«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
192 spiritual imperative to ‘let go’, to practise ‘detachment’ from everything’. 147 He fully acknowledges the spiritual basis of testimony, yet seems to accept a splitting of testimonies into differentiated concerns, endorsing the perspective of ‘testimonies to’ specific issues. By implication, the Society seems to have accepted the notion of having different ‘testimonies’; yet the original understanding has been that, for Quakers, all life is Testimony, as witness to faith in God’s will and, as expressed in this thesis, as the consequence of Inwardness. See Table 5b.
4 Holdsworth, C. ‘Steps in a Large Room: A Quaker explores the Monastic Tradition’ ’Swarthmore lecture, (London: Quaker Home Service, 1985), p. 66.
5 Curle, A.True Justice. Quaker Peace makers and Peace making’ Swarthmore lecture, p. 23.
6 Curle, A. ibid. p. 30, ‘There is a Divine Center in which your life can slip, a new and absolute orientation in God, a center where you live with Him and out of which you see all life through new and radiant vision’’. [26.72 QFP]. ‘Therefore, dear Friends, wait in the Light, that the Word of the Lord may dwell plentifully in you’ [29.19 QFP].
This chapter has examined Quaker faith and practice during the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries. Issues of change and differences in Quaker perspectives have been identified to clarify distinguishable faith positions and resultant priorities. Three areas of interest have been identified to examine different aspects of Inwardness in the modern period. These are a) Quakerism in terms of intellectual/academic considerations as compared with descriptions of personal/spiritual experience; b) Understanding of ‘that of God within’ in terms of the ‘Inward’ versus the ‘Inner’ Light, and c) the growth of nontheism.
Table 5 (a and b) encapsulates present thinking regarding the previously identified Conditions and Elements of Quaker faith and practice. These indicate a degree of consistency between the present day and the seventeenth century positions, thus showing the extent to which a majority of modern Friends continue to uphold the main tenets of Quakerism, and its spiritual practice, as established over 360 year ago. Table 5b includes additional headings representing renewed emphasis on some of the practical aspects of Quaker living.
The implications of these findings are discussed in the final chapter of the thesis.
This chapter concludes the thesis. Section 6.2 summarises and clarifies the main arguments from chapters 1-5. 6.3 identifies the original contribution of the thesis. The four areas discussed concern: a) Inwardness as process (6.3.1), b) Inwardness as developmental (6.3.2), c) Inwardness as having consequences (6.3.3), and d) Inwardness as having an ultimate state, or stage (6.3.4). 6.4 outlines some of the implications that arise from this original contribution both in relation to previous scholarship and future research.
6.5 concludes and summarises the thesis.
6.2 Overview of chapters
Chapter One provided an introduction to the thesis and showed how the thesis contributes new thinking to Quaker Studies. It outlined the context and background of the thesis and included a review of relevant previous scholarship in terms of Quaker understandings of Inwardness, spiritual growth, purification as an aspect of spiritual development and the Quaker notion of ‘measure’. The methodological approach used was explained as involving analysis of narrative and interpretative work.
Chapter two, three and four examined the significant features of the teachings of George Fox, Isaac Penington and Robert Barclay. Analysis of their writings was used to explain Inwardness, showing the meanings and consequences of Fox’s injunction to ‘turn within’, and the manner in which Penington and Barclay expressed their understandings in relation to stillness, or standing still in Inwardness, and the subsequent considerations.
