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Against 'The Light'

I have written a letter to The Friend, magazine of the British Quakers - and an excellent one at that, as far as church magazines go. It raises a small protest against the branding of the redeveloped Large Meeting House as 'The Light'.

"Dear Editor, 
As someone relatively new to Friends, after a spiritual search lasting some years, I remember well the joy I felt on visiting Friends’ House for the first time. The adventurous redevelopment of the Large Meeting House is something I am looking forward to seeing first hand.

However, I continue to have this nagging feeling that the marketing of it as ‘The Light’ smacks of following the patterns of the world. It seems to go against the principle of plain speech, instead attempting to somehow line up with ‘The Shard’, ‘The Gherkin’ and other buildings titled as ‘The’ something or other. 

More importantly, it confuses the spiritual experience of Friends with a material object. It seems as absurd as calling a state-of-the-art elevator, ‘The Christ’! I have heard the Buddhist master Lin Chi quoted on issues of iconoclasm, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” I wonder, also, what George Fox would say?"

This, I believe, points to a wider theological incoherence within the Religious Society of Friends - a trend I was pleased to see Ben Pink Dandelion take on in the 2014 Swarthmore Lecture.

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