Spiritual Craftsmanship - Short Version


Table of Contents

Having established to my own satisfaction that spiritual experience is a characteristic and fundamental part of being human, I turned to another widely recognised aspect of humanity – man the toolmaker.

The ability to make and use tools to change the world in which we live is an ability that we shared with the Neanderthals. Recent research has suggested that our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, not only make and use tools but have been seen teaching one another to use stick tools.

Craftsmanship, skill and expertise in making and using tools to manipulate materials and change the world, is probably as old as humanity itself. Certainly there were highly skilled craftsmen in the Stone Age and Neolithic periods before the ancient Mesopotamians, the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks. There is evidence of mature and sophisticated furniture and decorative technologies (dovetail joints, inlay work and gold) by 3000 BC.

I explored the notion of craftsmanship stimulated by Richard Sennett’s recent work on the sociology of craftsmanship, and also from my own experience in both practical and intellectual crafts. Crafts are always about working with a prime material using tools to manipulate and change the world. There is an aspect of design about this, which perhaps echoes the intentional design of the universe. In my view, design with the intention of realising a vision of some sort is a typically human activity.

Quakers care about, work at, develop and encourage good relationships between people. Fundamentally, I work at relationships with those around me and with those with whom I come into contact. For Quakers this is a simple extension of our beliefs about the nature of God and our relationship with God. It is also a simple extension of the basic Christian message. Thus Quakerism is, in part, the promotion of good relations; skilling, equipping and enabling individuals to improve relationships.

My craftsmanship as a Quaker, lies in the skill with which I interact with others for personal and social benefit, improving all our lives, lies in the effectiveness with which I can mend social relationships. For reliable insights into human behaviour in general and my behaviour in particular, this takes me into the area of academic and practical psychology. It also takes me into the area of spirituality for insights into my personal subjective experience (in the widest sense).

Mending and improving social relationships is the focus and core of my suggestion for the future of the Society of Friends. It is leads to a ‘how’ or a mechanism for answering that of God.

_Back to TOP


Add a New Comment

Where next

Up to About the essay
Return to the Short version contents page.
Up to Summaries of various lengths.
Move back to the previous page of the sort version Embrace science - short version
Move on to the next page of the short version Vision for Quakerism, which is the same in both version.

Move down to this section of main essay Spiritual
Move down to this section of main essay Craftsmanship
Move down to this section of main essay Football
Move down to this section of main essay Master Quaker
Move down to this section of main essay Decision making craftsmanship
Move down to this section of main essay Social Relationship

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License