So FGC’s sweat lodge controversy, which has been simmering on a back burner for the past couple of years, is back steaming in the front place again.
Pick up the latest issue of Friends Journal — the February 2007 issue — and you’ll find that there, barely inside the front cover, is a full-right-hand-page letter from Bruce Birchard, General Secretary of Friends General Conference (FGC), quarreling with Chuck Fager over the issue. (Fager’s own letter about the matter was printed in the Journal last November.)
Birchard writes sternly: “Those who dismiss or belittle the voices of the many Friends who express concerns” about the sweat lodge — this being a finger pointed at Fager, the most visible of the dismissers and belittlers — “do not serve the cause of Truth in this matter.”
Lordy — them is Quaker fightin’ words.
Now, some of you, dear readers, may be new to this issue, so let me talk a bit about what’s involved.
The Quaker Sweat Lodge, QSL for short, was an annual event at most FGC Summer Gatherings from 1989 through 2003. It was for the most part a re-creation of Native American sweat lodge ceremonies, from the mode of construction to the chanting of prayers in Native American tongues, although it laid claim to the status of an independent, “universalist” ceremony.
During the fifteen years that it was part of the FGC Gathering program, the Quaker Sweat Lodges became their own little semi-independent sub-gathering, largely comprised of younger folks who fell in love with the event.
A Quaker Sweat Lodge had been planned for the 2004 Summer Gathering as well — but in the spring of that year, Alice Lopez, a non-Quaker employee of the Mashpee Wampanoag (a Native American community in eastern Massachusetts), sent an impassioned letter of protest to various parties within FGC. This letter said, in part:
The sweat lodge is not an experience, it is a sacred ceremony practiced by many Native American tribes. You need to know that for Quakers to offer this is totally unacceptable and offensive to most Native peoples. …We ask that you insist that this workshop be permanently discontinued. It brings disrespect or outright sacrilege to native people’s ceremonies and is a flagrant example of racism as it is predicated on an assumption that an almost exclusively white non-Native group has the right to usurp any spiritual practice it finds meaningful. … Just because it seems to be acceptable to practitioners of Eastern religions for Friends to include yoga, or Buddhist chants, etc. doesn’t mean the use of the sweat lodge is acceptable to Native People.
In response to the letter, the planning committee for that year’s FGC Gathering immediately canceled the sweat.
The cancellation was driven by the best of motives: the planning committee didn’t want to do something deeply offensive to another religion, and it recognized that it would take longer than one spring or even one year to discern a good way to go forward with another Quaker Sweat Lodge event. Nonetheless it shocked and upset those who loved the ceremony — even as it confirmed the gut-level reservations of those who’d never felt comfortable seeing it happen at a Quaker event.
In the years since then, QSL loyalists have debated opponents of the practice at length, without coming to any agreement as to whether the practice should be resumed or permanently discontinued.
The problem that FGC is saddled with here is that the debate is between two groups whose respective hopes for Quakerism are half-way irreconcilable.
Each of these groups has the sneaking suspicion that, if it loses the struggle over the Quaker Sweat Lodge, this will be the first step toward losing more and more — until, ultimately, it will lose its chance for its kind of Quakerism altogether:
On the one hand, we have those who believe that every religion has an integrity that must be respected — so that when a practice like the Native American sweat lodge ceremony is removed from the religious context where it arose, and grafted into some very different religious setting like that of Quakerism, both the practice, and the religion it is grafted into, are seriously compromised.
And on the other, we have those who value liberal Quakerism precisely because of the freedom they feel it gives them to develop their own personal spirituality.
Many members of each of these groups really do not understand the point of view of the other side; some don’t much care to even try to understand. Some of the folks on either side become agitated when the reasons why they take the side they do are challenged.
A turn-of-the-century Sioux sweat lodge site. A fire hole is in the foreground; the frame for a lodge is further back. How much, if anything, is going on here that we lack sensitivity to see?
And no matter how FGC chooses to settle the debate — by cancelling the Quaker Sweat Lodge permanently, by giving it a blank check to continue as it pleases, or by something in between — the mere fact that these two groups are butting heads over this issue, is likely to widen the gap between them further.
Now, I presume my readers are worthy souls who don’t wish to commit that same error, and are willing to invest the effort needed to learn to see the points of view of both sides. Let’s pause for a bit, then, to let the two sides explain themselves.
