Archive for the ‘George Fox’ Tag

Feast of William Robinson, Mardaduke Stephenson, and Mary Dyer (June 1)   4 comments

Above:  Mary Dyer, June 1, 1660

Image in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM ROBINSON (CIRCA 1620-OCTOBER 27, 1659)

MARMADUKE STEPHENSON (DIED OCTOBER 27, 1659)

MARY DYER (1611-JUNE 1, 1660)

English Quaker Martyrs in Boston, Massachusetts, 1659 and 1660

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Therefore, seeing my Request is hindered, I leave you to the Righteous Judge and Searcher of all Hearts, who, with the pure measure of Light he hath given to every Man to profit withal, will in his due time let you see whose Servants you really are, to of whom you have taken Counsel, which desire you search into….

–Mary Dyer, writing to the General Court from prison, 1659, after the execution of William Robinson and Marmaduke Stephenson; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 247

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Those who claim that most Puritans who settled in what became the United States sought religious freedom either lie or labor under a misconception.

The majority of Puritans, whether in the old country or on this side of the Pond, created and maintained theocracies when they had the opportunity.  Religious toleration was not a dominant Puritan value; religious persecution was.

Quakers, with their pacifism, egalitarianism, and mysticism, threatened the hierarchical Puritan social order by merely existing.  Being a Quaker in Puritan colonies in New England was illegal, therefore.  In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, prior to 1659, penalties included:

  1. Expulsion,
  2. Lashing behind a cart,
  3. Abandonment deep in a forest,
  4. Branding with an “H” for “heretic,”
  5. Branding of the tongue, and
  6. Cutting off of the ears.

Some Quakers, convinced that their Inner Light told them to preach the Friends gospel despite the risks, returned anyway.  From 1659 to 1661, in the Massachusetts Bay colony, the list of penalties expanded to include death by hanging.  Four Quakers became martyrs.

Mary Dyer had been a Puritan.  She and her husband, William Dyer, were Puritans when the married in England in 1633.  They moved to Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1635, and joined First Church.  The Dyers befriended Anne and William Hutchinson, whom they followed to Rhode Island.  The Dyers traveled with Roger Williams to England in 1643, when he went to secure a colonial charter (1644) for Rhode Island.  William Dyer returned to Rhode Island, to bring news of the charter.  Many remained in England for years.  She met George Fox and became a Quaker.

Dyer returned to New England in 1657.  Then her legal problems started.  The ship docked in Boston.  Our saint would have passed through the Massachusetts Bay colony to Rhode Island without incident except for her arrest for being a Quaker.  William, without consulting his wife, secured her release without consulting his wife; he promised on her behalf that she would return to Rhode Island immediately and never return to the Massachusetts Bay colony.  Dyer had other ideas.

Marmaduke Stephenson and William Robinson were English Quakers living in Rhode Island in 1659.  Stephenson was a former plowman from Yorkshire.  Robinson had been a merchant in London.  Stephenson, Robinson, and Dyer returned to Boston in 1659 to protest anti-Quaker laws.  Authorities arrested then banished them.  Stephenson and Robinson returned again.  Dyer returned to visit them in jail in Boston.  Authorities arrested her.  Governor John Endecott ordered the execution of the three Quakers in October 1659.

Stephenson and Robinson died by hanging in Boston on October 27, 1659.  Dyer, spared that day, received banishment instead.  On May 21, 1660, she returned to Boston, to preach.  She, arrested, met her fate on June 1, 1660.

William Leddra became the last of the four Quaker martyrs in Boston the following year.

In May 1661, Puritan authorities received new orders from King Charles II forbidding any more executions for alleged heresy.  This order arrived in time to prevent a fifth execution for being a Quaker in the Massachusetts Bay colony.

I use absolute terms, such as “never,” sparingly, so take note, O reader.

Freedom is never absolute; life in society requires the surrender of some individual freedom from everyone for the common good.  Consider a practical, generally non-controversial example, O reader; we must, for the sake of all, obey traffic laws.  Freedom of religion should be as broad as possible, with sensible restrictions.  One should never, for example, get away with child abuse or endangering public health on the grounds of freedom of religion.  And, if one’s religion mandates an honor killing, a court should define that act as murder.  Law is easy at the extremes.  On the opposite extreme, the mere refusal to conform to theocracy or a dominant form of faith should never constitute a crime, and law should bend over backward, so to speak, to allow for a wide variety of peaceful expressions of religion, within reasonable limits.  Life in a free society requires much mutual toleration.

Quakers, with their theology of the Inner Light, affirmed that God spoke to everyone.  The most germane question, from that perspective, was if one was listening.  This doctrine called into question the Puritan spiritual hierarchy, with the ministers at its heart.  Quakerism constituted an existential threat to the Puritan social order.

Authorities tend to go to great and frequently morally unjustifiable lengths to protect the social order.  If morally unjustifiable lengths prove necessary to preserve that social order, perhaps it should fall, so that a just society may emerge.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

SATURDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; AND SAINTS FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants

Marmaduke Stephenson, William Robinson, and Mary Dyer

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of Jakob Bohme (April 23)   3 comments

Above:  Jakob Böhme

Image in the Public Domain

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JAKOB BÖHME (APRIL 24, 1575-NOVEMBER 17, 1624)

German Lutheran Mystic

Jakob Böhme comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via William Law (1686-1761), whom he influenced.

