The Quaker End Game

 

. To Ben Dandelion

3mar94

 

Further to our very brief telephone discussion today (1).

 

Bedford G.M. held a General Meeting at Amersham last Saturday.

The Clerk of the G.M. Joy Bell presided. She had discussed, and expressed her concern about, suppression in the Society with me for two hours a few months previously. She had herself raised the issue in Monthly meeting, the response being that it was thought that there was no problem. I should not speak for her. However, I believe that Joy cannot, as an example, get the question of certain medical issues into the Quaker Universe of Discourse.

I, myself a student of the Politics of Knowledge, was present among a total of 20 people, average age perhaps 65. The median was probably 67. It was not my intention, nor that of Joy, that the day should be effectively aborted. I would have much preferred to have witnessed or even contributed to one or all of the issues for the Peace Testimony arising as a result of the Kuwait and Bosnia (and East Timor) experiences, or as a result of one or more other recent experiences (2). It is easy to prove that there was no communication or discussion. Any one of the 20 participants will {have to} confirm that they learned nothing new about the Quaker Peace Testimony.

The meeting was 'to consider the peace testimony'. Kiri Smith, Watford meeting and working in Friends House or similar; and Tim Wallis, working for a social concern group of activists; were joint guest speakers. Joy commented favourably on the youth of the speakers.

No aspect of The Peace Testimony was considered, in a meeting lasting from 1030am to 4pm. [Note that General meeting grew out of QM specifically in order to create a forum for exchange of ideas and for discussion. Ideas were not allowed. Truly remarkable.]

A decade ago, Quarterly Meeting was modified, its business activity removed, in order to open it up for discussion. The resulting General Meeting is the last redoubt of open discussion within the Society of Friends, and its silencing is a clear indication that the 'climate of silence' and suppression of communication suggested in Ben Dandelion's thesis (available from Friends House) has reached chronic, perhaps terminal, proportions.

It was not possible, when one considers the evolved structure, for either Joy Bell or me to infiltrate consideration of the Peace Testimony into the events of the day. (This analysis does not arise out of discussion with Joy, and is mine alone.)

I do understand that the question arises as to what could have occupied such a long period of 5 or 6 hours in order to totally displace the Quaker Peace Testimony. The answer is that a number of originally valid Quaker principles were subverted into mechanisms for blocking the discussion.

 

The inner light was used to indicate that peace testimony is about the individual; what the individual does. It was used to exclude the group of minds as a functioning unit in pursuing peace (3). This is a subversion of the Inner Light concept, which is an add-on, by converting it into a sole avenue for the gaining of insight.

The speakers and most other people reiterated that what we needed was to hear personal testimony in a prayerful manner. This meant a personal position statement followed by no questioning by others. ("Prayerful" meant one-way monologue.)

The scene was set early on, and reinforced, as follows. In our personal, minor activity we help to generate an ambience within which macroscopically, wars will not occur (4). The dogma is that one's attitude to one's next door neighbour and to one's own children mapped directly, and most fruitfully, onto the attitude of two armies or mobs to each other. The only way to access insight into army, war and mob was through contemplation of one's own one-to-one behaviour. Other considerations were a time-wasting diversion.

A personal position statement was welcomed, and the mode was to say who had inspired the speaking individual into peace testimony (details undefined)(5). No one may investigate the statement. Kiri Smith emphasised that one who made such a statement should not be questioned about it. A statement took the form of saying how one was much inspired by perhaps Mother Theresa, or, better, by ones own mother, a great woman whose greatness had not been recognised. Exactly what the inspiration led to was not really on the agenda. Also, each speaker would show how apparently trivial elements in his life contributed to the peace process. A great deal of satisfaction was shown with this realisation, leading to a sort of "gathered meeting". Here we see an example of subversion of a Quaker principle.

In my small so-called discussion group, there was talk of getting more friendly with one's next door neighbour, or with one's own children. In my little group, I suggested that we excluded the class of man who did not beat his children but would join the army and shoot people. The dogma was that two classes existed; those who beat their children and went to war, and those who did neither. (Somehow, the major group in our society, the fighter who is kind to his children, did not arise as a concept.) I suggested that Quakers held to the concept of the "Noble Army of the Good"; that those who were not vegetarian wanted world war. This was dismissed as nonsense; Quakers were very good at making alliances. (However, work by Quakers outside the Society was cited as evidence! We are so far gone in group delusion!)

When the meeting re-convened after having been in small groups, there was no reporting back (6).

The cult of the mediocre was heavily emphasised. "They also serve who only stand and wait", and suchlike. The large body of people who supported the individual "missionary" were to be praised and remembered. Admittedly, the individual adventurer was to be commended for his courage, but was only lionised, not discussed. His backers were mini-lionised, not discussed. In fact, generally, a vast amount of praise pervaded the day. (A funny twist was that each cited brave adventurer failed in his objective. Very much a Scott of the Antarctic ambience, but that is irrelevant.)

