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.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Towards an On Line Bloggers Faith and Practice.

Recent events convince me that the internet Quaker blogging comunity exists as a community in need of common order. I propose we do as Quakers have always done, and begin a worshipful on line meeting towards unity. I will post a Blog, to which anyone might post, but to take part in the final minute and advice, one needs to be a member of a Friend's Meeting.

My part in this is hardly even recording clerk, I just make offer the space for us to meet. I am not sure of how the form will evolve, other than we should seek to replicate the process of coming to unity in a meeting for worship with a concern for business, on line. As we begin to reach unity on an advice, I will move it from the comments to the post, and we will try a minute.

Any one wish to take part?

It is the first link on this blog...

15 Comments:

At 2:01 PM, Blogger david said...

I appreciate the desire for such a faith and practice - but at the same time -- I have my doubts. Two in particular.

One. I remain unconvinced that the collection of Quaker and semi-Quaker bloggers and web-surfers out there consistitutes a community.

This doubt may be answered by the success or failure of thsi attempt. That is, if Quaking bloggeres can get together enough to create this Faith & Practice, perhaps in the process we can create that community that I don't think exists yet.

Two. A Faith & Practice. A Book of Discipline. These are monumental tasks taking commitment and time. The task itself is intimidating. And this could scuttle the project.

Two suggestions for resolving "doubt two". First suggestion is that the project be broken into managable chunks. Choose an area where some kind of some sort of agreement is most urgent -- speaking truth in love, advices and queries, resolution of conflicts, website content -- whichever it is -- and co-draft a statement on that one first and then move onto another and so on and so forth. I guess I'm asking for a more well defined starting point than simply a Faith & Practice.

Second suggestion: Friends who wish to involve themsleves in this process either as contributers or as eventual end-users of the document could make a public declaration on their own blogs that until such time as a workable Faith & Practice emerges from this process, we will be faithful to the Books of Discipline from the meeting(s) to which we are members and/or affiliate ourselves and that as way opens we will encourage our respective Yearly Meetings to include statements on right use of internet resources.

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Good start, with thy permission I will post this to the comments on the F&P blog.

I agree as to the committment, as to time, the internet is here to stay, so time, well it should take as long as it takes, why rush it? It will happen in Gods time, anyway.

As to a real community, that real people find themselves in real conflicts and cause each other real pain, as well as real inspiration, well, there is a real world community and it should be Quaker if it calls itself such, eh?

Thanks for the relpy
lor

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

PS as far as breaking it into chucks, well that is what the post on the F&P blog is about, coming up with a method, we all have the same voice there. so let's kick it around.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

My first reaction is that we already have structures for community discipline that we aren't using much: namely our monthly meetings, their committees of ministry and oversight or equivalent, and the wider bodies such as Quarterly and Yearly Meetings to which they belong.

I recognize that the Quakers we interact with online may come from all across the geographical spectrum, and I can understand why the idea of a forum for handling our disputes with each other might be attractive. Still, I think that our worship communties at home are our true Quaker communities and the places where we should turn for guidance and feedback, even concerning our online actions. Unlike Lorcan, I don't feel a need of a "common order" for online bloggers over and above the common order we would already have if we used it: our membership in the Religious Society of Friends.

Also if Lorcan is calling in effect for a Faith and Practice complete with advices I think that would really not be in good order. The Faith and Practice which I accept as authoritative (however confused and incomplete) is the Faith and Practic of my own Yearly Meeting. I think that is as it should be.

I'll try to keep an open mind and wait to see what others have to say.

- - Rich Accetta-Evans(Brooklyn Quaker

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Richard:
I don't mean that we should replace our meetings F&P, rather, that we are now in a community interacting in ways undreamed of by early Friends. I do think we should and will some day have advices about the Internet, within our yearly meetings, but we who are meeting as Friends on line, well, we are finding out that it is raising new challenges. For example, the proposal that we read, with the openness we speak to each other, or more, as we lack the elements of speech that body language and expression raises. The common labor together should help make sure our labors don't contradict our meetings faith and practice, as we are all rather weighty Friends, for the most part, and the F&P and advices of most meetings I am aware of, don't often contradict each other on many points.

