Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Quaker School Yard 101

How to write Quaker Hate Mail and divide our community.

The following is a real letter, with names removed. I wrote numerous letters to the writer to ask to come to clearness and apparently I am being shunned by him. As Friends know, I support multi-cultural Quakerism, so his apparent introduction of Amish culture into our own deserves a pat on the back from me, but I am being shunned, so it will have to come from others....

Following the letter is a bit of critique... The bold print is my commentary and the normal print is the original email...

Dear Lorcan,
I haven't known how to reply to your emails about _____. You do know that they asked me to do a weekend workshop for ( a Quaker grouping) . Unless your pictures lie, that's not you. I wouldn't mind ( other's than that group ) but it would have to be an very respectful participation. Your recent posts and comments show this isn't going to happen.

You've got a bee in your bonnet concerning ( this group of...) Friends. Four long replies in a row on ____'s blog is the sure sign that's something's wrong and it's only reinforced by you trying to force the largely-unanswered conversation on your own blog. I've seen similar disturbing back-and-forths with ___. The last thing I want is an _____ Friend coming to "lay down the law" on ____ Friends and tell them how to act. You've done it to me in the past and now you're doing it to them. Calling Christian Quaker totalitarians and relating them to Nazis is not tolerant. It's rude and dismissive. It's not about who or what you worship, it's about how you treat your fellows; dismissing an entire religious tradition is not okay. If you're too spiritually advanced to even entertain the notion of a inclusive Christian Quakerism then you're too advanced for anything I'd have to say.

You are obsessing about this way too much. It is very clear that your presence at ______ would be disruptive and condescending and I don't want you there. I would recommend that you in sit in long prayer about your recent activity and share a selection of these posts with your meeting's worship and minsitry committee to help with discernment.
In Friendship,


Dear Lorcan, well, most of the names removed...
I haven't known how to reply to your emails about fill in the name of a Quaker Retreated, Meeting House or School - important that it be a Quaker institution to remove thy victim from any future comfort of feeling welcome at the place without a bad memory of thy hatred, as driving people for whom thee has hatred out of the Society of Friends is the intended outcome of a good piece of hate mail. You do know that they asked me to do a weekend workshop for Fill in any of the usual self-identified communities of Quakers, Gay, Hicksite, Wilberite, Old, Young, Transgendered, Black, White, Jewish, Muggletonian, Ranters, Singing Friends, Ugly Friends, Good Looking Friends..., keep in mind that if some one feels they are one thing or another, a good way to stick it to them is to tell them "you're not". Unless your pictures lie, that's not you good one... right to the gut - no room for wiggle room. It is like the "brown bag test on the light skinned Black clubs in the past, it is a repeat of, hit the road, buddy, thee is too dark, sit on the "Black Benches", not with us White folks. I wouldn't mind a few Blacks, a few Straight people, a few Gays, a wider age range, some Ugly folks, some Good Looking folks, one or two Hicksite, a Jew or two... but it would have to be an very respectful participation i.e.. all you -fill in the ethnic or physical group - guys are pushy, ye all want to be one of us Your recent posts and comments show this isn't going to happen. good point, make sure it is someone thee has never met, who needs to meet another Quaker? We can tell everything about them by how we read what they write, everyone understands everything ever written perfectly well.

You've got a bee in your bonnet concerning fill in the category Friends. no judgement calls here! Assume thee knows everything about the other... Four long replies in a row on name's blog is the sure sign that's something's wrong and it's only reinforced by you trying to force the largely-unanswered conversation on your own blog. 44 comments can be said to be unanswered, but that is not important. The key is that if thee is in a quiet minority, stay that way I've seen similar disturbing back-and-forths with name It is important to let the person know that their concern is meaningless, and if thee labors with another Friend, thee must be queer. The last thing I want is a Black, Jewish, Communist, Gypsy, Hicksite, Wilberite, Older, Gay, Friend coming to "lay down the law" on White, Gay, Straight, Wilberite, Younger, Uglier, Prettier Friends and tell them how to act. You've done it to me in the past and now you're doing it to them Great rhetorical point. Point at some unmentioned past event, should be an event the other has no clue to that thee is writing about, especially if the Friend has on occasion asked thee if all is OK and thee tells the Friend, no, all is good between us... conversation towards clearness just makes thee angry, who needs it? . Calling Christian Quaker totalitarians and relating them to Nazis is not tolerant. Make sure thee says something like this. Something the object of thy hatred never said... It's rude and dismissive. It's not about who or what you worship, it's about how you treat your fellows; dismissing an entire religious tradition is not okay. ah yes, ignore what they really wrote and state thy sureness that it is what the other did, cut thy self off from clearness so that thy hates will define Quakerism in the future as a divided community of angered and sad folks, ready to tell the rest of the world how to make peace. If you're too spiritually advanced to even entertain the notion of a inclusive Christian Quakerism then you're too advanced for anything I'd have to say Great point, any of us who stick their head over the lip of the trench get shot at by another Friend. The act of saying that the statements of others contain the potential for harm should be punished right away. I suggest we dig up William Penn and write him out of meeting for writing No Cross No Crown.

