«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
Sessions, 2008). Ambler, R. Truth of the Heart (London: Quaker Books, 2001 and Light to Live By: An 39 practice, constructed by Rex Ambler from his interpretation of George Fox’s writing, is a means to reveal and ‘purge’ the individual of transgressions (termed sin, evil or darkness by King, above). The practice is designated a ‘contemporary Quaker spiritual practice’ by Meads.168 Issues of purification are concerned, in the main, with the removal of any obstacles to knowing and experiencing God, whether this be through Christ or in direct relation and, ultimately, in Oneness. The biblical notion of seeing ‘through a glass darkly’ (1 Cor.
13.12) is a straightforward metaphor for seeing that is sullied or cluttered by interferences.
In Christian terms this may be a matter of inadequacy of intent, laxity of spiritual practice, error or sin. In Quaker terms the need is to remove the ‘veil’ that interferes with fullness of experience and clear vision. This is a matter of dealing with ‘evils’ (King) and removal of ‘transgressions’ (Ambler).169 In terms of thoughts, as distractions and interference in spiritual practice, Mary Margaret Funk,170 Executive Director of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and formerly prioress of the sisters of St Benedict in Indiana, states that, ‘It is comforting to know that all the major religious traditions teach about the mind, that a serious seeker must undergo training to redirect the mind in order to follow a spiritual path’.171 She writes of ‘reclaiming the spirituality of the desert for our times’172 and as commented by one of her reviewers ‘as open to anyone’ not only those living a life of solitude.173 Merton considers distractions as ‘birds of appetite’, those obsessions of mind and body that inhibit transcendental experience. In order to know that experience which is for Merton, in Exploration in Quaker Spirituality (London: Quaker Books, 2002). Meads, H ‘Researching Experiment with Light’ in Seeing, Hearing, Knowing: Reflections on Experiment with Light (York: Sessions, 2008), pp. 89– 94.
168 Meads, H. ‘‘Experiment with Light’ in Britain: the Heterotopian Nature of a Contemporary Quaker Spiritual Practice’, (Unpublished Ph. D thesis, University of Birmingham, 2011).
169 See Experiment with Light, section 1.4.2.
40 Christian terms, ‘metaphysically distinct from the Self of God and yet perfectly identified with that Self...’ such ‘birds of appetite’ must be relinquished. Merton, as Funk, claims the possibility of this state for the generality of persons, not solely for those of monastic life.174 A controversy within discussions about contemplative practice concerns the degree to which it is necessary to ‘deal with’ any negativity within the individual person by whatever means are possible.175 One example historically is Evagrius, and, in the present day, Ambler.176 A second view involves ‘looking over’ negativity to focus on the positive experience by attending to the Light, as for example Fox is interpreted here, as advocating on occasions in the early days of Quakerism,177 and, as indicated by Hamby, in the present day.178 In terms of the consideration of Quaker spiritual practice that follows in chapters 2-5, it is shown that the significance of purity emerges as one aspect among a range of Elements that form the process and outcome of Friends’ worship.
1.4.3 Growth of ‘measure’ as spiritual development Views of spiritual development are used here to reflect on growth of ‘measure’ of spiritual endowment, as understood by Quakers. This is discussed in this thesis in terms of expansion of consciousness gained by means of growth of Inwardness.179 The 174 See reference to Merton, 1.2.
175 The term ‘negativity’ is used here to refer to any inhibitors to or distractions from the possibility of transcendental experience, be they termed evils, sins, transgressions or, more simply, thoughts and desires.
176 Ambler, R. concerning ‘Experiment with Light’, note: chapter 1 on purification in spiritual Growth.
177 See discussion between Ambler and Hamby, The Universalist, Nos. 91, 92 and 94 between 2011 and 2012. Also note Nayler’s words ‘Art thou in Darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will fill thee more … wait in patience till Light arises out of Darkness to lead thee…’ (Quaker Faith and Practice 21.65).
178 Hamby, C.A., ‘ “The Light Within”–A Response to Ambler’ Universalist No. 92 (June 2011). p.
Discussed in full in chapter 6.
