This is a historical presentation of the development of Quaker practice with respect to the authority and legitimacy of decisions.
Quaker Beginnings 1647-1666
6 The "regular meeting for worship" corporately seeks God's presence; the "special meeting for worship" (or that concerned with business) seeks a corporate discernment of God's will. The authority credited to such group discernments is extraordinary.
8 In Quakerism, divine will is discerned via the individual, not scripture nor church. This prompted various factions to some rather extreme positions (e.g., the "Ranters" and the messianic James Naylor), which then increased the persecution of all Quakers.
12 George Fox begins to articulate principle, and organize meetings for local affairs, particular those that were persecuted.
14 The 1660 Restoration of the monarchy brought further persecution.
15 In response 12 leading Quakers took it upon themselves to declare Quakerism as pacifistic in 1661, and implicitly no threat to the governing authorities, though there was no such uniform agreement to that position at the time.
16 1661-1665 a new schism of John Perrot threatened Quakerism, and much debate about wearing hats to church ensued, though he eventually left for Barbados.
The Growth of Central Decision Making 1666-1736
20 In 1666 Eleven elders, different from the earlier 12, issue a statement priveledging the communal discernment over that of the individuals' in London
21 Fox's travel and charisma holds Quakerism together and he spreads the convention of Quarterly and Yearly meetings (in addition to regular local meetings)
22 Individual discernment and personal infallibility: to test these inspirations Quakers relied upon the Cross (action contrary to one's natural interest/inclination), Scripture (though minor), the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (commensurate soberness, peace, quiet, stillness and strength), and Silence (and unadorned speech)
28 "Friends tests were not reliable," simple speech can be fabricated, and this furthered the importance of the check of community discernment.
30 Default of Localism: The Wilkinson-Story Dispute 1670-1676: Wilkinson and Story try to reassert the primacy of the individual, a yearly meeting affirms the primacy of "men's and women's meeting." The WR faction schisms, permitting the Year Meeting greater unity/coherence on the matter.
32 In 1674 Robert Barclay articulated the principle's of Fox's new ecclesiastical policy in "The Anarchy of Ranters" and addressed the difficult question of infallibility, which was now argued to be present in times of crisis, not the individual nor even group meetings. Friends began to defer to the larger Yearly meetings of Elders not because they had been present in the discernment, but because they placed Faith in its likely rightness.
35 In 1676 Barclay published "Apology", a book of Fox's teachings and philosophy which soon become a reference to the community and providing further coherence.
38 The Gradual Ascendancy of Central Hegemony 1676-1736: The Meeting for Sufferings as Lobbey and Legal Aid Society convene in London to lobby on behalf of Quakers' practices such as forgoing oaths and pacifism. This required coordinated efforts and deference by local authorities in order to achieve larger goals.
49 Participants are discouraged from repeating remarks; clerks should carefully prepare the agenda for a session
51 Stuart Chase's nine principle characteristics of meeting
53 The final decision is not a compromise, but a synthesis of the best thought
55 The attitude to which Quakers approach a decision in important
55 Bombastic quakers are discouraged, and shy Quakers are encouraged to speak up
57 Emotional displays are generally discouraged, though also appreciated when perceived to be exceptional and genuine in the person speaking
63 Quakers go beyond unity, but problems with conceptualization or achieving "consensus" and "unanimity" leads them to the Quaker sense of "unity"
64 Discussion is often characterized as exploratory at the start, which then (often informally) transitions to serious
65 When unity is congealing, the clerk needs to recognize this and pose the approriate question, Quakers respond with "I agree" or "I can unite with that" or "that speaks my mind."
65 Those that dissent might abstain, minute as opposed, object ("unable to unite"), or not be present at the meeting
65 "When it doubt, wait"
66 "I disagree but do not wish to stand in the way" : . . . the objector has thus endorsed the action of the group by implying that in his or her own judgment the objection is not serious enough to prevent action.
67 This allows some to speak strong but prohibits long term polarization, if the clerk allows enough time for this process.
69 "Please minute me as opposed"
69 "I am unable to unite with this proposal"
70 The clerk and those highly respected by the objector may make strong efforts to understand the roots of the objection. This is one form of what Quakers call "laboring with Friend X."
70 Absence: some Quakers don't go to meetings when they know there position will be a minority
71 The factors under which a decision might be delayed are (1) how deeply is it a matter of principle, (2) what level of respect does the group have for the objector, (3) how time sensitive the matter, and (4) how many objectors are there?
73 A myth, as defined by Karl Rahner and Herber vorgrimler, is "an intellectual construction that fueses concept and emotion in an image."Myth fuses concept and emotion into an image
74 Christocentrism: two sub-groups of scriptural fundamentalists and those akin to Catholic/Protestant mainstream
75 Universalism: But he [Jesus] was not God and his death was not salvific. Man is good by nature; he needs divine guidance but not redemption from a state of sin.
78 Social Activism: these Quakers are less concerned with theology then practices such as pacifism.
79 Democracy: Quakers have prided themselves on their "radical democracy" but in actuality this is not "democracy as many American's conceive it (majority rule) and this confusion can damage the practice of unity.
79 Many Quakers are "convinced friends", having joined while adults.
80 Ambiguity: some Quakers might even consider themselves Atheists, Thomas O'Dea noted that since there is no professional clergy, it is not surprising to find consistent theological language.
84 Conflicting Myths and Fundamental Cleavages: given the cleavage between the Christians and Universalists, and the ambiguity of terminology to describe a "covered," "gathered" meeting "in the light" with joint discernment, it is difficult to describe the import of the religious aspect for the whole community.
92 Stating the Questions and General Neutrality
92 Evoking Comments from the Silent
93 Discipline: . . . If a Friend was speaking too long, the clerk stood to signal that it was time to stop. In London, at least, this movement is so much a part of Friends practice that the offender who continues after the clerk rises is likely to hear, "the clerk is standing." Such a remark is ignored at one's peril.
93 Diplomacy and "Acting for the Uncomfortable Meeting"
94 Judging what is important
95 Judging the sense of the meeting
99 In his now classic analysis, Douglas M. McGregor divides conceptions of management's task into two widely accepted categories. The "theory X" manager believes he is responsible for modifying the behavior of naturally indolent, self-centered, gullible, and irresponsible subordinates so that their behaviour fits the needs of the organization . . . . In contrast, the "theory Y" manager believes that his subordinates are concerned about organizational needs, capable of assuming responsibilities and naturally well-motivated.
100 Theory X isn't applicable to most Quaker leadership though there are those that attempt to parlay their expertise into control
104 Lack of congruence between gifts, some are not up to the job.
104 Abdication of responsibility by "ungifted" Quakers, some use a good leader as an excuse not to have to participate or voice their own views
104 Overmuch influence by the readers at a critical juncture.
105 The psychological assessment of the right time to make a proposal versus the religious.
109 American Quakers felt little pressure to centralize because of persecution; this pressure came later with respect to budget issues related to social welfare programs and book publishing, which became associated with the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
112 On the future of Quakersism, the author notes that it suffers from the tensions arising from the individualistic/democratic tendencies of the U.S.
114 The author finds that Quaker unity and Senate and UN unanimity are quite different. In the Senate, it's a matter of expediency over non-objectionable issues, in the UN its a matter of avoiding going on record and making back room compromises