Here, on the one side, is Lisa Graustein, of New England Yearly Meeting’s Working Party on Racism, a member of the group opposing the Quaker Sweat Lodge. She has written,
“…I would never dream of presiding over a Bat Mitzpah or Yom Kippur service with our Young Friends. To do so, would be deeply disrespectful of Judaism and would leave the Young Friends with an ungrounded, shallow, and faulty notion of Judaism, irrespective of how we experienced those services. …
“Is our own Religious Society so spiritually bankrupt that we must go outside our own traditions to provide spiritual nurture for our young people? I am terrified that the one of the most powerful spiritual, transformative, and Quaker-confirming experiences our young people name does not come from Quakerism. We have such a rich, vibrant, and spirit-filled history and faith; why are we not sharing it — with joy, passion, challenge, reverence — with our children?”.
— Lisa Graustein & Don Campbell, “Two Views of the
Quaker Sweat Lodge Workshop at Friends General
Conference (FGC) Gathering”, Prejudice And Poverty
14 (Summer 2005), p. 10.
Opponents of the QSL have two basic concerns, both of which are visible in the quotation from Graustein’s essay above.
One is about the Quaker treatment of sacred rites belonging to other traditions — a concern summarized in the catchphrase “cultural appropriation”. As Bruce Birchard says in Friends Journal, “the members of the Mashpee Wampanoag … stated unequivocally that to allow a non-Native person to perform an adaptation of a sacred Native American religious ritual was spiritually risky, deeply disrespectful, an example of racist insensitivity and white privilege.”
The other concern involves what a sweat event does to the character of Quakerism itself. After all, Quakerism began as “Primitive Christianity Revived” (the title of one of William Penn’s best-known essays). Is a sweat ritual primitive Christianity revived? Martin Kelley, another critic of the QSL, complains about “younger Friends … spend[ing] a week at a Quaker event playing Indian when they could be diving deeper into their own faith tradition.”
But now here on the other side is Chuck Fager’s view, presented on his Quaker Sweat Lodge website.
Fager is a defender of the QSL because, for him, the key issue is not the nature of what young Friends are being drawn into at FGC Gatherings, nor the faithfulness of FGC Friends to their Christian-Quaker traditions. For him, the issue is the faithfulness of FGC Friends to the principles of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. The defendants (the producers of the Quaker Sweat Lodge) have been deprived of a “fair trial”, of their Sixth Amendment right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation”, and of the presumption that they are “innocent until proven guilty”.
Fager writes, “The committee ‘procedure’ [by which the sweat lodge was cancelled] offends every meaning of ‘due process’ and good order that I know of. … If I was hired by some enemy of FGC to undermine the Gathering’s future, I could not have hatched a better scheme than this for making it happen. Karl Rove would be proud.”
Fager is not involved in this controversy as an advocate of the sweat ceremony per se. So he’s not exactly typical of the pro-QSL camp. Most of those who want Quaker Sweat Lodges to continue are more likely to say that they value QSL as a spiritual experience unavailable anywhere else. Thus (from Fager’s collection of “testimonies”), one supporter writes: “The Quaker Sweat Lodge was the most powerful spiritual experience my son has ever had. It needs to be available to other Friends.” And another confesses: “I never knew what silence could be without steam.”
What the typical Quaker Sweat Lodge fan, and the untypical Chuck Fager, do feel in common is that FGC’s ban on the Quaker Sweat Lodges is a blow to their freedom to practice religion as they themselves see fit. By banning the Quaker Sweat Lodges, FGC has ceased to be “inclusive” and is on the way to becoming “creedal”.
We have now heard the primary arguments on both sides. But before we try to decide what the right way forward is, there’s still one more question we owe it to ourselves to ask: How well do these arguments stand up to scrutiny?
And unfortunately, the answer is that they don’t stand up well. Not on either side.
Let’s start with the arguments of the anti-Quaker Sweat Lodge critics. Probably the most basic is Alice Lopez’s assertion that “the sweat lodge is not an experience, it is a sacred ceremony practiced by many Native American tribes.” What this fails to square with is what the Oneida Indian Nation is now doing less than a day’s drive west of Mashpee, at “Ska:ná: The Spa at Turning Stone”, “New York State’s Largest Resort, Gaming, and Golf Complex”.
