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Who's writing this?

I'm Simon St.Laurent, and I attend Ithaca Monthly Meeting. I previously attended Swarthmore Friends Meeting while going to college there.

I'm not a minister. I've had very little religious training. I rarely speak in meeting. There's no reason to think what I write is authoritative because I wrote it. I do feel a leading to write this, and maybe later I'll feel a leading to share it.

I wasn't raised Quaker, just baptized Catholic.

I also run Living in Dryden, a site about the town I live in. For more about me, you can see the disclosures page there.


Hi, Simon. I don't know why it's taken me so long to come across your Quaker blog, but I'm glad I did. I had been looking for a site that had Fox's well-known quote about "There is one, even Christ Jesus...," which is what landed me here.

I'll keep reading through your archives, but I want to be sure you know about other Quaker bloggers... which maybe you do! One popular resources is QuakerQuaker, which lists recent posts among popular Quaker blogs.

Keep up the good and faithful work, and I'll get back to my browsing through the rest of Light and Silence.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Hello Friend,

My question is on the topic of "principles of faith and politics".

Let me preclude the following with the fact that I am a seeker who believes George Fox and the early Quakers were God's witnesses of Truth. Also, politically, I happen to be a Republican who believes in the principles of individual freedoms with limited government.

To be honest, (and I honestly offer this in humility) I haven't been able to understand what beliefs and principles that guide someone who follows the Quakers and George Fox (theologically) to also follow American Democrats and liberal principles (politically).

Could you please help me better understand this? Feel free to email me if that would work better for you.

Thank You.
Caleb B.

I'd suggest that if you're that interested in the early Quakers being God's witnesses of truth, you might find this call from George Fox to be an interesting point on the question of government aid to the poor.

I don't think that my theology makes me a Democrat or being a Democrat has a tremendous effect on my theology. I can easily accept that there are Republican Quakers - I even dated one once. (As she just reminded me, though, I married a Presbyterian socialist - though by German standards she's apparently conservative.)

My greatest worries about Quaker theology, however, also reflect my concerns with your description of your political principles. I don't believe that Quakerism is about individual freedoms. (Nor, judging from early Quaker models, do I believe it to be about limited government, but that's a less important question.)

Freedom from creeds is important, yes, but the problem with creeds is that they get in the way of real - and shared - understanding, not that they are a constraint on each of us going our own way.

I'm sure my Quaker anarchist and libertarian friends won't love that statement, but perhaps it helps square the problem of why Quakers were generally more likely to hang out with dangerous Levellers early on and Penn's vision for Pennsylvania wasn't exactly a democracy as we'd understand the term. Quakerism isn't individualism, or wasn't.