Friday, April 4, 2008

Really... is that how it happened?

I love going into Philly and just walking around. I especially love the Quaker history that is present all over town.

Today I took the train in to meet up with some family that happened to be in town on a trip. We went into one of the famous Philly Meetinghouses, Arch Street Meetinghouse. I've been there a few times and have loved to interact with the tour guides. I usually don't say that I'm a Quaker off the bat (mostly because they start right in and don't give me time to say anything). Normally the tour guides are pretty "fair and balanced" in how they portray the differences among Friends. Today the lady that gave the tour said a few things that made me chuckle. She went into her speech and showed a map of the various types of Friends across the US. As she got out West (where I'm from) she said "And as the Friends migrated West they soon became too tired from farming to run their meetings, so they hired pastors to run the meeting." Really... is that how it happened?

Also, she went on to discuss how George Fox is the one man responsible for empowering women in the US. that how it happened?

Finally she stopped talking and let us tell her that we are from Oregon and are part of an Evangelical Meeting there, and see seemed taken aback and started asking questions. She even had us tell her the size of the congregation so she could write it in some book of hers.

Good times. I love Philly, especially being a minority when it comes to my Quaker flavor.


MartinK said...

That is funny. I'vr heard that tired-out story before and I suspect I know who your tour guide was.

I was teaching a six week intro to Quakers course at a Philadelphia area meeting one season and the weekend I was going to tackle the schisms was the same weekend as a big cross-Quaker gathering in Philadelphia. One of the couples at this meeting had invited their Friends of "a different flavor" to worship and to my class afterwards. I was a bit nervous but it went fine. I don't think I could have used the tired Quakers explanation, as this meetinghouse is the only setting where I've ever heard the "George Fox Song" played as a dirge!

Martin @ Quaker Ranter

Michael said...


I appreciate the comment. And am glad there are those of you out here making an effort to bridge the gap... just as there needs to be more out West making that attempt.

The reality is that as amused as I was, I'm sure if any unprogrammed folks took a tour in a programmed meeting, they would find the retelling of history and practice just as humorous.

wess said...

nice, I enjoyed the revisionist histories! And yes, we certainly have our own as well.

MartinK said...

Well and of course, there's a lot of practical theology in stories we tell about ourselves--who we are, who they are and why we aren't them.

Curious if you're attending any unprogrammed meeting while you're out east? My closest NWYM friends Matt & Sarah P. (who I never get to see!) came about from a year Sarah spent in Philadelphia. They attended Central Phila MM (aka the Heart of the Beast (my description, not theirs)) during that time and helped dispel a lot of my myths. I was certain grateful for their willingness to cross the line.

Michael said...


We aren't attending an unprogrammed meeting while we're out here. We've connected with a generic evangelical church out this direction which has been good.

There's a meeting (Radnor MM) just down the road from us and I've been intending to stop by for meeting sometime, but, no time, right?

I wonder if I know the NWYM folks you speak of. Doesn't ring a bell, but maybe they got swallowed by "the heart of the beast" and never made it back.