Chapter 28 » 28.08

We live in a rationalist society that has shed the security of dogmas it found it could not accept, and now finds itself afraid of its own freedom. Some look for an external authority, as they did of old; but in this situation there are many who cannot just go backwards. They ask for an authority they can accept without the loss of their own integrity: they ask to be talked to in a language they can understand… With these people our point of departure is not a mighty proclamation of Truth, but the humble invitation to sit down together and share what we have found, in the spirit of Woolman setting out on his Indian journey, ‘that I might feel and understand their life, and the spirit they live in, if haply I might receive some instruction from them.’ We approach them without pressure to accept a statement, or with proselytising zeal, but with ‘love as the first motion’.

Harold Loukes, 1955

27.02 gives a fuller version of John Woolman’s account

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