I made the conscious choice to live my life according to the Society of Friends. An ancestor, James Lindley was actually one of the founding members of the Friends movement with Fox.
After the church severed financial support, any nobleman that refused to provide unquestionable financial support was labeled a traitor; religion was simply an excuse. No one knows about James Lindley, because after being imprisoned, he sent word for his three sons to liquidate the family's assets and flee England; it's unknown if he was beheaded or died in prison.
I'm very proud of my heritage and beliefs. My great-grandmother's house was built in 1702, when the aforementioned brothers sailed from Ireland, and arrived in Snow Camp, which was also very active in the underground railroad. There were a few remains of the two-room houses that had water, a stove for heat and cooking, raised bed frames, windows, porch, etc., on the property, where people stayed to rest, heal and simply be free. Other relatives and neighbors also helped slaves, and everyone donated milk, eggs, meats, honey, flour, clothing, money, etc. All were welcomed into homes for silent worship and special celebrations, causing many to become residents, obtained work or were applied tradesman that purchased land.
Growing-up many of my beliefs and practices had to be concealed. Although daddy was raised by my great-grandparents, whether it was an attempt to get his estranged parents approval, or his required draft in the Army, my father is what I call an an "old timie' racist". Although my mother's views weren't expressed as frequent, she shares the same beliefs. The combination of being isolated and raised without a TV, the opposite behavior of others and my parent's cowarce of not saying 'that word' to anyone's face, I had no idea my parent's remarks and stories had anything to do with race. I learned this harsh lessen the weekend afterI started kindergarten, when my father asked if I made any friends. I told him yes and shared my excitement over making my first friend. When I said her name daddy's reaction was explosive and violent.
Daddy shouted that his daughter wasn't going to be an "n-lover", hit the side of my head, knocking me down and my ear ringing so loudly I couldn't hear what he was screaming about. I knew he was using, 'that word' by looking at his mouth, but it seemed he was asking questions and in his rage, assumed I was refusing to answer, which enraged him even more. He began hitting me as I lay on the ground, and the next thing I remember was waking-up and daddy was gone. My ear was still ringing, I was hurting and could barely stand and walk. I made my way inside my great-grandmother's house and sat beside her
sobbing, mostly over what daddy had said about my new, funny, kind, smart, wonderful friend. All the things I had heard my parents say were rushing through my mind, and I just kept thinking that my friend was nothing like that at all. Her older brother and sister also rode the bus, and they were just as wonderful as Paula. My great-grandmother told me what racism was, which confused me even more. She told me all that mattered was what I felt and knew inside, and she told me to keep my friend. This was our first secret.
After telling this story, I always share one of my favorite childhood memories to lighten the mood. Grandma always made a big lunch in the summer if daddy was home during the week. I can only assume daddy was so accustomed to freely using that 'that word' and forgot his place. Grandma was behind him setting tea on the table, when he said 'it'. WACK! Grandma smacked the back of his head so hard, his face went into his mashed potatoes!
When people ask me about Quakerism I quickly correct them; the truth may be unpleasant, but it doesn't make it any less true. The problem with fluid history is how easily the facts get distorted until they're completly gone; Neil Armstrong didn't say, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" a member of NASA did.
The term Quaker had nothing to do with "quaking the ground", and this remark contradicts silent gatherings, unbiased tolerance and the practice of acceptance. This statement was actually made by third parties voicing opinions about the corrupt Catholic church, comparing the vast differences in morality and how the church will be 'quaking in their boots', when it comes time to meet their maker. Due to humorous cartoons at the time, the term stuck.
Quakerism has been stretched and mutated to suit the needs of individuals unwilling to follow the basic principles, adhere to silent gatherings for entertainment and have even dropped God from the equation altogether; there are new age, progressive and even atheist Quakers, and recently the claim that The Society of Friends is christian protestant is precisely why The Society of Friends address themselves as Friends, not christian or even Quaker and avoid using any variation of the words "worship", "religion", "christian", "church", etc.
