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  • Rick Bonetti

A Quaker New Story


In 1964 Kenneth Boulding wrote a pamphlet The Evolutionary Potential of Quakerism. Kenneth Boulding drew a series of conclusions using a spaceship metaphor to which he devoted the rest of his life:

  • The human economy must shift from a non-renewable material and energy throughput system to a closed-loop system of material reuse fueled by sunlight energy.

  • A two-deck spaceship with “haves” on the upper deck and the “have-nots” on the lower deck will not work. It will become increasingly unmanageable and crash. Spaceship Earth will work only if new a equity system can be installed.

  • You cannot have a war on a spaceship. With the population and technology now on board, new social and political systems of decision-making, cooperation, coordination, regulation, and enforcement are required at the global level for the human enterprise to remain functional.


In 2007 a Quaker New Story Study group published Quakers and the New Story saying "What we do as persons—our moral aspirations, our creative endeavors, our efforts to leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren—are themselves part of the cosmic evolutionary process.

"Learn a New Story that is grounded in the sciences, animated by the humanities, and imbued with wisdom from Indigenous traditions and world spiritualities. Realize our connection to the universe and Earth that helps us not only know, but also shape the course of evolution for a thriving future. Find new ways as individuals and communities to create a vibrant and healthy Earth community."

The publication concludes: "The Friends Meeting at Cambridge study group finds hope in having recognized that there is an amazing “fit” between Quakerism and the New Story. To us, it seems that the usual five testimonies of Friends—simplicity, peace, equality, integrity, and community—can now be even more deeply understood in the context of an ecological worldview and an unfolding, new universe story. An Earth restored, peace-making, respect for personal integrity, scientific inquiry, non-violence, and humanitarian work are also aspects of the New Story long valued by Quakers. A process of ethical decision-making, using spirit and reason, can be developed in the new, integrated context now available to us."

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