Quakers and Six Feet Under

As with the morticians, the writers etc. of Six Feet Under seemed to take pretty good care of Quakers. I just finished the fifth season and found out that one of the characters turns out to be a convinced Quaker, just like me. The show uses it as a great foil for the discussion that seems to permeate my life with friends after becoming convinced–a lot of “how did that happen?” and “does that make you Christian?” stuff. The strains of how it appears in the show were also similar to how it appeared in my life–a friend who got married to a Quaker and had a Quaker ceremony almost 12 years ago told me about it and it sounded interesting to me, so I went to my local meeting here in SF. We didn’t talk until years later when she got a divorce, and it didn’t seem to take with her (though I haven’t heard from her in several years since then).

It’s strange to see a show have a take on your faith. I mean, Quakerism often takes the placeholder in entertainment as “holier than thou” or “those peaceful people” and I liked that it was addressed that way by Brenda, the ever-skeptical critic. I got to see elements of my own story portrayed on screen in its complexity–the connection to the basic tenets, the admiration- and recognition-factor, the desire that silence can be healing, the connectedness to others. There was even, of course, a Quaker funeral, which matched my singular experience at this type of event.

Even the behavior of the Quaker character was truthful in many aspects–her clothing, her type of worship, her speech. If there is only one public Quaker that the general public comes into contact with, she’s the most truthful. I know folks might say, well, her actions weren’t the most Quakerly but I’m glad it refutes the stereotypes I listed above. She’s not a moral character, but a truthful one and that’s what the show is about anyway.