NFN monthly Quaker Meeting and Creative Conversation

Nontheist Friends Network invites you to a monthly Quaker Meeting followed by Creative Conversation. Each meeting hopes to offer a different topic, shaking the Quaker kaleidoscope and perhaps shining a light on different ways of looking at our (more) traditional ideas.

By Zoom on the first Thursday of the month at 7:00pm UK time.  All are welcome. (Zoom Room opens at 6:45PM, please arrive early.)

Like all Quaker Meetings , these are open to everyone: Quaker or not, ‘theist’ or ‘nontheist’, ‘religious’ or not.  So we look forward to seeing you there. (Scroll down for recordings of past presentations).

Please email to register.

Interested in presenting a ‘Creative Conversation’? All are welcome to share their ideas with the MfW Working group: Gisela Creed, John Senior, William Purser, and Kiera Faber. Email

At the AGM on 17 February 2022, Kiera and William talked about the Creative Conversations and about plans to shift the format towards giving space for discussions around a leading question, where Friends can raise their concerns and receive thoughtful answers. If you have any ideas or questions to offer in this regard, please email them as above. Further details published 17 April 2022 here: QM+CC new format 2022.

This will begin from 5th May 2022 with “How do I, a nontheist Quaker, relate to deeply Christian Quakers?”

2nd June’s QM+CC will introduce the concern,  “Humanists and Quakers – How do we differ, and what are the similarities – an interactive evening”.  Friends may find David Boulton’s QUG pamphlet ‘The Faith of a Quaker Humanist’ interesting reading in preparation for this session.

QM+CC intends to take July and August off.  We will resume in September.

Recordings of past Presenters 2021-22:
4 March: John Senior, ‘Seeking the Light – is Fox still relevant?’ (12 mins, 9Mb mp3)
1 April: William Purser, ‘Fox to Opium via Marx….?’ (28 mins, 20Mb mp3)
6 May: Philip Gross, ‘The language of poetry, and creative uses of the word ‘God’’ (Feedback and texts here)(14 mins, 10Mb mp3)
2 September: Martin Barker, Does prayer work? Evidence from science and the human experience (26 mins, 19MB mp3)

7 October: Howard Grace, The heart of our shared humanity (21 mins, 15Mb mp3)
4 November: tom kunesh, When non-theism isn’t enough: a marxian moral imperative (14 mins, 10Mb mp3)
2 Dececember: Kiera Faber,(where you will now find a timed transcript of her talk with thumbnails of the cyanotypes in place, and the audio file), Drawing Silence in Art (18 mins, 13Mb mp3)(Cyanotype images here:

6 January, 2022: Piers Maddox, Path of rightness in time of civilisational change (16 mins, 12Mb mp3)(script here)
3 February, 2022: John Richter, On the Edge of Quakers (18 mins, 13Mb mp3) (Transcript here).

3 March, 2022: David Boulton, Friends and the Secular World (25 mins, 18Mb mp3) (Transcript here (Word.doc)).

7 April, 2022: David Parlett,  A Theist Cuckoo in the Nontheist Nest
(29 mins, 21Mb mp3)

Typical Format:
• Zoom Room opens at 6:45PM, please arrive early.
• 7PM: Welcome and Quaker Meeting: approximately 20 minutes for quietly gathering ourselves and connecting.
• Creative Conversation: up to 20 minutes for presentation or raising a question.
• Open discussion: up to 40 minutes for creative exchanges, expressions, and reactions; hopefully fostering community and fellowship.
• Conclusion: ending with a few moments gathered in silence.
• Friendly chat: 20 minutes for socializing for interested Friends in small group breakout rooms
• Duration:1hr:45m-2hr:00m

24 thoughts on “NFN monthly Quaker Meeting and Creative Conversation”

  1. Hello,
    I’m looking forward to tonight’s encounter. As I don’t think any of you know me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about myself. I grew up in the south Lakes region, where my parents took me and my sister to Yealand Meeting for several years. I also did my last two years of schooling at Ackworth Friends school.
    After university, I wound up in Paris in the early 1970s, and have lived there ever since. I spent most of my career as a journalist, working for Agence France-Presse, and in later years there I did a lot of trade-unionism. No religion of any type during all those years.
    After retiring in 2013 I felt a need to re-connect with my British roots, and the Quakers seemed like one possible link. I’ve now been an attender at the Paris meeting for around six years. My views are basically materialist: I like to say that I disagree with almost everything that Quakers say, but I love the shared silence.
    Anyone interested can get an idea of my politics (but not my Quaker activities) on Twitter: @DSharp_Paris.


