About "On the Quaker Doctrine of the Holy Spirit": Plus ca change...

Spoiler alert: This is the explanation of my previous post. I recommend you read that post and comments before proceeding.

To summarize:

Friend 1 writes a post about his understanding of the Quaker view of the Holy Spirit. Friends 2, 3, and 4 respond in the comments with criticism, praise, explications, and nuances. Friend 1 replies and attempts to address, briefly, the points raised by the other three.

A Quaker blog comment thread, right?

Wrong! As Liz Opp guessed, it's from another source altogether.

- - - - -

Specifically, it's excerpted from Quaker Religious Thought, Volume 1, Number 1, from spring 1959. Friend 1 was Howard Brinton, author of Friends for 300 Years among many others; Friend 2 the late Lewis Benson (LSB), the founder of New Foundation Fellowship; Friend 3 was Thomas S. Brown (TSB), then the principal of Barnesville Friends School and still listed as an emeritus trustee of the Westtown Friends School (class of '29!); and Friend 4 was Charles F. Thomas, then pastor of Friends Meeting in Winchester, Ind. and who passed away a few years ago at 94.

What struck me was how similar the format was to a blog: Essay, three comments by others, then a response by the original author. And how similar in spirit the content is to some of the conversation in the Quaker blogosphere today.

Familiar names populate the masthead of the journal. Wilmer Cooper, Hugh Barbour, T. Canby Jones, Paul Lacey, and Arthur O. Roberts were all on the steering committee, as were Benson, Brown, and Thomas. The editorial committee included Benson, Brown, and Thomas, as well as Kenneth Boulding, Roberts, and Douglas Steere.

I hope Friends will indulge my experiment that was not quite in keeping with a single standard of blogging. The elevated style of writing was in itself a clue that this was not really a typical blog post.

Oh, and just for the record, Liz Opp and Gregg Koskela are both real bloggers leaving real comments! I know because I've met them both! :)


Anonymous said...

It is always reassuring to discover that we are not the first to wrestle with particular problems; it helps us place ourselves in the context of the human community through time. The discovery that even in the new medium of computers connected via internet, the form of discourse has not changed is also reassuring. People have not changed; we still need the same sorts of interactions to create meaning.

RichardM said...

I like your pointing out that Quaker commentary prior to the invention of the blogoshpere was a dialogue. The real difference in doing this by computer is that we speed things up. Whereas in times of print media the discussion would take place in slow motion over a period of months, years or even decades, now it can take place in a single day or a week at most.

Its a radical idea of mine that the Bible itself represents a kind of very slow dialogue about the nature of the Spirit and our relationship to it. The authors of the various books of the Bible record their opinions and centuries later another book is written that disagrees and then a couple of centuries down the pike a third opinion is introduced.

Is the speed good? Yes, if we can use the speed while resisting the urge to hurry. We are tempted to skim posts and write hasty comments instead of thoughtful ones. But when used properly the internet is a great thing.

Anonymous said...

That was a brilliant transposition, moving a conversation both through time and medium, yet it stayed relevant.

I did wonder about the initials and the style of writing, but it's not hard to imagine the same conversations happening today.

I'm enjoying reading about early Quakers in large part because the conversations they had are often still the conversations we have today. It does seem that common threads weave through every period of Quakerism, and even periods before Quakerism.

Chris M. said...

Simon: Thanks for commenting. I fully agree, about the themes still weaving through our conversations today, and even before Quakerism.