I'm pleased to announce that my article '"Why do you call me good?": Whiteness and Quaker theological fragility' has been published today in the Friends Quarterly (Issue 3, 2021). You can buy a copy of this edition here: https://thefriend.org/magazine/tfq.
The community formed by and around Christ should be one of strangers brought into intimate communion, a new kind of family. But what has happened to this original vision of the Church?... The Church has moved from being a community of intimacy to a community of strangers, strangers who don’t even recognise one other as fellow Christians. In his book ‘The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race’, Willie James Jennings describes the roots of this ‘distorted relational imagination’.
If we are going to foster a Quaker culture that can name racism and discrimination, and move quickly to the defence of the victim, we have to rethink our understanding of sin. White Quakers like me have to acknowledge that, however good our intentions, we will ‘naturally’ perpetuate institutional racism. We will do this unconsciously, but we are still responsible for the damage we do. Our ability to act in a non-racist way has been perverted. Without our choosing, we are sinners.
Every now and again I encounter a book that gives me such a jolt it demands to be talked about. I've just finished James Cone's 'A Black Theology of Liberation', first published in 1970, and it has stirred me up. I found it both exciting and disturbing, and I need to process what I've read. … Continue reading James Cone’s ‘A Black Theology of Liberation’ and white liberal Quakerism
In my work around issues of race and whiteness with Quakers, it’s not uncommon to hear white people express an overwhelming feeling of guilt. Learning about whiteness – discovering your nation’s history of colonialism, realising how you’ve benefitted from the privileges of whiteness , remembering the times you didn’t challenge a racist comment, facing your … Continue reading Setting aside white guilt
Within the British Quaker community, a painful conversation/debate/conflict (depending on your viewpoint) centred on the inclusion of trans and non-binary people is increasingly rising to the surface. As I see it, a big part of the disagreement is where we start from. I have recently heard some Quakers speak from a starting point of the … Continue reading Thank God for my trans Friends
From 24-27 May, Quakers in Britain met to consider issues of privilege, diversity and inclusion and climate justice. You can read the Epistle here. Friends who were hoping for clear decisions to made, or actions to be agreed upon, may be disappointed. Some may worry that the gathering constituted a lot of 'naval gazing'. To … Continue reading No shortcut to the Kingdom: Reflections from Britain Yearly Meeting 2019
In the last few months, I have become increasingly involved in diversity and inclusion work within the Quaker community. Although challenging and emotionally demanding, this work is bringing lots of really important questions to the fore. One cluster of questions that has emerged is: Is Christianity by its very nature exclusive? Is a universalist Quakerism … Continue reading Does Jesus exclude?
I recently helped organise and co-facilitate a British Quaker diversity and inclusion national gathering at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. It was challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and I've put together some thoughts on the event for the Woodbrooke blog, which you can read here.