The overriding control mechanism (7) was that each person, including the two guest speakers, talked only about themselves (8). This took the form of short monologue. These monologues were classified in various ways, so that the day could be filled. This is of course a throw-back to the professional church, with only laity and no priests present. (Individual sin-cultism without the priesthood (9), without the sin and without the atonement. Possibly the whole process was one of group therapy. Certainly the Bosnians received short shrift!) There was a strong feeling for consensus, but because of fear of new ideas, no mechanism for developing (rather than reinforcing obsolete) consensus.

Tim Wallis had said that in one of his activist experiences, against the building of a nuclear power station in the U.S.A., he had admired how one of his group, a farmer, had taken his tractor and destroyed the first part of the power station to be built. In my small group, when I asked what was the connection between nuclear power and the peace testimony, I received short shrift (10); "Nobody in their right mind would support nuclear power" (11). As to my asking whether the farmer had been violent, there was no response. (12)

It is perhaps regrettable that general conclusions should be drawn from one grotesque case. However, I believe that it is valid to do so. Discussion of the possibly untempered excesses of current trends teaches us about the deep malaise within the Society of Friends. Ben Dandelion points to the key problem; devaluation of speech; the climate of silence. Even General Meeting has been gagged. We carry on thus at our peril. For instance, failure by Bedford GM to address the Peace Testimony this year is very damaging. THE FRIEND shows that there is much to discuss. Ivor Catt 3mar94

cc Beth, Elder, and Ernest Morton, Overseer,

158 . Albans AL4 9XJ

 

cc Kiri Smith, c/o 14 ..

 

1 The discussion led to a letter from BPD dated 3mar94 as follows; Dear Ivor Catt, Thank you very much for your two letters.

As I wasn't at your General meeting, it is impossible for me to comment on the particular, but what you say, in the general, rings lots of bells for me; the individual Quaker belief at the expense of the tradition of the corporate approach to God, the misinterpretation of individual conscience as equivalent to the will of God, etc. These are matters I have written on personally as well as academically. Of course, from time to time, I wonder if the tradition has moved on past where I am, and that it is I that now represent the margins. That is something I continually need to be aware of, in a group which operates a doctrine of continuing revelation. Whilst there are mechanisms which operate to prevent change, the same 'masks' can cloak just how much change really has taken place. It is just, in both cases, that things are not always talked about.

However, I must say that the draft book of discipline heartens me. Here, I believe, is an explicit contradiction of most of what worries me about the Society, and I enclose a short piece I wrote a few days ago for Quaker News. Perhaps, all is not lost. etc etc BPD

 

2 I attended General Meeting Bedford at Amersham on sat27feb94. The alleged intent was "to consider the peace testimony". In the event there was no communication whatsoever from 1030am to 4pm. It was all very prayerful and so many people talked about how inspired they were. But there was absolutely no possibility for anyone to raise any problems arising for the peace testimony including the current ones, viz; (1) Quakers supported the U N but it went to war; (2) Quakers, having a fetish about international boundaries, supported police but not soldiers. A problem arises with the muddying of the concept of international frontiers. Not only were these crucial issues ruled out of order (implicitly). All considerations arising from the peace testimony were out of order! The whole charade was a spectacular tour de force.

3 and was further used to block interactive development. God spoke through one individual direct, so interaction was irrelevant! Disagreement (which was presumably the descriptor of all dialogue) would prove that one at least was not guided by god, who could not disagree with himself.

4 Tim Wallis insisted that this would only begin to bear fruit a decade or two hence. The Society of Friends had no part to play in current issues, and no part to play ever in formulation of national policy.

5 I myself did not give one. My personal statements attached to the tree which represented the Peace Testimony were actually questions, but nbo answers have been forthcoming..

6 I found no evidence of disagreement on any matter within my group. Kiri Smith was anxious that I should not question Judy Watson, Jordans, over her personal testimony. As to the other three groups, Pat Shea confirmed that there had been no disagreement whatsoever is her group. Walter Blindell, Elder, Harpenden, confirmed that there had been "not much" disagreement within his group. I did not find out about the fourth group. They may have succeeded in doing something useful, but we do not know.

7 in an extraordinary reversal of anti-egocentricity,

8 Frequently, this was explicity stated to be a requirement.

9 Laity are ignorant and serve as foils and money supply. Priesthood can have original ideas.

10 One lady's response was, "The Society of Friends is not political."

11 The blocking of discussion even includes the possible link between nuclear power and nuclear weapon; was Calder Hall a covert operation for manufacturing plutonium for bombs. Even this idea is excluded from the Quaker Universe of Discourse, although it would support the cause of technofear. This indicates that the primary fear is of information flow, not of technology. We know that,. because information flow is blocked in other areas, including theology (clause 2b) and the behaviour of Meeting for Sufferings.

12 I suspect that the Peace Testmony is not about peace, but rather about Technofear. This explains the heavy symbolism of the farmer attacking a nuclear power station with a tractor, an old form of technology and so benign. (Technophobes attack the newest technology, but technophobes happily use technologies a decade or two old, except extremists like the Amish, who cannot manage a button! A tractor attacking a nuclear power station is a beautiful example of the wrong side having to use technoloogy!) However, in the absence of communication, this cannot be investigated. In my own meeting, the Concorde airliner was thought with apparent approval to be a weapon of destruction. This makes sense if the destroyer is technology, not war. I found the same at Greenham Common, with man the technocrat and woman the artist or social worker and similar. I myself was in the ridiculous position of being (male) technical adviser to the Greenham Common women, so the dislocation was clear. I was warned by the leading woman, my host, to keep away from one gate because they were so anti-man. (Each gate was manned by a specific idological sect of women.)

