Sunday, July 22, 2018

Fruit dove: atheist Quakers

Thanks John, Robin, Cynthia, Anita, Brian and NtFs,

Robin, am glad too that it's only concern about a word (nontheism) that's at stake these days, - and at FGC re NtFs ... Persecution would be worse. Am curious too to explore the words 'atheist Quakers' together further.

Cynthia and Anita ... how to create NtF writings / videos in a similar vein, which are inspiring? Enjoyed the previous writing you sent to Anita re AFSC (It's here to Wyatt - ). Maybe in this email group?

Sounds a bit Edmund Leach-informed in terms of anthropological theory, albeit I appreciate the interweaving of Friends with Anthropology idea-wise. And re your "the value of Quaker meeting ... is that it enhances the collaborative social awareness of the participants, giving each participant value as a member of the group, and each meeting productive force within the larger community" ... and via the place-based unprogrammed Quaker Friends General Conference (albeit in a different place each year, and only for one week a year) - and NtFs / AQs have only been part of this for a few years, and via, perhaps more significantly, this NtFmail list? Both are distributed networking information technologies (actually and metaphorically), I'd suggest as well - which are the values of some of the social forces of NtFs (as a social scientist as well, I'm a bit of a Castellian - as in Castells' trilogy "The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture," the first of which is entitled "The Rise of the Network Society" and the second. "The Power of Identity". Re Castells, and culture anew: "The new development is a 'culture of real virtuality', which describes a culture that is organized around electronic media" (,_Society_and_Culture). As an anthropologist, I've written about counterculture and vis a vis conceptions of culture ( ~ ~ ). Both I.T. and place play a significant role in my social scientific anthropological thinking - and about emergent culture. And I touch on both Quakers and NtFs in my actual-virtual Harbin ethnography - a fair amount actually. . .

And how might we explore these NtF questions (the emergence of NtF gatherings, thinking and conversations such as at FGC) further in a realistic virtual earth, and even re a new social theory I'm calling ethno-wiki-virtual-world-graphy - - I wonder? 

For example, here in a beginning way you'll find a virtual earth ~ ~ which we can meet in - in Google group video Hangouts, and add to (photos, videos of NtF sessions, I think) ... eg "walk" down the road 4 miles to Middletown CA and "amble" around the streets there. Maybe we could even do further NtF outreach to Lake County Quakers who might be interested ^ receptive. (I can think of one Quaker there, Ed, who has visited Harbin for years and attends its oldest group (AAs) and who might be interested in participating with both NtFs, and AAs in a virtual Harbin, virtual earth (& possibly at a virtual FGC).

Thanks for the NtF report from FGC.

Friendly cheers,


Greetings All.  I believe I attended all of the Nontheist presentations at the Gathering and I think all were well received.  John Hunter's presentation on Monday and my presentation on Tuesday had 30+ participants.  Most participants were familiar with Nontheism but there were several who came to find out more about it.  I think they came informed and with a good impression.  I was in the Virtuous Instinct for Truth workshop comparing the Quaker method with the scientific method and several workshop participants attended Nontheist events.  As the week progressed there was some fall-off in Nontheist attendance.  There was lively discussion during John's final presentation/discussion Where to From Here re: next year's Gathering but I don't recall anything was definitely decided about a Nontheist workshop.  There was considerable discussion regarding the name Nontheist and whether it was the best name for the group.  I believe there was considerable agreement that the Nontheist Room should continue next year.


I just watched the video Cynthia refers to.   

This statement of Quaker beliefs, which I believe is basically correct, causes me to question whether I, as an atheist, I can remain a Quaker.  Maybe it is the language that gets in the way.  I'm going to try to address each point with my own language.

The belief in a "living, dynamic, spiritual presence at work in the world" stumps me.  Maybe love, compassion, empathy can be substituted for god?  But, I don't experience it as a working presence very often.

There is that of god in everyone--I suppose there is love, compassion, empathy in each person, or most persons.

Yes, I can experience love, compassion, empathy.  Is it enlarged in community?  Depends on the community.  But, other people are necessary.

I don't use the Bible these days, but I was raised with the Bible and I am sure the basic values of Jesus still are with me.

Revelation is a difficult word.  We could just call it awareness.

Welcoming truth from any source is no problem for me.

I do not feel I have been transformed by the inner experience of love, compassion, empathy.  I have to work hard to live these values in my life.  My failure in experiencing transformation is a major issue that keeps me doubting Quakerism.

Modeling love, compassion, empathy--I try and fail often.

Anita :-)

This is the most interesting and productive thread I have seen on this listserv so far. As a social scientist I have to say that the value and significance of social forces (i.e. of the togetherness of particular groups of individuals) is generally not understood. Since anthropologists discovered culture in the 19th century that is what we have focused on, forgetting that culture is a product of social forces. The importance and value of the Quaker meeting (as distinct from other forms of Xianity, which focus on supernatural beings and events for which there is no credible evidence) is that it enhances the collaborative social awareness of the participants, giving each participant value as a member of the group, and each meeting productive force within the larger community.



Monday, July 23, 2018

Dear John (and Friends),

Thank you.

And your Quaker touring looks wonderful. Found Grasmere, Ambleside, England in Google Street View / Maps - by searching on "Grasmere, England" - - and while the photos I've found are stunning and interactive on smartphone - and I think we can also move through the streets of Grasmere, but it jsn't yet that easy to visit Quaker places there virtually, ie to attend Meeting online, or even to come into conversation with a George Fox avatar bot, for example, or sit in Meeting with a Margaret Fell. (Think the historical reenactment of Plimoth Plantation south of Boston - - where you van interact with live actors representing pilgrims and native Americans from the 1620s, by way of comparison).

How might such a NtF / AQ virtual meeting emerge online in 350 years (e.g. in 2368) with you, John, talking about nontheistic Quakers later this year, I wonder?

Happy Friendly travels,


John and Friends,

It could be great to find a NtF woman of color with Muslim background to talk about non-theism among Friends/Quakers in the future. Am wondering about outreach in these regards to Ramallah Friends School graduates studying at a Quaker college in the US (or perhaps to Quakers in Africa) for ex. or similar with time?

Happy travels in Grasmere and beyond, John, and thanks for being open to talking about NtFs to Quakers at large.

Friendly NtF cheer,



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