The Armchair Theologian

Enchantment and Quaker Identity

Image resultSince Max Weber’s groundbreaking study, TheProtestant Ethic and Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905:1930) it has become something of a scholarly trope to treat the rise of secular modernity and the formation of Quakerism as going effortlessly together. As one of the numerous puritan sects (framed by the milieu of Calvinism), Quakers transmitted and reinforced what would become dominant technical values of work, asceticism and productiveness which sustained the post-feudal economy. Here Quakers are depicted as resolutely ‘modern’ because they exemplify the moral habitus upon which early capitalist expansion and accumulation ultimately depended on.  While pre-modern religion was sustained by a magical connection between symbolic and concrete realities, Weber argued that early Quaker exemplified a rational and disenchanted vision of the world. This is certainly a powerful story modern British Friends tell about how ourselves. In this connection, we sometimes call ourselves a ‘Liberal…

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