It is hoped that this book will be useful to Catholics and other Christians in tracing how Friends successfully employ a tradition of religious decision making which is deeply embedded in Scripture but which other Christians have typically lost. In particular, the ways Quakers seem to avoid the problem which face Catholics new to the method are explored. Social scientists and political philosophers are invited to discover in Quakers what may be the only modern western community in which decision making achieves the group-centered decisions of traditional societies. The conclusion discusses Friends as a possible answer to the common contemporary wish for advancement beyond the fragmented individualism of “liberal” man. Finally, the author hopes Quakers themselves will find in these pages a helpful mirroring of Friends decision making. Newcomers to Quakerism and those in roles of leadership within the community may see in this study an outsider’s understanding of the possibilities and pitfalls of the Quaker method of going beyond majority rule.
About the Author
Michael Sheeran, a Jesuit scholar, spent two years visiting monthly meetings and observing annual sessions within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting studying the actual decision making process used among Friends. This book is the result of his study and he includes detailed descriptions of the process at work and draws conclusions about what works well and what does not. Also included is a history of Quaker process. “Earlier Sheeran had written, ‘Quakers do not begin with a theory. they begin with an event.’ This event, this knowing at first hand that the continuous revelation is still at work is, in his judgement, what really matters.” –Douglas Steere, from the foreword