Working on a Youth Book Project for Quakers

This past weekend I was in Greensboro, North Carolina, at a Quakers United in Publication (QUIP) conference. There was a really great group of people there, writers, publishers, editors, bloggers, you name it, if they’re interested in publishing and they’re Quaker there’s a good chance they were there (or should have been!). I was one of the people accepted to the editorial board for the second Quaker Young Adult book, an edited volume of essays and artwork projected to come out in 2010. The weekend was spent doing a panel for the rest of the QUIP members and then collaborating with my fellow editors on a call for submissions for the book, as well as some basic overall structure for the project, etc.We did the panel on saturday night shortly after I arrived, and considering that most of us hadn’t met prior to doing the panel, I think it went really well. The panel was meant to basically help the larger QUIP body see what we, the editors, hope for the book, what our experience is with (Quaker) youth culture, and how we envision the book working as a support for young Quakers around the world.

  • Some of my hopes for the book would not be much of a surprise for those of you who know me. I hope that it fosters friendships across the various denominational boundaries of the Friends, and in some ways fosters a kind of ecumenical heart.
  • I’d would like to see the book have a sense of reflexivity to it. That is, I hope that there is a sense in which the book operates as a kind of circular dialogue with young Quakers, who not only see themselves represented within the text, but also see the other represented as well (and here my hopes for friendship arise). But taking this further, I hope this book may operate as a kind of reflective (and reflexive) exercise insofar as it also gives us the opportunity to see who we are and choose who we want to be, as well as who we do not want to be. Pluralism flourishes throughout the Quaker tradition, there is no doubt in this, and while I find it increasingly important to start from a place of listening and friendship and see many strengths of a pluralistic culture, I also find it increasingly important to make the choice, and decide what we believe and who we will be as Friends in the 21st century. I suspect that in a way, this text can operate in both ways, friendship as well as this reflexivity. We can choose who we will be, what stories and theology we will own, that is what makes the best sense from the resources we have in our culture today, and what stories, practices and theology we will disavow.
  • I also hope to see ways in which the ‘old’ of Quakerism is being remixed with the new of our contemporary culture, that is to say, I hope in someways three is an implicit convergence within the book. In what ways is the old stuff kept, or lost, and in what ways is the new stuff being used to reinvigorate and re-imagine a tradition once so full of life, and hungry for new life.
  • During the panel I also told the story of my own experience with youth culture. I mentioned my time as a youth pastor at Barberton Evangelical Friends Church, as well as the friendships I’ve developed over the web, through QQ and convergent Friends.
  • Finally, the ways I hope to see it support young Quakers everywhere is by giving stories that cause imaginations to spark and transformation to take place. I told the story about my first encounters with immigrants in LA, and how upon meeting and hearing the stories of a number of immigrant workers (through a class at Fuller) I found my heart transformed on these difficult issues. Hearing stories from real people, puts faces to situations, and adds heart to often heartless debates.  I hope in these ways our little book can be a book full of stories that bring about a real transformation of the heart as well as the world.

The rest of the editors said many more wonderful and insightful things about what the book might do and how it could help young Friends everywhere, and so I found the panel to be a great jumping off point for the rest of the weekend we spent together. There seemed to be a lot of excitement in the air after that.

And I will say that all the work we did Sunday and Monday felt very productive, mutual, and for the most part shared in conviction and purpose. I look forward to seeing just what we come up with, and I hope the encounters brought about by such a work, will truly be a work of the Holy Spirit.

I’ll be posting the call for submissions here once they are finalized and I hope all of you Friends under 35 will submit something! Oh and one last thing I learned, never, ever fly US Airways, it was the absolute worst flying experience of my life – but that’s another story, for another day.