Quaker info on the Internet is sorely lacking. There are videos of gatherings, picnics, beautiful slideshows of meeting houses and many videos of English conservative unprogrammed Quakers and within the last month, an odd stream of consciousness, buffet description of Quakerism by an obviously well-intentioned, but ill-informed woman who admits she hasn't ever been to Meeting! For a denomination that tends to attract the well educated and plugged in as members, there really are no good outreach video to explain what it means to be Quaker in the 21st Century. To explain the various divisions, jargon and even regions where Quakerism still flourishes (Indiana being one of those).
Yesterday, The Quaker Ranter, Martin Kelley, and Gather in Light's, C. Wes Daniels, skyped about some of the difficulties with insider Quaker lingo and the problems that presents for “outsiders.” Martin Kelley posted the conversation on his YouTube channel. They also discussed using YouTube as a way to get the word out, and how to go about doing it. The conversation is the first (trial) run of a series Martin Kelly plans to conduct. It's a good start.
If I may chime in. I'm a convinced Quaker coming to it through Southern Baptism as a child, Methodism, then for the last ten years, the Disciples of Christ. My Meeting is the only Meeting I've spent any good amount of time in and going on-line to find information about Quakers, I find few that match my Meeting. Some blogs have been very helpful and informative, but most, IMHO are just a lot of "Inside Baseball" blogs and websites. How can we attract new and curious seekers into Quakerism if we make it seem so difficult and dense, at least online? One really has to work and dig to find answers to the jargon and the differences a seeker is exposed to online. How a movement, based in part on simplicity became so complicated and divided, I haven't a clue. If the Internet is any example, it seems to have dissolved into feuding tribes between Models, Trends or Movements. It's frustrating and discouraging to read blogs and get the feeling that if your not a certain type of East Coast or West Coast Quaker, your not sitting at the Cool Quaker Table (or in some Friend's opinions, apparently not a Quaker at all). Each Internet search I do, each new blog I find often leads to the unspoken wish to have remained ignorant among my fellow Indianapolis Friends. I don't have many theological conversations with my minister. The few I've had, plus reading his books have helped. Personally I and most of my fellow Church Friends extend a hand of felowship to any Quaker/Friend, church/Meeting. Whether it's Christ centered, agnostic, zen or old school-one chromosome away from menonite. We are all in this together.
I'm not a poorly-educated man. I hold two degrees (five years apart) from Indiana University; History and Graphic Design. I minored in International Relations and Comparative Religions. Though I admit, even my most recent was long ago now. I'm a voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction and try my best to keep up with fields and trends I'm interested in. Why then does the jargon and inconsistencies in the very definition of the word Quaker seem to escape me?
My Indianapolis Friends Church Meeting is: quite small; our members are mostly late 30's and up, well-educated, articulate, socially conscious and curious; minister guided (Programmed); Christ centered - sometimes stressing His non-conformist aspects (very similar to the Liberal Protestantism of The Disciples); politically and theologically liberal with a strong Peace and Local Activism Outreach; most in our Meeting believe in Christian Universalism. We have announcements of those we should Hold in the Light, a hymn with no accompanist, tithe collection, a short message of guidance by our Minister, James Mulholland then twenty to thirty minutes of silent worship. If so moved by the Light, a vocal ministry by a member Friend.
So what 'type' of Quaker does that make me/us? What movement, Trend or Model am I/we? If I slip and use a word that's common in Indiana but not commonly used, will I be looked down upon online? I don't, as a rule, use jargon, I learned a long time ago that it tends to put up a wall between my clients and myself and made me sound as if I'm putting on airs or as my grand-dad Brown would have said, "high-falutin''. We Hoosiers generally try not to do that, especially we Hoosier Quakers. I'm sincerely curious. I'm inviting other Quaker bloggers, activists, leaders, etc. to let me know by email (see my profile page) or via comment. Peace.