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‘And the Lord's power was over all’: anxiety, confidence and masculinity in Fox's <i>Journal</i>

Hilary Hinds

in George Fox and Early Quaker Culture

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780719081576
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702383 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719081576.003.0004
‘And the Lord's power was over all’: anxiety, confidence and masculinity in Fox's Journal

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Turning more directly to the pivotal figure of George Fox himself, this chapter suggests that the foundational dissolution of boundaries between human and divine established in the earlier chapters generated access to a quality in Fox and other early Friends characterised by Thomas Carlyle as a ‘sacred Self-confidence’. Taking his Journal as the focus, it examines Fox's own account of his affective transformation from an anxious seeker after truth in a predominantly Calvinist religious context to a confident, assured bearer of that truth in a world still torn between the forces of light and darkness. How, the chapter asks, did the inward light structure and direct this shift towards an unshakeable assurance in Fox, and how did it maintain it, in the face of a range of contrary pressures? How does the subjectivity constructed by the Journal negotiate not only the forces of opposition in the wider culture, but also the forces of ‘anxious masculinity’ so often found in other kinds of seventeenth-century self-inscription? The chapter locates this transformation in a relationship of ‘heteronomous agency’ predicated on the movement's conception of the indwelling Christ. It argues that this model of dependent potency established a mode of confident subjectivity rarely found in other contemporary radical religious groups.

Keywords: George Fox; self-confidence; Quakers; Society of Friends; Christ; heteronomous agency; radical religious groups

Chapter.  13165 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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