c. 1977

It is interesting how small issues can serve to reveal differences in our opinions. Most of us if not all of us are united on the Peace Testimony; yet we differ on how to witness to that testimony. Some of us refuse to pay taxes to a government which is engaged in the business of making war while others feel that tax refusal serves no useful purpose and violates other principles -- such as obedience to authority. Many of us feel that the entire society is "sick" and that the largest part of our energy should go to studying how to restructure that society, while others seem to be willing to let the present structure exist even if they are not in agreement with all its actions. Some of us feel that it is vital that we explore together the theological foundations of our beliefs and actions, while others feel that this is not a useful way for Quakers to help the world.

Thus also the question of nude swimming at Yearly Meeting has mushroomed from a small event of a few years ago into a burning issue. A casual event -- nude swimming at night -- has uncovered passionate differences of opinion regarding what we consider moral and important. The question of homosexuality -- a much more overt act between people than nude swimming -- has been raised and dealt with sympathetically by Yearly Meeting, which has approved more than one minute of concern if not support or approval for the rights of homosexual persons; the Committee on Ministry and Oversight now has a standing subcommittee on Homosexuality. At each of the last two Yearly Meetings there has been an Interest Group on Nudity which has asked that the question be considered by Yearly Meeting. I feel that nude swimming is much less significant than homosexuality, yet strong voices have been raised to prevent its happening, even among those who would participate when those who do not wish to are free to stay away.

In the January 1977 Bulletin, it was suggested that there is a present trend towards publicity in our lives rather than privacy, and that Friends ought to choose privacy when it is disappearing all around us, and that "deep and intimate relationships"are less likely in an atmosphere of casual public nudity." The implication of this last statement is that we must wear clothes, i.e., hide our bodies, in order to have deep and intimate relationships, which I am not able either to believe or to accept. I believe that those relationships are or should be independent of outward appearances, that we can achieve depth and intimacy whether or not there is an atmosphere of casual public nudity. But I am concerned that the objections to our setting aside a time at Yearly Meeting when those who wish to can swim nude while others do not have to attend represents a kind of moralism which is setting many members of our Yearly Meeting at odds with each other. It is one group preventing another group from engaging in an activity which does not harm either group. This I feel to be moralistic, and I hope we can find Meeting, and spend no more time prohibiting a voluntary acceptance of both nude and ordinary swimming at Yearly those who are so prevented.

(originally published under the name of John Fitz)