In the years I've been going to Quaker Meetings I've found just a handful of birthright Quakers (means born there). Almost everyone came from another religious group, or from nowhere.
After a while I started talking about Quakers, including myself, as refugees. Later I half-decided that a more apt appelation might be graduates. It certainly sounds self-righteous or tribalistic, but it may be more accurate.
This morning at the table Ellie pointed out that there are many levels of spiritual consciousness, and that certain churches appeal to some and some churches to others. We need not rate them according to excellence.
We know for example that the very fundamentalistic churches have often appealed to great crowds while main line churches sometimes seem to be withering on the vine.
One might grade churches according to class or economic level, as Richard Neihbur did in The Social Sources of Denominationism: Most churches (some call them sects) began with the humblest of classes. The members (and the churches) tend to move up as time goes on to churches with a higher level of prestige.
Long before Neihbur John Wesley remarked that God starts with the humblest and most disreputable people; getting religion they clean up their lives, become sober, work every day, stop beating their wives, save their money and become prospering-- and finally lose their religion, and God has the whole thing to do over. (This is a very free paraphrase of Wesley's remark.) He predicted that this happens about once a generation; and he actually expected such an outcome for the Methodists. Well it has happened, but over a much longer time frame.
But back to Quakers, why do people not born Quakers, become Quakers? I think one of the main reasons is they come to find their old group unsatisfactory. But how and why? I used to call myself a refugee, then decided I was a graduate (of the old group) Am I being self-righteous? Is there a progression of spiritual consciousness?
Jesus said, many are called, but few are chosen. Does that have anything to do with these questions? Tell me how you feel about it. What has been your experience?