Friends have never used any sort of emblem or symbol, as this contradicts the deliberate act of separating themselves from organized religions involving rituals and insignia. Claims that a red and black star has been used since the 19th century is historically ridiculous and there is no historical doctrine substainating it. Furthermore, small groups gathered in homes and larger groups outdoors, so there was no building or structure to 'stick it on'. There were no pamphlets or advertisement, and ink was very expensive. The likelihood of people walking with this star on their person, on the door, wall, window, etc. is grimgribber. This image is nothing more than a brand for modern product that didn't exist until recently.
Additionally, there were several items in my grandmother's possession James Lindley's three sons kept from the origional movement, most notably several handkerchiefs with an embroidered dove and documents. There were three fragile documents signed by James communicating details of upcoming meetings (not gatherings) to continue discussions about ongoing issues and neither document included this star. After my great-grandmother passed away I retrieved these items and later gave them to a third party for safekeeping, until I was able to fulfill my promise of donating them for historical purposes. I never mentioned this before with good reason. My uncle (no relation) stole and sold numerous civil war items from my grandmother's home and my father would've exploited these items for notoriety.
The Society of Friends, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam share many of the same views and beliefs, and just as these beliefs are clearly outlined and have no variation or split, neither does the actual, origional, traditional Society of Friends. I've traveled the world, and I've been to countless modern 'churches' and have yet to find the beliefs and principles that George Fox and others like James Lindley established being applied.
Concerts, spontaneously shouting out, harping on the actions of a person long ago, never mentioning God, only acknowledging God once a week and once a year, while being more concerned with the giving of elaborate gifts, lying, stealing, lack of morals, ignoring your community and those in it, turning your back on those in need, and only addressing popular charities is not being true to God at all. This is why I call myself 'Friend' and allow my actions to define who I am.
Simplicity • Peace • Integrity • Community • Equality • Stewardship
Worship doesn't include who or what someone is worshiping, and worshiping God, doesn't mean living a moral life either, which is the vexation with many organized religions. Friends use the term "silent gatherings", because Friends gather for the purpose of sharing the human experience and our personal experience with God. Friends believe each person's intimate relationship with God is wholly unique, and words are a barrier. Many centuries old beliefs, have used silence to achieve enlightenment, which is also the purpose of silence; you can't hear God if there's constant talking, sudden-random shouting, music, etc.
Services begin when the first person enters the designated space. Silent gatherings can be held in homes, outside or in designated buildings called meeting houses, which allow for a larger number of individuals to gather. Meeting houses do not have steeples or an A-frame roofline, religious symbols or artwork; decorations are unnecessary distractions, so the only suitable image in a place of gathering is a dove to symbolize peace. Since there's no program, most traditional meeting houses don't face in one direction and many have a seperate room for socializing afterwards.
Friends don't celebrate religious holidays, nor do we designate a specific day to acknowledge our relationship with God, because this an active part of our everyday lives.
The world doesn't stop spinning, nor does life stop, so it's pertinent to remember that people with farms or a livelihood that relies on working, shouldn't be labeled as ungodly or immoral.
Friends don't obsess or argue over how we got here, because it's irrelevant. What's relevant is what you do with your life, ensuring your actions contribute to the greater good and achieving peace and serenity within, because that's God's hope for us.
Friends embrace science, because we feel it substantiates the strength and true nature of God's power. If you're constantly denying the facts, creating ackamarackus you miss the beauty and glory of everything God created. It's comical that the US keeps insisting manure is the reason for the ozone erosion; it's fossil fuels and freon.
Friends believe heaven can be experienced here on earth. Miracles aren't just significant supernatural occurrences or healing the dying, they're happening all around us everyday, but most have grown accustomed to extremes.
Friends believe that an element of God is in each human being (inner light), so when you mistreat someone you're in a sense, mistreating God. Bias isn't just about race and gender, it's also about judging someone by their exterior appearance and excluding others just because they're different.
Friends believe that kindness, generosity and charity should be given without the expectation of something in return. Morality and integrity isn't something that can be faked, and it's my personal opinion that honesty is the purest form of bravery.
Friends believe in simplicity, because we come into this world naked, and we leave the same way. Just because someone doesn't chose to spend money on luxury, and pursues success so they can help others, doesn't mean they're less worthy.
