ahead of the national civil rights movement.
During the late 1940s the young Martin Luther King, Jr., a recent graduate from Atlanta’s Morehouse College, was a student at Chester’s Crozer Theological Seminary, where he began to study Gandhian nonviolence. That interest may have led him into connections with Pendle Hill or the Chester Unit, but there is no surviving evidence of contact. Besides Gandhian nonviolence, personalism was another interest King shared in common with Pendle Hill. His studies with African American personalist George Washington Davis at Crozer led him on to doctoral work at Boston University, the center for American personalist theology. King would later reflect that personalist idealism became
my basic philosophical position. Personalism’s insistence that only personality – finite and infinite – is ultimately real, strengthened me in two convictions: it gave me metaphysical and philosophical grounding for the idea of a personal God, and it gave me a metaphysical basis for [my belief] in the dignity and worth of all human personality.
Some biographers have suggested that his academic interest in personalism grew out of the generally personalist tone of African American culture (see Burrow, 1999, pp. 78, 266).
Rowell also wrote penetratingly on the challenges of community life. In “Unifying Disciplines for the Religious Community” (The Journal of Religious Thought, 1944) she distills her experiences with Itto-en, Pendle Hill, and the Chester Unit. She notes the currently “high mortality rate” among cooperative houses, and cautions that intentional community is primarily a state of mind, a shared sense of symbols, attitudes, and aims. When this inner unity is lost, communal sharing quickly degenerates. Communal movements of the past were not usually born of a desire to start a community, but through shared experiences of a new spirit and pattern of life, shown by the example of a saint or savior, such as the Buddha, St. Francis, or Nishida Tenko. The sense of identification is stronger than the fear of loss or failure. The usual human wants are transformed by the glimpse of a better life.
But that transcendent unity is easily lost. How can the original redirection of the will be kept alive? What specific disciplines keep human wills oriented together? First, Rowell answers, regular reminders of the community’s purpose are needed, such as the Church’s ritual celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the Jewish liturgical calendar, and the use of music, art, or silence. She mentions in particular Pendle Hill’s Summer Session of 1943, when a group discipline of silence, shared work, devotional reading, and worship at regular intervals produced a strong sense of unity. Participants still felt bonded together well after they had scattered at the end of the session. (Rowell was a catalyst inestablishing silent retreat times at Pendle Hill in this period.)
Also crucial is the power of example, often set by a community director or leading teacher. Although CPS camps and pacifist cooperative farms are developing more broadly shared decision-making, this sometimes proves harder than simply submitting to the authority of a spiritual director. It may be harder to trust that the group’s decisions are right. Meanwhile, ceremonies and recreation are important to building group cohesion. In the final analysis, however, group consciousness cannot be deliberately created by human effort. It is a byproduct of working together, not something sought as an end to itself. Ultimately, it is a matter of God’s grace. It is God who calls and gathers us into community.
In 1945, Rowell wrote an article for The Friends Intelligencer on the Itto-en movement (cited at the beginning of this section), which appeared the week Hiroshima was bombed. Joseph Havens was moved by the article and wrote to her, asking if they could meet. She responded that she was too busy, but he eventually he came to see her anyway. They were married early in 1947. After another year at Pendle Hill and Chester they left with their baby daughter for California, where Joe studied with Fritz Kunkel and Teresina returned to brief periods of academic teaching. Upon the Havens’ departure, the Brintons reflected that Terry’s “vivid outlook on individuals and society, East and West, her unusual scholarly and deep dedication, have added breadth, zest, and devotion to our life at Pendle Hill. For many years hers was the ministry which kindled into living fire the gift of God” (annual report, Bulletin #85, October 1948).
MILDRED AND WILMER YOUNG
[A]mong those most affected by Richard Gregg’s teaching [on nonviolent action] at Pendle Hill were Wilmer and Mildred Young. Wilmer had grown up among Conservative Friends in Iowa and had attended the Scattergood Boarding School. After graduating from Haverford College, he taught at the Friends Boarding School in Barnesville, Ohio, maintained by Ohio Yearly Meeting (Conservative). There he met Mildred Binns, who had also grown up a Conservative Friend. Mildred’s early faith was informed mainly by tradition: Scripture was read aloud but never interpreted, following the Quaker belief that the Spirit in each person must do the interpretation. When she and Wilmer were married in 1922, they rebelled from their Quaker roots and traditional Christian faith. Mildred later reflected that her traditional upbringing gave her strength during this period to hold everything religious in abeyance until living experience could renew her faith on solid ground.
