Quakers in the media

I’ve been wanting to post about this for a very long time. It’s a topic that seems to come up again and again, and one that is faced by modern Quakers who don’t often see themselves in the media. As media is both reflector and reflection of what is reality, without imagery depicting modern Quakerism, the general public (who doesn’t blog) still thinks of us as the Quaker Oats man or Shakers.

I’ve been searching for up-to-date portrayals of Quakers in the entertainment world, specifically movies and tv shows, using IMDB, and other basic avenues. What I’ve discovered is that there aren’t many. Of course, the basics are:

  • High Noon (movie, 1952)
  • The Friendly Persuasion (movie, 1956)
  • Six Feet Under (tv, 2005)
  • Angel and the Badman (movie, 1947)
  • A Quaker Mother (movie, 1911)
  • Down to the Sea in Ships (movie, 1922)

There are various Quaker characters that appear in many films but these are hardly worth mentioning, as they just added “spice” to the storyline but no substance or contribution to the plot.

Some articles on this topic have complained about entertainment as competition to religion. Some notable Quakers in entertainment (ahem, NPR) include Scott Simon who is unafraid to acknowledge his Quaker background, at least among Quakers. Another comment has been posted by a Quaker TV critic about the lack of TV being an asset, but what about Quakers being included in programming? Can you name any I’ve missed out on?

To learn the tool, use the tool (and more)

Meredith Farkas’ blog, Information Wants to Be Free, is great for a number of reasons. Today’s reason for coolness is her simple nod to people to get out of your head and use the tools which are out there, if just for 15 minutes.

“The rest of your time should be spent actually using technologies. Try out some of these things. Create a hosted blog and post to it. Comment on someone else’s blog. Edit a public wiki. Post a photo to Flickr and tag it. Try out Twitter. These are all such easy things to do; each one wouldn’t take more than one or two 15 minute sessions. But the value of actually using these tools is enormous. By using them, you will better understand their possibilities and limitations, their pros and cons.”

Awesome, simple, true. This is the “walk in another’s shoes” testament. It applies also to:

  • Getting upset at bike riders who are in your way as you drive
  • Not understanding the hubub about wikis, blogs, etc.
  • Bikers getting angry at double-parking in the bike lane so the driver can pick up a cup of coffee (aka the “no one will notice, it’ll only be just a minute” theory)
  • Using an iPod instead of complaining how everyone is jumping on the bandwagon

(All of the above apply to me as being the agitator)  And it’s my own personal reminder that, though I think I don’t like IM-ing, I didn’t understand how interesting, helpful, and useful it could be until I did it for 15 minutes. Though I’m not hooked on it, I do have a finer appreciation for it as a tool in my toolbelt (though one that needs sharpening).