According to publicity copy, this 26-square-mile Indian-owned resort “features a vast entertainment arena, [a] casino hotel with bingo games, slots, and specialty restaurants, and [a] domed Golf Training Center.”
Ska:ná Spa: a promotional photo from its web site. We may ponder the national origin of the ritual depicted here.
The publicity copy describes the spa as a facility “blending elements of Native American healing traditions with upscale skin care and bodywork”. “Retail space,” it assures us, “figures prominently in the reception area, along with the salon for hair and nail services. This allows shoppers to visit before and after services.” (Services?) High-profile branding is everywhere: Kerstin Florian®, Naturopathica®, Kérastase®, Plantogen®, Molton Brown®, Penhaligon’s®.
At the spa, “the ultimate combination” offered is something involving a hot towel massage using oils from various native plants. “Treatments for two, dubbed ‘Dance of the Song Birds’ … can be enhanced in a private suite where the signature ritual (110 minutes) goes for $560.” Gratuities are expected in addition.
But if you don’t really need the ultimate, you can choose an interesting lesser option: to quote the publicity copy, “an authentic sweat lodge offer[ing] three-hour cleansing rituals for road warriors.” These rituals are held in a “sweat lodge made of red willow branches and draped with buffalo hides amid the resort’s golf greens, offering a cleansing, spiritual experience led by tribe members with drumming and chanting.”
And to restore your attitude after the sweat lodge ritual is finished, you can take in one of the entertainers at the resort — Josh Groban, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wierd Al Yankovic, or maybe the Chippendales, all of whom are (as I write this) slated for appearances real soon now.
I don’t think it’s too much to argue that this sort of sweat lodge, offered by an actual, official native American nation, is packaged and offered as a consumer experience, not a sacred ceremony. The very word “experience” is used as the central term describing it in the publicity copy quoted above. Moreover, as a commercial offering at a casino resort, this seems to me to prostitute the sacred aspects of traditional sweat ceremonies far worse than anything the FGC Quakers could possibly be doing.
So for the Mashpee Wampanoag to light into FGC Quakers as doing something supposedly disrespectful to the sacred character of the sweat lodge among native Americans, while a whole nation of native Americans are offering sweats to Anglos in as blatantly commercial, sensation-oriented, and meretricious a manner as we see at Ska:ná, seems to me a tad inconsistent. Is the FGC event really less sincere and respectful than the event on the Ska:ná golf course?
And this is not the only significant weakness in the anti-Quaker-Sweat-Lodge group’s position.
Graustein, as we’ve seen above, also complains that “we have such a rich, vibrant, and spirit-filled history and faith” and yet we are “not sharing it — with joy, passion, challenge, reverence — with our children”. Is this true? I have attended part or all of four FGC Gatherings, which I think is a fair sampling, plus sessions of four different yearly meetings affiliated with FGC, and many, many Sunday meetings for worship in various FGC Quaker communities. It seems to me that, in those settings, I saw plenty of ways in which FGC Friends were indeed sharing their history and faith.
If young Friends are turning to a bastardized form of native American spirituality in their Quaker Sweat Lodges, it is not because they are being deprived of exposure to FGC Quakerism, but precisely because they have been exposed, have weighed what they have been shown, and have for one reason or another found it wanting. There might be something they have to say to the rest of us about this, and if so, it might be good for the rest of us to stop attacking the Quaker Sweat Lodge and give them a listen.
So those are significant weaknesses in the anti-Quaker-Sweat-Lodge arguments. Now, what about the pro-QSL arguments?
The saddest thing about the testimonies that Fager has collected and posted on his web site is the profound lack of any comprehension of Quakerism that they display.
“I never knew what silence could be without steam.” Good Lord. This rests on a mistaken idea that Quaker worship is somehow about silence. For one’s experience of silence will indeed be affected and transfigured by the intensity of a sweat; a sweat is a psychedelic, like LSD, capable of opening one’s senses up to perceptions that normal human minds tune out. In William Blake’s famous words, a sweat is all about cleansing the doors of perception.
A sweat lodge fire at a modern Crow Indian event. The ritual encourages a deep communion with the natural elements involved, which is a good thing. But it does not necessarily draw one into equally deep communion with the Voice in the moral faculty, or with the subtle urgings of Christ in the heart.
