My name is Jay Marshall. I am a native North Carolinian who has been a resident Indiana Hoosier since 1990. These days I introduce myself as a Quaker enthusiast. I have been part of one Quaker meeting (translate “church” or “congregation”) or another all of my life to date. For those who may be unfamiliar with Quakers, the group began in the mid-1600’s in England as one of several dissenting groups that populated the religious landscape of the day. Today, Quakers are a small but extremely diverse group scattered around the globe.
Often I am asked if we are the same as Amish. We aren’t! The only time I live without electricity is when the power goes out! If you see me riding in a horse and buggy, it probably means I have paid someone $50 to cart me around downtown Indianapolis. Plus, Quakers and Amish have different origins.
While Quakers have judiciously avoided creeds, they did embrace testimonies – truths that emerged from their worship experience. Major league concepts like integrity and equality have been key parts of our language and life together. They inspire me, challenge me, and humble me. No matter how well I may (or may not) live into them, my blind spots no doubt complicate it all.
In fact, life is complicated. What is good for one may be upsetting to another. What resonates as true for me may generate offense for you. Platitudes are easy. Serving God and doing good without somehow doing harm, however, has its challenges. At this stage of my efforts, I feel an urge to write—not to instruct or persuade, but primarily to give voice to the ramblings of my mind. In sharing them, perhaps they will provide fodder, a launching point, or a reason to contemplate to those who choose to read them and in that way prove to be useful to others seeking to make sense of their own complicated journey.