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ELIZABETH_SKY's Photo ELIZABETH_SKY Posts: 442
7/27/10 12:20 P

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These are such interesting thoughts. Thank you for sharing your perspectives and helping me grow a little bit spiritually :)
As far as deciding what I believe, I think that'll take much longer. I'm in no rush though

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius


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7/27/10 10:19 A

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I think you are on to something here - I just googled Quakers in the Arts and got this link-

http://www.quaker.org/fqa/

for Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts - this is from the Philadelphia area -

Be gentle towards all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves --Rilke

It's never too late to be or do what you might have been or done!

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different---MEZZOANGEL

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7/24/10 3:29 P

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I never did really understand the opposition to the arts, but then again, I'm not all that familiar with what was going on in the times. It all seems very Puritan to me.
I come from a religious culture where music is very very important, and also from a family culture where arts of all kinds are important. It is an essential part of my life, though I view it as an option for others. In other words, while it is essential for me, I don't want to necessarily inflict the practice on others, like making it a requirement, like for salvation or in the Quaker case, "weighty-ness".
So, from my viewpoint, it seems like a good portion of the discomfort in the arts is coming from modern-day Quakers who do not see that as an essential in their lives in any form. I see this as somewhat of a disappointment, as participants with a more linear language-based perspective get to participate in a way that is more fully aligned with their being, and the "artsy" Quakers are participating as second-tier. I'm thinking that this can't be good for the group as a whole. I think we can run into trouble when clerking, speaking, letter-writing, peace-vigiling are considered to be worthy activities, and worthy of a meeting's support, but dancing meditations, or artistic expressions are considered "superfluous". As a group that is proud of past emphasis on mysticism, we are self-selecting towards the more logical, analytical perspective to the point where even uttering something in a mystical way draws perplexed stares.
Many people in my meeting have music, theater or other arts as a huge part of their lives and/or careers, and like myself, they miss the music components from the religions they grew up with and discarded for some reason.
I know that when I attend some of the larger meetings, I gravitate towards the artists and musicians, and it is only there when I feel truly at home.

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7/22/10 8:48 P

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My own preference - which I think comes from my Quaker heritage as much as anything else - is to be called by my first name; professionally, I introduce myself as my first & last names, saying something like, "hi, I'm fname lname*, the psychologist assigned to this building" and let others decide what to actually call me. I am currently in the process of earning a doctorate in my field, and I will actively discourage folks from calling me Dr. - it gives my opinion way more importance than it actually deserves - I am not optimistic, however, that people will follow my wishes in this matter.

(*I have not given my actual names because my first name is very distinctive and unusual and I can't maintain my privacy if I use it here in e-land...)

Nowadays, it is a matter of preference, I think (although I have been away from the Society for quite a number of years now, so I am not "up" on current practice and thinking). But we still have the status connected with the usual honorifics - an adult will never call a child Mr. or Ms. unless (a) as a joke; (b) as a reprimand, but children are encouraged (though no longer required) to call adults Mr./Mrs./Ms. & last name - the honor goes only one way, for the most part.

2 generations ago (in my grandparents' generation), plain speech was used - they said "thee" and "thy" to everyone, from the President of the US to their butler and maid (and while I don't know for a fact that my grandfather ever talked to any President of the US, he could well have) as well as their children and grandchildren. Now we say "you" to everyone, which also equalizes us - but deprives us of the intimacy of the singular form....

Perhaps we would become a kinder, gentler people if we returned to using the word "Friend" as the honorific, as Quakers used to do?

Be gentle towards all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves --Rilke

It's never too late to be or do what you might have been or done!

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different---MEZZOANGEL

Team Leader/Co-leader for Central MA Sparkers!, THIS is What a Feminist Looks Like, Eastern Star, and Psychologists et al. team


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ELIZABETH_SKY's Photo ELIZABETH_SKY Posts: 442
7/22/10 4:29 P

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I didn't find them to be inappropriate or dictatorial in any way.

I certainly hear what you're saying on the subject of hierarchy and the questionable inheritance of some of the titles we have. But today, Mr. and Ms. are applied equally to everybody - frequently to children, even. In this current culture that we have, is that background for titles sufficient to make them...immoral, for lack of a better word? For me, I'm not sure it is.

Let me explain it a different way. The concerns early Quakers rightly had with titles (in my understanding) were with the system that required respect for the title. Not only did society encourage them to respect titles and empty things (hat tipping), but they were frequently coerced with governmental force to do so.
Today, in my own experience, it's just the opposite. People frequently get UPSET if you call them Mr. Smith (don't call me that, Mister is my father!). Apart from certain circumstances (court), most of our use of titles is completely voluntary. If I use a title such as Mr., it's meant to reflect the respect within - from one person to the other.

