Regarding “Make a Joyful Silence,” by Ruth Haley Barton (February 2009): We Quakers figured out more than 350 years ago that the presence of God is best understood through the “gathered silence.” Without pastoral speeches (sermons), hymns, or liturgies, we find the spirit of God vital, real, and present when we meet God in honest, open, and unmediated worship. It is fascinating that only now other Protestant groups are coming to this realization.
Our modern world is one of near-constant noise—noise that so often fills our minds with meaningless distraction to the exclusion of the presence of God. There are those who see the idea of silence in worship and its attendant personal contemplation as a new fad to embrace or to be frightened of. For us as Quakers, it is the essence of what it means to be a Christian.
Douglas Bakke, Klamath Falls, Oregon