These chapters also examined the consequences of Inwardness both as personal transformation and individual concern, and also as social concern and corporate discernment. Aspects of Penington’s thinking were examined to exemplify his ministry on, a) the Life, b) the Light, c) Love and, finally, d) Quaker worship, as the means to 198 experiencing the Inwardness of God’s Being and qualities of lovingness. 1 Barclay’s position on Inwardness as a theological concept and a spiritual practice in worship, also illustrated the fact that his work is in most respects consistent with that of Fox, as utilised in the thesis, even though expressed in apologetic terms. The Apology is an academic work, yet it endorses the inward, spiritual dimension of Quaker faith and practice. It was argued that both Penington’s and Barclay’s work validated the proposal indicated at the end of chapter two, concerning Fox, on the process of Inwardness. Thus indicating consistency of emphasis between these seventeenth century Friends: In parallel with Fox, The Apology was found to encourage early Quakers to create the Conditions that would support specific Elements of practice necessary to attain full potentiality of Inwardness.
Fox urged early Friends to engage in spiritual practice to achieve Unity through Meeting for Worship. It was shown, however, that Unity has two distinct interpretations in Fox, i.e. togetherness in the fellowship of living, and togetherness in the Oneness of Eternal Being. In conclusion, chapter two indicated that specific components of the spiritual life were for Fox, and mid-seventeenth century Quakers, the contemplative basis for living in gospel order. Penington and Barclay each expressed similar understandings.
Chapter five identified the characteristics of Liberal Quakerism. Aspects of change were outlined including: shifts of interpretation resulting from new knowledge, in particular scientific and biblical, which led to rethinking of previous convictions. It was claimed that Inwardness, as introduced in chapter one with reference to worship, was the norm for Friends in the seventeenth, eighteenth and most of the nineteenth century.
However, general growth in knowledge, and new developments in many disciplines, may have influenced descriptions and understandings of Inwardness over time and embraced new insights and interpretations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It was argued that 1) there are a range of Quaker positions on matters of belief in the modern era, yet 2) there remains a degree of consistency in practice of Inwardness within Meeting for Worship. Statements concerning the Conditions and Elements of worship, previously itemised, were summarised and shown in Table 5.
1 Table 3 was used to show correlations between the ministries of Fox and Penington and Table 4, between Fox and Barclay.
This section demonstrates four ways in which this systematic analysis of Inwardness, in the faith and practice of British Quakers, has been shown to make original contribution
to scholarship. These concern:
6.3.1 Inwardness as process 6.3.2 Inwardness as developmental 6.3.3 Inwardness as having consequences 6.3.4 Inwardness as having an ultimate stage, or state, of maturity.
These are reviewed in turn, with some references to mystics and mysticism of earlier periods.
6.3.1 Inwardness as process Examination of the nature of Inwardness within Quaker thought has identified 1) that Inwardness can be categorised as involving a specific process of turning within, elsewhere termed introspection or interiority;2 and 2) that it is possible to develop a systematic means of analysing Inwardness in relation to this process. This has been demonstrated in tabular form at the end of chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5.
A definition of the process of Inwardness was given in section 1.2 of the thesis as utilising consciousness in a way that is self-referring.3 This was explained as a process of inwardly turned responsive waiting. It was identified as a non-reflective engagement, in the sense of not being discursively thoughtful but rather, for Quakers, as silent witnessing to ‘that of God within’, thus questioning the relevance of conceptual or imaginative preMcGinn, Foundations of Mysticism, p. 329, discussing the work of Rudolf Otto, distinguishes ‘introspective’ and ‘extrovertive’ mysticism. Introvertive mysticism concerns ‘sinking down’ into the self (compare with Fox’s ‘... keep in the life of God to keep you low’. Journal, p. 176).
