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Friends (Quaker) Dialogue
on the Internet
by Bill Samuel
Originally published December 1, 2000 at Suite101.com
If you're interesting in engaging in dialogue about the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) using the Internet, there are a myriad of forums that have been established for this purpose. Some are almost never used, and some are specialized as to topic, constituency, etc. I will describe here only a few of the major ones. See the For More Information section at the bottom of this article for links which include more forums. All the forums mentioned here (and most of the others) welcome non-Quakers wanting to explore the world of Quakerism.
Even before the Internet as such reached widespread availability, Usenet was established as a mechanism for people to engage in dialogue electronically. This news group system remains active today. There is an official hierarchy of news groups established according to a set of procedures, and then thousands of alternate groups established independently. Friends (Quakers) have long had a group, soc.religion.quaker in the official Usenet hierarchy. This group is quite active, and the topics under discussion range widely. There is a certain tendency for many threads to become lengthy and repetitive debates on economic and political theory, but you can ignore threads on which this happens if that doesn't interest you. The group is an unusual official Usenet group in that it remains unmoderated, which means there is no one "in charge" exercising any control over posting to the group.
There are now numerious Quaker email lists, but the longest running active general list is Quaker-L. After the list became quite disputatious several years ago, the list administrators began moderating the list, which means messages are screened before being posted to make sure they are within list guidelines. The list remains quite active, and covers a broad range of topics related to Quakerism. The moderators intervene if it begins to bog down in ugly disputation. To subscribe, send the message
When Quaker-L became a moderated list, some Friends objected to the change and established an unmoderated list, Quaker Spectrum, to serve the same purpose. This list is also quite active, and covers a wide range of Quaker-related topics. From time to time, it bogs down in disputes or becomes dominated by one person, but it always seems to recover eventually. To subscribe, send the message
or, if you prefer the digest version (once-a-day compilation of messages instead of sending you each message posted), send the message
There have been a number of Quaker Web-based forums/clubs established, but only one that I know about of general interest has remained active over any period of time. This is a Yahoo club called Dry Clean Only. The name is a humorous reference to the fact that Quakers traditionally do not practice water baptism. Like the forums above, it ranges over a wide variety of Quaker-related topics.
All the forums above have participation from a number of points on the very broad Quaker theological spectrum. A few years ago, some Friends decided to provide an alternative email list that discussed matters within a somewhat evangelical framework. Later they split the list into two lists by subject matter. These lists are not as consistently active as the forums above, and at any given time usually only one list is active and sometimes neither is. However, periods of inactivity have always been marked by a return to activity. By far the more active of the two is Friends-Theology, which focuses on theological matters very broadly construed. To subscribe, send the message
For More InformationFor additional information on Quaker lists and forums, please see:
© by Bill Samuel. Do not reprint in whole or in part without prior permission of the author, except for limited quoting in accordance with "fair use" principles. You are welcome to link to this page.
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