You are obsessing about this way too much. It is very clear that your presence at fill in the Quaker event would be disruptive and condescending and I don't want you there No need for clearness committees, no need to consult other Friends, with the other to speak to the charges in thy hate mail, Quakerism works best when Friends act alone as arbiters of faith and faithfulness . I would recommend that you in sit in long prayer about your recent activity and share a selection of these posts with your meeting's worship and minsitry a misspelling or two lets the other know thee is genuine I do it myself! committee to help with discernment Best part of the hate mail. Point to the other's need for piety, and in that thee can cloak thyself in the warm glow of thy own Quaker piety and perfection.

In Friendship, a nice ironic ending Place thy name here

7 Comments:

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

A general answer to a few emails about this post.

Gospel order, is the above... ? I think so. I emailed the Friend, for about a month, as did another Friend, asking to speak about his and asking even to allow me to go to the Friend for clearness. His answers to my Friend were dismissive, no answer was given to me.

In light of this, plain speech is in gospel order.

On who qualifies to self identify... I thought the Friend's rather rude description of the class to go was a joke. This letter tells me otherwise. I don't know about other Friends, but I have marched, sued, and risked my life so that societies do not discriminate. Frankly I would not go to any event which discriminates. I am surprised that Friends do.

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

Lorcan,

It's clear that the letter you received was painful for you. It's not clear that it actually "hate mail". I seriously doubt that the writer hates you.

A Friend organizing a conference for a specific group has to exercise discernment as to who should participate. Even if you disagree with that discernment, and even if it wounds your feelings, that does not make the Friend's decision or attempt to explain it heinously evil.

It's clear that the Friend actually was apprehensive that you might be disruptive or might not be respectful of the defined group's need to have its own space and control its own agenda. Maybe he/she was not right. Either way, it would seem more useful for you to think about how your own actions and statements might have given him/her that impression than to assume that he/she is just bigoted against you.

For what it's worth, even though I count myself as your personal friend and even though we had a lovely conversation on this very topic just yesterday, I feel I understand perfectly where this other Friend is coming from. You say it is not true that that you have called Christian Friends totalitarians and related them to nazis. Yet it sure sounded to me like that is what you were saying in a not-so-recent post. At the very least, your words were very badly chosen if you did not want to give that impression.

As for the idea that you are "obsessed", I think this post only serves to feed that impression.

I hope for eventual reconciliation between you and the other Friend you are discussing here. I don't think it will come about by pushing for further confrontation under the label "clearness". I think it needs a cooling-off period and a chance to regain perspective, particularly on your side of the issue.

You have a lot of value to say to Friends about a vast array of issues and concerns. Nursing your grievances with another Friend will not help you do so, it will only deflect your energy, bewilder your friends, and alienate the uninitiated.

I would not have made this comment public if your post had not been public. Many people will know who you are talking about and some may take your characterization at face value. It seemed right to present at least a glimpse of "the other side".

- - Rich

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

I see two forms of discrimination in the letter confirmed by his reaction to requests for clearness. The evil comes from the expression of assumption in the initial responce to my paying to go to this... this is not the way Friends speak to each other. It is the way people at Bob Jones express themselves. If thee does not find this wrong, well that is fine, many Irish Catholic support the AOH in their bigoted views towards Gay Irish people. That is what makes for controversy, refusal to come to clearness is what causes division. The fault is not on my shoulders, I tried.
Thine
lor

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Dear Lor,

I sense great pain and anger in your words, and it is with great prayer and trust in the Holy that I speak.

Friend Rich speaks my mind, and I hope you will give his words and love great consideration.

In peace and love,

Rob

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Rob, dear Friend...
there is more pain than anger. I have been on the road of civil rights for many years, from my childhood, really. And, it is not the initial exclusion or even the nasty letter which is the fault. It is the walls that those who hold prejudices build that is at issue. Funny thing. I have been involved with the movement for Catholic emancipation, the movement for political rights for nationalists in Ireland, the movement against apartheid in the USA and South Africa, Gay rights, Women's right, the rights of Romany people, and more. And in every case, those who have suffered the sting of prejudice have wanted to talk, to seek understanding from the bigot. And in every case, those who wield prejudice have no need for clearness, no need to talk. They speak to those they discriminate against, not with those they reject. This is the aspect of hate in this note and its aftermath. This fellow feels no need to preserve our beloved community, rather he seeks to define his group of those beloved, and fortress against those he dismisses.
I continue to speak to thee, and thee responds, I continue to speak to Rich, and he responds, and I listen to both of thee. But, I also think of the silence from the other fFriend, and I remind him, thee can tell the tree by its fruit.
Thine, lovingly
lor

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger earthfreak said...