But waiting worship, which is the original (and the only unique) form of Quaker worship, is not about having the doors of one’s perception opened — it’s about paying attention to something that every normal human mind is already connected with. Because this is so, it doesn’t depend on silence: the silence of a traditional Quaker meeting is a by-product of waiting worship, not a precondition for it.
Waiting worship isn’t about getting perceptually cleansed, so sweats and other psychedelics won’t help it along. It’s about listening to the voice in the heart and the conscience, and that voice will sound just as loud, and speak just as clearly, whether one is sitting in silence on Firbank Fell, hunkered down under fire in Basra, or standing on the corner at Twelfth Street and Vine.
Fager’s testimonies are thus an unintentional confession that — while the testifiers have undoubtedly been exposed to FGC’s history and faith — they have never learned what Friends do when they worship.
This same fact also comes out in Anglo (non-native American) talk of the sweat lodge as a “liminal” rite. George Price, founder of the Quaker Sweat Lodge, is only one of many people who have described sweat ceremonies in “liminal” terms. The idea is that a sweat participant enters the lodge as if he or she were reëntering the womb, and in the lodge, crosses a threshhold (“limen”) by which he dies to his old life and then starts over, “born again”.
Liminality is a nice metaphor; in fact, the first Christians used the same metaphor to express the meaning of water baptism. And many Friends have had powerful experiences of being reborn in God’s Spirit. (I have myself.) But Quakerism isn’t about inducing such experiences by ritual means; it’s simply about living together in faithfulness to the Guide in our hearts and consciences.
By highlighting the fact that the Quaker Sweat Lodge experience is something quite different from Quaker worship, and that the “liminal” transformation is something quite different from Quaker practice, Fager’s testimonies and George Price’s talk of “liminality” both point to the fact that the QSL truly is a different sort of religion from Quakerism. And as such, there is no real reason why the FGC Gatherings need a Quaker Sweat Lodge component, any more than they need a water baptism component, an LSD component, or for that matter a Santería component.
Fager’s own arguments, on the other hand, rest not on discoveries made experientially in a sweat, but on appeals to the U.S. Constitution. He invokes — as I’ve noted above — the right to a “fair trial”, the Sixth Amendment right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation”, and the presumption that a person is “innocent until proven guilty”. And this betrays as basic a misunderstanding as the business about silence and steam does.
For Quakerism is not, properly or historically, a legalistic religion, like the religion of the Pharisees or the religion of the fundamentalists. Nor is it a cult of individual rights, like the ACLU. The principles of the U.S. Constitution are in many ways admirable, but what happened to the Quaker Sweat Lodge in 2004 did not involve some sort of defiance of basic Quaker legal principles, for the simple fact that it was not a trial and conviction of Friends George Price, Breeze Richardson (née Luetke-Stahlman), and Cullen Carns-Hilliker; it was the precautionary cancellation of an event.
Let’s face it: such cancellations happen all the time. Nightclubs cancel appearances by bands if they have reason to believe the band’s audience might turn violent; doing this is not the same as convicting the band itself of some crime. Hockey players and university professors accused of some misdeed will be suspended while the matter is being investigated; there is no presumption of guilt involved, just an attitude that business as usual would not be appropriate while such a major concern remains unsettled.
The cancellation of the 2004 Quaker Sweat Lodge was a case of the same sort. Histrionics about how Price, Richardson and Carns-Hilliker were “found guilty” by the FGC planning committee are simply inappropriate.
Fager is in any case perhaps not the best choice of apologist for the pro-Quaker Sweat Lodge position. One page of his web site features photos of Quaker Sweat Lodge participants, over captions that ask, “Take a close look: is this a display of ‘flagrant racism’?” One looks at these photos, and sees that, of the dozens of people pictured, every single one is non-native American (“Anglo”). It’s like waving around a photo of the all-white membership of a country club in Philadelphia while demanding to know, “Is this a display of flagrant racism?”
One of Chuck Fager’s photos of participants at a Quaker Sweat Lodge.
But it would seem, in any case, that neither side in this controversy really has much of a complaint. The native Americans have not been done any greater disservice by FGC Friends than they are doing to themselves with Ska:ná Spa. Critics of the Quaker Sweat Lodge are not being denied the opportunity to make a sales pitch for Quakerism to the kids involved. The QSL participants are not being denied a chance to practice a superior form of Quakerism at a Quaker gathering. And the QSL organizers are not being unjustly tried or unjustly convicted, they are merely having to wait while Friends sort things out.