Friends believe that God gave us life, with the understanding and acceptance of making something of ourselves that benefits the greater good, and to view this obligation as a privilege. People don't comprehend that if you stand by and do nothing when others are hamed, you can eventually expect the same.
Friends believe in the duality of good and evil within, rather than evil being external. Only by accepting this fact, can we resist the tendency to give into that part of ourselves. No worthwhile journey is easy, which is why God is merciful, but make no mistake, God isn't blind or naive.
Friends believe we're not meant to follow with blind faith, because everyone's journey and relationship with God is intimately personal, so to respectfully question things is to learn more about our human experience and finding your own positive path to God.
Friends believe that men, women, black, white, brown, gay, straight, transgender, transexual, etc., are absolutely equal and to deny this, and treat others with hatred or bias is doing the same to God. *Rainbows are beautiful, because they're different colors and come in surprising shapes. If humans were all one color, shape and design the world would be a very boring and non-beautiful place.
People are often surprised about some aspects of my beliefs.
Friends view sex as a part of the relationship as a whole and the overall effect sex has on the relationship. Whether the relationship is heterosexual or homosexual, casual, exclusive, etc. it's the individual's personal choice and only God has the right to judge if something is right or wrong. *The ugly truth is that heterosexual culling and catholic pedifilia has a much worse effect on society than homesexual relationships. My personal choice of not rushing and exclusivity; fast and casual is a clear sign of cheating, because sex is viewed as 'no big deal'.
What disturbs me is that TV shows and movies habitually depict individuals that meet and immediately have sex. This gives the impression of obligation, and is teaching the next generation they're obligated to engage in sex whether they want to or not. It takes time to get to know another person; whirlwinds conceal the cracks, and rose colored glasses distort your view. *The divorce rate doesn't include people living together or children resulting from a brief casual fling.
Friends oppose killing, because each human being has unique worth. Another christian misinterpretation is, "thou shalt not kill"; the actual word is "murder". At the time murder was viewed differently than killing, because murder was motivated by sin; greed, lust, jealousy, etc., whereas killing was an acceptable method of countries acquiring resources and wealth in the name of religion and punishment for crimes.
Another significant aspect of new religions was protesting laws that were a matter of perspective and opposing punishment that was personally motivated and determined by a self-removed individual. No one could've imagined serial killers, terrorism, human trafficking, the senseless brutality of racism, etc. and with prison being an acceptable lifestyle, I feel this subject needs to be reexamined. Most that oppose the death penalty haven't seen or felt the damaging effects of violent crime and comparing the combined total of lifers and death penalty inmates, prove the cost of long-term housing is much higher.
Friends view the Bible as inspirational, rather than the word of God. Reading books of other beliefs doesn't mean you have to accept or believe the same, but to automatically assume the distorted view of a select few, without first educating yourself is a grave error. Buddha, Moses and Muhammad were amazing leaders that firmly believed in teaching people the importance of humanity, peace, mercy, acceptance, and the forgiveness of God's love.
Friends believe there are many books and historical figures that are equally inspiring, which can enhance our personal human experience, help us along our journey to understanding our true selves and build an even stronger relationship with God. Friends also believe that God isn't blind, nor is he to be trifled with.
I find the life, journey and teachings of Siddhartha Gautama extremelly powerful and courageous. The 14th Dalai Lama's books are enlightening and funny; when the Dalai Lama was younger, he took a Rolls Royce given to a previous Dalai Lama, being stored underneath the temple for a joyride.
One of my favorite historical figures is Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst (Catherine the Great). Her first seven years in power, she abolished obsolete laws the wealthy were exploiting to avoid repaying debts, and combined laws that evolved over time to form one clearly defined encompassing law. Although she included an emancipation proclamation, she realized education was needed first, so she redrafted laws for serfs to include better food, clothing and housing, less work hours, retirement and educating children. She also redrafted laws for indentured servants to prevent debtors from extending the debt indefinitely, withholding or failure to record the amount accrued towards the debt and once the debtor died the debt couldn't be extended to the family.