41 understandings of faith development, outlined by James Fowler,180 and utilised by Nicola Slee181 in her analysis of faith development in women, are distinctly different from the Quaker understanding discussed in this thesis.182 There are, however, some parallels.
Considerations of the perspectives of Fowler and Slee raise questions of the importance of creed in belief, and the significance of belief in faith development. But, as Quakerism is non-creedal, other matters arise for discussion in relation to growth of Inwardness.183 This is also the case in relation to other practices of Christian contemplation.184 The notion of spiritual maturity is introduced but discussed in more detail subsequently in relation to Quaker faith and practice.185 For Fowler, discussion of faith stage development, in relation to examination of Inwardness as developmental involves a) steps, states or stages, b) recognisable transitions in the distinct characteristics of changing experience, and c) resultant effects or new beginnings.186 However for Slee (quoting Harris) it is an organic, flexible process that may occur differently in men and women.187 Although both Fowler and Slee cover similar points in their references to adult development, Slee makes some distinction in findings among women.188 Neither of these 180 Fowler, J. W. Faithful Changes (Nashville: Abingdon Press.1996). Note also Whitehouse, D.
The Protean Way, (2015, pending publication), Whitehouse attempts a comparative consideration of faith stages and their interpretation in relation to a transpersonal framework.
187 Slee, ibid, p.39.
188 No comparable differences have been detected in the course of this research, or my Eva Koch scholarship work of 2008. However there is scope for empirical studies in this area. Further Jantzens’s work is notable for its critique of patristic and patriarchal views of mystical experiencing. A distinction between 42 authors gives specific attention to children in their study, or the manner in which childhood formation might affect adult transformation.189 According to Miller-McLemore,190 Fowler does take seriously the importance of children’s imaginary life but the measurements of ‘change in moral reasoning, ego perspective, religious symbolization, world view, locus of authority’ is with reference to adults. In relation to the latter, Endy points to the fact that the ‘inner light was conceived of as able to impart all necessary knowledge to man’.191 Hinds indicates that the ‘radius of social relationships’ is ‘seamlessly unified’.192 Both considerations are with reference to adult subjects.
The ‘dimensions’ indicated reflect other aspects of religiosity. However, there is not consistency in selected ‘dimensions’ and some are more relevant to the Quaker position than others. Experience is, for Quakers, primary; consequences, both individual and social, are also important.193 Social involvement, for Friends, is frequently the outcome of spiritual practice: the expression of which is referred to as Testimony [g], understood here as the consequence of Inwardness. There may or may not be any direct connection for Quakers between growth of ‘measure’¸ spiritual maturity and social concern, but the majority of longer term Friends do engage with Testimony in practical, often sociopolitical, ways.194 visionaries and mystics may be relevant to Jantzen’s discussion. See Jantzen, G. (Carrette, J. and Joy, M eds.) A Place of Springs: Death and the Displacement of Beauty, Volume 3 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), p.
3, p. 20 and discussion in chapter 7.
189 However, see Oser, F and Scarlett, W.G. (eds.), Religious Development in Childhood and Adolescence, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 1991) New Directions for Child Development, 52, 1991. pp.
190 Miller-McLemore, B ‘Whither the children? Childhood in Religious Education’ in The Journal of Religion 86, No. 4, October (2006), pp. 635-637.
191 Endy, William Penn, p. 81.
192 Hinds, George Fox, p. 25.
193 Use of the term ‘consequences’ is not meant to imply causality here; the term is intended as in common usage in the social sciences.
194 See chapter 6 for discussion. Also Dale, J et. al. Faith in Action: Quaker Social Testimony (London: Quaker Home Service, 2000). However note that in early Quakerism Testimony meant that the whole of one’s life was an expression of one’s faith. It is a more recent interpretation that some Quakers 43 Whereas notions of faith stage development and the growth or expansion of Inwardness offer different ways of conceptualising the maturation of personal spirituality, there are connections. There are also differences. For example, it may be the case that states of Inwardness facilitate faith positions, though it is debateable whether faith positions automatically imply characteristic states of Inwardness.
