Quakers and the New Story

Quakers and the New StoryEssays on Science and Spirituality

by Philip Clayton, Mary Coelho, and the New Story Study Group

Format: PDF booklet, 27 pages

Originally published as hard copy in 2007 by the New Story Study Group, members of Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Cambridge, Mass. New Story Study Group: Mary Coelho, coordinator; David Damm-Luhr, Arthur Klipfe,l Nan Lee, Gwen Noyes, Severyn Bruyn, consultant. With gratitude to the Special Sources Fund.

Profound changes in our understanding of matter and of the earth offer an opportunity to heal the largely unconscious, dangerous Western estrangement from the earth. Within the “New Story” our deepest spiritual aspirations and many central Christian insights can find a vast, full expression enabling us to embrace a deep belonging within the Earth community, and a caring, loving relationship with our home. —Mary Coelho

QUAKERS are a practical folk, committed to making a difference in the world. We are also a mystical folk, believing that experiences of what we call “the Light within” are available to those who seek them with sincerity and openness. In this booklet we describe some of the revolutionary changes that have taken place within the sciences in recent years. Indeed, a variety of interpreters of science are suggesting that the “new story” that science is telling actually supports something very much like traditional Quaker ways of conceiving reality. Our goal is to introduce readers to these changes in the world view of science, which seem to bring it closer to the spirit of Quaker belief and practice. Even Friends with no training or background in science are encouraged to browse their way through these pages. After all, there is tremendous liberation in the thought that scientific descriptions might turn out to be an ally in communicating Quaker concerns. Surely this would be good news of the greatest importance— news that could potentially strengthen our voices and support our testimonies within the world today. The best way to understand these changes is to read the “new story” that follows—absorbing the details where one can and allowing the general impression simply to flow over one when the going gets too rough. Still, it might be helpful, especially for those who are encountering these ideas for the first time, to have in hand a sort of “road map,” an outline of the main ideas, so that one will know in advance where the journey is headed. Here, then, is a brief description of five of the major themes that appear in the following pages.