Part of thy concern about this becomeing, in effect, a meeting, is that in order to join the process of unity, in this, one needs to be a member of a meeting...

Our structures came about at a time when there were not daily interaction by Friends of different meetings, I frankly think our labors here may someday find their way into the advices of our yearly meetings.

 
At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Eleanor Magid said...

Quaker bloggers certainly look like a community to me, a new and vital community, generating and energizing ideas and their cross-pollination - but a community outside monthly and yearly meetings and traditional Quaker structures for keeping good order.
Into this process stepped Martin Kelley to fill a real vacuum. The form of his intervention did not and likely could not at the start mimic traditional structures.
Martin Kelley states that "QuakerQuaker is put together by a team of Quaker bloggers scanning hundreds of websites a day for interesting new posts to highlight." I may have missed a list of those who do the scanning and a description of the way highlighting decisions are made. In any case, it appears Martin Kelley is the prime mover and decision-maker, and I apologize if I am wrong.

If I am right, this seems a more unilateral effort than is usual in Quaker practice. It appears to me modeled somewhat more on, well, for example, David Pogue's New York Times column Circuits. David Pogue reviews electronic equipment. He presents his opinion and his personal favorites, and he does it very well. However, within his fairly established medium, David Pogue is surrounded by checks and balances. Some are transparent, some less so: his editors, manufacturers of the products he reviews and highlights, his readership. Because his column is a long-studied form, inherited from others, David Pogue can rely on precedent to help him manage dissent and apparent flaming with grace and openness.

I am not suggesting an exact parallel, of course, but another way of looking at the Quaker blogging situation as it stands. New media call for new ways of working on issues.

Eleanor Magid

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Eleanor said...

Quaker bloggers certainly look like a community to me, a new and vital community, generating and energizing ideas and their cross-pollination - but a community outside monthly and yearly meetings and traditional Quaker structures for keeping good order.
Into this process stepped Martin Kelley to fill a real vacuum. The form of his intervention did not and likely could not at the start mimic traditional structures.
Martin Kelley states that "QuakerQuaker is put together by a team of Quaker bloggers scanning hundreds of websites a day for interesting new posts to highlight." I may have missed a list of those who do the scanning and a description of the way highlighting decisions are made. In any case, it appears Martin Kelley is the prime mover and decision-maker, and I apologize if I am wrong.

If I am right, this seems a more unilateral effort than is usual in Quaker practice. It appears to me modeled somewhat more on, well, for example, David Pogue's New York Times column Circuits. David Pogue reviews electronic equipment. He presents his opinion and his personal favorites, and he does it very well. However, within his fairly established medium, David Pogue is surrounded by checks and balances. Some are transparent, some less so: his editors, manufacturers of the products he reviews and highlights, his readership. Because his column is a long-studied form, inherited from others, David Pogue can rely on precedent to help him manage dissent and apparent flaming with grace and openness.

I am not suggesting an exact parallel, of course, but another way of looking at the Quaker blogging situation as it stands. New media call for new ways of working on issues.

Eleanor Magid

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Eleanor! Thee beautiful voice of reason! I was feeling like the wee boy with Glasses in Lord of the Flies! Here we are in the wilderness of Quaker blogging, and I am the odd man out, asking, why can't we just play by the rules we had before we landed on this desert island... make rules based in our Quaker civilization, and just well, thank'ee dear Friend, dear friend.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Liz Opp said...

I sense some t/Truth to seasoning and testing the idea of online advices, online queries, and perhaps an online F&P--that is, items that help articulate how our faith is practiced in this electronic forum.

Thanks, Lorcan, for jumping in and lifting up what seems like a leading on your part.

