Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre has announced that the 2014 Swarthmore Lecture will be given by Quaker author and academic Ben Pink Dandelion.
Ben’s lecture will explore the theme of transformation, ending with a call for Quakers to return to a transforming and transformational faith.
“I use the term ‘transforming’ to refer to how early Quakers were transformed in their spiritual experience, how they tried to transform the world around them, how the tradition has transformed, and how we can be transformed, transform our Meetings today and act as agents of transformation in the world, all of which is what it means to be a Quaker in the world today,” explained Ben.
Beth Allen, clerk of the Swarthmore Lecture committee said “This lecture will be profound, wide-ranging and fun! Ben will help us to stay deeply rooted in the Spirit, as we live out our Quaker faith each day, and I am really looking forward to hearing him and reading the book.”
This will be the 109th lecture in the series, which aims to interpret the message and mission of Quakers to members of the Religious Society of Friends, and to bring the spirit, aims and fundamental principles of Friends before the public.
The lecture will take place during Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering, which is being held at the University of Bath from 2/8/2014 to 9/8/2014 with the theme “what it means to be a Quaker today”.
Ben has worked at Woodbrooke for twenty years, before which he worked for Britain Yearly Meeting on producing resources for learning. He has written and lectured widely around the world on Quaker topics. Ben currently serves as an elder in Sawley Local Meeting. As well as his Quaker experience Ben also has professional experience of academic study of Quakers with a specialism in the Sociology of Religion. Ben is honorary professor and programmes leader for the Centre for Postgraduate Quaker Studies at the University of Birmingham and both teaches and supervises postgraduate students in a variety of fields.
In an interview with Oxford University Press in 2008 Ben Pink Dandelion spoke about Quakers in Britain, saying “What then holds these Quakers together is their form of worship and doing business (also in worship and without votes) and their testimony for peace and social justice. To some extent, the silence of Quaker worship can accommodate belief including non-theism or anti-theism, although there comes a point when such ideas start to unpick the basis of worship and business. However, Quakers are also united in their belief that faith is about a journey of seeking rather than finding. Thus any position is held provisionally or partially or personally, thus further accommodating any belief which is not held to be final or for all people. Certainty would provide tension, not belief content.” You can read the whole interview at http://blog.oup.com/2008/03/vsi_dandelion/.
As is common with the lecture, Ben is writing a book, which will be published in August 2014. In the past twenty years Ben has written numerous books on Quaker history and theology Introduction to Quakerism (Cambridge University Press) The Quakers: a very short introduction (Oxford University Press) and co-edited both The Historical Dictionary of Quakerism and The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies.
The Swarthmore Lecture is overseen and supported by the Swarthmore Lecture committee, which is appointed by the trustees of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. The lecture is funded by Woodbrooke. The role of the committee is to discern topics and names of the lecturers and to support them through the preparation and delivery of the spoken lecture. They also work with Woodbrooke and Quakers in Britain staff to create additional materials and activities.