Creasey expresses well the Christian Quaker position on spiritual development, using the phrase ‘Jesus pattern’; with Jesus as his model, he refers to the ‘qualities of personalness and relationship seen’.195 Growth of ‘measure’ is then recognised in terms of the model of Jesus.196 Creasey’s view builds on Rufus Jones’ understanding that ‘what really happens is that the human spirit through its awakened appreciation appropriates into its own life the divine Life which was always near and always meant for it’.197 This involves a process of purification and transformation. Jones further asserts that, ‘there are no known limits to the possible translation of the Spirit of God–the Eternal Christ–into human personality’.198 There is no direct correlation between the work of Fowler or Slee on faith development and the specifically Quaker Christian perspectives of Jones and Creasey. However, some points of reference are applicable as for example, mentioned above, ‘locus of authority’, and ‘radius of social relationships’, both of which are identified by other authors, and discussed in relation to Quakerism.199 Examination of spiritual growth, as described and explained in relation to Christian contemplation, leads to recognition of correspondences between understandings and is relevant to the silent practice of Quaker worship. These correspondences concern creating engage selectively in one or another Testimony. See further discussion concerning Testimony in section 6.3.4ii.
195 Creasey, Essays, p. 384.
196 Use of the term ‘measure’ is engaged subsequently, without inverted commas, to refer to Quaker understanding.
197 Bernet, Rufus Jones, pp. 34-35.
198 Bernet, ibid, p. 35. See also Barclay 4.2.1 on transmission of God’s Spirit to human-beings, as fulfilment of the New Covenant promise.
199 See Endy on the locus of authority in terms of the Light which brings the power to discern, Endy, M. William Penn on ‘inward certitude’ p.158 and ‘authority and experience’ p. 211. Also Hinds on the radius of relationship, in terms of community. Hinds, George Fox, p. 25.
44 the conditions for worship, and elements of practice in terms of the significance of attentive presence, focus, awareness and outcome. In turn this bear comparison with other and earlier mystical practices, and Rufus Jones’ work on mystical religion. 200 However, this thesis moves academic consideration beyond the position of Jones, by means of its detailed examination of the process of practice, resultant development, or spiritual growth and a potential state of spiritual maturity.
Full understanding of Inwardness, interpreted in its complexity, thus benefits from both academic consideration (1.3) and analysis of modes of spiritual practice (1.4) as discussed above.
1.5.1 Methodological influences This thesis examines Inwardness in the faith and practice of British Quakers by identifying and analysing accounts of the faith and practice of Friends. The methodological approach to examining Quaker statements about Inwardness, and related
academic discussion in this thesis, has been influenced by a number of sources. These are:
Richard Swinburne on what counts as a ‘good argument’ in terms of ‘confirmation theory’ and criteria of justified explanations;201 theological, as for example, Rowan Williams on what ‘theology makes possible’;202 philosophical, as for example, Ninian Smart, in terms of the importance of conceptual analysis and the rules of inference;203 and hermeneutic, as for example, Bernard McGinn, with reference to mysticism in particular, and in terms of his reflections on ‘evidence’.204 Additionally, the work of Thomas Merton has proved useful in relation to his consideration of the contemplative aspects of spiritual religions 200
See consideration in chapters 2 and 5.
201 See Swinburne, R. The Existence of God and Swinburne, Is there a God? ( Oxford: University Press, 2010 .
202 Williams, R. (in Higton, M. ed.) Wrestling with Angels Conversations in Modern Theology (Canterbury: SCM Press 2007) and Williams, R. Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction (York:
203 Smart N. (Shepherd, J, ed.) Ninian Smart on World Religions, (2 volumes) (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009).
204 McGinn, B. The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism, (New York: Modern Library, 2006).
45 such as Quakerism i.e. in terms of Merton’s exposition of contemplative processes as amenable to life outside the monastery. 205 Martin Laird’s exposition of Christian contemplation has also been valuable. Both Merton and Laird’s work has been helpful in general terms in framing theory, but, in particular, it is the means by which they undertake this that has been taken into consideration in the development of ideas relating to the spiritual religion that is Quakerism.