And because it comes across to me as a leading--or as a concern that you have been carrying?--I would ask if this leading has been tested within your own monthly meeting, among Friends who have known you over time in that which is eternal, who know your gifts moreso than I might, who may offer you some accountability and spiritual nurture in a way that is still being explored via bloggers...?

I fear this is an area where we must move very very slowly, in an age and with a medium that tempts us and grooms us into instant replies.

For this reason, I am hesitant to write further, though I will hold these ideas in prayer and listen more carefully, more intently, to find if I am called to respond further in some capacity.

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger Liz Opp said...

A separate comment in response to Eleanor's remarks:

My take on Martin's involvement is different from yours, at least as I read through your comment, Eleanor.

I first came across Martin's Quaker Ranter as a blog among many blogs; his just happens to be Quaker.

As more Friends found their way to his blog, and as he became aware of other Quaker bloggers, he used his internet knowledge and tech skills to knit the online community of Quaker bloggers together. Over time, that skeleton of links within the sidebar of Quaker Ranter morphed into something else, which eventually became QuakerQuaker.

So to me, Martin's involvement seems very organic. Where you write that he is the "prime mover and decision-maker," I would say that he has a gift for nurturing and bringing ministry into the electronic venue of the internet.

I also had taken some time to write about other ventures into Quakerism via the internet, and so maybe this is an opportunity for some of us to review what we've already written or have read!

Back to Eleanor: I agree that there "seems [to be] a more unilateral effort than is usual in Quaker practice." Blogging often is that way. At what point do we begin to consider if a Friend has a gift, a ministry to that effect? At what point do we begin to consider if there are fruits that are emerging, if there is a leading or emerging ministry that needs nurture and care?

Some of us Quaker bloggers have blog elders. Some of us rely on the comments that appear on our posts. Some of us turn to our home faith communities for support and accountability as bloggers. Some of us write on our own, as we are individually led, by Spirit or by our own good notions.

But the age old questions remain for us to ask and answer:

Are we faithful? Do we yield?

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Hi Liz, I aprecaite the constructiveness of thy comments, but,
Well... so far, there is only one other blogger in my meeting, or possibly even in my quarter, in our little blogging community, Richard in Brooklyn. I love Rich a lot, and we talk very well, though we agree about very little. We are from completely different Quaker traditions, and it makes no difference in fellowship, but on unity, well, long story - we are in unity of love and process, but it takes decades for us to agree on some things, and other things we will discuss for ever.

Frankly, my meeting is very conflicted about email, and most are quiet opposed to blogging outright. I feel blogging is a new frontier that will not go away. I think, we Friends who are undertaking to do this together, are a Quaker community to and with each other. I agree about taking time with this... nothing dear Friends is ever written in stone. We labor together, experiment and grow... it is simply about trusting each other, God in each other, and trust in God.

I find the hesitation baffling. We have seen real fall-outs here, and I begged for a process of unity. Some folks said I was not in gospel order, and yet, no reference was made to what gospel order was, in this case. Other weighty Friends, agree that I have been completely within gospel order. Who is right or wrong in any of this is not the question, that we strive together, we trust and build together is what is the question here... if we can't work together, here, whatever are we doing calling ourselves Friends. I don't understand the fear of each other, the fear of experimenting with growth.

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger Joe G. said...

I agree with Liz in regards to Martin. Let's not make his influence more than it actually is. The way in which QuakerQuaker developed was very organic, and it does not represent anything official in the way of any Quaker organization. In fact, Evangelical Friends International has a very active blogging feature on their site, unlike the other YM's and branches of Quakerism (Well, actually, I think Britain YM has started something along those lines for younger Friends). Any of these other orgs could do somethingg more "official". I, for one, appreciate the organic and independence of something like QuakerQuaker.

Having noted all of that, I also agree with Liz's concerns about faithfulness whereve we may find our spiritual grounding (particularly in the flesh-n-blood local Meeting/Church).

