David Boulton – Friends and the Secular World

Our very 10th ‘Creative conversation’ is to be presented by David Boulton.
3 March, 2022: David Boulton, Friends and the Secular World

David writes:
Quakers and the secular world
Quakers have long insisted on a separation between the religious and the secular – hence the Religious Society of Friends. This follows the dualism of Christianity and Platonism, the belief that there are two worlds, this one and the next. Fears have been expressed lately that Quakerism is becoming too secular – yet we proudly boast of our many good works aimed at making this world a better place. I want to explore this in-built tension, and question how it works in an increasingly secular society where ‘there is another world but it is this one’.

(‘there is another world but it is this one’ may perhaps be a reference to Jean Hardy’s 1988 QUG pamphlet reprinted by QUG shortly before David’s QUG pamphlet ‘The Faith of a Quaker Humanist’)

David Boulton is a journalist, author and broadcaster who learned his trade on the left-wing weekly Tribune and as editor of the CND monthly Sanity in the 1960s. In 1966 he joined Granada Television in Manchester where he became editor of the investigative series World in Action and Head of News and Current Affairs. His books include Jazz in Britain (1958), Objection Overruled (1968, re-issued 2014), The UVF: An Anatomy of Loyalist Rebellion (1973), and The Lockheed Papers (1978).  A Humanist, he started attending Brigflatts Quaker meeting in the 1980s where he was eventually admitted into membership.

A member of the Sea of Faith Network, he edited its journal from 1994 to 2004 and was a founder member and first convenor of the Nontheist Friends Network in 2011. More recent books include In Fox’s Footsteps (1998 with Anthea Boulton), Gerrard Winstanley and the Republic of Heaven (1999), Real Like the Daisies or Real Like I Love You: Essays in Radical Quakerism (2002), The Trouble with God (2002, international edition 2005), Who on Earth was Jesus? (2008), and Through a Glass Darkly: A Defence of Quaker Nontheism (2016). He also edited Godless for God’s Sake: Nontheism in Contemporary Quakerism (2006), and contributed to Good and Evil: Quaker Perspectives (2007). He is a former president of Friends Historical Society and until 2020 was a guest lecturer at Lancaster University business school on consensus decision-making with reference to Quaker practice.

Website and blog of the Nontheist Friends Network

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