February 26, 2010

Western Friend's review of Writing Cheerfully

Book Review: Writing Cheerfully on the Web: A Quaker Blog Reader

The complete title of the London Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice is Christian faith and practice in the experience of the Society of Friends.

While reading Writing Cheerfully on the Web: A Quaker Blog Reader, I realized I was reading the same book written from a different perspective—a contemporary account of faith and practice in the experience of the Society of Friends.

The Friends represented in this anthology cover a large geographic area, as well as a wide swath of the Quaker spectrum, ranging from Britain Yearly Meeting, North Carolina (Conservative), and Northwest (affiliated with Evangelical Friends International), to Freedom Friends, a Friends church not affiliated with any yearly meetings at all.

One uniting factor is that these writings all first appeared on the internet, on Quaker blogs. One blogger describes the virtual community shared on the web as an example of “electronic intervisitation,” a term once used for Friendly visits to other meetings to see how truth prospered there.

Another uniting characteristic of these Friends' musings is a shared frustration that the witness of today's Society of Friends feels so fragmentary and weak. Despite fluency in the Bible and in Quaker history displayed by individual contributors, they still yearn for a more immediate and more unified experience of the Friends witness today.

Editor Liz Opp provides a nice introduction to the world of blogging, and some suggestions about how blog writings might be understood from a Quaker perspective (as messages shared in open worship, for example), making this collection accessible for non-bloggers. And the personable, conversational tone of the writers offers a timely invitation to reflect on where each of us find ourselves in the faith and practice of the fragmentary, postmodern world of twenty-first century Friends.
Reviewed for Western Friend by Sarah Peterson, a member of Spokane Friends, Spokane, WA (NWYM).

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