Also, perhaps it might be time to do a blog more as a community - something wherein those who feel lead to do so can come together and test this "thing" called "online community" for blogging (or something like that).

Lorcan - I love your comment about Rich and thee - knowing each other but rarely agreeing. Sounds like a good Business Meeting to me! (PS: I await thy CD in the mail as you emailed regarding them - thanks again!)

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

I have to say, I always believed, knowing a thing or two about our faith, it was always my belief that we were inventive, open and seeking progressive change, adaptation to the new, unlike say, the Amish, we are about learning to deal with growing technologies, in the world yet not of the world. I sense a certain worry that we don't have the ability or possibly even the right or authority to create new forms on this frontier... this is not the Society of Friends in which I grew up...

 
At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Eleanor Magid said...

In response to Liz: I did not mean to disparage Quaker Ranter or Martin's gifts and skills at any level. My introduction to Quaker Ranter came about as yours did, and it meant a great deal to me, like The Good Raised Up, Amanda's blog, Rich's, Locan's, and the strong, conscientious efforts of many others too, and many times over. I began with Rich's Brooklyn Quaker, in fact, and his generous links opened the way into an unanticipated forum. The independent strong voice of each, the distinct diction of each, awed me. There were polarities and as yet unresolved contrasts, but an overall impression of equality and mutual respect, of a rare freedom to struggle towards coherence, personal and collaborative unity and new awakening through being open to the flowing process - operating "beyond majority rule" and beyond overruling authority - a fresh and hopeful demonstration of a Quaker way of growth.

Several people have commented that QuakerQuaker developed organically out of this condition of blog equality. I know you mean something other than that it was initiated by someone who was blogging already or somebody with specific computer skills. Might there have been discussions behind the scenes, group decisions that are opaque to someone like me? Anyway, I was one who welcomed QuakerQuaker and appreciated the effort very much. Reading blogs is time-consuming. The meandering chase from link to link to follow a developing train of thought could now be replaced with a very much more efficient editorializing digest, pointing to the best and most interesting blogs of the day.

But without checks and balances.

It took me weeks to see the ramifications of the change as it stood. This was my fault, of course, and after all I could simply unsubscribe from QuakerQuaker any time. Recognizing this and feeling uncomfortable, I began to jump back and forth between the new way and the old way of interacting with blogs, which took up even more of the waking day. I began to think it was time to take a breather from blogs. And this saddened me, it had started as such a light-filled and energizing journey.

Then came an apparent personal clash between Martin and Lorcan. Somehow, for some reason, the discussion of this seemed to focus primarily on Lorcan and his approach. While it seems this is changing now, I have been surprised that so few who took part in the discussion ignored the emerging structural change which fueled the conflict. At least that's the way it looked from here.

Again, again, this is not to malign anyone. It is not! It's that QuakerQuaker grew up in what looked like a flash. Yes, likely any next steps should proceed more slowly.

Eleanor

 
At 6:27 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Eleanor, thee speaks my mind to a great extent. I find it odd, that we have blogs that employ a function where one must ask the Friend if we might comment, where there exists controls on free laboring back and forth between Friends, and this is not seen as being outside our tradition, and yet, an attempt at bringing about a discussion of setting up mechanisms within our traditions of Queries and Advices, CERTAINLY not meant to replace or contradict those of our home meetings, but, rather, acknowledging that we are a community of many home meetings, is viewed with a sense of... "is this appropriate for Friends"? I am not saying here that I don't think one should ask for a comment to be submitted before publication, Friends should feel free to make their homes as they may, it just, for me, does not seem to be as I see the conversations of Friends, in my experience. What I have seen, from the days of the great "Letter From the Back Benches" which so inspired so many meetings away from apathy, has been Friends getting together to labor richly and bravely... it does not seem to be happening here. I sense a fear of our own light.
I am really perplexed.

 

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