Wilmer strongly believed that service to God takes the form of service to humanity. Radical social engagement came less easily for Mildred, but she came to realize “it was the poor who were to be my teachers … it was the knowledge of their need that was the lantern in my hand”. They worked for the AFSC in Poland in 1924, where they saw desperate need for the first time. Returning to America, they taught the next 12 years at the Westtown Friends Boarding School, near Pendle Hill. Meanwhile they also worked with miners in Kentucky and led the first AFSC work camp in 1934. They were further radicalized by Richard Gregg’s teaching and example at Pendle Hill. They adopted intentional poverty for the next 20 years, beginning with their move in 1936 to the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Delta Cooperative Farm in Mississippi.
Mildred and Wilmer had already learned at the work camps that true leadership comes not from above or from afar, but alongside, at close quarters. It must engage the whole person–joints and muscles, not just eyes and ears. Mildred also realized later that “the hand that gives must touch the hand that receives.” In modern years, much service work and charity pass through large, less personal organizations, but without direct contact between giver and receiver, neither is fed spiritually. Mildred had to learn the importance of spending time with people, not just helping them. “It is easy to waste time but hard to be generous with it”. During the autumn term of 1938 at Pendle Hill, Mildred gave three talks on her unfolding experience and learning. These were collected and edited to become her first Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Functional Poverty (#6, 1939).
The Youngs spent three years growing cotton at the Delta Cooperative Farm with evicted sharecroppers. They moved in 1939 to the AFSC’s Little River Farm Community in western South Carolina to work with black and white tenant farmers. They stayed the next 15 years, farming with their three children and teaching soil conservation, care of woodlands, crop diversification, household management, and childcare. Twenty-two local families became owners of their own homes, farming cooperatively. Over time, however, the Youngs saw participants grow further apart as they became more prosperous. The Youngs chose to stay poor.
Mildred preferred the term “poverty” over “simplicity,” which she found more ambiguous, prone to becoming more a matter of style than substance. Quoting the personalist Catholic Worker Peter Maurin, Young stressed the need to “create conditions in which it is easier for a man to do good.” Voluntary poverty places men and women in a situation where they are compelled to be good to one another in community. It becomes easier to gain the purity of heart that wills one thing, to renounce the mental states of greed and resentment. In true poverty of spirit we come within sight of the cross, where Jesus took upon himself “the whole burden of hope, and laid on us, to bear in our degree, the burden of hope for humanity”.
Mildred Young followed Richard Gregg in identifying war as integral to the unjust and exploitative societies that wage it. In 1942 she reflected mordantly that the war effort was like a game played with someone who is ill – who cares who wins or 1oses. You play to get your mind off the illness.
Nothing is proved or accomplished in war and there is no logical next step when it is over. By contrast, small-scale farming integrates the personality with other people, animals, and the land itself. Finding fulfillment in the life of poverty takes time: there are many unclean spirits of modern life to be cast out, through “prayer and fasting.” Like the vocations in the Roman Catholic Church, this vocation requires a long novitiate.
Writing during a bad crop year on their farm, Young reflected, “the farmer is insured by hope against all failure,” always focusing on the next growing season. “[W]e are all knit together in the unending chain of creation and growth and interaction . … As long as these bonds remain and we know ourselves continuous with the whole of life, we cannot fail. The knowledge of this unity makes us whole. We are insured by life” (p. 3). Only by cutting ourselves off from community with the whole creation are we perishable. Mildred Young’s personalism embraced all life and contemplated the interdependence of humans with animals and the entire created universe. “And underneath this stupendous symbiosis, the everlasting arms”.
The Youngs left the South in 1955 to join the staff at Pendle Hill, where they taught nonviolent methods of responding to war, poverty, and racial injustice for the next five years. Mildred Young’s seven Pendle Hill Pamphlets, from 1939 to 1971, are among the most outstanding of the series. In each, she integrates hard-won practical experience with larger social insights, a deepening Christian witness, proto-ecological vision, and penetrating challenges to Friends in their comfortable lifestyles.
*From Personality & Place, The Life & Times of Pendle Hill, by Douglas Gwyn