I have to say, I am just re-entering the blogosphere, but I don't even understand what's going on.

I am frustrated by the convoluted-ness of this "discretion" or whatever it is. If stuff is going on on blogs, please reference what you're talking about (the previous post refers to someone who I would assume was zach (a christian anarchist blogger) but is immediately followed by a note from zach clarifying that it is not him.

In the name of plain speech, can we all try to make clear what it is we're talking about? And, if confidentiality doesn't allow us to, speak in general enough terms that it's not so confusing?

(I gather here, Lorcan, that you were excluded from some event that you wanted to participate in, because of some controversial views you hold - a summary of your experience of the whole thing would be much more useful than this highly edited re-quoting of the letter, which I, in all honesty, can't even read through because it's so chopped up.


Now that that rant is out of the way, it sounds like you are facing some painful stuff, much of which touches on an immense tenderness that I am experiencing around quakerism and exclusivism currently. I am holding you.

Pam

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Pam:

First of all, Zach... complicated error, Alice's blog had a comment, which followed one by Zach, the comment was made by another, it referred to the Hebrew Scriptures and Hebrew ancestors in a way that was easy to see as disparaging... I am writing to the origional poster, and he has put things in a different light, but I would not have said things in the words he did... it takes more words to come to clearness. Coming to clearness is important. The example of "Quaker Hate Mail" is an example. The Friend made his hateful statement and then refuses clearness...

Outline. Genie and I sign up for and put a deposit on a conference devoted to a community in SOF which I had been a member of my meetings group. I sent three emails over several weeks asking about details.
I received the letter, above, which I have taken the names out of, as not to cause the kind of personalized pain to the writer which the Friend has caused me.

I wrote to the Friend and asked to go to his state and meet so that I may bring clearness to his assumptions - to wit, that I am not respectful of others. The Friend did not reply. So, a close Friend in the same community wrote to him. He reviewed an unkind answer as well. So, I wrote to him, for over a month with reflections on coming to clearness, no reply. So, I called the venue, a Quaker venue, and sent them the unredacted email. They expressed shock, and said they'd call him. Weeks latter there is still no reply. I find this not the way of Friends.

So I present the letter, on its face, with out names, and then with coments, to show that if one plugs different groups into the blanks, the prejudice is clear.
Well... the issue he misstates is my challenging wether we live by Yeshua's ( Jesus' ) lessons, or simply worship his image. Here is my heretical beliefs in a nut shell...

I expressed that the creation of such an arbiter of perfection is a necessary part of totalitarianism - like the cult of personality, the leader or image that is perfect that represents a system of perfection. Well, I used a few examples on my blog, Stalin as the arbiter of perfection in Russian "Communism", and Hitler in nazism... and fFriends said I was comparing them to nazis. Well, no. I was just saying that ye can't divorce thy actions in making an idol of Jesus, from the bad results of two thousand years of violence in that idol's name. Logic contains sometimes subtle distinctions. It is different to say all Christians are nazis, and to say, that when we do one thing, another has always flowed from that action. Christians cannot say that evil has not flowed from the creation of a system which claims perfection, it simply is history. I am not the first to say it, and neither am I intolerant in saying it. Rather, I am simply referring to history. History is not opinion.

Point being, we can, I believe I should, learn Yeshua's message of living in the act of forgiveness and atonement and peace, rather than worshiping his Greco Roman image as a God... an act that invites violence and division.

SO... God... in that model I propose. Quoting Adam B. Seligman, as quoted by Harold Bloom in Jesus and Yahweh: " a God that can be grasped, a God that can be conceptualized is not a God". I'd put it differently, a God that can be quoted, is not a God. Once we can quote God, we can speak for God. Once we can speak for God, we can act for God, and death to God's enemies is the foregone conclusion in this or the next generation of faith. I've noticed that many Friends who act for God, turn a blind eye and ear to others in our beloved community and in that, ignore Yeshua's teaching in exchange for worship of his image. I think to truly know God, is to admit that as close as God is in that still small voice... God is the great unknowable. As Joseph Campbell said, in the History of Myth, a wise man once said to him about God, "those who say they know, don't. Those who say they don't know ... do. "

Discrimination is predicated by certainty, and I assure thee, I have less certainly than any man who ever lived. In that, I believe I share Yeshua's message. The person certain of their images could never have taken water from the hands of that woman

Good to see thee back, Pam :)

 

Post a Comment

<< Home