Three Ravens and Two Widows : a Perspective on Controversy Among Friends

by Richard Macy Kelly

Paper Book, 2009



Call number

CP 401/1


Wallingford, Pa. : Pendle Hill Publications, c2009.



Local notes

Pendle Hill Pamphlet 401


This essay is an intimate portrait of two women whose very different lives and characters were faithful responses to the challenges of loss, responsibility, love, and difficulty at different times and places in Quaker history. The author's mother, Lael Macy, and his grandmother, Madora Kersey, "sang" the same ballad of love and pain in very different lyrics. Using the metaphor of the ancient ballad, The Three Ravens, Richard Kelly invites us to explore how history and family traditions may limit our understanding of Truth or give us the strength and vision to see new possibilities in times when disagreements ́including the contemporary controversy between Friends of liberal and evangelical traditions over different understandings of marriage and sexuality ́trouble our communities. Discussion questions included.--Publisher's description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member kaulsu
Historically, Quakers may have worn gray but today we seem to prefer the stark contrasts of black and white. Historian Richard Kelly (son of Thomas Kelly) looks both at metaphor and his own family to see that our understanding of what it has always meant to be a Friend may be more nuanced—more
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shaded—than we think. Using his family history as illustration, he draws us into liking and respecting his paternal grandmother while at the same time writing lovingly of his own, very different, mother. He illustrates through this personal lens that in rescuing our Quaker communities from too restrictive an environment, the liberation itself became rigid and closed. “Let us see truth not as a fixed set of ideas. Let us see truth as an evolving journey of discovery,” he writes. This pamphlet is a perspective worth reading.
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LibraryThing member QuakerReviews
In this pamphlet, frankly, I find most interesting the bits of history of American Quakers that he includes, about separations and disownments and self-destruction. Kelley tells us this in the course of explaining the story of his mother and grandmother, Quaker women differing greatly in opinions,
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values, and vision, and who did not get along well. He appreciated them both, and uses this to illustrate how we can learn to understand and appreciate the differing points of view and actions of different strands of Quakers. He urges us to consider empathetically the different viewpoints and stories in controversies among Friends. Despite the real worthiness of his point, I find that the fascinating history of 19th and early 20th century American Quakers is what held my interest.
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Call number

CP 401/1


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