  2. Sorry for the slight delay in posting this David. I’m not sure that many will see it before the meeting but it’s nice to know there are Quakers in Paris (I think I’ve heard from one or more before) as well as in Congénie!


  3. Interesting then to see and hear you tonight David.
    As someone who is no longer on the NFN Steering Group, I thought that went rather well tonight for a first attempt with over 85 participants and given the struggles with Zoom – which can only get easier with time.
    A few technical points were raised (with both zoom and organisational matters) so I think it will be worth putting up a new post recording some of those and inviting feedback and comments either here or on the new post.
    I look forward to that feedback, any reflections, suggestions or comments here and there!


  4. While this is certainly off-topic….I’m sharing it anyway: LOL

    Rats and mice once were considered to be among the leading familiars of witches. Seventeenth
    century Quakers called rodents “the devil’s disciples” and said that they were carriers of the devil’s lies and deceits. A house or ship infested by rodents had to be exorcized, according to Quaker belief. The method was to write a stern letter ordering them to leave under threat of death.

    Supposedly, the rodents would find it, eat it and then leave. It was necessary for them to eat the letter in order to understand it. A 19th-century rat Exorcism letter found in the cellar of a Quaker home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, calls the rats “spirits of the bottomless pit” and warns,

    “Begone, or you are ruined! We are preparing water to drown you; fire to roast you; cats to catch you; and clubs to maul you.”

    The letter then instructs the rat to go to a neighbor’s house. In other lore, rats are said to be the embodiment of evil spirits and will haunts houses. Since ancient times, rats have been associated with the human soul. Their sudden disappearance from a ship or a house forewarns of death, doom and disaster.

    Further Reading:
    Cahill, Robert Ellis. Strange Superstitions. Danvers, mass.: Old Saltbox Publishing, 1990. radford, E. and m.A. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions. Edited and revised by Christina Hole. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961.


  5. I would like to ask David Boulton, or another likeminded person, for a list of contemporary books on non theist quakers. I already have his Godless for God’s Sake. Thanks. Anne Roy, Sheringham Meeting


    1. While this is off-topic Anne it applies to the godless quite well:

      The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.

      — Thomas Paine (one of the founding fathers of America)


    2. We are looking very closely at this Anne, with a view to putting such a list on the website. I have been in touch with David and one of us will contact you soon but please allow a little time for us to get this together!


    3. A good place to start is Derek Guiton’s ” A Man that Looks on Glass’ which critically analyses non-theism. Yes, Derek is my brother.


  6. Earth, Solar System, Galaxies and Beyond

    Post published:9th August 2021
    Post category:Atheism / Religion / Science
    Some personal thoughts from one of our AUK members:

    Our thanks to Roy Leon for sharing this short article on the vastness of the Universe (and God gets a mention, too).

    For most of my working life, I was contracted to the European Space Agency (ESA).

    Our magnificent planet, where all of us live, is just one of eight planets in our Solar System.

    Our Solar System is vast by comparison. America’s spacecrafts, Voyager I and II, were launched in 1977. They can attain a speed of 60,000 Kmh. Yet they took 12 years to reach Neptune our furthest planet. That is not halfway to the edge of our Solar System. It wasn’t until 2012 that they finally left us. The next nearest star to us is the Alpha Centauri group approximately 4.4 light years away. Travelling at speeds attainable today, it is estimated to take 35,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. On this scale, our fabulous life-giving planet is no more than a mere grain of sand.