The real problem is not that any injustice is being done to anybody. The real problem is that the two sides want to fight, and each wants to win.
Readers of this journal will already have gathered that my own view of Quakerism is different from both Graustein’s and Fager’s.
I don’t regard Quakerism as a theater for interreligious experimentation protected by the Bill of Rights. But neither do I regard the FGC Gatherings as a place from which everything non-Quaker should be excluded. To me, both sides of that debate miss the point. I am mindful that our Religious Society began as a tribal community established to set a new example of faithfulness to the teachings and example of Christ. Such faithfulness demands adaptability, but not interreligious experimentation. It demands anchoredness and focus but not exclusion.
And the key word here, I think, is “faithfulness” rather than “faith”. “Faith”, or “belief”, connotes something mental: it becomes a narrowness and rigidity of mind, and engenders institutions that are equally narrow and rigid. “Faithfulness” on the other hand is not mental but relational: it’s a matter of following Christ in whatever journey he may choose to lead us, and the journeys he leads us on have a tendency to surprise us, challenge our preconceptions, and loosen up our minds and hearts.
Thus ours has not been a rigid, changeless, religion, even though Quaker elders tried for a while to make it so. And I don’t think it can be made to become rigid and changeless now. But Quakerism does have a groundedness in Christ’s teachings and example, as expressed in Penn’s essay title “Primitive Christianity Revived”, and that groundedness is built right into the logic of every one of its practices — waiting worship, corporate discernment, prophetic witness, the testimonies of pacifism, integrity and community, and so on.
That groundedness is what determines the meaning and character of those practices, and gives them their general sense. For instance, it is loyalty, not just to pacifism, but specifically to the pacifism of Christ — the pacifism of a God whose kingdom was not of this world — that explains why Friends have historically refused to fight even when every practical worldly consideration would have found better sense in fighting. And it is worship, not just as a place where each person can come and practice something different, but as an active group attentiveness to the urgings of the living Christ in our hearts and consciences, that makes unified corporate discernments possible.
Without that groundedness, our practices decay into dysfunctional parodies of themselves. Waiting worship decays into “silent worship”, and corporate discernment into a “consensus” practice that conceals the differences between opposing parties. Prophetic witness decays into protests, and the testimonies into social and political maneuvers. To deny the importance of that groundedness is not just to lose sight of what Quakerism is about, it’s to lose possession of functional Quakerism altogether.
As a tribal faith, Quakerism is something that evolved out of prophetic Judaism, by way of Christ and the Church, in a process encompassing millennia of spiritual exploration and slow, painful recovery from errors. Quakerism’s collective awareness of the damage done by such errors — from the Inquisition on the one hand and the Münster Anabaptist commune on the other, down through Ranterism on the one hand and the Restorationist right-wing backlash on the other, to the modern extremes of the Christian Right on one the hand and Haight-Ashbury and Rajneeshpuram on the other, EFI on the one hand and FGC on the other — is one of the things that has done the most to shape it.
And thus, while modern liberal Friends’ willingness to try new things may be the first thing to catch many newcomers’ eyes, I see Quakerism’s essential shape as determined by a great deal of hard-to-come-by accumulated wisdom. Its central moving parts — worship, discernment, clerking, eldership, corporate witness, caring service, plain speech, radical simplicity, mutual accountability, intimacy and immediacy, and so forth — fit together like the parts of a well-designed engine, with a precision and an economy of design that need to be respected for the whole thing to work properly.
When the design and its precision are kept intact, the engine generates a spiritual power that I personally find astounding. I think, for example, of how it defused Puritan and Restoration intolerance of religious dissent, how it guided Friends in their ultimately successful handling of the slavery question, how it fed tens of thousands of war victims in the aftermath of World War I, how it enabled Friends to establish conscientious objection as an acceptable stance in wartime, and how it made Friends an important shaping influence on the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and early 1960s.
These were not minor accomplishments, friends; and I honestly doubt that our Society could have accomplished any of them if its internal workings had been any less coherent.
When the design and its precision are forgotten, events like the FGC Gatherings decay into twelve-ring circuses. And my impression of the FGC Gatherings is that their organizers are to some extent caught up in a constant struggle against that tendency. Their strategy over the years has been to pick an overriding theme for each Gathering — such as “…but who is my neighbor?”, the theme for this current year’s event — which will pull together at least some portion of the activities there, and so reduce the sense of its being a circus.
