While seeking the Truth in their own experience with God and Christ, early Friends read and discussed the newly printed Bible and the writings of mystics such as Francis of Assisi and Marie de Guyon and began to write their own spiritual literature, journals, and tracts. Their seeking led to practices such as refusing “hat honor” (to take off one’s hat to social superiors), referring to days of the week and months by numbers to erase all non-Christian reference, and using “plain” language to avoid the then common honorific “you” for social superiors. Refusal to participate in war, strict honesty in business, equality of men and women, the gentle upbringing of children, noncoercion of conscience, the settlement of differences without suing each other in courts of law, declining to observe traditional religious holidays, and nonconformity to fashion in dress and conduct became some of the more enduring traditions of the Society. Meetings for worship to celebrate marriage or the life of a deceased Friend still take place with simple arrangements; these traditions testify to the spiritual nature of our lives and gather us into community. Silence before meetings for business, committee meetings, and meals has been another Friends’ custom.
Yet, tradition is no substitute for faith; practices may become empty.