[Interpolated on 15mar94. In The Sunday Times on 13mar94, Andrew Kenney discusses the ozone layer fraud. He writes; "The Greens need environmental scares as arms manufacturers need wars. A scare must satisfy two essential requirements. The first is financial: it must attract funding. The second is ideological: it must demonstrate the evil of modern industry." The Greens map closely onto the Quakers.]

iThe discussion led to a letter from BPD dated 3mar94 as follows; Dear Ivor Catt, Thank you very much for your two letters.

As I wasn't at your General meeting, it is impossible for me to comment on the particular, but what you say, in the general, rings lots of bells for me; the individual Quaker belief at the expense of the tradition of the corporate approach to God, the misinterpretation of individual conscience as equivalent to the will of God, etc. These are matters I have written on personally as well as academically. Of course, from time to time, I wonder if the tradition has moved on past where I am, and that it is I that now represent the margins. That is something I continually need to be aware of, in a group which operates a doctrine of continuing revelation. Whilst there are mechanisms which operate to prevent change, the same 'masks' can cloak just how much change really has taken place. It is just, in both cases, that things are not always talked about.

However, I must say that the draft book of discipline heartens me. Here, I believe, is an explicit contradiction of most of what worries me about the Society, and I enclose a short piece I wrote a few days ago for Quaker News. Perhaps, all is not lost. etc etc BPD

 

iiI attended General Meeting Bedford at Amersham on sat27feb94. The alleged intent was "to consider the peace testimony". In the event there was no communication whatsoever from 1030am to 4pm. It was all very prayerful and so many people talked about how inspired they were. But there was absolutely no possibility for anyone to raise any problems arising for the peace testimony including the current ones, viz; (1) Quakers supported the U N but it went to war; (2) Quakers, having a fetish about international boundaries, supported police but not soldiers. A problem arises with the muddying of the concept of international frontiers. Not only were these crucial issues ruled out of order (implicitly). All considerations arising from the peace testimony were out of order! The whole charade was a spectacular tour de force.

iiiand was further used to block interactive development. God spoke through one individual direct, so interaction was irrelevant! Disagreement (which was presumably the descriptor of all dialogue) would prove that one at least was not guided by god, who could not disagree with himself.

ivTim Wallis insisted that this would only begin to bear fruit a decade or two hence. The Society of Friends had no part to play in current issues, and no part to play ever in formulation of national policy.

vI myself did not give one. My personal statements attached to the tree which represented the Peace Testimony were actually questions, but nbo answers have been forthcoming..

viI found no evidence of disagreement on any matter within my group. Kiri Smith was anxious that I should not question Judy Watson, Jordans, over her personal testimony. As to the other three groups, Pat Shea confirmed that there had been no disagreement whatsoever is her group. Walter Blindell, Elder, Harpenden, confirmed that there had been "not much" disagreement within his group. I did not find out about the fourth group. They may have succeeded in doing something useful, but we do not know.

viiin an extraordinary reversal of anti-egocentricity,

viiiFrequently, this was explicity stated to be a requirement.

ixLaity are ignorant and serve as foils and money supply. Priesthood can have original ideas.

xOne lady's response was, "The Society of Friends is not political."

xiThe blocking of discussion even includes the possible link between nuclear power and nuclear weapon; was Calder Hall a covert operation for manufacturing plutonium for bombs. Even this idea is excluded from the Quaker Universe of Discourse, although it would support the cause of technofear. This indicates that the primary fear is of information flow, not of technology. We know that,. because information flow is blocked in other areas, including theology (clause 2b) and the behaviour of Meeting for Sufferings.

xiiI suspect that the Peace Testimony is not about peace, but rather about Technofear. This explains the heavy symbolism of the farmer attacking a nuclear power station with a tractor, an old form of technology and so benign. (Technophobes attack the newest technology, but technophobes happily use technologies a decade or two old, except extremists like the Amish, who cannot manage a button! A tractor attacking a nuclear power station is a beautiful example of the wrong side having to use technology!) However, in the absence of communication, this cannot be investigated. In my own meeting, the Concorde airliner was thought with apparent approval to be a weapon of destruction. This makes sense if the destroyer is technology, not war. I found the same at Greenham Common, with man the technocrat and woman the artist or social worker and similar. I myself was in the ridiculous position of being (male) technical adviser to the Greenham Common women, so the dislocation was clear. I was warned by the leading woman, my host, to keep away from one gate because they were so anti-man. (Each gate was manned by a specific ideological sect of women.)

[Interpolated on 15mar94. In The Sunday Times on 13mar94, Andrew Kenney discusses the ozone layer fraud. He writes; "The Greens need environmental scares as arms manufacturers need wars. A scare must satisfy two essential requirements. The first is financial: it must attract funding. The second is ideological: it must demonstrate the evil of modern industry." The Greens map closely onto the Quakers.]

 

 

High Leigh. (Actually Low Jinks.)

Ivor Catt, 13mar94 (amended 14 and 15mar94) This copy printed 07/02/02

 

Today I returned from a 48 hour meeting of 160 Quakers organised by Luton and Leighton Monthly Meeting. This adds to my recent experience of Bedford General Meeting held at Amershami, a recent P.M. at St. Albans and weekly attendance at Sunday Morning Meeting for Worshipii. I recently read through Ben Pink Dandelion's PhD thesis (PD) on the sociology of the Society of Friends.

 

The situation is chronic.

 

PD refers to the way Quakers are quick to identify bids for leadership, and use various procedures to obstruct one who appears to be active for the wrong reasons. The cult of being leaderless is very strong. PD discusses the various stratagems employed by the clerk of a meetingiii to impede a perceived bid for leadershipiv.

PD says that the absence of a creed led to a vacuum which was filled by procedure (=The Quaker Way, or the Quaker Business Method). Lacking credal content, form has been theologised. PD trawled eleven reasons for not having creed. None of these reasons may be used when analysing procedure (form), because form is now the dogmav. The dual culture of the Society of Friends contains liberal approach to belief and conservative approach to procedure.

I have discussed the problem with more than ten people. They all assert that the Society is conservative. They also agree that the Society is deeply conservative as to procedure.

Having complex, baroque procedure (bureaucracy), the Society of Friends will have attracted two distinct types into membership; (1) those attracted to its religious content, or approach, and (2) an incubus of those attracted to its baroque procedures; a special class of people who do not understand that protocol and procedure is of accidental structure, and is there expressly to expedite content; that procedure (=form) has to be continually reappraised to see whether it is expediting or blocking content. (The bureaucrats will defend our god-given procedures as one defends one's creed.)

The precepts of the Sunday Morning Meeting have infiltrated every other situation where Quakers meet, most obviously including the Quaker Business Meetingvi. The reason why a disagreement, or even a discussion, cannot be tolerated in the Business Meeting is because it is now thought that each legitimate speaker is moved to speak by god. The expression of dissonant ideas implies god disagreeing with himself, which is nonsense. Thus, dissonance is by definition wrong speaking because right speaking could not include dissonance. This has led not only to the suppression of disagreement, but to the blocking of the possibility of ideas being developed in the conventional repartee of dialogue, which would be god talking to himself. In this and many other ways, perversion of originally valid Quaker concepts has created horrendous problems out of nowhere and for no reason. The blocking of anything other than short monologue has extended into General meeting, which was expressly modified ten years ago in order to expedite discussion. Now, in General Meeting, god delivers a small package of his ideas via one mouth. This is followed by a short silence. God then delivers his next package through another mouth. Short silence. And so the thing repeats. Incredible until you see it in action, hour after hour after hour, as god's ideas laboriously unfold via five and a half hours of short disconnected monologue!

The idea of equality, the breaking of the priest/layman dualismvii, was in order to enable any individual (amateur, layman,) to make major contribution. This idea has been subverted into the cult of the mediocre; the cult of everyone having equal contriibution to makeviii.

N.B. Pat, 2.8.98 The cult of leaderlessness has led to the cult of the mediocre and the cult of the individual. The ruling consensus is that one learns only from one's own personal experience, which is then recounted to an awed, prayerful, audience. After no cross-questioning, the next individual contributes his personal experience. Cross-questioning would put too much, unfair pressure on one who was so brave as to deliver personal experience, hopefully very close to the heart, and would reduce the openness of the monologue. What a way to decide the colour of the new wallpaper! It is frequently said that the only valid information derives from personal experience. [aug98. Recently asserted by Elizabeth Fowler in a discussion group!] However, this must have unconsciously enlarged to information at second hand received verbally, otherwise there would be no point in all these monologues! However, the passage of such information via a third party invalidates it within the Society of Friends. We drift into such idiotic, stultifying stratagems by our obsession for remaining leaderless. It should of course prevent us from learning from sources such as Jesus and Fox, since they are not first- or second-hand. Quakers are flaccidly playing out the scenario of Mao's cultural revolution; Pol Pot's attack on the intelligentsia, and the 1960's Revolutionary Socialistsix, which last is probably the direct source of the nonsense.

I used to call the Society the Society of Friends in the Fashion. However, I now call it the Society of Friends Behind the Fashion. I assert that new information becomes kosher within the Society only two years after it has been headlined in the Sunday Times.

Now we come to the nub of the problem. The clerk or other official must move to nip in the bud signs of leadership. This confronts the epigram "The pen is mightier than the sword". Part of the defence against undue influence, a member rising above his station, is the evolved idea that the Society of Friends operates always by consensus. This is coupled with the wilful refusal to distinguish between transfer of information and the exercising of a "concern" [aug98 This is one of Elizabeth's stratagems to block communication.] Thus, any information which one seeks to bring to the Society must brave the steeplechase of a "concern"x, via Preparative Meeting, Monthly meeting, Meeting for Sufferings, to the appropriate committee. In the process, it is cleansed of its taint of personal power-seeking (but also delayed for more than one year). xi

These strategems are self-defeating. Let us consider one of many attempts to activate the Society of Friends. In THE FRIEND, 7jan94, Anna Barlow, a newly qualified solicitor, proposes to set up procedures to give access to all to legal process. She does not know that lurking in her path is the new ( not yet Quaker-kosher ) information that obsoletes her ideas. I will deliver the information direct to her, and so dislocate her proposals. Thus, a Society which succeeds in making itself obsolete becomes unable even to take obsolete (becausexii easily shown, privately, to be inappropriate) action. Any attempt to block the power which inevitably accrues to one who has information merely enhances that power while destroying the institution. For such idiocy to evolve like a cancer in what was called the Society of Friends in Truth, also called The Seekers, is a deep disgrace. There is no way of avoiding the fact that with knowledge comes power; refusal to allow that knowledge to diffuse merely concentrates powerxiii.

- Ivor Catt, member, St. Albams Meeting.

This copy printed on 7 February, 2002 121 Westfields, St. Albans AL3 4JR tel 0727 864257

cc Ben Pink Dandelion; Joy Bell, Convener of Overseers, St. Albans P.M.; The Editor, THE FRIEND;

Beth Morton, Elder; Ernest Morton, Overseer, St. Albans PM Anna Barlow Su Hall Jones

Janet Arthur Stuart Woodhouse Frank Parkinson Jan Arriens, Editor, THE SEEKER

Lois Jenkin, Nottingham Naomi Randles Gillian Ballance Eric Coates Robert Dunn

 

 

 

 

1on which I have written a one page report

1More broadly, my mother was a Quaker. I have attended Quaker Meeting for 50 years. I have been a member for some 20 years.

1I have personal experience of two of the techniques PD says are used to obstruct the development of new information and insight. One is the lengthy lecture by the clerk on matters of proper procedure (which is a massive demostration of the major PD thesis that form has triumphed over content), talking out the intended subject of th meeting. The other is the appeal for silence; very effective in disrupting the evolving consensus (or delivery) of new insight (and confirmation of the PD concept of the "climate of silence" and the "devaluation of speech"). (God operates through silence, and people, through speech, atttempt to usurp his rightful control.) I notice that the last time such technique was used twice, in a small group at High Leigh, two participants separately rebuffed the attempt to suffocate, and continued to speak. A mad problem fabricated out of nowhere by Quakers! However, this was an aberrant situation because I had delivered new information into a very small group; I had put the fox into the hen-coop, the fox being new ideas. The poultry flew all over the place! The reason why the barriers to communication had failed to operate were (1) the boss-man (lion tamer) for the meeting had failed to turn up, and (2) the title of the meeting was "How do you steer a course in a fog?" The intent was obviously to discuss personal fog, but once given an opening, nearly all of those present warmed to (and confirmed) the thesis that communication was strangled in the Society of Friends, which was thus itself in a fog.

1Any comment which would significantly advance or divert the universe of discourse is by definition a bid for leadership. Thus, such contribution must be blocked. However, the reiteration of antique established ideas (including errors) is not threatening, and will be encouraged.

1Since Procedure was handed down on tablets direct from god, the very idea of investigating its efficiency is nonsense (blasphemous).

1but even including General Meeting.

1which was the starting point of The Society of Friends

1which is hardly distinguishable from the Rome/Canterbury tradition that we left when we founded or joined the Society of Friends. To what extent this suffocation down to a standard mediocrity is enforced by a neo-clergy in Friends House or elsewhere is unclear.

I particularly remember the Quaker at High Leigh who took great effort to volunteer to me the information that she was losing her marbles. Later I saw every earnest Quaker taking her contributions as equally valuable; which she had privately assured me they were not! To be specific, this Quaker said that both long term and short term memory were gone. I hate to see Quakers as a group wilfully making themselves ridiculous due to slovenly thinking.

1Wisdom can only come from those under the age of 30.

1To the question as to whether transfer of information is different from the exercise of a concern, today's Quaker is nonplussed. Generally he says they are necessarily the same, and then rapidly digs himself into a pit of ridicule. That is, today's Quaker lacks the concept of information which is not an expression of the psyche of him who holds that information. What is so disquieting is not only that today's Quaker has not heard attr. Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", but further that today's Quaker does not understand the concept, also assserted strongly by Chomsky. By some sort of perversion of the Inner Light, today's Quaker believes that any information which passes his lips is necessarily supported by the speaker!

1I find that those who are frustrated by failure to deliver up to date information into the Society of Friends conclude that an inner cabal controls the Society by nipping off contributions that threaten their own narrow agenda. I suspect that it is more true that such powerful Quakers, to the extent that they exist, are defending a vacuum.The Wizard of Oz model must apply, given the obvious flatulence.

1cf my letter to Anna Barlow, 6mar94, my 6/18feb94 letter to Peter Lilley, and other material available from Ivor Catt, but for two years blocked from entry into the Quaker Universe of Discourse by the appropriate clerk of the relevant committee in Friends House, see my letter to Anne Hosking dated 2mar94.

1A chilling example of the kind of time warp that the Society gets itself into by suppressing up to date communication is the article entitled "Friends, Prejudices and HIV" in Friends Quarterly, January 1994. This article is packed with prejudice, but more seriously, it is totally out of date. [aug98. The editor and author of this article today refuse to do anything to correct the (by now obvious) errors in the jan94 article, merely threatening action for libel.] Friends make the mistake of assuming that since the author is editor of the newsletter of the Quaker Lesbian & Gay Fellowship, he will have done his homework and be up to date on the subject of HIV, which he is quite spectacularly not. He is even out of touch with trends in the views of Homosexuals on the matter. (See for instance the editorial by C R Ortlieb in the NEW YORK NATIVE, 5.10.92.) So the climate of silence leading to a climate of ignorance even extends to Quaker-PC groups like homosexuals in matters closest to their hearts. And he has the gall to write; "... what is needed most is knowledge and understanding. ...." "Education needs to be regularly updated,..."! "...The key point is to move ... towards knowledge and understanding. ...." He also makes the mistake of repeating that Helen Drewery, clerk of the Friends House AIDS Committee, is a source of information on HIV. He does not know that HD blocks unorthodox information - generally, information which would reduce the ability of Wellcome to make financial profit out of homosexuals. [This footnote added on 30mar94]

Updated into y28hlea from tg19hlea

ion which I have written a one page report

iiMore broadly, my mother was a Quaker. I have attended Quaker Meeting for 50 years. I have been a member for some 20 years.

iiiI have personal experience of two of the techniques PD says are used to obstruct the development of new information and insight. One is the lengthy lecture by the clerk on matters of proper procedure (which is a massive demostration of the major PD thesis that form has triumphed over content), talking out the intended subject of th meeting. The other is the appeal for silence; very effective in disrupting the evolving consensus (or delivery) of new insight (and confirmation of the PD concept of the "climate of silence" and the "devaluation of speech"). (God operates through silence, and people, through speech, atttempt to usurp his rightful control.) I notice that the last time such technique was used twice, in a small group at High Leigh, two participants separately rebuffed the attempt to suffocate, and continued to speak. A mad problem fabricated out of nowhere by Quakers! However, this was an aberrant situation because I had delivered new information into a very small group; I had put the fox into the hen-coop, the fox being new ideas. The poultry flew all over the place! The reason why the barriers to communication had failed to operate were (1) the boss-man (lion tamer) for the meeting had failed to turn up, and (2) the title of the meeting was "How do you steer a course in a fog?" The intent was obviously to discuss personal fog, but once given an opening, nearly all of those present warmed to (and confirmed) the thesis that communication was strangled in the Society of Friends, which was thus itself in a fog.

ivAny comment which would significantly advance or divert the universe of discourse is by definition a bid for leadership. Thus, such contribution must be blocked. However, the reiteration of antique established ideas (including errors) is not threatening, and will be encouraged.

vSince Procedure was handed down on tablets direct from god, the very idea of investigating its efficiency is nonsense (blasphemous).

vibut even including General Meeting.

viiwhich was the starting point of The Society of Friends

viiiwhich is hardly distinguishable from the Rome/Canterbury tradition that we left when we founded or joined the Society of Friends. To what extent this suffocation down to a standard mediocrity is enforced by a neo-clergy in Friends House or elsewhere is unclear.

I particularly remember the Quaker at High Leigh who took great effort to volunteer to me the information that she was losing her marbles. Later I saw every earnest Quaker taking her contributions as equally valuable; which she had privately assured me they were not! To be specific, this Quaker said that both long term and short term memory were gone. I hate to see Quakers as a group wilfully making themselves ridiculous due to slovenly thinking.

ixWisdom can only come from those under the age of 30.

xTo the question as to whether transfer of information is different from the exercise of a concern, today's Quaker is nonplussed. Generally he says they are necessarily the same, and then rapidly digs himself into a pit of ridicule. That is, today's Quaker lacks the concept of information which is not an expression of the psyche of him who holds that information. What is so disquieting is not only that today's Quaker has not heard attr. Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", but further that today's Quaker does not understand the concept, also assserted strongly by Chomsky. By some sort of perversion of the Inner Light, today's Quaker believes that any information which passes his lips is necessarily supported by the speaker!

xiI find that those who are frustrated by failure to deliver up to date information into the Society of Friends conclude that an inner cabal controls the Society by nipping off contributions that threaten their own narrow agenda. I suspect that it is more true that such powerful Quakers, to the extent that they exist, are defending a vacuum.The Wizard of Oz model must apply, given the obvious flatulence.

xiicf my letter to Anna Barlow, 6mar94, my 6/18feb94 letter to Peter Lilley, and other material available from Ivor Catt, but for two years blocked from entry into the Quaker Universe of Discourse by the appropriate clerk of the relevant committee in Friends House, see my letter to Anne Hosking dated 2mar94.

xiiiA chilling example of the kind of time warp that the Society gets itself into by suppressing up to date communication is the article entitled "Friends, Prejudices and HIV" in Friends Quarterly, January 1994. This article is packed with prejudice, but more seriously, it is totally out of date. [aug98. The editor and author of this article today refuse to do anything to correct the (by now obvious) errors in the jan94 article, merely threatening action for libel.] Friends make the mistake of assuming that since the author is editor of the newsletter of the Quaker Lesbian & Gay Fellowship, he will have done his homework and be up to date on the subject of HIV, which he is quite spectacularly not. He is even out of touch with trends in the views of Homosexuals on the matter. (See for instance the editorial by C R Ortlieb in the NEW YORK NATIVE, 5.10.92.) So the climate of silence leading to a climate of ignorance even extends to Quaker-PC groups like homosexuals in matters closest to their hearts. And he has the gall to write; "... what is needed most is knowledge and understanding. ...." "Education needs to be regularly updated,..."! "...The key point is to move ... towards knowledge and understanding. ...." He also makes the mistake of repeating that Helen Drewery, clerk of the Friends House AIDS Committee, is a source of information on HIV. He does not know that HD blocks unorthodox information - generally, information which would reduce the ability of Wellcome to make financial profit out of homosexuals. [This footnote added on 30mar94]

Updated into y28hlea from tg19hlea

 

 

x Ivor Catt,

31july95 Minor changes on 4aug95.

 

R David Langman, Clerk, Stratford PM (Quaker Meeting),

 

 

Dear David Langman,

Manchester: 1895-1995

Thank you for your 16july95 letter.

I note that both you and Frank Parkinson submitted to Manchester 95 papers on Friends and sexuality, and were both rejected. However, my rejected submission was on another subject, which is the Politics of Knowledge, see my 6apr95 letter to SH overleaf.

Right Thinking (PC) is rampant in the Society of Friends, and we would have serious problems even if the homosexual nonsense did not exist. The entrenched, deeper problem of Right Thinking can be expected to lead to Manchester 95 being limited to the banal. [I do appreciate that man-bashing1 and family bashing ( la Grace Janzen, THE FRIEND, 3dec93, p1557) will probably occur, but those pervade society at large anyway, and are part of today's Right Thinking, and so are banal.]

Generally, the Society of Friends will attract into membership non-Quakers who seek validation for their bad behaviour. At any moment, such group(s) could take control. It remains to the real Quakers to stay in membership until the carpetbaggers no longer need the cover, and go away.

Friends have been infected by most of the worst deviations of contemporary society, but generally somewhat muted. For instance, the adulation of homosexual practices2 is not much more pronounced in the Society of Friends than in society at large. However, in the matter of doggedly refusing to distinguish between the Messenger and his Message, Friends are even worse than today's society at large. Quakers believe that the process of acting as a channel for transmitting factual information (even as chairman of a meeting) implies the channel has taken a position on the information3. Disastrous. Helen Drewery, chair of the Friends House AIDS committee, blocked factual information of crucial importance, involving matters of life and death. Recently, a New York woman whose husband died as a result of blockage of that same factual information on AIDS got in touch with me. I showed her my many letters to Drewery of two years ago, at the crucial time, the very time when she and her husband desperately needed the facts, and Drewery, for PC political reasons, was blocking the very same information they needed to save his life. I have advised this widow to go down to Friends House and confront the information flow suppressors, particularly Drewery if she is still there. I told Margot Z that if she does not smash things up in Friends House, she will not be taken seriously. They will continue to lovingly, prayerfully, block factual information flow with impunity. Hosking also blocked factual information of crucial importance to the Friends House Childrens Committee.

Before the case of Margot Z 4, I already knew that suppression of facts can kill, but the New Quaker refuses to believe this. I hope Margot will prayerfully tear their hair out, in memory of her dead husband.

Yours sincerely, Ivor Catt. member, St. Albans P.M.

 

cc Elizabeth Fowler, Elder,

St. Albans

 

Beth, Elder & Ernest Morton (O),

St. Albans

 

cc Susan Hartshorne,

Manchester M14 5SQ

Donald Southall, Clerk of Yearly Meeting,

Friends House, Euston Rd.,

London

 

Clifford Crellin, Elder,

St. Albans

 

The Editor, THE FRIEND,

Drayton House, 30 Gordon St.,

London

Kenneth Goode,

 

St. Albans

 

John Leary-Joyce, Overseer,

St. Albans

Norman Marrow,

Watford

 

Drewery,

Friends House, Euston Rd.,

London NW1 2BJ

 

1The most important idea (because of its widely devastating effect on society) being developed in a resurgence of the medaeval witch-craze is the concept of (heterosexual) man as witch; the idea that the greatest threat to a child is its own father (but not the mother's new lover). This is quite heavily promoted [possibly by an alliance of feminazis and homosexuals] in the Society of Friends, (e.g. see Janzen), but is also promoted in society at large. The damage of this mania has hit Quaker parents and children in Orkney, but still the Society clings to the disastrous concept of man as witch!

2I confess to being repelled by my own anus, let alone that of another, however revered a Quaker he be. However, I am very happy to commune with anyone at the other end.

