Rufus Jones (1863 - 1948) grew up on a farm in Maine and went on to a full and active career as a Quaker mystic and social activist. He wrote over 50 books and hundreds of essays. Jones taught philosophy, religion, and psychology at Haverford College. He edited The American Friend for many years and in 1917 founded the American Friends Service Committee which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. It embodied Jones's special brand of Quaker resistance to violence and injustice.
Editor Kerry Walters, professor of philosophy at Gettysburg College, describes this Quaker's faith as "the creative fusion of contemplative withdrawal and active stewardship." He opens this volume in the "Modern Spiritual Masters Series" with the following quotation from Jones:
"Nobody knows how the kindling flame of life and power leaps from one life to another. What is the magic quality in a person which instantly awakens faith? You listen to a hundred persons unmoved and unchanged: you hear a few quiet words from the man with the kindling torch and you suddenly discover what life means for you forevermore."
Rufus Jones loved to wave his kindling torch as a natural joyous response to the presence of God in his life. There are dramatic, lyrical, and pensive excerpts here on soul-force, inner light, the mystical element in primitive Christianity, beloved community prayers, and the simple life. At one point, Jones writes: "I assume that the major business we are here for in this world is to be a rightly fashioned person as an organ of the divine purpose."
Reading the words of Jones it struck us that the Quaker understanding of life is more relevant now than ever given the perilous world situation, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and the savaging of the Earth. May we practice more silence, turn to the inner light, live in simplicity, serve others in imitation of Christ, tolerate others, and practice nonviolence.