It feels like, rather than obscuring the real person and his character, it acknowledges that person respectfully.

One other thought, on the topic of acting. To my mind, it's not lying or deception in anyway (ie, it's not dishonest) to act if all the people know that you are doing so. If, in fact, they enjoy your performance precisely because you are channeling somebody.

Oh, there are so many thoughts related to that...I'd better let it be here though :)

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius


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7/22/10 1:46 P

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I suspect the modern Quaker concern with attendance at entertainment (including movies as well as plays and/or concerts) might, if it exists, fall under the simplicity of life queries. I think a distinction would be drawn between going to see a play and going to be seen at a play, as well -

The Quaker school I went to had drama/theater, art & music classes, but they were of relatively recent advent and were not part of the program at the time of the founding of the school in the 1850's (or so). The library that was established by a bequest from a bygone Friend contained fiction only in the children's section (it has one of the best collections around of biographies, or so I have heard, though).

The general attitude towards the arts that I grew up with was that they were nice, but not necessary. There have not been too many Quaker artists, of any stripe.

Another thought I just had is that when you are acting in a play, you are pretending to be someone other than who you are - which would also be problematic for some Quakers.

About titles: Mr. and Mrs. are abbreviations for Master and Mistress, with the status that that implies; Penn was also English, so there were also all of the titles that go with the English caste system. At one Quaker school near Philadelphia, teachers were addressed as Master or Teacher (for males and females, respectively) rather than with the social honorifics. The problem with saying "your honor" to a judge, from a Quaker perspective, is that it implies that the judge is the only one who should be honored or who is deserving of that honor. A Quaker would probably be more comfortable addressing the judge as "Judge" or "Justice", since that is simply a description of his job (though there are probably as many perspectives on this issue as there are Quakers). How about calling a professor Dr. vs. Mr./Ms./Mrs. vs. first names?

I guess I'm trying to say that we are still a very hierarchical society (even though we don't have a formalized caste system), and it was the hierarchy and the personal worth it imputed that was the focus of dispensing with titles and "hat honor", etc.

Re-reading this, I find myself to be sounding very dictatorial - I apologize -

Edited by: KAKIPOPUP at: 7/22/2010 (15:02)
Be gentle towards all that is unsolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves --Rilke

It's never too late to be or do what you might have been or done!

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different---MEZZOANGEL

Team Leader/Co-leader for Central MA Sparkers!, THIS is What a Feminist Looks Like, Eastern Star, and Psychologists et al. team


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ELIZABETH_SKY's Photo ELIZABETH_SKY Posts: 442
7/22/10 12:41 P

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Now I'm reading an introduction to Barclay's Apology, suggesting that today's plays are a "medium for truth." While that appeals to me, in some ways aren't they surely as decadent and modish as the plays of the 17th century? It's too easy to say today's plays are art, while theirs were trash

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius


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ELIZABETH_SKY's Photo ELIZABETH_SKY Posts: 442
7/22/10 12:20 P

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I'm reading an abridged version of this...I hope one day I can get my hands on a full version, but I can't seem to find one. Anyway!

William Penn speaks about two things I want to ask about.

1. The vanity and pride of luxury - including going to plays and other "foppery." Today, many thoughtful members of society would seem to think supporting the arts is a good way to expand your mind and help the community. What do you think - are plays (and movies!) moral excesses that should be avoided?

2. Avoiding titles and other outward signs of worth. The logic of this made sense during Penn's time, when the title made the man. You were to respect somebody purely because he was a baron or an "honorable" judge. Today, titles seem different. Only in very few situations do we give respect because of title only - attitudes towards doctors being perhaps one example. But generally, calling somebody "Mister Smith" seems to me today to be more about demonstrating the respect I already have for somebody as an individual.
The only moral concern I can see with titles these days (at least, in the everyday circumstances of my own life) is that the very fact of titles seems to evoke an old-fashioned system where an individual was defined first by place in society (think Mrs. versus Miss) and only second by who they are as a person (their name). That said, this seems to be a tenuous link, and demonstrating respect for others seems to be a more perilous and immediate concern in modern society than being in trouble for failing to manifest such a respect!

I hope all that makes sense. Of course, the beauty of the Society of Friends is that these are open questions, and I can ultimately defer to my conscience.
But do you have any thoughts on these issues?

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius


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