-Today we’re gonna go
visit the Quakers, and if you don’t know
what a Quaker is, then I agree with you. But apparently it’s a religion and not just a brand of oats. And we’re meeting with Joe, who has been a Quaker
for 50 years, so obviously there’s
something great to it. Good morning. So, we’re here
at Joe’s place. Joe’s a Quaker.
I’m gonna call him “Quaker Joe.” And we’re gonna learn
about Quakerism today. It’s very early
in the morning, but I’m very excited, and I’ll try not to make
too many Quaker Oats jokes. But I’ve got a few.
So, we’re gonna — Come on. Let’s go. I’m excited
to talk to you, and if I say anything
that offends you, just punch me
right in the face. -I wouldn’t worry. We Quakers
are not easily offended. -Let’s get this out of the way
right off the bat. What is your feeling on oatmeal? -I don’t like oatmeal. -Blasphemy.
-[ Laughs ] I know. -That’s my exposure
to Quakerism. -The guy on the box —
black hat. -Yeah,
and a very jolly fellow, so… -I think most people would
describe me as pretty jolly. -You just have a very warm
personality, I’ve got to say. -Thank you, Zach. -So, how long
have you been a Quaker? -Oh. 45 years. -45 years?
-Can you believe it? -What was your relationship
with faith and God before that? -You know, as a gay man, I didn’t feel like
I fit in anywhere. I also didn’t feel like I fit in because I was one of
those people who enlisted. -Oh, wow.
-What I understood about the war from those three years
made me a pacifist. So, when I got
out of the Navy and looked for a church
that was a peace church, and I discovered Quakers. And I’ve been a Quaker
ever since. I think they’d be the
only church that would have me. -I don’t want to speak
for all churches, but if I started a church,
I would have you. -Well, thank you, Zach. People come together
on a Sunday morning at 11:00, and they fill up the pews. Then everybody
settles into silence. The object is to find
that of God within you. We believe that every person
has a light within and that light is
your connection with God. [music] Walk in the light [music] [music] Wherever you may be [music] [music] Walk in the light
wherever you may be [music] [music] In my old leather britches
and my shaggy, shaggy locks [music] [music] “I am walking in the glory
of the light,” said Fox [music] -[ Laughs ] When you connect with it, you get messages. You know, if you believe
that God talks to you, that could very nice. It could also be very dangerous, because you could believe that Zach should go
down the street naked in his wheelchair. -What’s wrong with that?
Hey, hey, hey! If I get that message
from God, I’m taking it. -So, one of the responsibilities
we have is to check it out
with the meeting, say, “I think God
told me to do this.” And then I would say to you,
“Zach, let’s think about that again.” -I’d probably
show up already naked and say, “Is this okay?” -I’d say,
“Let’s think about that.” You know, you can tell
it’s a Quaker gathering by the number of Priuses
in the parking lot and the number
of Birkenstocks on the floor. -Oh, man. -As Quakers grew to understand
their religious beliefs, they developed
what are called testimonies. And the testimonies are really
how we talk about how we live. So, we have a peace testimony. So,
if you’re a Quaker, you’re committed
to searching for peace in yourself and in the world. And we have
an integrity testimony. So, you have to tell the truth
all the time. -All the time?
-All the time. -Oh, my gosh.
-Even when it hurts. We have a testimony
of equality. Everybody’s equal.
No one, even the clerk
of the meeting, is not better than any
of the members of the meeting. -Equality for all.
-For all. David is my husband
who recently died. When I met him,
he had HIV. And so we knew
when we got together that we were gonna be dealing
with lots of health issues. He would mediate me. I’m kind
of this bombastic Italian guy. And he would say,
“Joe, Joe, calm down, Joe.” We had a great marriage, and I’m really missing him. The interesting thing is that,
you know, lots of religions have their ideas
about same-sex marriage. Some of them try to impose
their ideas on the rest of the population, so you get the sense that religion is against it. But David and I were married four years ago
in our Quaker meeting. ‘Cause Quaker meetings believe
that it’s God who marries you. What happens then is
that Quaker meeting says, “Does it look like God
has married these two people?” And if it looks like it did,
then they marry us. People come together for — like they always
do on Sunday — for worship. And this time, people stood up
during the course of the meeting and said what they thought
about David or me or the marriage. The most moving one
was when a guy stood up and said, “Everybody who signs that
marriage certificate is saying, ‘We’re doing
this illegal thing. We’re saying these two
ought to be married.'” -Just because the government
doesn’t recognize it doesn’t mean
that God doesn’t recognize it. -That’s right.
You got it, Zach. Want to be a Quaker?
-I kind of do. You’re selling it pretty nicely. -One of the biggest parts,
for me, of the Quaker faith
is forming a faith community. One of the things
that happens in a marriage is the meeting
agrees to take you on. When you get into trouble, you know, which happens
in every relationship where things
are not quite fitting, they agree to help. And when David was dying
in the hospital, I had the meeting helping me. -What has that meant to you now that David isn’t here? -It feels like home. Orange Grove meeting
feels like home to me. They were there
to support David and I all through
our marriage process. They were there at the beginning
to share the joy with us. [ Voice breaking ]
They were there at the end. We believe in what’s called
continuing revelation. So, I was just talking
the other day to the Quaker meeting,
and I said, “If you think
this is what Quakerism is, then you’re not being
very Quakerly ’cause you have to
be open to change.” So, one of the exciting things
about Quakerism is that it’s always changing. And we have people
in the meeting who are Buddhist and people
in the meeting who are Jews. The only commitment
that we ask of people is that they be open to change. -Okay.
Quakerism is more than oatmeal. In the same way that oatmeal
is nourishing to the body, Quakerism is nourishing
to the spirit. So, it is the oatmeal
of the spirit. There you go.
I summed it up.