I'm taking these answers from blog to which I link in my Questions, Questions post, and since I can't directly link to the parts of the comments I want you to see, I'll quote them here for you:
But by the time working class/degreeless adults walk through our meetingroom doors, they've likely been exposed to the more black-and-white thinking all their life that somehow works for them as adults. And without an education or role-modeling that teaches them to think beyond short-term, tangible results, won't they be lost in the abstract critical thinking and philosphizing that goes on during fellowship hour? from LizOppReally? Working class/degreeless adults in Meeting need education from privileged folks like you? Working class/degreeless adults need to learn a better way to be and only privileged people know what that better way is?
One mistake middle and owning class Friends make when relating with poor and working class people is paternalism, which, according to dictionary.com is defined as "the system, principle, or practice of managing or governing individuals, businesses, nations, etc., in the manner of a father dealing benevolently and often intrusively with his children."
It's good to be benevolent, isn't it? But don't we know that benevolence can go too far? Like, say, telling a working class or poor person that the middle class way of doing things is better.
One of the hallmarks of Quaker theology (as I understand it) is the ability to live in the moment and the Presence, even if that means dealing with the tensions of not having answers or not knowing. Most educatiors would say that living in such ambiguity is a sophisticated place developmentally. from Omar P.My first response to reading this was "So then what in the world drew so many poor people to early Quakerism? What in the world drew unsophisticated me? Free coffee and cookies after Meeting?"
Is Omar really saying that God should only be accessible to the intellectual elite?
Nope. it's paternalism again. But his answer also reveals an intellectual arrogance that keeps poor and working class people away. The Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church and the Baptist Church all accept different levels of engagement, from going to church and doing as the minister or priest says, to intellectual book groups. In those churches, God is accessible to everyone.
It's still very hard for me to "live in the moment and the Presence," but when I do and can, it's more rewarding than any other church service I've ever attended. I had to learn to do it, but I did it on my own terms and in my own way. If I'd read Omar's post when I first came to Meeting, I would have left because I was not intellectually as advanced as him (and most people in Meeting). I worry that other working class or poor people will read his statement and unnecessarily choose not to go to Meeting. I worry that other Friends are saying similar statements because it's so appealing to acquiesce to an academic authority.
Most Friends to whom I've talked says it's hard for them to acquiesce to God's will. Giving in to the will of an authority is something many working class people understand because it's what the system has taught us to do. Why isn't this talked about as a Quaker theological asset, as something working class people have to teach privileged Friends whose entitlement gives them the idea they get to pick and choose what's convenient for their lives?
When you receive a messege, run it through your mind a few times. Can you use a simpler word? Can you drop, or at least quickly explain, an obscure reference? Would a child understand it? Or at least a teenager? from JimJim grew up working class so I was at first confused by his comment. Then I went to his web page and saw that he has a PhD in mathematics. He seems to have acclimated well into middle class life (and now that he's retired at 36, an owning class life). Then I realized he might have meant what he said.
What's that definition of paternalism again? Something about managing children?
Poor and working class people aren't children. I know some working class people who are better read and more articulate than some middle class people I know. So please don't talk down to them or anyone. You can, however, not assume that everyone in the room knows everything you do. Especially if you're well-educated.
I shared a much shorter version of this post with one Friend (no, not my partner) and she called it rude. According to dictionary.com, one definition of "rude" is "without culture, learning, or refinement."
Hmmmm. I guess I have some learnin' and refinin' and culturin' to do.
(And if you're not getting the irony, find a clued-in middle or owning class person to explain it to you).