My favorite ancestor is John Lindley; he invented the categorization of orchids, and named them after family, close friends and respected colleagues, and discovered thirteen new species of roses. John was also a pomologist, botanist, horticulturist, gardener, accomplished author, artist and the very first botanical illustrator, including rare and curious exotic plants. With the fame of other Lindley artists, individuals and businesses lacking in morality, are exploiting the absence of legal publishing rights at the time, by stealing illustrations from John's published works for profit.
Recent statements about John Lindley's first business venture, a commercial nursery not being profitable has surfaced, but his nursery wasn't about money, it was about his passion for collecting, studying and drawing plants. John didn't have a large estate in which to build a gardens and a greenhouse. In today's world, wealth and success is measured by a large home filled with an excess of 'stuff'.
John was also a self taught artist and today, would be diagnosed ADHD-dyscalculia. After John was given access to a botanical library and employment as an assistant in a herbarium, John began authoring and illustrating books about various plants, my favorite of course being, “Collectanea botanica or Figures and botanic Illustrations of rare and curious exotic Plants”. John was also financially able to pursue his passion, not just for collecting and painting plants, but to learn and discover all he could, which clearly establishes the tendency ADHD individuals have to be hyper-focused on something they're passionate about.
Despite only having a grammar level education, John received appointments in England, British Columbia and the United States, including Secretary to the Royal Horticultural Society, the chair of botany at University College, and gave lectures on botany at the Royal Institution, the Chelsea Physic Garden, and delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, and established the Royal Horticultural Society flower show (Green Fingers). John also traveled to countries to resolve blight and other plant diseases killing food sources.
Something I've dreamed of most my life has been showing people how art can improve their lives, and being 'good at it' is irrelevant. Art has been a way for children to recover from traumatic events and expose abusive experiences when they didn't have the words, but this is true for adults as well. Whenever people laugh at the concept of adult coloring books, I ask about what they're thinking when they color with their child. They quickly understand adult coloring books provide an outlet from stress, because when you color your brain is completly focused on...................coloring.
As previously stated, I was forbidden to draw or color, because daddy insisted art is a waste of time. One day daddy spontaneously drew a ship with lots of sails and large curling waves. Although it only took minutes, it was very beautiful. Daddy was incapable or unwilling to comprehend there are numerous successful careers that encompass art. Whether it's art, music or acting these interests and activities enhance people's lives; young and old.
After choosing three colors sit down with a brush and canvas/watercolor paper. Next blindfold yourself, or close your eyes. A 'helper' will gently guide your hand from the paint to the canvas and after each (1) stroke, back to the paint. Helpers also softly guide your hand to insure different colors and coverage, and there's not too much. Now switch.
This can be used in any situation; art students, parent-child rainy day craft, bible school, corporate retreat, rehab, trauma, etc. Because this is very inexpensive, you can do this for each birthday or anniversary, creating your own gallery.
I established a charity in New York; free art classes for terminally ill children and this was the favored project. I recruited artists and hobbyists to teach their craft, senior volunteers to assist and galleries to hold charity exhibitions, assist with the selection and negotiate price. Most families with terminally ill children are under a financial strain, because one parent usually has to stay home, because insurance only covers one in-home nurse. This also means the second parent has to work more to keep money coming in. Knowing they're the source of the family's financial problems applies additional strain.
Being able to sell their work at special exhibitions alleviates this strain and talking to others about their work and what inspires them, also improves their life and wellbeing. This eventually lead to putting the childrens' artwork on clothing and mugs to raise money for research.
My job was creating as much exposure and publicity as possible so galleries would wave their commision, having a large guestlist with the who's who of New York to increase purchase price and generate enough single and stimulate donations to run the program without constantly begging for donations and acquiring supplies from companies that sold art and craft supplies (Elmers), artists and families of deceased artists.
I intentionally used donated office space in-between tenets; there was electricity, air, heat, water, bathrooms and enough space. Pediatric oncologists referred children to insure only families that couldn't afford to pay for art classes got a spt, parent-guardian had to be present 100% of the time to avoid babysitting, and family members were required to contribute time; helping set-up, clean-up, provide/serve refreshments, etc. for classes and exhibitions, whether their child was showing work or not.
The following photos weretaken by Mary Paul Barnaby
please click the link below to view her amazing work: