Quakers, Fiction, and Virginia Woolf

Quakers Today

Nov 14 2023 • 17 mins

In this episode of Quakers Today we ask, How do you process memories, experiences and feelings?

For the best listening experience we encourage you to listen to this episode with headphones or earbuds.

Rashid Darden's Personal Reflections

The episode features Rashid Darden and his reflection of identity and faith. As a Black person in a predominantly white faith community, Rashid's experience is unique and enlightening. He shares, "The surprising thing about my journey in the Quaker faith is that I'm still able to show up as my entire self and not be penalized for it... and in fact, to be celebrated for it."

Rashid Darden is an award-winning, best-selling novelist of urban LGBT experiences, a seasoned leader of Black fraternal movements and nonprofit organizations, and a professional educator in alternative schools. He lives in Conway, North Carolina. Rashid serves as the Associate Secretary for Communications and Outreach for Friends General Conference.

Hear more of Rashid’s reflections in the QuakerSpeak video, Growing the Community of Friends, Embracing Diversity, and Quakerism. It is also available at the QuakerSpeak YouTube Channel. Many thanks to Christopher Cuthrell for providing this audio.

Influences on Virginia Woolf

Peterson Toscano draws a parallel between the Quaker faith and the literary world, focusing on Virginia Woolf, a renowned early 20th-century author. Some scholars suggest that Woolf's feminist stance and innovative writing techniques were significantly influenced by her Quaker aunt, Caroline Stephen. She is the author of the classic religious text, Quaker Strongholds. This connection highlights how Quaker practices of self-reflection and inner exploration may have impacted Woolf’s iconic stream of consciousness writing style, particularly evident in characters like Mrs. Dalloway.

Dig Deeper into Caroline Stephen and Virginia Woolf

Quakers and Fiction: Vicki Winslow’s “Sabbatical”

The episode also brings us the story "Sabbatical" by Vicki Winslow. After experiencing the loss of her father, Silena Yancey travels from North Carolina to the American Southwest to find inspiration, which she hopes leads to equilibrium. Vicki shares, "My story 'Sabbatical' is largely a collage... In many ways, we're all on a sort of pilgrimage." This narrative invites listeners into the internal pilgrimage of its protagonist, providing a window into the process of self-discovery and reflection.

Vicki Winslow is a writer who currently serves as clerk of the Friends Meeting in Liberty, North Carolina. Her publications include Follow the Leader for middle readers, a novella called The Conversion of Jefferson Scotten, and short stories in both literary and online journals including the story The Last Bear in Deep South Magazine.

Read the full story in the November 2023 issue of Friends Journal or on FriendsJournal.org. In our podcast feed, you will also find a bonus recording to Vicki’s story.

Satire in Quaker Context

Adding a different flavor to the episode, Peterson discusses Donn Weinholtz’s book, Jesus Christ, M.B.A.: A Gospel for Our Times. The story is illustrated by David Weinholtz. Carl Blumenthal reviewed the short book for Friends Journal. He writes,

Conventional wisdom says that if Jesus returned today, he would be branded a heretic, a lunatic, or a criminal. Yet Donn Weinholtz’s satire on the Second Coming imagines him as a rabble-rouser, who, instead of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, plunges into the political fray as an independent candidate for the U.S. presidency.

Closing Thoughts and Invitation

As Peterson Toscano and the team begin preparing for the next season of Quakers Today, he invites listeners to share their experiences of the show and share feedback. Leave a voice message or send an email. You will find contact details below.

Question for next month

How do you process memories, experiences, and feelings?

Leave a voice memo with your name and the town where you live. The number to call is 317-QUAKERS, that's 317-782-5377. +1 if calling from outside the U.S. Or email podcast@friendsjournal.org

Quakers Today is the companion podcast to Friends Journal and other Friends Publishing Corporation (FPC) content online.

Season Two of Quakers Today is sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee.

Do you want to challenge unjust systems and promote lasting peace? The American Friends Service Committee, or AFSC works with communities worldwide to drive social change. Their website features meaningful steps you can take to make a difference. Through their Friends Liaison Program, you can connect your meeting or church with AFSC and their justice campaigns. To learn more, visit AFSC.org