3 Note the potentiality for a secular interpretation of this term.
200 conceptions.4 The process was described in 1.2 as free from sensory experience in terms of attention outwardly turned to the world at large.5 This understanding was shown to reflect Fox’s injunction to ‘turn within’, recognised as a call to Inwardness that urged a process which is, initially, important for its own sake and on its own terms: For Fox it was the turn to the ‘Light of Christ within’. The sequence of experiencing is shown diagrammatically in Figures 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
This thesis has claimed that the process described, as involving Conditions and Elements, (Tables 2-5), is, for most Friends, in the modern era of Quakerism, consistent with that of the seventeenth century. The process, or spiritual practice, involves first settling the body into a relaxed at ease physical posture. Ideally this posture uses the least possible energy to maintain an upright sitting position. The physical posture of Stillness (1) facilitates the possibility of gaining a degree of Silence (2) in which the mind parallels the body in moving from activity to rest and quietness. These phases create the Conditions for worship in which restfulness is maintained in alertness. As indicated alertness is not a matter of discursive mental activity, it is rather alertness, attained by a fully focused Attentive Presence (3).6 This is a perceiving or watching presence. The individual keeps a steady sense of being in the here and now. As Attentive Presence is gained the shift to feeling7 rather than thinking has the potential to engage the heart: Heart Awareness (4), which may be literal, is the means.8 4 Such as claimed by Katz, S ‘Language, Epistemology and Mysticism’ in Katz, S (ed.).
Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, (London: Sheldon, 1978), pp. 22-74.
5 See further discussion of this interpretation in the summary of chapter 6.
6 Comparable to Buddhist ‘mindfulness’. See Thich Nhat Hanh living buddha, living christ (London: Rider 1995), concerning practice, sanskrit ‘citta bhavana’ is cultivating both mind and heart.
7 See relevant discussion in Mbogu, N. I. ‘The Pragmatism of Religious Experience: William James’ Interpretation of Religious Experience’ in Maryland Studies, Vol. 10, Nov. 2011, 27–166. Also, ‘Unlike Schleimacher, James does not couple feeling with intuition, nor does he claim any special status for feeling as an exercise of the mind, which pro[e]ceeds and informs both knowing and doing’.
8 See text note on use of upper case.
201 Processes of gaining Stillness and Silence, allow a move to specific Elements of worship. Attentive Presence and Heart Awareness prepare the heart and mind9 for the God Focusing of the Quaker worship of the early period, and for Friends of the present day whose practice continues to follow in Fox’s manner of turning within, as identified in this thesis. It is claimed that the sequence, as outlined, remains an accurate description of spiritual practice for F-Q practitioners in the modern era.10 Chapters 3 and 4 have indicated that Fox’s initial teaching is upheld by both Penington and Barclay, even when described in different terms: devotional in the case of Penington and academic in the case of Barclay. Furthermore, different elaborations in the form of operational Testimony and political concern are tied to the process of Inwardness initially taught by Fox. It is outwardness that proceeds from Inwardness rather than the converse.
Notions of Growth (8), as indicated in chapters 2, 3 and 4, remain significant for all Quakers. However, for those Friends for whom the concepts of classical theism, or indeed other theological concerns, have ceased to be meaningful, growth may be seen in terms of human potential, in which humanness at its best is full of concern for the well-being of all people. Such conceptions of Growth intend that living in community, a world community, require respect and love for others but do not need to call on gospel order for their interpretation. 11 Thus the latter aspect, the consequences of Inwardness, as demonstrated through Testimony in a community called to live in gospel order, does not apply to nontheist Quakers. For this reason, conclusions concerning the consequences of Inwardness, 9 See Advices and Queries, (The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 2010) regarding coming to worship ‘with heart and mind prepared’ No. 9 p. 7.
10 For some twenty first century Quakers, who doubt the Reality of God, the relevance of God Focusing (5) is questionable. So if there is, in the twenty-first century, significance for Purity (6) and Unity (9) it does not, for some Quakers, reflect a divine interpretation or questions of Discernment (7) that respect the importance of the will of God. For the non-theist, Quaker worship is often interpreted as addressing matters of worth in life and the needs of human beings. Such a process is more likely to be discursive than contemplative. It is an interpretation of worship which ceases to imply notions of Testimony: behavioural considerations are not linked with understandings of divine guidance or the promptings and leadings of an Inward Teacher. It is argued that for these Quakers Inwardness is, or may be, irrelevant.
11 Note: 6.3.4ii; Testimony as related to gospel order.