Böhme, born in Alteidenberg, near Görlitz, circa April 24, 1575, was a shoemaker-turned-mystic.  In 1600, he had a mystical experience.  He realized that

Yes and no, all things exist.

Böhme spent the rest of his life struggling with difficult questions.  He, always rooted in Christianity, wrote 29 books and tracts, some of which renamed incomplete when he died.  Our saint struggled with questions of sin, good and evil, yes and no, and darkness and light in the context of God and spiritual unity in God.  How, Böhme wondered, could the divided world become one in God?  Many of his early writings caused theological controversy.  Our saint disavowed some of the earliest writings as he matured theologically and spiritually.  Yet he never stopped wrestling with difficult matters of faith.  Some of his later works included On the Election of Grace (1623), Mysterium Magnum (1623), and The Way to Christ (1623).

Böhme died on November 17, 1624.  He was 49 years old.

His influence continued, however.  Aside from William Law, the diverse group of thinkers Böhme influenced included theologians and philosophers, such as:

  1. George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the Religious Society of Friends;
  2. Paul Tillich (1886-1965), a prominent theologian;
  3. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), a philosopher;
  4. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), a philosopher; and
  5. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), a philosopher.

May each of us, like Jakob Böhme, struggle with difficult questions faithfully.

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Loving God, you have granted us intellects

and a thirst to know you as well as we can.

Thank you for these gifts.

May we, like your servant Jakob Böhme,

use them to maximum effect,

for your glory and the benefit of others.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

1 Samuel 3:1-21

Psalm 63

Ephesians 2:11-22

John 1:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES HEWITT MCGOWN, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DRAUSINUS AND ANSERICUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF SOISSONS; SAINT VINDICIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CAMBRAI; AND SAINT LEODEGARIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF AUTUN

THE FEAST OF EDWARD OSLER, ENGLISH DOCTOR, EDITOR, AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANTONIA DE PAZ Y FIGUEROA, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE DIVINE SAVIOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PERPETUA, FELICITY, AND THEIR COMPANIONS, MARTYRS AT CARTHAGE, 203

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Feast of Fritz Eichenberg (October 24)   1 comment

FRITZ EICHENBERG (OCTOBER 24, 1901-NOVEMBER 30, 1990)

German-American Quaker Wood Engraver

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It is my hope that in a small way I have been able to contribute to peace through compassion and also to the recognition, as George Fox has said…”That there is that of God in everyone,” a conception of the sanctity of human life which precludes all wars and violence.”

–Fritz Eichenberg, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 463

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Fritz Eichenberg comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via All Saints (1997).

Eichenberg expressed his Quaker faith in his art.  He, born in Cologne, Germany, on October 24, 1901, grew up in a secular Jewish family.  He studied graphic arts in Cologne and Leipzig before working as an artist in Berlin (1923-1933).  World War I and its aftermath influenced Eichenberg’s pacifism.  The rise of Nazism forced Eichenberg and his family to emigrate.  He arrived in the United States of America in 1933.  Subsequently he worked in the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, taught at the New School for Social Research and at the Pratt Institute, and chaired the Department of Art of The University of Rhode Island.  His wife’s death in 1938 preceded an emotional breakdown.  Eichenberg, after resorting to Zen meditation, converted to Quakerism in 1940.

Eichenberg created wood engravings of both secular and sacred subjects.  He illustrated classic works of literature and depicted Christ and saints.  Subjects included Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas Merton, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Cesar Chavez, as well as Eichenberg’s favorite saint, Francis of Assisi.  Images of Jesus included Christ of the Breadlines (1953) and Christ of the Homeless (1982).  In Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men (1954), our saint depicted an angel with a dove on one side of a the cross and gas-masked soldier holding a bomb on the other.  Our saint, who met Dorothy Day in 1949, created images for the Catholic Worker newspaper.

Eichenberg died of complications of Parkinson’s Disease at Peace Dale, Rhode Island, on November 30, 1990.  He was 89 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C:  THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS WINDOW MAKER

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Fritz Eichenberg and all those

who with images have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of George Fox (January 13)   3 comments

fox

Above:  Memorial of George Fox

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE FOX (JULY 1624-JANUARY 13, 1691)

Founder of the Religious Society of Friends

I refer you, O reader to this biography of George Fox.

I am an Episcopalian, not a Quaker; my spiritual type is somewhere between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism–increasingly closer to the former than the latter.  Nevertheless, I have great respect for the Religious Society of Friends.  The world needs more people like them, I am convinced.  This respect extends to George Fox, of course.

The Quakers have been subject to persecution in various lands over time.  In New England, for example, Puritan authorities persecuted Quakers, hanging some of them in the late 1600s.  Religious persecution has always been wrong.  Furthermore, the violent treatment of pacifists has been especially inexcusable.  I, for one, have always thought ill of those who have engaged in such activities.

Although my conscience will not permit me to become a pacifist, I thank God for the witness of people such as the Quakers, especially of their founder, George Fox.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace:

Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity.

Give us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided, that forgiven and forgiving,

we may ever be one in Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever,

one holy and undivided Trinity.  Amen.

Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22

Psalm 51:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

Luke 23:32-43

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), page A68

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