But of course, this does not eliminate the circus-like character of the event, which remains quite pronounced. And it doesn’t even begin to restore the FGC Gatherings to the way that they would feel were they composed of participants who’d all come together for a single common purpose. The unifying power of a theme is just no substitute for the unifying power of a common spiritual focus.
Grafting something like the Quaker Sweat Lodge onto the framework of a living Quakerism does not destroy Quakerism. But it may not be the wisest thing to do, because it clearly does not help QSL participants to understand or appreciate what Quakerism is actually all about. And without such an understanding and such an appreciation, the FGC Summer Gatherings remain a twelve-ring circus, rather than a true Quaker event.
So — is there a solution to the controversy? I think there is, although what I see as the solution is unlikely to be popular with very many people. (Remember, the two sides want to fight; they will not appreciate anything that gets in the way of this desire.)
First, the two sides need to stop quarreling. No further accusations, no impassioned web sites or impassioned downloadable essays, nothing like that. The way of peace is the way of not-fighting, and the only way to get there is by not-fighting.
Second, there must be mutual listening on a much deeper level. Participants in, and defenders of, the Quaker Sweat Lodge need to learn what waiting worship is, and learn how to practice it, well enough to see that the Quaker Sweat Lodge is no substitute, while opponents of the Quaker Sweat Lodge need to learn its rewards well enough to understand why the participants love it so. For only by getting to that point can the two sides lose their taste for quarreling.
Third, both sides need to get a psychological divorce from the native American cause. Both sides currently seem to think they are defending native American spirituality by what they are doing — the advocates of the Quaker Sweat Lodge, by encouraging sweat lodge ceremonies; the opponents, by opposing “cultural appropriation”.
But the advocates need to understand that if sweat lodge ceremonies really built up native American spirituality, the sweat lodge leaders among the Oneida wouldn’t be endorsing resort/casino endeavors like Turning Stone. And the opponents need to understand that if the culture of native Americans can survive Ska:ná, it can most certainly survive the respectful explorations of Friends, and that the brittle Mashpee Wampanoag hostility to Anglo sweats has nothing to do with the greatness of spirit that so many of the native American leaders displayed down through history — and that we ourselves so very dearly hope to learn.
(The New Testament dishes out a bit of advice about the importance of “testing the spirits” that seems very relevant to me here. Not that the spirit of native American religion is necessarily a bad one. But I think one has to wonder about the spirit behind Turning Stone, and about the one behind the Mashpee Wampanoag attitude.)
The main entrance to Turning Stone Resort and Casino, where the Oneida Nation offers sweat ceremonies to “road warriors” for a steep fee. Only a very small part of the overall facility can be seen in this shot.
Fourth, there’s an unsettled question as to whether the Quaker Sweat Lodge can actually be integrated into real Quaker religion or not. We’ve already seen that it aims at a different sort of goal — a liminal rebirth, a cleansing of perception — from what Quakerism is actually about.
If we cannot discover a bridge between what it aims at, and what Quakerism is about, that allows it to become a truly integral part of Quakerism, then there’s really no reason why it should remain as part of the FGC Gathering. Let it spin itself off as a separate event, the way AFSC and FCNL meetings are separate events. But if there actually is such a bridge, it’s to everyone’s benefit to discover what that bridge is and take some advantage of it. There’s a crying need for us to talk this thing out and work it through.
Finally, the fact that the young Friends involved in the Quaker Sweat Lodge have been doing something genuinely spiritual and catalytic needs to be recognized and honored, and they need to be given a chance to do the same sort of work, within the Quaker religion, that up to now they’ve only felt free to do within the tiny confines of QSL. Maybe they don’t want that chance; maybe they have no interest in the real Quaker religion. But the chance should be offered them, and if they take it up, there needs to be a two-way commitment.
Can the Quaker Sweat Lodge leaders give the rest of us the commitment, and can their opponents promise to make some room for it, so that the sweat lodge crowd can facilitate a rediscovery of waiting worship as they have already facilitated a Quaker discovery of sweats? Would they be willing to commit, and their opponents be willing to give them the same sort of space and autonomy, in which to explore Quaker practice, that they were given to explore sweat ceremonies?
Big questions, these. But these are the sorts of things that genuine reconciliation is all about. And Quakerism is not Quakerism without genuine reconciliation.