3Truly, the New Quaker postman would inspect and then prayerfully tear up a proportion of the mail he carried!

4Margot

x Ivor Catt,

121 Westfields,........

8aug95

 

R David Langman, Clerk, Stratford PM,

Warwicks

 

Dear David Langman,

Manchester: 1895-1995

 

Yesterday when I returned home from holidays I tried to react quickly to your question re. what to do. Here is a slightly more considered reply.

Padfield commented very favorably on a great deal of the content (in her case my letter to Dandelion and also myh report on High Lea - Low Jinks) that you received from me, and that is now under discussion ( - ".... What does our Friend have in mind...." in your 6aug95 letter to me). She then rejected it on grounds of style. I then told her that that was fine; Parkinson had published a series in THE FRIEND and so must have the requisite style, and he had already undertaken to rewrite my material1. The real reason for rejection - content - was then prized out of her. On another occasion, as I remember, she wrote over some material something like "very good, but it would not be heard". Thus we see that she is deeply embedded in the game-playing protocol before information is honed for communication - or should we say emasculated. The trouble is, if information and comment is doctored and bowdlerised, the ruling myth becomes more and more separated from reality and the problem increases until nothing can "be heard". Now the existence of a big block of money at Friends House would inevitably have led to ingress and reinforcement of a conservative infrastructure, which will remain until the money runs out. This infrastructure would include amateurs as well as professionals, because an MBE really turns an Englishwoman on. Ten years ago when I raised some of these issues with Ben Vincent, he immediately talked about schism, which shocked me. Similarly another weighty Quaker Robert Dunn. In contrast, Norman Marrow always urged the good Quakers to remain in membership; that the phase would pass. However, I think that all would agree that reform will be impossible until after the money runs out. Friends House is obviously a cathedral, and it was perhaps inevitable that its building would in the end subvert the heart of the movement. I was for decades strongly opposed to getting rid of it, but now realise that the true Quakers would never be able to control the activity within it if they built a cathedral and called it their headquarters.

If the professionals reading this can get rid of their preoccupation with their mortgages for a while and address these issues, they may be able to achieve something greater than paying the rent, which is to help to save the movement and cause it to grow, flourish and do good in society. For instance, it could rapidly turn round and help to save the lives of those with HIV rather than to kill them. However, like the broom of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, they are now out of control until the whole structure collapses.

 

 

Yours sincerely, Ivor Catt Member, St. Albans P.M.

 

cc Donald Southall, Recording Clerk of Yearly Meeting,

Friends House, Euston Rd.,

London NW1 2BJ

 

The Editor, THE FRIEND,

Drayton House, 30 Gordon St.,

London WC1H 0BQ

1Parkinson will not now touch Catt with a barge-pole. This is basically because of style, but also we differ within science in an area outlined by my colleague Theocharis's article in Nature of 15oct87 "Where Science has gone wrong." Also, I oppose him in that I believe that the current trumpeted union of science with religion (e.g. Capra) is bogus.

 

 

 

 

Ivor Catt,

15apr99

 

The Clerk,

Pardshaw MM,

Dave Moll,

83 Main Street,

Great Broughton,

Cockermouth CA13 0YJ

 

Dear Clerk,

re;

"Excerpt from Pardshaw Monthly Meeting Minutes, 24 Jan 99; 6. The Work of Meeting for Sufferings."

 

This was published on p118 of Quaker Forum part 4 1999.

I would urge you to recommend that attenders at your MM read Quaker Forum, (Part 3 contains a set of devastating articles by various members giving their reasons for resignation from the Society,) and also browse my website for discussion of the malaise at the centre of BYM. This will not be resolved by the kind of politesse in the Excerpt from your minutes, cited above. The sludge is too deeply entrenched, too thick-skinned, and impervious to criticism, for that. My heroes, Norman Marrow, Ben Vincent, Robert Dunn, all now dead, were too gentle and too polite for too long, and the situation deteriorated more and more. It is fifteen years ago or so that Ben Vincent, meeting me on the fringe of YM, told me he boycotted the main hall during YM because he objected to the way it was mismanaged. Did he tell anybody else? I have attended the whole of YM in three years; perhaps 1947, 1985, 1993, but I am not sure of the years. The last two really upset me. The fourth time, perhaps 1995, I attended for only two hours on the first evening and then left, extremely upset. (As an example, on the last two occasions, the appointment of the 'dots and crosses committee' really got my goat.) The last three YMs I attended I found badly managed; futile. I have never spoken in YM, or tried to. But I saw the manipulation, and the bad treatment of contributors. Five years ago I said I would never attend a Quaker Business Meeting again unless they were reformed. Beth Morton, a year before she died, was bitter about the amount of time she said she had wasted in futile Quaker committee meetings. More assertive action has to be taken to dislodge the rump, who know not what they do, and never will.

My mother was a Quaker, joined in 1925. I have attended for 55 years, and joined 25 years ago.

 

Best wishes, Ivor. Member, St. Albans PM.

cc Elizabeth Fowler,

St. Albans

 

cc Quaker Forum,

Tarbert