    Our sun is just one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. About 100,000 Light years across. On this scale, our whole Solar System is a mere grain of sand. When the Hubble telescope is pointed in any direction, it highlights billions more galaxies. On this scale, our Galaxy, the Milky Way, is also just a mere grain of sand.

    Unimaginable as this vast Universe is; try to imagine, if you were the creator of such magnificence.

    Why would you select the grain of sand that contained our Galaxy and then the grain of sand that contained our Solar System and then the grain of sand that is our Earth and somehow descend upon it? Then create a man in your own image and teach his (sic) descendants thousands of different ways to worship you. Multiple ways to kill each other, if they didn’t follow your very complex and different laws.

    It is less difficult to imagine the vastness of the Universe than it is to imagine the mind of the creator. The reason is clear. He (sic) is only imagined by millions of different people in countless ways.

    Next to the European Space Technology Centre in Noordwijk is the Space Expo Museum. I have taken many friends there and they have been in awe of the of the posters depicting the vastness of space.

    One friend grew up in a religious home. When he saw the large posters depicting space he was in awe. He asked me, “Where is God in all of this?” It was an unexpected question; I explained that I was not qualified to answer a theological question.

    Many months later I took two more good friends to the Expo. They just happened to be Muslims. They were just as awestruck and asked the same question. This time I was prepared. I replied, “God is where he (sic) always is, where he always was. He is, of course, in your head”.

    You should now consider who put him into your head. Initially it was your parents. Later when you went to school, they confirmed your parents’ religious stories. When you were older you would go to your various churches. There you heard that all you had learned was ‘true’.

    This is the same story for any religion; passed on through millennia. Parents; school; place of worship. It will be a very long struggle to convince everyone of the futility of depending on a god to save us. But we must persevere…

    Roy Leon


  7. My thanks to David Boulton for his talk. I enjoyed it. He mentioned G. Winstanley and quoted from W’s “A Saints Paradise’ but I would like to know for my own purposes where the following quotes are from:

    1. “Heaven is not a place above the bright blue sky, but fellowship is a true Heaven.” Is this not also from an Anglican hymn?

    2. “Christ is not a single man at a distance from you but the indwelling power of reason” . I can’t find this anyway in W or Sabine; perhaps I’ve just missed it. Easy to do.

    And finally, ” . . . but is deceived by the imagination of his own heart’.

    Thank you,

    Gerard Guiton (Australia Yearly Meeting).


    1. Thanks for your comment Gerard – and I have passed it to David. I hadn’t realised you were in Australia (or Ireland).
      I too searched for the phrases you highlighted and couldn’t find them (except in David’s work) exactly although they are close to many biblical passages.
      Searching for ‘A Saints Paradise’+Winstanley yielded some very interesting results including these two papers by David on the American Universalist Friends website: (Winstanley And Friends)
      The second paper there on ‘The Quaker Military Alliance’ (1997), ends with this from David:
      “That means that, if we choose, we can look again at the New Earth which 1650s Friends strove to build in alliance with the New Model Army, and ask if we cannot pick up where they left off, building this time in alliance with the democratic process. Dare we resume the campaign for a society of equals, in which the power of peers and monarch are abolished and the mighty put down from their seats, a society which is not frightened to expropriate the rich to relieve the poor, a society which at last disestablishes the Church of England and deprives it of its indefensible privileges?
      Now there’s a Quaker programme for the twenty-first century!”

      Indeed, a potential programme and a challenge from 20 years ago.


    2. Good to hear from you again Gerard. It is now nearly 25 years since I wrote “Gerrard Winstanley and the Republic of Heaven” and I don’t even have a copy of it now. But “Christ is not a single man…” is definitely from The Saints Paradise and I’m pretty sure “Heaven is not a place” is there too. Good (cheeky!) idea to mention your brother’s book A Man Who Looks on Glass! I guess it is still available from Friends House bookshop, along with my response, Through a Glass Darkly: a Defence of Quaker Nontheism.


      Liked by 1 person

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