Introduction

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ESSAY INTRODUCTION

Long titles were once the style of publishing when the title was a sort of abstract and summary of the content of an essay. The first part of my title was given by the competition’s organisers. My response is the second part. So in my title we have both a summary and a dialogue.

The phrase “…answering that of God…” comes from a well-known and much-loved quotation from George Fox.1

The phrase stops before the last words of the sentence – “in everyone” – to allow a broader interpretation. So that we can move on to answer that of God not only in everyone but also in ourselves and in the wider non-human world.

Answering implies a dialogue – speech, language, and interaction in many different ways. This points to my vision of the future Religions Society of Friends.

1.1 Caveats

The subject the future of the Society of Friends is a huge canvas permitting one to wander and explore the whole library of scholarly work and the gamut of Quaker experience and history. To give a coherent discussion I have chosen to focus on and discuss only those topics and only those aspects of the topics that I deem fundamentally relevant. The reader should not assume that other topics or other aspects are unimportant or even irrelevant, only that they are less central or less fundamental.

My choice of topics and aspects is necessarily personal. This is not an academic or scholarly work and perhaps it is appropriate that it should not be one. It might be more helpful to think of the essay as a personal journey in the search for personal truths, written in the hope that others may find truth in it for themselves.
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1.2 Terminology

In general I have tried to avoid jargon terms and words with intense or overloaded meanings. I find that except in situations where one needs to demonstrate mastery of the jargon of a subject and to impress others with this mastery, communication and understanding are better served by plainer, if more verbose, language.

I am aware that religious language is unacceptable to many people, nevertheless I make no apology for using words, like God, that have meaning for me.
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1.3 Quaker

This essay is set in a Quaker context and I assume that most readers are familiar with Quaker terminology and experience. For other people, in an aside I give quick look at what Quaker and Quakerism is all about – in my view.
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1.4 Summary

For those who like the excitement and adventure of an exploratory journey, read on. If you prefer to know where you are and where things are going there are Summaries.
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